Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Seen and heard at Pac-12 media day: Part I
By Ted Miller
You can see our Pac-12 media day page here.
Here are some more notes and quotes from Pac-12 media day.
Commissioner Larry Scott on new four-team playoff that will begin in 2014: The four-team playoff set to start in the 2004 team season is a positive step forward for our sport and will be a great format for our student-athletes, fans and institutions. After many, many months of discussions with our student-athletes, coaches, fellow commissioners, our institutions, I believe we crafted a very artful balance, giving fans what they want in terms of true playoff format, where it's won on the field, and also preserving the importance of the regular season and America's bowl tradition.
Scott on what new TV contracts, Pac-12 Networks, mean for fans: This season kicks off new broadcast agreements with partners ESPN and Fox, two of the innovators in broadcasting of sports. And for the first time 44 Pac-12 football games will be broadcast to a 100 percent national audience. Gone are the days of regional broadcasts on ABC or Fox. This is going to be a major movement, major change in terms of the national exposure and recognition our conference gets.
Pac-12 Enterprises president Gary Stevenson on Pac-12 Networks programming: To start the season, we will be airing Pac-12 football preview shows, which will be 30-minute shows on each team in the conference, and we will have a one-hour conference wide show. We will have a show called "Pac-12 Football Encore." This will be the top-10 games replayed from the 2011 season. We will replay all 79 home games including those aired on Fox and ESPN from this season in a 60-minute format. Every Pac-12 pregame, halftime and postgame shows will be broadcast live from our newly opened studios in downtown San Francisco. On Sunday evenings we will broadcast Pac-12 football rewind live from our studios. This show will review all the action and highlights from the weekend's football schedule. On Tuesday evenings, we will broadcast Pac-12 Playbook. This will be a conference-wide coaches show, which will provide two to four-minute local features on each show on the regional networks. And, of course, we will follow all the postseason activity on our networks, including the championship football game and as we watch our teams go to bowl games.
Colorado coach Jon Embree on whether injured WR Paul Richardson might be able to play this year: He's been progressing rapidly, and I think as he continues to work, as he starts doing more football movements, we will have a better feel for if and when he will be available for this year. But I don't think it's something that's out of the question.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez on whether a spread college offense hurts a QBs NFL chances: I always find that comical because people use it against you in recruiting that go they want to play the "pro-style offense" and the last I watched the NFL games 90 percent of the time they're in the shotgun. My quarterback is learning how to go under center and do a three-step drop, my son Rhett here, he learned at 9 years old how to do a three-step drop, he's 14. I think college quarterbacks, particularly guys coming out of the spread are more prepared in a lot of ways than the so-called pro quarterbacks, because in a spread offense they learn to get rid of the ball quickly, they have to see the whole field and they learn offense.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham on how quickly he'll make a decision on a starting QB: Quickly. We're further along, and we have a good idea of what direction we're going. There is still competition left, and it's not that we haven't got three guys that haven't separated themselves. We have three quality guys, and it's great to inherit that situation. The longer it goes without naming a star, I don't like that. As soon as we can do that, we need to do that, because it settles everything down. You need a leader and a quarterback, not to say that we wouldn't use two guys, but I do believe in that leadership. That position is very, very important. The key for us is to make sure that in this first season, especially early in the season, it's going to be critical that the person taking that snap has to be the most dynamic player. They have to be a player that manages the offense that doesn't put the ball in jeopardy and doesn't turn the football over, because I firmly believe if we don't turn the football over we will score. We have quality players. Just the transition from the scheme they ran last year to this one has been one that has gone smoother than I even anticipated. There are similarities.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on his decision to hire Brian Johnson as offensive coordinator despite his youth: Brian is a special kid. He's always been ahead of the curve. He signed with us as a 16-year-old senior out of Texas. He's a guy that's used to being ahead, he got to kindergarten, and a week or two later he was promoted to the second grade, that's just the kind of kid he is. When Norm [Chow] left, I knew Brian was a strong candidate -- as was Aaron Roderick, another coach on our staff -- and when all was said and done, it was apparent to me that Brian and Aaron were the two best candidates. I struggled with the youthfulness of Brian, but the bottom line is he was the best man for the job, and what we needed at the time and the way he handled himself as a quarterback. I see the same qualities and the demeanor in him. I know he hasn't called a game yet. There are a lot of things that are going to transpire in the future that he's never been to, but how he relates to the players, his grasp of the offense, the way he called the scrimmages, which is as close to game simulation as you can get, were all very positive.
UCLA coach Jim Mora on how his and his staff's NFL experience might help: I think all of these student-athletes probably at some level have the aspiration to play in the National Football League, so I think you walk in with credibility because you've spent your career in the NFL and you have to earn that credibility every day you are around them. But I believe it's the staff I put together that is really -- has helped us. Our coaching staff has done it at the highest level and we've got 98 years of NFL playing and coaching experience. We have six Super Bowl rings on our staff, coached 16 Hall of Famers, and 100-something Pro Bowl appearances, and yet we're grounded. Inside from myself, in college football, and I think our players have taken to that wealth of experience. Guys that -- when Steve Broussard coaches Johnathan Franklin, he knows he is being coached by a guy that played in the NFL, had success, was drafted in the first round. And when he tells him something, he knows there is something to it. When Lou Spanos tells Tevin he needs to do something, he can show him Troy Polamalu doing it, and there is something to that, isn't there?