Pac-12 Football Media Days are finally here, signaling the start of another college football season. This year, the 12 coaches as well as two student-athlete representatives from each team will be holding court at Warner Bros. Studios for the next two days discussing the upcoming football season.
Representatives from Arizona State, UCLA, Washington, Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado along with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott will be speaking today, the rest of the league tomorrow. Follow along here for updates from each coach.
Schedule (all times PT)
9:00 a.m. - Larry Scott - Pac-12 Commissioner
"College football has never been stronger or more popular."
- "Academic and athletic excellence go hand-in-hand."
- Pac-12 has won 478 NCAA titles -- won 9 titles last season to lead all conferences.
- December 2 will commemorate the conference's centennial.
- Pointed out how leaders helped to modernize sports.
- Recent Pac-12 reforms include covering the full cost of attendance, increased coverage of medical expenses, and guaranteed four-year scholarships.
- Pac-12 will be guaranteeing 4-year scholarships this year.
- Adding spotters in football to analyze head injuries.
- Spending $3.6 million a year on research.
- For first time this year, fans will be able to watch video replays of plays while officials are reviewing them
- Hiring of Pac-12 vice president of officiating David Coleman is hoped to stabilize and make calls and officiating more consistent.
- Aspiration is to strive for perfection, knowing it's unattainable.
- Scott says Pac-12 teams' notoriety for racking up penalties isn't a result of "overzealousness" of refs, but of up-tempo style of offenses.
- ESPN named Pac-12 as #1 college football conference.
- 6 bowl wins in 2014, 15 AP All-Americans.
- Boasts the Pac-12 will have the toughest schedule.
- only conference to play 9 conference games and a championship game.
- conference is expanding partnerships and relationships with Pacific Rim countries, including playing exhibitions in foreign countries.
- Regular-season men's basketball game to be played between Washington and Texas on Nov. 14 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
- "I'm delighted for our partners. I'm delighted for us."
Expansion of conference
- "I don't see us expanding." Scott went on to explain how the teams already have tough competition within the conference, as well as non-conference opponents. Notes that once a conference exceeds 12 teams, talent starts to 'dilute'.
9:30 a.m. - Arizona State: Todd Graham, Mike Bercovici (QB) and Jordan Simone (DB)
- noted that 28 games won in three-year period is school record.
- Notes that defensive scheme has been same for four years.
- says that not being so vulnerable to the "big play" is what the team needs to improve on most, defensively.
- says that defensively, team needs to get better against the run.
- noted team was very good in terms of turnover ratio; doesn't worry about yards or total yards conceded, but rather takeaways.
- snap ratio (says around 87 offensive to 60 defensive) is key to beating opponents.
- "I'm from Texas, so I wear boots." - Coach Graham on why he wears boots.
- says in three losses, ASU lost mainly because of big plays they conceded, and key is to eliminate those from occurring too often.
- "Our program is about winning championships. Our goal and our mission is to be Pac-12 champions, and then national champions."
- "I think the lifeblood of our program is in the walk-on program."
- "I think I said that last year at these Media Days. As soon as he's done playing, I'd hire him as a coach. Pretty much a no-brainer." - Graham on Taylor Kelly joining ASU coaching staff.
- "A tremendous young man. He's got a bright future. Obviously, one of the highest rated quarterbacks in the country." - Graham on Brady White.
- "How does he fit with the offense? Well, we think he's got the ability to stretch the field vertical." - Graham on former Bruin-turned-Sun-Devil transfer receiver Devin Lucien.
- "There's not a team in the Pac-12 that can't beat another team."... Noted team thought they were through the "meat" of the schedule, then dropped games they felt they should have won.
- regarding injuries that occurred late in the season: "I think championships are won in spring and the summer." ... says that being conditioned and healthy is key to competing late in the year.
- says Bercovici is the most motivated quarterback in the country entering the new season. Is pleased he stayed out his time with the school.
- says relationships with coaches Shawn Slocum, Jackie Shipp, Chris Ball have helped make implementing his defensive philosophies and developing players easier.
- says bowl game win over Duke was great example of the team's depth.
- says sophomore running back Demario Richard makes smart plays. Jokes that Richard "can squat around 600 pounds."
- says that team is gunning for a national championship "right now."
- in absence of Jaelen Strong: "That's gonna be really exciting, especially for Sun Devil Nation. We have guys that can take one-yard passes and turn them into yards. Obviously, my roommate D.J. Foster is stepping up huge. We have a transfer from UCLA, Devin Lucien, who brings a lot of experience."
- noted Jefferson is a mismatch in the slot
- regarding opener against Texas A&M: "We're going in there with our heads down and we're gonna fight. Regardless of the conference."
- claims that relationships with offensive linemen -- along with skill position players -- is key to having team success. Says that "In-N-Out Fridays" has become a tradition: Berco takes his linemen to In-N-Out and pays the bill "every now-and-then."
- notes that team has a lot of depth entering new season. "Summer workouts have been the best they've ever been."
- says he is a vocal leader, and that contextually, safety serves as the most vocal position (i.e. the quarterback of the defense).
- believes that development is a testament to coaching staff's ability.
- says despite varied backgrounds, team is very close.
- explained that ASU's aggressive style of defense is "really fun to play in"... "We worry about what we do and make our opponent try and react to that." ... says its effective against any team they play.
- "'We play defense at Arizona State.' That's what (Graham) would say. I truly believe that. We've changed the culture of ASU to be a defensive school."
- "Everything's clicking," re: defense returning nine starters.
- on Bercovici: "Mike's my best friend."
- says that he never imagined himself being where he is now considering how his time at Washington State went. Says he's 'blessed.'
- notes that strong quarterback play in the conference is good because of how good professionals are.
- on Bercovici's role as a leader: "Mike's always been a leader to me. Now that he's looked at as a leader of the team, it's helped his confidence a lot. He's able to step in front of the team and say what he needs to say. He's very vocal. Mike's very good at finding ways to lead different guys."
- on Bercovici staying at ASU: "He's a Sun Devil down to his core. He loves the university and loves the people and the coaches. He's got a girlfriend too, so I'm sure that helped us."
- on talking with Bercovici about staying: says he and D.J. Foster weren't "in his ear" trying to get him to stay, but were supportive of whatever decision he made.
- says his love for the game was gone at Washington State. ... says coach Chris Ball was fundamental in getting him to come to ASU, and culture -- despite being a walk-on -- was very inviting.
10:10 a.m. - Oregon State: Gary Anderson, Storm Barrs-Woods (RB) and Larry Scott (DB)
- said he was given a great opportunity at a school that believes in him.
- noted that coaching staff has all been together at some point in their careers, says it makes the transition easier.
- will be starting a true freshman at quarterback this season. Says team has handled quarterback situation well as a team.
- wants Oregon State to be developmental program.
10:50 a.m. - UCLA: Jim Mora, Jake Brendel (OL) and Deon Hollis (LB)
- re: who will be the starting quarterback this season -- "I don't know."
- says center Jake Brendel is very mature, and is a consistent performer whom teammates have great respect for.
- regardless of quarterback is, system won't change dramatically. Says quarterbacks all offer similar skillets.
- "I want Josh (Rosen) to reach his potential."
- "What's important is that we focus on being the best that we can be on that day." ... says so long as team remains focused, can accomplish big things in 2015.
- jokes Eddie Vanderdoes' (defensive lineman) freakish athletic ability would make him a candidate as a fourth-string, Wildcat quarterback.
- re: picking a starting quarterback: "My goal is to name a guy, and support the hell outta him."
11:30 a.m. - Washington: Chris Petersen, Travis Feeney (LB) and Deontae Cooper (RB)
- says that young players will be expected to play well, have significant role.
- notes that key to success is how well the 'old guys' play.
- "I don't know if we'll play eight (freshmen) again" ... says that there will definitely be some on the field this year out of necessity, however noted that there could be some who play simply because of the fact they are talented enough to.
- says there's a three-man battle for the starting quarterback position ... says he "really (doesn't) know" who they plan to have starting this season.
- re: whether it's easier recruiting at Washington in comparison to Boise State: "It's not." ... claims he takes pride in not abiding by the 'star system' ... "It's a crapshoot anyway."
- on Boise's turf: "It's still blue?" ... says that visit to school to play former school will be just that and nothing more.
- says he wouldn't have come to Washington if he didn't believe they could compete for national championships down the road.
12:10 p.m. - Stanford: David Shaw, Kyle Murphy (OT) and Blake Martinez (LB)
- says quarteback Kevin Hogan was "playing as well as anybody in the country" to close out the year ... thinks Hogan has only scratched the surface of what he can be.
- competition at right tackle and at interior line positions.
- says that he learned a lot last season.
- excited for playmaking receivers to step up in place of who they lost.
- believes linebacker Blake Martinez can be "household name by the end of the year."
- Stanford has lost two players on football team to baseball. Shaw says that team recruits for depth.
- "I like when people doubt us as opposed to patting ourselves on the back."
- really excited about linebacking core and believes country will recognize them this season.
- "This year is going to be insane because everybody is talented." ... Wouldn't be surprised if conference champion had two losses.
- Explained that in order to win in the conference, need to play well every single week because of how tough Pac-12 is.
- says team played "free" and "relaxed" to close out the season and look like a completely different team ... early on in the year, team wasn't having fun.
- three keys to winning in the red-zone: 1. running the football, 2. having an athletic quarterback, 3. finding match-ups.
- key is not having finite goals and playing good football week after week after week.
12:50 p.m. - Colorado: Mike MacIntyre, Stephen Nembot (OL) and Kenneth Olugbode (LB)
- "We're a team that's progressing. Last year, we were a team of freshmen and sophomores; this year, we're sophomores and juniors."
- believes that team competed last year, but left "a lot of games on the table."
- says injuries to starters last year enabled backups to gain valuable experience that will help team improve this year.
- "It's exciting to see our maturation process."
8:30 a.m. - Head of Officiating, David Coleman
-- rules allow 5-8 officials on the field
- non-standard overbuilt face mask is illegal and players wearing illegal equipment must leave the game for at least one down
- illegal to forcibly push or pull an opponent off the pile.
- now reviewable: blocking by kicking team before being eligible to touch the ball - on-side kick. ... Replay official may create this foul.
- emphasis on uniform compliance (i.e. no more Ezekiel Elliot or Shawn Oakman crop-tops).
- Points of Emphasis include... targeting, pace of play, unsportsmanlike conduct and sideline management
- The eighth official will serve as the center judge
- reviewing officials involves training and evaluating performances with feedback. Officials will be rewarded with post season assignments
9:00 a.m. - Pac-12 Networks President, Lydia Murphy-Stephans
- coverage of Pac-12 Networks to be made available to everyone via live stream.
- coverage of football will extend past the weekends.
- sports shows will showcase the biggest news, interviews and docudramas from all sports in the conference.
- at least one student is hired to do every live event.
- host training for students to be involved and a part of production for the network.
- only company wholly owned by 12 universities.
- fan engagement with the Pac-12 Network grew by 600 percent.
9:15 a.m. - Arizona: Rich Rodriguez, David Richards (WR) and Will Parks (S)
- has been fortunate "since Day One."
- says this season he hasn't had to explain and reiterate things to players as much as he used to this year because of maturity of squad.
- says team doesn't talk too much about goals
- "I guess I'm more of an 'in-the-moment' type of guy."
- says the city of Tuscon is a great place to play.
- "trust me, we now have trust fund babies in college athletics." ... says he's glad that players are being allowed to eat
- compared three of college to a three-year internship before getting paid in the NFL.
- re: his temperament now with quarterbacks in comparison to the past: "I must've mellowed with age."
- "it's checkers, not chess."
- "Did you know that it was the 100th anniversary of the Pac-12?"
- pointed out that Pac-12 had more draft picks than any league.
- "You ever seen the movie 'The Lion King?'" ... proceeded to make joke about how Rafiki hits Simba in the head with a stick.
- re: losing the last two games: "I was pissed for about a month and a half."
- asked a reporter if he wanted to take a selfie
- on ASU's new jerseys: "Yeah, I saw them. Ehh... We're Nike. They're Adidas."
10:00 a.m. - Cal: Sonny Dykes, Jared Goff (QB) and Hardy Nickerson (LB)
- says that the Pac-12 is the most competitive conference in college football.
- says growth and improvement will be key moving forward.
- believes pass defense needs to improve; getting after the quarterback and in the defensive secondary.
- notes Goff's development from first year to second wasn't as big as second to third; believes if Goff can get completion percentage into the "high sixties" it will be big for program.
- re: offensive line questions -- it's about putting best five on the field.
- says he doesn't believe draft hype surrounding Goff has changed who he is as leader other than make him more focused.
- feels team has "four or five really good running backs" who can contribute this season.
- "The thing that gets you over the hump is when players believe."
10:50 a.m. - USC: Steve Sarkisian, Cody Kessler (QB) and Su'a Cravens (OLB)
- is honored team was named favorite to win conference, but warns that team hasn't played yet.
- says Adoree Jackson is 'too talented to not put the ball in his hand.' ... says development of defensive backs will factor into how much he's used.
- "We're not going to take the field in 13 different uniforms." ... Take that however you'd like, Oregon.
- expects team to have a 1,000 rusher.
- credits backup quarterback Max Browne for staying with school despite not starting yet.
- doesn't treat playing against Washington -- former head coach of football team -- any different.
- one play he could have back: the Hail Mary by ASU that beat them.
- believes once he took hold of starting job battle, never looked back.
- says that experience has been key reason as to why he's grown so much as a player.
- says that team doesn't use sanctions as excuse, but understands that team will be ready to compete.
- noted freshman Cam Smith as standout player from spring.
- believes that depth of team will aid team in competing with top-tier teams.
- "Things that hurt us last year will help us this year."
- says he doesn't pay too much attention to comparisons to now-retired Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polomalu.
11:30 a.m. - Oregon: Mark Helfrich, Royce Freeman (RB) and Rodney Hardrick (LB)
- says one of the biggest concerns entering offseason was finding new vocal leaders.
- "100% confidence in (quarterback) Jeff Lockie." ... notes that players have confidence in him, too.
- wishes happy birthday to Stanford head coach David Shaw.
- says Lockie had "extremely efficient" spring; only time he made errors was when we was trying to do too much.
- claims that pace of offense will be fluid according to opponent.
- doesn't feed into preseason rankings.
- credibility of school doesn't always overcome factors like distance and tradition when recruiting.
- says players have good relationships with jersey design staff.
- says he likes Arizona State's jerseys aside from Oregon's.
12:10 p.m. - Washington State: Mike Leach, Joe Dahl (OT) and Jeremiah Allison (LB)
- says that they have quality quarterbacks ready to roll with Connor Holliday gone.
- they have a young offensive line that played 'fairly well' last season.
- says best thing about footprint of conference is that all schools are relatively close to one another.
- notes football has always been intrigued by technology.
- "I'd never been to a library, but I'd heard of one."
- "There's a lot of food in Washington."
12:50 p.m. - Utah: Kyle Whittingham, Devontae Booker (RB) and Jared Norris (LB)
- expecting big things out of Devontae Booker; says if he plays up to par will be a Heisman candidate.
- is optimistic about the team's potential moving forward.
- "Better bring your 'A' game every single week." ... noted that stakes aren't higher, but goes about process every year.
- calls Booker "down-to-earth" and "grounded."
- "I still haven't seen 'Blazing Saddles.' It's timeless."
- says Booker has "great balance, great vision. Can catch the ball out of the backfield. And he can block. He is a complete back."
House of Sparky writer Kaelen Jones will be at the event and you can follow him on Twitter here. He will be updating this blog after each speaker. If you have a question for Kaelen, drop it in the comment section below.