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Tag:Pac-12 Media Days
Posted on: July 29, 2011 4:25 pm
 

UCLA's Rick Neuheisel optimistic about the season

Posted by Bryan Fischer

NEW YORK -- UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel knows what it takes to win the Pac-12. He won the then-Pac-10 while at Washington and had the team in the upper echelon of the conference annually before being fired. After a pair of rough 4-8 seasons bookending his time in Westwood however, there's plenty of work to be done if the Bruins are to advance in the conference standings. Yet the coach, who briefly sat down with CBSSports.com during Pac-12 Media Days, believes the team will finally turn the corner this year.

"I have high expectations, I always start the seasons with high expectations," Neuheisel said. "When you're coming off a year like we did, you can't wait to get that taste out of your mouth."

Neuheisel is one of four coaches to be rated as having a warm coaching seat heading into the season by senior writer by CBSSports.com Dennis Dodd. The UCLA alum drew laughs at Media Day in Los Angeles when he joked about being happy to just be invited despite his status on the hot seat. He did note that he was just joking and actually hasn't felt the heat despite what some fans or media members think.
 
"I really don't feel it," he said. "It's just been brought to my attention so many times that it's like the elephant in the room so let me just talk about it so we can get that behind us. I have never been worried about losing my job, never one time in my life. I've lost my job before for reasons that have been well documented. But I've never lost my job because I wasn't doing a good job.

"I'm doing as good as job as I possibly can and working harder than I've ever worked."

This season is, of course, about wins and losses though. Neuheisel is hoping 2012 is a momentum builder for the program despite having a difficult schedule which includes hosting Texas and traveling to Stanford. Though there are five new coaches, including two new coordinators, there are several players coming back that are worth getting excited about. Running back Johnathan Franklin was a revelation last year and topped 1,100 yards rushing despite an anemic passing attack to take the pressure off of him. If the defense can be turned around and not give up 30 points per game (30.3 to be exact), you can understand why Neuheisel is much more hopeful about the upcoming season if they can stay healthy.

"I'm excited about the guys I have recruited," he said. "I feel they have confidence in me and our coaching staff. I feel like as many things that have bounced the wrong way so far in the three years, we're due some good bounces. I'm always optimistic in that regard and never been more optimistic about a year."
Posted on: July 29, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Larry Scott wants meaningful, quick NCAA reforms

Posted by Bryan Fischer

NEW YORK -- While most of the talk this week at Pac-12 Media Days was about the landmark networks that the conference is launching next year, there was always that elephant in the room with the league's two most high-profile programs, Oregon and USC, dealing with the NCAA enforcement process at one stage or another.

As someone who has gotten a crash course in the process recently, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott sees the trend of programs dealing with similar issues to continue over the next few years if things don't end up changing.

"It seems to me, in my two years here, that the cloud, the controversy, isn't going away," Scott said. "What I'm pushing for is aggressive reform at the NCAA level on the way enforcement is done, on the way we treat student-athletes, scholarships and other things like academic standards. I'm hopeful that President Mark Emmert, who is holding a retreat with the presidents, is going to try and drive an agenda.

"I'm not alone in this. Mike Slive, you'll hear (Jim) Delany, the six of us are aligned. We need some meaningful change, not incremental change. What shape that takes, I don't yet know. Mike and Jim have put out some specific proposals, which I admire them for, but the NCAA is a bureaucracy. There's a process they're going to have to go through. I hope the leadership at the president level is able to make more meaningful change than I've seen been able to be made in the last two years."

Given the fact that the money from television deals has never been higher and the news about violations has never been greater, many have just said to heck with it and the Big Six power conferences should just separate from the NCAA. Scott doesn't feel that's coming in the near future but recognizes that one group schools must be treated different than others.

"I think that would represent a tremendous failure of the NCAA if it comes to that," Scott said of a split. "I'd like to think that we are at a crossroads and at this retreat they'll recognize one size doesn't fit all anymore. There really is no such thing as competitive equity or even playing field. Certain schools obviously have more money than others and have better facilities and can pay more for coaches. Yet a lot of rules are based on one size fits all. That's just something the NCAA leadership is going to have to get over. If that's the standard by which any policy can get made, then I think it's destined to be an ineffective organization long term."

If there's one area that Scott hopes the leadership addresses, it's the legislative process itself.

"It needs to be more nimble," he said. "The thing they need to realize that these so-called clouds or scandals are all about the six conferences. That's what's affecting the image that everyone is talking about. The irony is the six conferences are ready to address those things. If they're held back on the basis that everyone can't do what you to do, then I think there could be challenges to the NCAA down the road."

Posted on: July 27, 2011 10:46 am
 

Utah has seen 'big spike' in recruiting

Posted by Chip Patterson

With their official arrival in the Pac-12, Utah can no longer be thought of as "BCS Busters." But their new AQ status has not just brought an easier path to high-profile bowl game, but also had immediate impact in recruiting. Head coach Kyle Whittingham explained the effect the jump has had on the recruiting trail on Tuesday while meeting with the media at Pac-12 Media Days.

"We've had a big spike in recruiting," Whittingham said. "For example, the announcement was made back in June a year ago, within ten days after the announcement we had several verbal commits. Many of which those players would not have been able to get in on without BCS Conference affiliation."

Here are some more highlights from Utah's time with media on Tuesday in Los Angeles:

- When asked about opening the conference schedule with USC, Whittingham called the experience "baptism by fire." The Utes will have their eyes on the Pac-12 South title, and what better way to start than to face the team picked to finish first in the division.

- Bringing in Norm Chow and switching offensive philosophies will benefit quarterback Jordan Wynn. According to Whittingham, Wynn mostly played under center in high school and should be more comfortable with the new system. That comfort will help Wynn, who will be making his way back to a full workload during camp after recovering from shoulder surgery.

- When asked about not drawing Oregon or Stanford in the conference schedule, Whittingham pointed out that while that would have worked out nicely a year ago, there still is no telling who will be the teams that will rise to the top in 2011.

"Every year is its own entity," Whittingham remarked. "Who is going to be the overachieving teams this year are the teams that emerge and come to the forefront and vice versa. So it remains to be seen."
Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:45 am
 

The real story behind Andrew Luck's beard

Posted by Bryan Fischer
If there was one player who received more than his fair share of attention at the Los Angeles stop of Pac-12 Media Days, it was Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Of course he is coming off one of the best seasons in conference history and has been tabbed my many as the Heisman front-runner. But that wasn't the reason everybody was staring abnormally at the humble signal-caller.

It was his Brian Wilson-esque beard.

"I honestly haven't thought past tomorrow about what to do with it. I never had a beard," Luck said. "I'm hesitant to call it a beard. I don't think it's quite there yet. I don't know. I'd never done it before, so why not try. We'll see if it lasts. When I get annoyed of it, I'll shave it."

Luck has stated numerous times that one of the reasons he didn't declare for the NFL draft and decided to return to Palo Alto was the fact that he enjoyed life as a student. As it turns out, the academic side of things was exactly how the beard got started.

"I got lazy after finals," he said. "I didn't shave and my mom didn't say anything to me when I got home.

"I figured, why not try it? I don't have to be presentable in college. That's a rule, right?"

(Everybody who has ever rolled out of bed for an 8 AM class is slowly nodding their heads right now.)

As if being the talk of Twitter Tuesday wasn't enough, it seems as though Luck's facial hair has already inspired Stanford fans to emulate their fearless gridiron leader. Cardinal blog Rule of Tree released an unofficial Andrew Luck "Hirsute of Victory" Cut-Out Beard shortly after his appearance and it wouldn't be all too surprising to see a few fans sporting the real thing once the opener rolls around at Stanford Stadium.

Let's just hope, as head coach David Shaw did Tuesday, that Luck's chinstrap fits over that thing.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:01 am
 

Neuheisel not afraid to talk about the 'hot seat'

Posted by Chip Patterson

The college football coaching industry has become increasingly volatile over the last several years, as a failure to meet expectations is often immediately met with questions about the dreaded "hot seat." One of the Pac-12 coaches who will face those questions all season is UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. The seasoned vet would not be caught off guard while meeting the media in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and beat them to the punch with the "hot seat" reference.

"Excited to be here," Neuheisel said as he began his opening statement. "As a coach on the proverbial hot seat, I guess you're excited to be invited to any of these things."

The crowd chuckled a bit, and then he returned to the topic in the first question when asked what it is going to take to turn this season around and continue coaching the Bruins.

"Well, we don't have to turn it around yet because nothing bad's happened yet. But I think in this business we all are on somewhat of a hot seat at all times. I mean, it just comes with the nature of the beast."

Here are some more highlights from UCLA's time with the media in Los Angeles on Tuesday:

- Neuheisel dropped the bomb that we reported earlier about true freshman quarterback Brett Hundley undergoing knee surgery to repair torn meniscus, and injury he suffered playing pickup basketball. He said that once against Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut will be competing for the position and Hundley will likely miss three to four weeks.

- For the first time since Neuheisel's arrival back in Los Angeles, he says the Bruins are two-deep at every defensive position with the exception of cornerback. After suffering from injuries defensively in 2010, the depth on that side of the ball is a reason Neuheisel says "hope springs eternal."

- Running back Johnathan Franklin is ready to step up and be a leader of this team. He was singled out by Neuheisel early in the press conference as a big reason for optimism heading into the season. The Bruins believe they are "light years ahead of where they were at this point" a year ago in the running game. Franklin also stepped up and acknowledged that when the team needs someone to make a play this fall, he is going to take that responsibility on himself.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 12:04 am
 

Embree ready to get Colorado running again

Posted by Chip Patterson

Colorado head coach Jon Embree wasted absolutely no time making his intentions for the 2011 Buffaloes clear in Colorado's first Pac-12 media day appearance. His will to run the ball became clear from the moment he stepped into the position and hired former Colorado All-American Eric Bienemy as the running backs coach. Embree elaborated on his major goals for the team on Tuesday.

"I want to improve the identity of our program," Embree explained. "I want when people see us play, I want them to understand we're a physical program, physical team. Being able to run the football. I don't think we've run the football like we should.

"When Colorado's been successful in its past, we've been a good running team. And that's what we need to do. I think to be an effective team running the ball, you have to have a physical kind of mindset."

Here are some other highlights from Colorado's time with the media on Tueday:

- Quarterback Tyler Hansen was on hand and expressed his excitement to play in an offensive system closer to the one he ran in high school. The new scheme moves Hansen back under center, rather than mostly working from a shotgun formation. He mentioned having a better opportunity to utilize Colorado's playmakers on the outside.

- Embree is taking Colorado's road issues head-on. it has been 18 contests since the Buffs have won a game on the road, and the new head coach seems determined to resolve that issue as soon as possible. He mentioned changing the preparation and the mindset, for starters.

- When Embree was asked if his staff would be at a disadvantage coming into the conference, he calmly responded: "Well they haven't seen us either." And it's true.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:51 pm
 

ASU will take title game nod anyway they can

Posted by Chip Patterson

Arizona State was selected by the media to finish second place in the new Pac-12 South, right behind USC. If final standings shake out that way, the Sun Devils would find themselves in the Pac-12 title game due to USC's sanctions. Head coach Dennis Erickson was asked on Tuesday if they would have any problem taking that bid.

"I don't care," Erickson joked. "Lot of things in life you take anyway you can get it, you know. But the playoff is really fun. You can have a bad game, come back, and get into that championship game, which is what it's all about, to go to the Rose Bowl. But to answer your question, like I said, I don't care. I'll take it anyway we can get it."

Here are some other highlights from Arizona State's time with the media on Tuesday:

- Erickson is very happy with his defense heading into the fall. Says the unit is two-deep at every position, and will likely be the best part of the team. He noted the loss of defensive back Omar Bolden setting them back a bit, and identified it as one place to improve.

- On the offensive line Arizona State will return "7 or 8" offensive linemen with game experience, not to mention all five starters. The line should help 6-foot-8 quarterback Brock Osweiler, who also drew praise from Erickson for his work in the offseason.

- There is no timetable for a return for running back Deantre Lewis. After suffering a gunshot wound in the back of the leg, Erickson insisted that his return is up in the air. The wound hurt his hamstring worse than many people think, and is obviously still dealing with the emotional issues of being shot. Erickson seemed to hint that he would either sit out the first 3 or 4 games or redshirt the entire season.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 9:55 pm
 

Stoops hopes Foles can overcome OL inexperience

Posted by Chip Patterson

On the surface, it has to be exciting as an Arizona fan to know that your starting quarterback, running back, and top four receivers from 2010 are returning for another campaign in 2011. But a closer look at the Wildcats reveals many more question marks past that. Replacing all five offensive lineman and six defensive starters is no easy task, and experience was an early topic for head coach Mike Stoops at Pac-12 Media Days.

"Offensively with the area of inexperience on the offensive line, we hope that that experience that we have at quarterback and receiver will help balance on out the inexperience we have on the offensive line," Stoops explained. But [the guys on the offensive line] are very athletic and very hard working, and I believe they can be more talented than the group that we had a year ago, and we're going to have to mold this group."

Other highlights from Arizona's time with the media in Los Angeles:

- While the defense is also inexperienced, Stoops believes that the strength in the unit will come from the back seven. He has faith with seniors Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo anchoring the unit that the linebackers could be his strongest position.

- Stoops addressed Juron Criner's personal issues, and things appear to be looking good for the fall. Criner had gone home to deal with some personal issues with his mother, and Stoops says that Criner feels much better about his mother's condition. Having Criner's size and playmaking ability will be crucial for Foles, particularly if he has to get the ball out early due to a green offensive line.

- Arizona was picked by the media to finish 4th in the Pac-12 South. Stoops, who has led the Wildcats to three straight bowl appearances, pointed out that the media never picks Arizona high - so it's not an unusual position.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com