HOLLYWOOD,CA-The Pac-12 Media Day was packed and lined up with media members going through the hustle and bustle of the first official of fall football. The dog days of summer are over now that college football has kicked off the season with its coaches and players going through the media grinder of answering questions about the upcoming season. The excitement during the first day of the Pac-12 Media Day was what a lot of people expected: a lot of buzz from TV, radio, print and Internet crews; a lot of energy from coaches and a somewhat festive time at Paramount Studios. Oregon was selected as the favorite by the media as the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 North Division title this season.
Oregon picked up 37 of the 39 votes in a landslide. The same can be said about UCLA, which also gobbled up 37 votes as the top vote-getter in the Pac-12 South Division. While Oregon and USC was represented on the first day of the Pac-12 Media Day, UCLA makes its official debut on the second day. The Trojans, under new head coach Steve Sarkisian, is expected to finish second behind UCLA in the Pac-12 South Division. Oregon is the favorite to win it all behind the play of one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates in the country in quarterback Marcus Mariota. The fact that Mariota came back for another season is a huge victory for the Ducks. When asked about how much Mariota’s return means for the team team, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich had this to say:
“A ton,” Helfrich said. “And obviously on the field Marcus’s contribution and dynamic nature, and the way he plays kind of speaks for itself. The behind the scenes thing would be deciding to come back and his leadership. He’s 100% true. He’s 100% dedicated to the team, and 100% credible. A lot of guys talk a good game. Everything that guy does is gospel. If I’m the back-up guard and I see that guy forgo what he could have made, it’s not some lip service dream, this is a reality of a ton of money. Then there are certain elements that eliminate that. Like that guy turned down how much? Okay, I’ll watch him. That’s huge. I think it speaks to the type of guy he is, the type of team he is, and certainly hopefully to the type of program that we have.”
Before he went on to pitch horseshoes with defensive end Leonard Williams and quarterback Cody Kessler, USC coach Steve Sarkisian talked being back at the school he coached under Pete Carroll. Sarkisian went to produce pedestrian numbers (35-29) as head coach at Washington, though his team executed a 9-4 season in 2013. An offensive guru, Sarkisian brought a style, dash and more an open playbook at Washington where he took quarterback Keith Price to new heights. Now as head coach, Sarkisian has an opportunity to showcase his coaching talents even further at USC as the leading man.
“As I said, it’s humbling,” Sarkisian said. “You don’t know me growing up. There are a couple guys that knew me as a kid. I’m from a pretty humble town. I don’t know if you’ve read the book “Unbroken” on Louis Zamperini, but he was a kid from Torrance. I think you learn to work hard when you’re from Torrance, to push yourself to try to achieve some of the things that you want to achieve, and to have the opportunity now after growing up watching SC football, after coming to SC out of high school as a baseball player, after being here as an assistant coach for seven years with some tremendous experiences, to now be back as a head coach, it’s humbling. When you start thinking about John McKay and John Robinson and Pete Carroll, and to think that you’re in that position now, it’s a position, like I said, I’m humbled by it, but also one that I’m proud of the fact that I am that kid from Torrance. That is the head coach at USC that I think a lot of people can relate to and know that I’m one of them. I think that is really important to me.”