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Pac-12 MEDIA DAY

Ducks picked to win Pac-12

Fri, Jul 26, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA -- The Pac-12 staged its media day inside one of the sound stages on the lot of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, CA. So, not a surprise the conference had a 'Hollywood-type' production.

Flanked by large spotlighted helmets beamed on all sides, the stage's backdrop featured a giant big screen that played video highlights to introduce each team as it sat down to field questions from the hundreds of media members.

Oregon was tabbed by the media to win the Pac-12 Conference, edging Stanford in the North. UCLA is the pick to win the South, followed by Arizona State. The media has picked the conference champ 11 of the past 13 years.

MEDIA PICKS

    NORTH       

1. OREGON (14) 139

2. STANFORD (11) 134

 3. OREGON ST. 91

4. WASHINGTON 81

5. CALIFORNIA 45

6. WASHINGTON ST. 32

SOUTH

1. UCLA (12) 130

2. ARIZONA STATE (9) 124

3. USC (4) 113

4. ARIZONA 73

5. UTAH 58

6. COLORADO 27

PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: OREGON (13), STANFORD (8), UCLA (3)

FOLLOWING CHIP

Mark Helfrich takes over for Chip Kelly, who led the Ducks to a BCS game in each of his four years as the head coach at Oregon. Kelly is now the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Tough act to follow, so Helfrich hasn't changed the approach much in Eugene.

"We haven't done much differently at all," he said. "From a player's perspective, that's probably what you want. I'm different than Chip. But, we're going to continue to do what we want from a program standpoint." 

STANFORD A NATIONAL POWER?

The Cardinal have been in the national title hunt each of the past three years, but don't get a lot of national respect.

"We don't worry about what other people say," said Stanford coach David Shaw. "The foundation of our team is the team. This year we've gotten a lot of notoriety for being in the national championship race. We anticipate being in the hunt. That's how we recruit. That's how we approach it."

MAN OF FEW WORDS

Washington State coach Mike Leach -- not the biggest fan of the media -- had this as his opening statement: "Any questions?" There were a few questions.

SONNY DAYS AT CAL

Sonny Dykes takes over for the fired Jeff Tedford in Berkeley this season, via Louisiana Tech.

"It's a special institution," Dykes said of his new university, sitting on a huge stage with video screens and spotlights shining down on him. "This is a little different scene here this year than last year (at) WAC media day."

Dykes, who brings an up-tempo offense to Cal, addressed Alabama coach Nick Saban's concerns that the new-age spread, up-tempo offenses are threatening player safety.

"Everybody has a certain style of football they're comfortable with," Dyles said. "If you're a defensive coach, you want to dictate the sytle of play in football. If you're an offensive coach you want to dictate the style of play in football. I don't know if that's a fair assesment. I don't think that makes a whole lot of sense. Player injuries occur when players play in confined spaces. If you spread the field out a little more, there's less inclination for someone to fall on someobne else."

HUSKIES READY TO GET OVER THE HUMP

Steve Sarkisian, in his 5th year with the Huskies, has had three straight 7-6 campaigns (and three straight bowl games). 

"We're a better football team," Sarkisian said. "We were a better football team last year, but the record wasn't indicative of how good that team was. We didn't finish the way we were capable of. It left a really bad taste in our mouth. I feel confident this football team is going to get over that hump."

After a year of renovations, the Huskies will play in Husky Stadium again this season.

"We can't wait until August 29th," Sarkisian said.

REBUILDING JOB IN COLORADO, ONE BOULDER AT A TIME

Mike MacIntyre arrived in Boulder six months ago, coming off a three-year stint at San Jose State where he took a 1-12 team in 2010 to an 11-2 season in 2012. He'll have to do the same at Colorado, where the Buffaloes have struggled over the past several seasons.

"I don't know about the last seven seasons, I just know what we're going to do as a staff," MacIntyre said. "The first thing we have to do is work with these young men, get them to believe in us. We gotta get them all going in the same direction. It wasn't too long ago that Colorado was one of the top-15 programs in the country year in and year out. We have to get back there."

SOCIAL MEDIA DAY

Fans got to ask questions of players/coaches via social media. One Arizona State fan asked the Arizona contingent how often their loss to Arizona State last year weighs on their minds each day.

All three, coach Rich Rodriguez, linebacker Jake Fisher and WR Terrance Miller all said, one after the other, "None."

TROJANS TRYING TO BOUNCE BACK

After a disappointing 2012 season and still weighed down by NCAA penalites, USC was picked to finish third in the South Division. 

The Trojans will have to rely on a highly touted recruiting class, half of which enrolled early and had a chance to go through Spring drills.

"We have a lot of talented players coming into our program," said coach Lane Kiffin. "We have high expections for those guys and we're going to need them to contribute immediately."

All-American WR Marquise Lee is just as interested as the fans to see who will emerge as the Trojans' starting quarterback. Cody Kessler, Max Wittek and freshman Max Browne are competing for the job.

"All three guys are going to go in with a sbot," Kiffin said. "All three guys are going to be great quarterbacks at USC at some point in their career. It's going to be the player that'S going to help us win the most."

NO HEISMAN POSING, RIGHT NOW

Lee is considered a top candidate to make a run at the Heisman Trophy, but isn't too conerned about it right now.

"I don't go into the season focused on the hype," Lee said. "The Heisman at this point in the season is the last thing on my mind."

SUTTON ON COMING BACK

Will Sutton, Arizona State's talented defensive tackle and likely a Senior Bowl target, passed up on the NFL Draft to come back for his final year.

"It was a very tough decision," Sutton said. "It was like recruiting all over again. The deciding factor was my grade from the NFL Committee and I'm nine credits from graduating in December. I love my team and I want to accomplish something that hasn't been done in a long time here and i want to be part of it."

BARR SET HIGH IN WESTWOOD

UCLA boasts one of the top defensive players in the nation in linebacker Anthony Barr, but he's not talked about nearly as much as other top defensvie players around the country, like South Carolina's Jadeveion Clowney.

"I wouldn't trade a single one of our players," UCLA coach Jim Mora said. "I love our team. I love our players. I've been very vocal of the fact that Anthony is one of the dominant players in college football."

"Here's how they get the national attention," Mora continued. "UCLA football has to win and they have to have an impact in those games." 

Barr wouldn't mind a little attention coming his way.

"I have no problem with attention," Barr said. "This (media day) is the most attention I've gotten in my life -- right now. I have no problem with it."