Pac-12 Media Day 2021: Conference realignment, on-field improvement among storylines to watch in Los Angeles

New commissioner … usual issues?

That is one approach to ease into Pac-12 Media Day on Tuesday on the W Lodge in downtown Los Angeles because the league gathers collectively after a withering yr crammed with COVID-19-induced stops, begins and interruptions.

Alongside the best way, Larry Scott misplaced his job as commissioner and now the league has a recent outlook. New commissioner George Kliavkoff took over July 1, and whereas early reviews have been favorable, he faces a daring new world with convention realignment seemingly in full impact. For the second, that side overshadows the league’s different prime concern: the best way to jump-start soccer.

The Pac-12 has appeared within the College Football Playoff simply twice throughout the first seven years of the four-team bracket — the final look coming after the 2016 season (Washington). The league welcomes just one new coach (Jedd Fisch, Arizona) however is slowed down by just a few of the identical outdated issues, reminiscent of heading into Yr 18 and not using a nationwide championship on the soccer area.

Let’s dive into among the prevalent subjects set to be mentioned this yr at Pac-12 Media Day. 

Convention realignment forward?

How does the Pac-12 — or any Energy 5 convention — react to the SEC’s apparent raid of Texas and Oklahoma from the Huge 12?

The present Pac-12 tv deal has three extra years to run. Whereas the league is anticipated to get a bump in its media rights, even when it stands pat, is there a bunch of faculties from maybe a wounded Huge 12 that make sense? Scott made a daring play 11 years in the past attempting to steal away half the Huge 12, together with Texas and Oklahoma. It did not work on the time, however is the local weather favorable now with widespread realignment anticipated?

One TV media rights insider mentioned there isn’t any worth in, say, taking Texas Tech and Oklahoma State from the Huge 12. Regardless, the approaching realignment goes to be a right away check of Kliavkoff’s means to assume on his ft.

He not too long ago mentioned the Pac-12 is “an unique membership with excessive barrier for entry.”

On-field enchancment must be addressed

Kliavkoff is considered a vivid, tech-savvy chief aware of the leisure area having served as an MGM govt. Sounds quite a bit like Scott, no? The distinction being that, at the least early on, Kliavkoff has engaged the athletic administrators and been prepared to pay attention. The Pac-12 colleges themselves are among the most admired within the nation. But when he would not realize it but, Kliavkoff was employed to repair soccer.

Simpler mentioned than completed. 

The league has been straightforward to dismiss early within the season after dropping an necessary nonconference recreation or two. There was a latest two-year interval during which every workforce within the league besides one — Washington State — all misplaced at the least three video games. There was latest slippage in Pac-12 recruiting, as effectively, because the likes of Alabama and Clemson have hauled main expertise out of southern California. 

Kliavkoff wants to show round an plane service, however this is the way it begins: assemble the 12 league presidents in a room and inform them, “You may retain your tutorial integrity and nonetheless compete at a excessive degree in soccer. Which means spending aggressively on soccer and hiring the precise coach when the chance arises. Soccer would not get higher till that occurs.”

Playoff prospects

It appears like Oregon and everybody else. Whereas Arizona State and USC ought to be components within the South Division, the Geese from the North are the category of the league till additional discover.

Oregon gained a second consecutive Pac-12 title, however solely as a result of Washington could not play attributable to COVID-19 protocols. Nonetheless, Mario Cristobal heads into his fifth yr with a loaded roster that features nationwide defensive participant of the yr candidate Kayvon Thibodeaux, tailback C.J. Verdell and linebacker Noah Sewell.

The largest query is whether or not quarterback Anthony Brown is the difference-maker Cristobal thought he was when he changed Tyler Shough within the Fiesta Bowl, a transfer which brought about Shough to switch to Texas Tech. Now Brown, a dual-threat switch who began 28 video games for Boston College, might be requested to win the Pac-12 and get the Geese to the CFP as a senior.

We’ll know early about Oregon’s — and the Pac-12’s — fortunes when the Geese journey to face Huge Ten favourite Ohio State on Sept. 11 after COVID-19 worn out final yr’s scheduled assembly in Eugene. Win this one and it modifications the narrative about your entire league.

Huge nonconference video games on the horizon

Along with the Oregon-Ohio State matchup, there is a collection of distinguished nonconference video games that may sink or elevate the Pac-12.

LSU at UCLA, Sept. 4: The Tigers have a large expertise benefit, but it surely’s been a bizarre, troubling offseason for Ed Orgeron. Touring throughout the nation to face the bettering Bruins goes to be an early check.

Washington at Michigan, Sept. 11: Jimmy Lake had a formidable but abbreviated rookie season after changing Chris Petersen. The Huskies completed 3-1 and could be the subsequent huge factor within the Pac-12. Lake has to exchange 4 starters from the protection who had been drafted however returns all 5 starters on the offensive line and budding quarterback Dylan Morris. Judging by Lake’s first season, the Huskies ought to at the least be the equal to Michigan. Jim Harbaugh, in the meantime, is coming off a tie for his worst faculty teaching efficiency (2-4).

Utah at BYU, Sept. 11: BYU is again on the nationwide radar after an 11-1 season. Utah by no means left. From 2014-19, the Utes have gained lower than 9 video games solely as soon as and has gained the final 9 Holy Wars. The groups have not met for 2 years, so there might be loads of, um, emotion constructed up.

Minnesota at Colorado, Sept. 18: Two groups from the center of the pack of their conferences. However a win over a Huge Ten opponent could be spectacular for the rejuvenated Karl Dorrell.

USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 23: Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis could be the Pac-12’s finest Heisman candidate. Coach Clay Helton, who continues to endure outrageous slings and arrows from the fan base, is 1-4 vs the Irish.

Arizona State

The Solar Devils open the season below a darkish cloud because the NCAA is investigating allegations that recruits had been introduced in in the course of the COVID-19-induced lifeless interval. If true, that will be an enormous moral breach and public well being violation.

Coach Herm Edwards, who has not been implicated straight, was one of many feel-good tales of the league. Now questions have arisen as to how Arizona State does enterprise. Edwards will converse publicly for the primary time in Los Angeles, so there might be loads of inquiries to ask.

If the Solar Devils can keep centered with controversy swirling, they might be the league’s second-best workforce. Twenty-one starters return to a workforce that performed solely 4 video games. Quarterback Jayden Daniels is a budding star, whereas junior tailback Rachaad White averaged 10 yards per carry. | Pac-12 Media Day 2021: Convention realignment, on-field enchancment amongst storylines to observe in Los Angeles


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