LOS ANGELES – Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott held his smile for half an hour during a cheery speech in which he praised his conference’s commitment to academics and playing injury-free football.
Scott’s comments provided a national counterweight to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who caused a stir last week by ripping the NCAA and telling reporters assembled at the Big 12 media days that “cheating pays.”
But none of the dreariness and pessimism that plagues amateur athletics in the rest of the country has migrated west, if Scott is to be believed. He said that the Big 5 conferences – the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC – will be given autonomy by the NCAA within a year to govern themselves.
Scott spent most of his speech extolling the virtues of his own conference – the one that made him college sports’ highest-paid conference commissioner last year at more than $3 million including bonuses.
He cited the Pac-12’s coaches, quarterbacks, out-of-conference record last season and difficult schedule this season as reasons why the winner of December’s Pac-12 championship game should be included in the four-team college football playoff that will debut this year.
“Bottom line, the establishment of a playoff is a great development for the Pac-12,” Scott said.
What Scott did not say was that the conference’s ongoing negotiations with satellite television service provider DirecTV are going nowhere, although he did acknowledge to reporters at lunch later in the day that he is “not optimistic” that subscribers will have access to the Pac-12 Networks in time for football season.
Sark regrets interview
When Steve Sarkisian left Washington for USC last season, he briefed his former players, who were ostensibly the last to know, though surely they were aware of his departure since the news had been on Twitter for hours. Players and fans were angry at the coach, at least in part because he had appeared on Seattle sports radio earlier that same morning to deny interviewing with the Trojans.
On Wednesday, speaking at his first media day as the USC head coach, he expressed his regret for the way he handled the situation.
“I did that Monday morning radio show with Mitch (Levy) every Monday morning after a game,” Sarkisian said. “And honestly, in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have done that interview that morning, but I had committed to the interview. And I did the interview, there was nothing done, I hadn’t accepted the job at USC yet. Hindsight’s 20/20 in those moments. I probably should have stayed out of interviews and stayed away from cameras.”
He added that he’ll be rooting for the Huskies in 2014 because he recruited almost all of the UW players and compared leaving them to breaking up with a girlfriend.
“A few of them have dropped by the (USC football) building when they’ve been in town to say hello. It’s been great,” Sarkisian said. “I really tried to convey to them my heartfelt honesty of why I left and why I took the job that I took. I think the majority of them understood that. Maybe some of them didn’t.”
Rich Rod mum on QB
Four quarterbacks have descended on Tucson in hopes of becoming the next starting quarterback at Arizona, but Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez will not say who, if anyone, is most likely to win the job.
“The truth is, even if I knew who the starter was, I wouldn’t tell you all,” Rodriguez said before promising that he really did not know who will start.
Connor Brewer fought for the job once at Texas, Jerrard Randall came from LSU, Jesse Scroggins once played at USC, and Anu Solomon was a highly-regarded recruit in his own right. None of them went to Tucson to back anybody up.