@UteCentral at Pac-12 Media Day: Preview

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Thanks to all of you who have read my Utes coverage over the past year and to my friends at TornBySports.com, I will be attending Pac-12 Media Day this coming Friday.

As a fan first and blogger second, I am thrilled at the opportunity and will be tweeting and posting like crazy on Friday to give you as much insight as I can.  Look for lots of content (photos and hopefully video) and crossing my fingers that I can get a few interviews along the way.

So here’s what you need to know.

When:  Friday July 26th at 10:00 MT

Where:  Sony Picture Studio – Culver City, CA  |  The event will also be streamed live which will be available on Pac-12.com.

Hashtag:  Official hashtag for the event for all my tweeps will be #pac12fb.

Pac-12 Topics

This year is jam packed with topics that will be covered and here are a few things that will get a lot of attention and focus from the media:

  1. DirecTV:  I’m shocked that this stalemate has gone this long and you have to believe that pressure is beginning to mount on the conference and Larry Scott if the season begins without a deal.
  2. Expansion and Division 4:  Are the “Big 5” looking to break away from the NCAA?  Does the Pac-12 need to go to 14 to keep up?  Would an expansion to 14 (with an increase in geographic footprint) make the DirecTV deal go through?
  3. Lane Kiffin:  Kiffin always draws a lot of attention, but this year will be different as he is definitely on the “hot seat” with the Trojans coming off a terrible season where they entered the season as a National Championship contenders and finished in the middle of the pack.
  4. New Coaches:  Chip Kelly is out and so new head man Mark Helfrich will get a lot of questions about if he can keep things rolling without Kelly.  I’m betting a lot of Nike $$$’s that things will be just fine for the Ducks especially with talent like Marcus Mariota and the Black Mamba De’Anthony Thomas.  Cal and Colorado welcome new coaches as well with Sonny Dykes and Mike MacIntyre.  I hope to ask Mike about the Buff’s rivalry with the Utes to see what he says there.
  5. Changes to Practice Rules:  The Pac-12 recently released changes to the amount of contact players can have during practices in an effort to lessen a student athlete’s risk when it comes to concussions.  Will these changes give the conference an advantage or disadvantage on and off the field?  Will top stars flock to the conference because of the emphasis on safety, or will it continue to “soften” the way outsiders view the conference?
  6. Pac-12 Media Poll:  I fully expect that Stanford will be selected as the favorite to win the league with UCLA and Oregon being darlings of the media.  I also expect Utah will come in 5th in the South and either 9th or 10th overall.
  7. Player Stipends:  It was big topic at the SEC media day and will get some love at the Pac-12 as well.  Commissioner Larry Scott is in favor of an increase and if it means that current players stop complaining about their monthly checks on Twitter, then I’m all for it as well.

Utah Topics

Utah is off everyone’s radar going into this season and so I don’t expect a lot of hype (if any) around the Utes (I do expect the Utes to do better than everyone expects however). Coach Whittingham will have senior Trevor Reilly and junior Jake Murphy attending with him.  I was pleasantly surprised that Murphy was selected to attend, not because he doesn’t deserve it, but typically Coach Whitt will only take seniors to this event.

Here are some of the questions that will come their way:

  1. Dennis Erickson and the Offense:  How is he fitting in?  Why did you do it?  Will you offense be better as a result?
  2. Defensive Line:  How are they going to replace Star and Krugers Brothers?
  3. Move to the Pac-12:  Lots of questions about the Ute’s transition into the Pac-12, how the new football facility has affected recruiting and how they’re adjusting to the league.
  4. Travis Wilson:  Is Wilson the guy?  Can he be a star within the Pac-12 conference?
  5. For Jake Murphy:  I’m positive he’ll get plenty of questions about being the son of a baseball legend (who should be in the HOF), how he compares to top of the league tightends and how the new spread and hurry offense with improve the Ute’s chances for a winning season
  6. For Trevor Reilly:  Why does his arm look cut off in this picture?   How will the defensive line look without Star and Krugers?  Will you be moving around between Linebacker and Defensive End?

I can’t wait.