The Pac 12 held their annual football media day at Universal Studios in California on Tuesday where teams expressed their hopes and expectations for the upcoming season. Each team was represented by their head coach and one player from each side of the ball, one on offense and one on defense. For the Washington Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian, quarterback Keith Price and cornerback Desmond Trufant were present to field questions from the media.
Here’s what the group had to say to the media:
What did we takeaway from their press conference?
1) The Huskies are heading in the right direction.
In Sarkisian’s opening statement he couldn’t be more pleased to be accompanied by two players he recruited and he went on to say that it spoke volumes about where his program is headed. He’s got a very talented team, a stadium that is undergoing new renovations and stellar incoming recruits that will be able to contribute right away. They’re only starting four seniors so they are somewhat young heading into this next season but they seem to be on the brink of something special in Seattle.
2) They are embracing their tough early season schedule.
They open against San Diego State but then head down to Baton Rouge to take on LSU and after a Portland State cupcake they open conference play against the top dogs: vs. Stanford, at Oregon and vs. USC. That’s a brutal start to the 2012 season but coach Sark and his players are embracing it and excited to play top-tier talent. He did say that they are not going to put all their eggs in the early season basket and that it’s a long year and they need to pace themselves. Basically he means that even if they happen to stumble in one of those games it won’t be the end of their season. It’s a rough way to start out the 2012 campaign but the Huskies have the talent to compete with the top teams in the country and they have a chance to prove that early.
3) Tosh Lupoi’s recruiting for Cal one day and Washington the next is just part of the business.
When Washington hired Lupoi away from Cal in January it proved beneficial to the Huskies recruiting class when Shaq Thompson and other highly touted players came with the coach to his new employer. Recruits seem to gravitate towards Lupoi due to his young age and his way to relate with the players, so when he moved schools it shook up the recruiting landscape. Coach Sarkisian was asked whether he thought it was unethical for Lupoi to be recruiting for Cal one day and then Washington the next and he replied by saying, “I think it’s the business. I think that the decisions we make as a program and as a head coach have to do what’s in the best interest of the University of Washington, our athletic department and our football program. When we made the decision to make changes on our defensive staff we wanted to hire some of the best coaches in the country and some of the best recruiters in the country, and Justin Wilcox, Tosh Lupoi, Peter Sirmon, Keith Heyward, they fit those criteria. It wasn’t about stealing other schools’ recruits; it was about bettering the University of Washington and for our long-term success on the football field. And I believe we’ve done that.” I find that to be a very polished answer and it makes total sense. Things like this happen in college football and there’s always one school that benefits more than the other and in this case it’s the Huskies that come out on top.
4) The defense is expected to improve immensely.
Sarkisian said that the defense will be a hybrid 3-4 and 4-3 with the option to be flexible depending on the game and situation. Under the new defensive coaches the players are improving and they are picking up the schemes quickly but they still have to put it all together by the time the season starts. After an embarrassing showing in the Alamo game last year the Huskies had to overhaul their defense and they seem to be heading in the right direction. Highly touted recruit Shaq Thompson is expected to play right away as long as he is ready to go in fall camp.
It will be an exciting year in the Pac 12 with plenty of teams that have talented players and exceptional coaching staffs. I’m expecting a big season from the conference of champions.