Friday, July 25, 2008

Pac Ten Media Day

Back in the day there used to be something called the Pac Ten Skywriters Tour. All the writers from the major papers on the West coast that covered college football used to go on a junket to visit all the schools in the conference to interview the coaches and take in a practice at the expense of the conference. It was quite the cocktail party, and it did a great job promoting the conference to kick off the season.

The following article is written by current Seattle Times "WSU" beat writer Bud Withers when he was working for the Seattle PI back in 1992. If you are too young to remember the Skywriters tour this piece gives you a great look at that slice of Pac Ten history.

Skywriters was born in 1961 to drum up interest in football back in the days of the five-school Athletic Association of Western Universities. Befitting the times, the conference paid for hotels and travel and the schools supplied the eats. The agreement was tidy: Eat our food, drink our drinks, fly our planes, just write nice things about us. The participants did.

The skywriters tour ended back in 1992, and the modern day watered down version is something called Pac Ten Media Day. The head coaches fly into LA with one of their top players and members of the media get to listen to a series of very boring press conferences during the morning followed by a buffet.

Gone are the days when the media used to party with the coaches to kick off the season. Back home the fans eagerly read every morsel written in the newspapers about their favorite teams since the media outlets were so limited back then in comparison to today.

As in the old days the press votes on how they think the standings will be at the end of the season and surprise, USC once again has been selected as the pre season favorite to win it all followed by Arizona State, Oregon, and California.

What is surprising to me was the predicted 5th place finish of UCLA. I think that one was a tip of the hat to the coaching staff Rick Neuheisel has put together rather than the holes he will have to fill in Westwood. The poll always had, and still has a strong California lean since four of the schools from the conference hail from the Golden State.

I have no idea who had the audacity to vote California as #1, but we know for sure it wasn't Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury. Cal has some good talent, but I think they are closer to Washington than they are Oregon, USC, and Arizona State.

Oregon at #3 is a little low when you realize how much talent that squad has. The Duck running backs, and defensive backfield are pretty scary.

ASU doesn't have as much talent, but they do have Dennis Erickson, and his game day coaching and adjustments make up for a lot of inadequacies such as a very average offensive line.

1. USC (38 first-place votes), 389 total points
2. Arizona State, 330
3. Oregon, 295
4. Cal (1), 274
5. UCLA, 204
6. Oregon State, 192
7. Arizona, 185
8. Washintgton, 139
9. Stanford, 76
10. Washington State, 61

Here is a snippet from Ty Willingham reported by Bob Condotta.

Willingham was also asked about the team's close losses last season and what UW can do to prevent them. He said the coaches looked at three things --- the team's conditioning, coaching, and the team's mentality in those situations. He said the Huskies "beefed up our conditioning a little bit'' to make sure that isn't a factor; will make sure that the coaches "clearly understand those situations, making sure that our guys understand how to handle those situations''; and will work on making sure the players look at those situations with a "glass half-full'' mentality and "that they are looking for great things to happen in those situations.''

He might have added that he fired possibly his two best friends in football, TE/ST Coach Bob Simmons, and DC Kent Baer during the off season to bring in some new blood to eliminate some of the mistakes that haunted the previous three squads.

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