Pac-12 Media Days 2012: Burning Questions That Will Take Center Stage

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2012

Nov 26, 2011; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats new head coach Rich Rodriguez tries on a sombrero during an introductory ceremony at halftime of a game against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns at Arizona Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE
Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

There are a few themes that are going to dominate the Pac-12 media day, and for good reason. For the most part, the answers to these questions will define the conference in 2012. 

Yes, there will be plenty of things that will shape the Pac-12 that are not on the following list, and some things that no one saw coming, but these are some big storylines that will be front and center. Let's take a look. 


Matt Barkley's Heisman Chances

Eleven of the Pac-12 schools had to be collectively groaning when Matt Barkley announced he would return for his senior season. That makes the second-straight year that a stud Pac-12 signal caller has returned to the conference to become what most will say is the best QB in the nation. 

This is obviously a huge boon to USC's chances of success this year, but it is also an awful lot of pressure. That will be fully evident at media day as countless questions of Barkley's chances of winning the Heisman will pop up in some shape or form. 


Impact of New Coaches

The sidelines of the Pac-12 are going to be filled with some new coaching bling. Mike Leach (Washington State), Jim Mora Jr. (UCLA) and Rich Rodriguez (Arizona) will all be heading up their respective schools for the first time. Arizona State's Todd Graham will get lumped into this group, but the Sun Devils were the only school shopping in the coaching bargain bins. 

The thing with the three high-profile coaches is that they can all talk as well as they coach. They will add flavor to the media day just with their comments, but they will also hope to re-shape the conference. 

Leach and Rodriguez will be jacking up the offensive standards to a conference where scoring has not been a problem, and Mora will seemingly be the one coach in the conference who attacks things with a defense-first approach.  


How Do You Move on without Luck?

As if Stanford coach David Shaw hasn't been thinking about life after Andrew Luck enough, he will get all kinds of questions about it.

Have you decided on a starter? Will you change the offensive system? Does this alter your expectations? Questions like that can all be expected, and they are all essentially asking: How are you going to succeed after one of the best QBs in the history of college football left? 


Questions about the Playoffs

There is one thing that excites me about Pac-12 media day more than any other. That is when someone asks the inevitable playoff question to Jim Mora Jr. he answers with: "Playoffs? Don't talk to me about playoffs!"

If the son were ever going to evoke the father, now is the time. The college football playoffs are still a year away, but you better believe this is going to be a hot topic at media day.