Optimism, if nothing else, defines media days.
Commissioner Larry Scott opened Pac-12 Media Days from Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California, with the positivity expected at the start of every conference’s football season.
However, in the case of the Pac-12, Scott’s highlights were not empty rhetoric.
“Last season highlighted just how far we’ve come,” Scott said. “We had the most nonconference wins in our history with 31. We posted a 6-3 record against Big Ten, ACC and SEC.”
Prior to Scott’s hire in 2009, the conference had a reputation for being USC and the other guys. While the Trojans were competing for and sometimes winning national championships, other members of the league failed to make much of a mark nationally.
Since the 2010 season, Stanford and Oregon have combined to win four BCS bowl games. Last year, the Pac-12 had five 10-win teams and a 6-3 bowl record.
The conference no longer has to worry about lack of depth, as Scott mentioned.
“As for depth, this is something where we’ve seen dramatic improvement,” he said, referencing the Pac-12’s nine bowl bids in 2013. “Put simply, our conference has never been stronger [nor] deeper than it is today.”
At the heart of Scott’s message was the Pac-12 furthering its growth, and to that end, he touted the conference championship game moving to a neutral site: the San Francisco 49ers’ new home, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. “Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world,” as Scott described it.
“Innovation, entertainment,” he added. “This is part of the DNA of the Pac-12.”
The coming months will dictate the two teams with the privilege of playing in the revamped conference championship. In the interim, all 12 teams unofficially open the season with similar goals.
Here are some of the top takeaways from the first session of Pac-12 Media Days 2014.
Quotes obtained firsthand. Statistics compiled via CFBstats.com.