Pac-10 Media Day has come and gone.
Unlike the Big 10 or the SEC, Pac-10 Media Day comes and goes in a single day. The SEC plans events over a three-day period, as does the Big 10.
Under new Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, the conference is already pushing creative marketing and branding tactics and expanding into social media markets, something it hasn't done much of in the past. Ted Miller of ESPN.com shares his take on what the Pac-10 did differently at Media Day this year:
In the past, reporters sat at tables while coaches droned on from a podium in a drab conference room. It was indistinguishable from gathering of widget salespeople.
This time, the room featured a pair of giant video screens and loud music that made the assembled laptops vibrate. An ESPN-produced video -- from the World Wide Leader's new Los Angeles digs -- provided pre-coach entertainment. The event was streamed live on the Pac-10's official website and a good number of questions came from fans via Twitter.
Miller also reports that the coaches are interested in stretching the event to multiple days, like the SEC and Big 12.
[Associate Commissioner Jim] Muldoon noted that conference coaches, who a few years ago griped about even having to attend, were suggesting the event be scheduled over multiple days in order to get more media coverage.
Without prolific passing quarterbacks like Rudy Carpenter, Mark Sanchez, Willie Tuitama, and Nate Longshore, the conference could have a completely different dynamic this year. The running game will be huge for teams in the Pac-10, but more importantly, defenses will have to step up in order to stop the likes of Jahvid Best, Toby Gerhart, Jacquizz Rodgers, LeGarrette Blount, and USC's stable of backs.
Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh recognizes the importance of stopping the run.
You better be ready to stop running games in this conference. The Pac-10 had five 1,000-yard rushers last year. The team that is going to win this conference is going to be strong and tough.
Arizona safety Cam Nelson knows first hand that the Pac-10's most prolific runners--some of which are quarterbacks-- are tough to bring down:
There are great running backs in the Pac-10. Jahvid Best, great running back. Jacquizz Rodgers, great running back. Then you have quarterback like Jake Locker who can also run. Toby Gerhart is another great back that is a bruiser. It makes the game plan a little bit harder with those guys.
Nelson brings up a good point-- quarterbacks like Locker and Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli present additional challenges for Pac-10 defenses.
Pete Carroll had high praise for the level of competition in the conference:
Our conference is so talented. Year in and year out, without question, they are our most difficult games come right from our conference opponents. I think it's the best conference in the country and we show it by the way we perform. We show it by the level of coaching and by the level of the players. It makes us so strong at the end of the year. It gets us ready to play in the bowl games. It just presents great challenges
With all that being said, it doesn't seem like a great year for the Beavers to only return three starters on the defense. However, the most inexperienced defensive unit figures to be the secondary, which should get some room to breathe in this year's run-happy Pac-10. The secondary, with untested players such as Lance Mitchell and Suaesi Tuimaunei at safety, will still be tested. It shouldn't be another 2005, when the Beavers fed Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis to the wolves as freshmen, but it could take awhile for the new DB's to get acclimated.
It's fortunate that the strength of this year's defense seems to be the linebackers, since stopping the run will be of the utmost importance this year. And with Mike Riley talking a lot about how his Oregon State teams take awhile to find their "identity" during a season, it's probably also a positive that they'll play five games before meeting the first upper-echelon Pac-10 running back: Stanford's Toby Gerhart.
It's probably also a positive that the Beavers will look to control the football with the returning Offensive Player of the Year in the Pac-10: Jacquizz Rodgers.
"He's not small," Riley said yesterday. "He's just short."