Pac-12 notes: Mike Leach thinks Connor Halliday is better than your quarterback

Connor Halliday is the best quarterback in the country, according to Connor Halliday’s coach.

After talking up the Pac-12′s depth behind center on Wednesday, Washington State’s Mike Leach said he would take his redshirt senior over just about anybody else.

“You might be rooting for your guy, and I don’t care what you think,” Leach said. “He’s better than your guy is.”

Some other Pac-12 Media Day highlights from the conference’s most quotable coach (as well as other coaches and players) …

» Asked how he would pick a bear-hunting partner between Washington coach Chris Petersen and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham: “We get a large bag and we stick in Coach Petersen, Coach Whittingham, and we shake that bag up really high and really hard.”

» On his fishing trip this summer: “My staff and I went fishing up in McCall, Idaho on the Snake River and got a huge 9.5-foot, 350-pound sturgeon, probably 95 years old. Of course, turned him loose so he could pull somebody else’s boat around for a while next time.”

» Leach, on weather: “I’m proud to say I had a bet with a guy from Chicago who said Chicago is windier and coler than Wyoming. But Wyoming dominated them. Our weather is way windier and colder than them, and it heats like this too. Everybody wants to be in a battle for the most uncomfortable as well. You know, he’d go home and we’d have roadrunners running around our field. Actual roadrunners. They’re about this high.”

» On what to do in Pullman on a Friday night: “Some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had is a place called CD’s BBQ in Moscow. I mean, there are places all over. … You’ll have to call me ahead of time and I’ll get you some restaurants.”

» On Geronimo, the subject of his latest book: “He was not a take-a-knee guy.”

AND IN NON-LEACH NEWS

» Commissioner Larry Scott doesn’t have much optimism for a DirecTV deal — unless the company is acquired by AT&T. He also said the Pac-12 is investing $3.5 million per year into athlete health research for the next three years, with an emphasis on head trauma.

Scott generally expressed optimism about the state of college athletics. He said he sees reforms as necessary, but warned against prioritizing the “small sliver” of athletes with pro futures over preserving access to scholarships for athletes who don’t — essentially paraphrasing the NCAA’s tried-and-true marketing line.

» Asked whether he was comfortable with the way he left Washington for USC, Steve Sarkisian said he regretted appearing on the radio the morning he left — a segment in which he denied having interviewed for the Trojans’ head coaching job.

“I don’t know if you guys have ever had girlfriends, (but) when you break up with your girlfriend, it’s never easy,” he said Wednesday. “It’s always hard. You do it the best way you know how and you just try to be upfront and honest. You try not to disrespect one school or another school or some kids and another kid. In a perfect world, I wish I would have gotten to our players sooner so that they didn’t have to hear it from anybody else.

“But at the end of the day, I got that opportunity to get up in front of them and address them so they knew exactly where I was coming from.”

» Arizona receiver Austin Hill caught for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012 before sitting out all of last season due to injury. He’ll return to the conference’s most uncertain quarterback situation, with Jesse Scroggins, Jerrard Randall, Connor Brewer, and Anu Solomon all vying for the job.

Hill said he has “a couple” of favorites in mind, but declined to name names.

» Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez would rather still be on vacation. “I could be like every other coach in America and tell you how excited I am to be here. I’d be lying,” he said in his opening statement.

He also commented on the facilities arms race in college football: “Oregon changes them out like Port-o-Potties. Every few years they’re like, ‘We need a new one.”

» Asked about if Oregon could continue pushing its on-field sartorial envelope, linebacker Derrick Malone said yes. But how? “I have no idea. I’m all drained out thinking of how we could do it.”

» Malone said he was “a little hesitant” in the Ducks’ 26-20 loss to Stanford last November — one that erased the team’s national championship hopes. He couldn’t explain why, but said the team’s defensive woes were more mental than schematic.

» Cal’s Stefan McClure has put on five pounds to 200, and is moving from cornerback to safety for the first time since his senior year at Vista (Calif.) High.

One of the defensive veterans on a 1-11 team, he aptly summed up the Bears’ state of mind: “We’ve got a nasty taste in our mouth, especially on defense. We really didn’t do too many things well.”

Cal ranked 124th in total defense last season.

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