Pac-12 links: USC’s Josh Shaw (doesn’t) save nephew from drowning

» USC cornerback Josh Shaw sprained his ankles saving his nephew from drowning during a family social on Saturday. Remarkably, Shaw leaped off second-story balcony when he saw the 7-year-old struggling, landing on the concrete before crawling into the pool.

UPDATE: Serious doubts about Shaw’s story have surfaced, and USC is investigating further.

» Anu Solomon officially became Arizona’s starting quarterback, marking the first time since freshmen became eligible in 1972 that the Wildcats will open the season with one behind center.

» A closer look at the running ability of Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly, whom Jim Mora called “tough as nails.” Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Arizona State’s Chip Sarafin comes out as gay

» Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin came out on Wednesday, becoming first openly gay active player in Division I football.

» Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon is trying to win Arizona’s starting quarterback — something that would require beating out transfers from USC, LSU and Texas.

» The Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise $2.3 million for the national ALS association since July 29, and UCLA coach Jim Mora accepted a challenge to join yesterday:

» Washington State crossed the Idaho border for training camp, but wildfires forced the Cougars back to Pullman. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Oregon State’s Mike Riley is the conference’s coaching ‘godfather’

» In a conference filled with newcomers, Oregon State coach Mike Riley is heading into his 14th season in the Pac-12. “Mike’s kind of a godfather,” said Stanford’s David Shaw.

» Apparently no longer content with uniform experimentation, Oregon will debut scratch-and-sniff season tickets this year. Unfortunately, the sticker is a Carl’s Jr. ad and likely smells like burgers rather than ducks.

» A former ASU running back was found shot to death on a hiking trial near Sedona. Continue reading

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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.” Continue reading

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Oregon picked to win Pac-12 title over UCLA in preseason poll

Oregon and UCLA are both overwhelming favorites in their respective divisions, but for the fourth time in five years, the Ducks are the preseason pick to win the Pac-12.

Media members gave Oregon 24 votes to win conference title game at Levi’s Stadium on Dec. 5, nearly double the 13 votes UCLA received. Stanford and USC also received one vote each to win the league, though they only combined for three votes to take their respective divisions.

The preseason poll has correctly picked 28 of 53 conference champions, and 11 of the last 14. Continue reading

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Which players have the best names in the Pac-12?

By now, you’ve read many of the lists that have proliferated in college football’s dry summer months. The best 100 players. The freakiest players. The best coaches, best offseasons, best uniforms.

But this? This is the most important of them all. With Pac-12 Media Days — schedule here — kicking off this morning, I have compiled the five best names from each team in the conference.

Without further ado …

Arizona: Sir Thomas Jackson, Antonio Smothers, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Brogan Kemmerly, Abraham Mendivil

Not great depth here, as the latter two names sacrifice catchiness in favor of length. Still, Sir Thomas Jackson alone is an MVP candidate.

Arizona State: Ezekial Bishop, Demetrius Cherry, Zane Gonzalez, Jaxon Hood, Philip “Scooby” Wright III

Would be better if Scooby’s real first name weren’t Phillip, but otherwise still a solid quintet that lacks a superstar.

Cal: Hardy Nickerson, Avery Sebastian, Bryce Treggs, Brennan Scarlett, Maximo Espitia

A nice throwback in Hardy Nickerson, bookended by a name that makes me want to re-watch Russell Crowe take on a despotic Joaquin Phoenix. Continue reading

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UCLA blows out Oregon in Pac-12 quarterfinal

LAS VEGAS — UCLA’s high-flying offense is back.

A week after shooting 33.3 percent in an ugly loss at Washington State to end the regular season, the Bruins couldn’t miss in a 82-63 blowout of Oregon.

In what was arguably the most highly anticipated of the Pac-12 Tournament’s second day, UCLA turned a quarterfinal matchup into its own personal billboard. Continue reading

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Five questions: What does UCLA need to do in its Pac-12 tourney opener?

UCLA will open its Las Vegas schedule against a red-hot Oregon team that has won eight straight games. If nothing else, the matchup between the Pac-12′s two top offenses could result in the most entertaining game yet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Here are five key questions heading into Thursday’s 6 p.m. quarterfinal.

1. How will Jordan Adams play? UCLA’s top scorer has run hot and cold this season, most recently following up a career-high 31 points against Washington with seven against Washington State.

The sophomore’s point totals have ebbed and flowed along with the Bruins’ wins and losses. Continue reading

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UCLA to face No. 7-seed Oregon in Pac-12 quarterfinals

UCLA will open the Pac-12 Tournament against Oregon, setting up a rubber match on Thursday after a split regular-season series.

The Ducks earned a spot in the 6 p.m. quarterfinal after putting on an offensive clinic against Oregon State on Wednesday night. The conference’s most prolific offense had a 21-4 run in the first half, and a 17-2 run in the second. It shot 80 percent after halftime, outscoring the Beavers 47-34.

Dana Altman got 46 points off his bench, with 27 coming from Jason Calliste and Dominic Artis. The latter had arguably his best game of the season, notching a 10 points and a season-high six assists.

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