Steve Sarkisian: USC has underperformed against UCLA

In two stints as an USC assistant coach, Steve Sarkisian saw the Trojans win six rivalry games with just one loss. As the program’s head coach, he’s 0-for-1 against UCLA — part of the Bruins’ three-win streak.

Asked about the factors that have tilted the rivalry to Westwood, Sarkisian traced the roots to Rick Neuheisel. Despite the his lackluster on-field record, the former UCLA head coach pulled in three top-15 recruiting classes from 2008-10. That gave Jim Mora some of the tools he needed to put the Bruins back atop Los Angeles football.

“They’ve recruited really well,” Sarkisian said on Friday. “I want to make sure I give Rick credit here too, because Rick brought in some really talented players: Brett Hundley, Owa (Odighizuwa), all these guys.

“I know Rick didn’t get to see it through, and Jim came in and continued upon that, recruiting good players. I think they’ve performed really well. The quarterback play with Brett really helped them. I think the first time around, their quarterback play struggled some.” Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: A Pac-12 team could play Baylor in Australia in 2016

» Baylor is in talks to open the 2016 season in Australia, and would likely face a Pac-12 opponent.

» Less than two years after leaving Arizona State, Texas athletic director Steve Patterson has already made enemies in Austin.

» Former Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is sponsoring a bus to take 40 kids from his hometown to next week’s NBA Draft.

» Kyle Anderson is holding a basketball clinic this Saturday in memory of a childhood friend who committed suicide. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Judge rules against NCAA in landmark O’Bannon case

» In a landmark case that could change amateurism, a judge ruled in favor of Ed O’Bannon and against the NCAA. Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann breaks down the implications of Claudia Wilken’s decision, as well as the legal road ahead.

» A feature on USC coach Steve Sarkisian, by columnist Mark Whicker: “Some coaches have five and 10-year plans. Sarkisian, 40, has lived in a quick-pivoting sports car, not always using signals, barreling down the roads less traveled, looking straight ahead.”

» Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson is trying to win Utah’s starting quarterback job — and perhaps help redeem the family name. 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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