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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USC picked to win the Pac-12 in 2015 media poll

USC is the favorite to win its first conference title since 2008.

The Trojans were chosen to win the Pac-12 in 2015, receiving 21 votes in the media poll released on Thursday morning. Oregon, the national runner-up last season, came in second with 17 votes.

Those two teams were the overwhelming favorites in their respective divisions. Oregon had 37 votes to win the Pac-12 North, while Stanford finished second with eight. USC’s 32 votes to win the Pac-12 South dwarfed Arizona State’s seven and UCLA’s six.

Here’s the full poll: 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: Amy Van Dyken recovering after ATV accident

» Former Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen injured her spine in an ATV accident a year ago. Here’s the Arizona Republic’s story on her journey to try and walk again, as well as the Pac-12 Networks’ feature on her from January:

» New Washington quarterback Tony Rodriguez is “probably the biggest steal at any position out of junior college,” according to CCSF coach Jimmy Collins — clearly an unbiased observer.

» Hale Irwin, a former Colorado cornerback and golfer, reflects on his U.S. Open win 25 years ago — one that made him the tournament’s oldest champion. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Utah and Duke to play at Madison Square Garden

» After falling in the Sweet 16, Utah will get another shot at Duke this December at Madison Square Garden.

» Famed Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar is facing doping allegations, including ones surrounding former Oregon runner and Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp. ProPublica and the BBC collaborated on the investigation.

» Theo Robertson, who was a part of Cal’s conference title team in 2010, is now a video intern for the Golden State Warriors.

» Former UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin now works in the Notre Dame athletic department. He talked to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about adjusting to life after football. Continue reading

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