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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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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Former four-star linebacker Aaron Porter will transfer to Washington State

After leaving UCLA in early April, former four-star prospect Aaron Porter will transfer to Washington State.

Originally signed as a linebacker in 2012, Porter never played in a game for the Bruins — converting to fullback after falling down the depth chart. He was not enrolled for spring quarter and seemed unlikely to return to a team that played 18 true freshmen over him last season.

Cougfan.com first reported the news.

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Buried by 3-point barrage, UCLA misses another road sweep in loss to WSU

A few weeks ago, Steve Alford offered his thoughts on UCLA’s lackluster 3-point defense. Sure, the Bruins allow plenty of attempts, but he’ll live with those as long as: 1) those shots aren’t easy ones, and 2) the interior is locked down.

“If I had my way, I’d just as soon teams shoot 30, 35 threes against us,” the coach said then.

On Saturday night, Washington State did its best to oblige. The Cougars heaved 29 shots from downtown, the most that any Pac-12 opponent has shot against the Bruins this season. That they only made 10 made little difference; WSU steamrolled UCLA in a 73-55 victory, giving fans at Beasley Coliseum something to cheer for near the end of a brutal season. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: No bowl tickets for rude Washington State fans

– If you sent Washington State athletic director Bill Moos a particularly nasty email last year, you might not be able to buy bowl tickets.

– Trying to earn home field advantage for the Pac-12 title game, Arizona State and Todd Graham are learning to deal with the limelight.

– Still undecided about his NFL draft plans, Washington tailback Bishop Sankey is on the brink of the school’s single-season rushing record. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Utah quarterback Travis Wilson struggling

– Once a rising star, Utah’s sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson doesn’t look the same these days.

– A strong column from the Arizona Daily Star’s Greg Hansen, on the Wildcats’ loss to UCLA.

– After a stint at Louisiana-Monroe, Arizona State defensive back Robert Nelson is living the dream in Tempe.

– Does the Pac-12 need an injury report? Seattle Times columnist Bud Withers says yes, citing the status of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Continue reading

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UCLA picked to win Pac-12 South

Here are the full results of the Pac-12 preseason media poll, with first-place votes in parentheses. Few surprises down the line, as Oregon was named both the North Division and conference favorite. UCLA was named the South Division favorite, and also receive three votes as the Pac-12 champion.

South Division
1. UCLA (12) … 130
2. Arizona State (9) … 124
3. USC (4) … 113
4. Arizona … 73
5. Utah … 58
6. Colorado … 27

North Division
1. Oregon (14) … 139
2. Stanford (11) … 134
3. Oregon State … 91
4. Washington … 81
5. Cal … 45
6. Washington State … 32

Pac-12 Champion: Oregon (13 votes)
Others: Stanford (8), UCLA (3)

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Pac-12′s Top 25 Players: Who was left out?

With the week’s countdown over, here is a rundown of the Pac-12′s top 25 players as voted on by 11 different writers. I also included my ballot on the right side.

Totaled votes My votes
1 Marqise Lee, USC Marqise Lee, USC
2 Anthony Barr, UCLA Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3 Will Sutton, Arizona State Anthony Barr, UCLA
4 Marcus Mariota, Oregon Will Sutton, Arizona State
5 De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
6 Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona Brett Hundley, UCLA
7 David Yankey, Stanford Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
8 Brett Hundley, UCLA Morgan Breslin, USC
9 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington David Yankey, Stanford
10 Morgan Breslin, USC Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
11 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon Ed Reynolds, Stanford
12 Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA Trent Murphy, Stanford
13 Ed Reynolds, Stanford Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
14 Scott Crichton, Oregon State Scott Crichton, Oregon State
15 Shayne Skov, Stanford Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
16 Hroniss Grasu, Oregon Hayes Pullard, USC
17 Trent Murphy, Stanford Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
18 Brandin Cooks, Oregon State Shayne Skov, Stanford
19 Leonard Williams, USC Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
20 Bishop Sankey, Washington Shaq Thompson, Washington
21 Hayes Pullard, USC Deone Buccanon, Washington State
22 Taylor Kelly, Arizona State Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
23 Shaq Thompson, Washington Bishop Sankey, Washington
24 Brendan Bigelow, Cal Paul Richardson, Colorado
25 Silas Redd, USC Eric Kendricks, UCLA

For player bios, see Parts I, II, III, IV and V. The voter list is at the end of Part I.

The per-team tally in the final results: USC 5, Oregon 4, Stanford 4, UCLA 3, Washington 3, Arizona State 2, Oregon State 2, Arizona 1, Cal 1. Washington State, Colorado and Utah were shut out.

Also receiving votes, in descending order: Continue reading

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Bruins steady in latest APR rankings

The NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate reports this morning, which means anyone can go fiddle with the somewhat-cumbersome search engine and figure out which rivals they can mock for their classroom failures. While certainly imperfect, the APR — which factors in eligibility and retention — is still the only college athletics’ only comprehensive academic metric.

Here are the rankings for Pac-12 football, which average out the four academic years through 2011-12:

1. Stanford, 978
2. UCLA, 966
3. Utah, 963
4. Oregon St, 957
5. Arizona, 956
6. Washington, 954
7. Oregon, 951
8. Colorado, 946
9. USC, 945
10. Washington St, 942
11. Arizona St, 937
12. Cal, 935 Continue reading

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Pac-12 crime watch

This was not a great weekend for Pac-12 athletes trying to stay clear of the law.

– Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was cited late Saturday night for drunken driving in Seattle’s University District. “He will be disciplined internally in accordance with team and departmental policies,” coach Steve Sarkisian said in a statement. It did not specify whether or not Seferian-Jenkins will miss games.

– Witnesses accused USC’s 7-foot centers Dewayne Dedmon and James Blasczyk of drunkenly assaulting multiple people in Spokane bars Saturday night, allegedly shouting “anti-Spokane, anti-Gonzaga rhetoric.” Four people were reportedly hospitalized, including two women, but no arrests were made. USC cited the need for further investigation, but a source told the OC Register that Blasczyk got “jumped.”

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