UTAH UTES

Top Three Pac-12 Media Day Story Lines

Jul 14, 2022, 8:30 AM | Updated: 4:21 pm
Pac-12 Championship Game...
A general view of the PAC-12 logo at midfield before the PAC-12 Football Championship football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes at Allegiant Stadium on December 03, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- With Pac-12 Media Day about two weeks out, it’s hard not to think ahead to what the main topics of discussion will be. Some years are tougher to predict than others. 2022 is shaping up to be an easy one to predict due to the recent events that have taken place. Here are the three topics I personally think will be the mainstays of conversation at Pac-12 Media Day 2022.

Pac-12 Media Day Story Line #1

Conference realignment and everything that comes with it. If you aren’t already sick of this topic yet, chances are Pac-12 Media Day may push you over that edge. USC and UCLA’s bombshell move to the Big Ten in 2024 will most likely take up the conversation this year, which is too bad in some ways because there were some really interesting in-conference that would have normally been discussed more.

The bulk of the media is going to want to try and get answers to all of their burning questions regarding USC and UCLA’s move, how the remaining conference members feel about it, and what everyone’s plans are to address the elephant in the room. However, if I’m being completely honest, it’s doubtful anything terribly inciteful will come out about this topic, but it won’t stop it from being the number one thing being discussed either. Coaches and players really aren’t the ones with the answers. They only care about games ahead of them and will most likely express as much.

The one thing I will be looking for here with coaches and players is body language when the questions are asked. Just because they don’t know a whole lot about what is happening behind the scenes, doesn’t mean they don’t have opinions about what happened. They just won’t say them out loud most likely, but that awkward shift or those darting eyeballs? Yeah. This psych major is going to be on high alert for those. (Just don’t expect to hear about any give-aways from Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham because he has the best poker face of anyone I’ve ever encountered.)

Where this topic could get a little more interesting on the actual discussion front however, is when Pac-12 Conference Commissioner George Kliavkoff takes the stage since he is the one wheeling and dealing. More on that topic in story line number two.

Pac-12 Media Day Story Line #2

Keeping the remaining ten schools together. There is a lot of curiosity surrounding what has been said between the remaining ten Pac-12 members as well as what Kliavkoff said to keep everyone together for at least the foreseeable future. Not much has been revealed in the way of Kliavkoff’s plan for the Pac-12, attempting to align in some way with the ACC, or exactly what he’s negotiating for. Just that there was some excitement from the ten remaining Pac-12 members as to what he was bringing to the table.

Pac-12 Media Day will coincide pretty closely with the end of the 30 days the league opened up to shop their media rights to FOX and ESPN. Negotiating contracts like that can take a long time, longer than even 30 days, but hopefully there will be a clearer picture that can be presented to the media as to what exactly the plan is. I expect Kliavkoff will share a little more of the vision for the Pac-12 at Media Day, though probably still not in great detail due to on-going negotiations.

Pac-12 Media Day Story Line #3

Utah? USC? Or Oregon? Someone else? I think the final story line will focus on what normal media days typically focus on, who will win it all and why? It’s not often those topics get derailed, but alas, we are not living in normal times at the moment and it’s kind of too bad. 2022 has the potential to be the most interesting race to the finish the Pac-12 has seen in it’s 11 years of existence and I have my doubts that it will be talked about the way it should be.

For many, Utah appears to be the favorite and there are good reasons why. The turnaround last season to eventually walk away with their first-ever title was pretty immense for starts and it’s not inconceivable that Utah hasn’t hit their ceiling yet. Most of that talent is returning and will technically be in their upper-classmen phase of college versus their under-classmen years despite what the roster says. (Shakes fist at the Covid-19 year for making that confusing.) Perhaps most compelling of all is the bond this team has due to the traumas they suffered last year with the shocking deaths of teammates Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe. When you have reasons bigger than yourselves to go out and accomplish great things, the impossible becomes possible, and no other Pac-12 team can boast that. Not even close.

With all of that said, USC has made a real push to be in the conversation, and has subsequently become a favorite in many pundit’s eyes. It’s hard not to be more bullish on the Trojans after they have finally moved away from Clay Helton and hired former Sooner’s head coach Lincoln Riley. He’s more charismatic and has a history of winning- something admittedly Helton really struggled with. How quickly Riley can start winning with USC remains to be seen. As many have said, it can’t be any worse than last season and most likely will be better simply due to the talent they have brought in via the transfer portal. The only thing for certain right now is that game in Salt Lake City with the Utes is looming real large.

Finally, while it seems less likely this season, Oregon still deserves to be in the conversation- at least to start. The Ducks will also be breaking in a new head coach in former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning. The Ducks have also been bringing in improved talent. Will it come together to take the crown? What I can openly say is that I don’t doubt for a second that Oregon resents getting boat-raced twice by Utah in a two-week span to end their regular season. Sometimes losing bad can be the ultimate motivation to come back out on top. We’ll see.

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Top Three Pac-12 Media Day Story Lines