Posted on: August 18, 2008 10:40 am

Five things you should know about the Pac-10...

1. The Slickster: He's back and he's here to stir up Westwood, L.A., That School Down The Road and the Pac-10. Rick 
Neuheisel will be the freshest thing to hit the league since, well, Pete Carroll. Get ready for the USC-UCLA rivalry to reignite.

2. Curse of the Trojans: A dislocated knee is one thing (quarterback Mark Sanchez) but it's getting ridiculous at 
USC. Offensive lineman Jeff Byers is being treated for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Running back Joe McKnight 
smashed his fingers in a doorjamb last year (ouch!). Don't forget an outbreak of jock itch.

3. Curse of the Trojans II: USC has developed a nasty habit of a conference loss that defies explanation. Last year, it was Stanford. The year before that it was Oregon State. Put a shotgun (formation) to my head and I'd have to say 
the Oct. 25 game at Arizona qualifies as this season's head scratcher.

4. Intersectionals: Never let it be said the Pac-10 is ducking the competition. It plays that brutal nine-game 
round-robin league schedule. It doesn't fill the non-cons with cream puffs either. The Pac-10 was 5-3 against BCS 
conference schools in non-conference games last season (No. 1 in the country). We'll know a lot about the Pac-10 
(and a lot of other conferences) early on. Consider these intersectional doozies ...

USC at Virginia, Aug. 30
Oregon State at Penn State; BYU at Washington, Sept. 6
Oklahoma at Washington, Ohio State at USC; UCLA at BYU, Sept. 13
Georgia at Arizona State, Sept. 20

A case can be made for the Pac-10 being favored in only two of those games, both USC games (Ohio State, Virginia).

5. The end of an era: Commissioner Tom Hansen ends more than a quarter century of service when he steps down after 
this academic year. An NCAA veteran of 16 years, Hansen joined the league in 1983. Things have been great -- the 
re-emergence of USC -- and embarrassment -- the recent officiating snafus -- but Hansen always added class and dignity to a tough job.

His replacement could signal a small crack in the staunch Pac-10 position against a plus-one depending on who is 
hired. The short list: Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, WAC commissioner Karl Benson and former 
Pacific/Dartmouth/Stanford AD Ted Leland.

Posted on: May 22, 2008 9:57 am
Edited on: May 24, 2008 7:35 pm

Q & A with Tyrone Willingham

Leftovers from Ty from the hot seat story:

D&E: You recently offered a scholarship to a high-school freshman. What happens, for example, if the kid breaks his leg between now and then?

T.W.: "I had that happen with a (high school) senior. A running back committed in July some years ago. I can't say what university. What happens is about two weeks into his (senior) season, he tears his knee up. We don't know anything about it. He doesn't tell us anything about it until much later.

"You've made an offer, you're committed. Some people would walk away, snatch the scholarship away. If you're building a program of integrity ... when that young man says yes to you he should be committed to those words and those parents should be committed.

"The difference is the fact that things become formal today that never became formal in the past, because of the Internet. Before when you had them in camp. (Former Michigan State coach) Duffy Daughtery had all those kids from Detroit in camp, he'd offer this one, this one, this one. It was simply word of mouth.

"As soon as you got wind that a kid was good enough, you wanted to put a bug in his ear. What is a bug in his ear?  An offer for a scholarship."

D&E: Do you feel any urgency to win?

T.W.: A football coach is only concerned about one game, it's the next one. If you win enough nexts, guess what happens? You're right where you want to be.

"It's impossible to put pressure on someone whose expectation is greater than those who seek to apply pressure. Is there anyone who wants to win more than Coach Willingham?"
What did you think of the Seattle Times series on the 2000 Rose Bowl team?

T.W.: "I was embarassed. I was embarrassed for all of football. Football has long carried a black eye for that type of behavior. It was embarrassing for the university.

D&E: Did you wonder why they ran it less than a week before signing day?

T.W.: "I asked all those same questions.

"Why would someone not have trust for the media? Whoa, pretty easy. But if you've been around long enough you've seen all these things. I qualify my statement in saying I understand the media. I understand your job is to sell papers, mine is to coach our football team."

"I will repsect your job, please respect mine. I've never dodged one question that's never been aksed of me."

D&E: But there's never a good time to run something like that.

T.W.: "I'm still puzzled at what it accomplished. It did not help any of indiviuals.

"One of the stories that came out of that was never quite looked at was the one about Curtis Williams. Curtis Williams has a little girl that had to read that story. Nobody ever told her that her that her father was a (a bad guy).

"There were some things in there that weren't quite right. No one ever ran a correction. Yet, coaches are supposed to be open and accessible and spill their souls to people."

D&E: It was a window on a period of time in that program that was pretty compelling. Just as a reader I enjoyed it.

T.W.: "My living with it is pretty easy. I know very clearly what I stand for. I know very clearly what we're going to do. In my 115 guys, I've got a little bit of everything this world has to offer. I've probably got a thief in there. Probalby got a few honest guys. Probably got somebody that's deranged. No different than society."

D&E: How is U-Dub going to be this year?

"We're going to win the next game. That's an awful big one because that's Oregon. We've got to get some things in place. I think we have maybe the best quarterback in the country.  He's a great leader, a great person, a great player."

D&E: I like to call him a West Coast Tim Tebow?

"Tim Tebow has a Heisman. Our young man is one heck of a quarterback. I have had good ones at Stanford that set records. I had Brady Quinn at Notre Dame. I think this young man can be as good or better than any of them."

Category: NCAAF
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