New faces the theme at Pac-12 media day

BY foxsports • July 24, 2012

LOS ANGELES — It's safe to say Rich Rodriguez is excited.

"We're excited to be part of the U of A," the Arizona coach said at Pac-12 Media Day on Wednesday. "Excited to be part of the Pac-12, exciting times for us, excited to be working with our guys." 

Rich Rod is downright giddy, and it helps that he has a veteran quarterback in the fold, tailor-made to run his offense. Matt Scott returns after redshirting last season. 

"It's the best decision the staff made last year," Rodriguez said of Scott redshirting in 2011. 

Scott is looking forward to being in an offense similar to what he ran at Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School.

"It fits me," said Scott of the offense. "It's like a dream come true. I had a lot of fun with this offense in high school. (I) put up big numbers and I'm ready to do the same here."

Rodriguez's offense didn't work out so well in his first year at Michigan. The Wolverines finished 3-9 in Rodriguez's first year and were 99th in the nation in scoring. It was perceived neither he nor his offense were a good fit for Big Blue or the Big Ten. He doesn't believe that.

"Of course I'm biased, I think it can fit anywhere, and I think schemes are sometimes overrated from the standpoint of does a scheme win you ballgames or lose you ballgames," Rodriguez said. "I think you have to have good players executing and I think what we do is a good fit in this league and I think it does, but I think it's a good fit in any league." 

Sun Devils embrace tough love

For UA rival Arizona State, RB Cameron Marshall said discipline is what the Sun Devils "probably needed the most."

In many ways, new head coach Todd Graham is what the doctor ordered. After getting off to a 6-2 start, the Sun Devils flamed out down the stretch, losing five in a row to end last season. Graham is inserting a ton of discipline to help them right the many wrongs exposed in the last regime.

"We've been one of the worst teams in the nation for the past three years in terms of getting penalties and that's just unacceptable," Marshall said. "Coach (Graham) has stressed how unacceptable that is and how he won't tolerate any penalties. I think that will help us out a ton to reach the potential that we actually have as a football team."

Added linebacker Brandon Magee, "You sprint on and off the field, high tempo, high energy."

The discipline doesn't just stop at the players.

"Coach Graham will tell you he gets on every coach if they're not doing their job right along with the players," Magee said.

Graham will try to restore a tradition left behind at Arizona State. The Sun Devils will open up Fall Camp at Camp Tontozona. 

"I would describe camp as rustic, but one of the things I believe in is I love the history and the heritage of college football and it's one of the great traditions unique to Arizona State University," Graham said. "Talking to our players and fans, far and away that is the tradition there. "(If) you look at the age of the iPad, iPod, iPhone all that stuff, we're not going to have any of that, and we're going up there and our cell phones don't work, what a great blessing for me!" 

Heading into camp, the players have "embraced the discipline."

Time will tell if those results translate to the field.

Mora keeps Bruins together

Unlike his three counterparts that are also entering their first season as head coaches in the Pac-12 conference, UCLA's Jim Mora only has head coaching experience at the NFL level. Spring ball for the Bruins was tougher and more physical than in year's past. For an NFL-like training camp, Mora has decided to open Fall Camp at Cal State Bernardino. 

"It's important as we start this journey that we know each other very well," Mora said. "At the end of day, some of these guys would be going back to (their) apartment. If we're talking to someone, it's a teammate or coach. I don't want girlfriends there. I don't want friends there. I don't want parents there.

"If we're going to do something fun, it's going to be with a teammate or the coach."

Mora hopes to have a starting quarterback named for the Bruins before they return from San Bernardino on Aug. 16. The three candidates are seniors Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince and redshirt freshman Brett Hundley.

About that starter, Mora says, "I have a feeling, but I need to be convinced."  

Leach changing culture at Washington State

By watching Washington State coach Mike Leach take the podium as he discussed fishing, hunting and historical figures, the mistake could easily be made that Leach is as about free-flowing as his offense, but that's not the case. 

He's about business.

"(He) made it known that, 'listen, you're here to play football and that's it," said Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel. "If you aren't committed to that, then you can leave and he made an example out of a few guys and opened some people's eyes and said, 'He's not messing around here.'" 

One example, back in February was linebacker C.J. Mizell, who was kicked off of the team after being arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor assault and trespassing.

Leach has brought a sense of pride and confidence that has been instilled into his players.

"What this coaching staff has done with this program is, I think, safe to say something that the old coaching staff would never have done," said defensive end Travis Long. "The level of confidence that they bring to this program and the level of excitement that they bring to the university (is) tremendous."

Synonymous with a Leach-led team is a high volume of plays in the passing game. Balls will fly in Pullman. 

"It's obviously exciting," Tuel said. "I know the past history the quarterbacks have had in his system.

"I'm not going into the season saying I'm going to throw for 5,000 yards because I've got to do a lot of stuff in order for that to happen."

Leach has even brought into the culture of the Pacific Northwest. He recently went bear hunting with former Cal quarterback Mike Pawlawski. Leach recalled the events like only he can.

"Mike is a great guy, former Cal quarterback, any of you that can go bear hunting with him ought to," Leach said.