Pacific 10 Conference and Rose Bowl officials are considering an annual kickoff game — maybe pitting the Pac-10 against the Big Ten — that would give the West Coast a stronger presence at the start of each college football season.
With the conference borrowing the Pasadena stadium for its annual media day Thursday, officials said the idea is in the discussion stage.
“The Pac-10 has a tradition of playing some really tough out-of-conference games early on,” Commissioner Larry Scott said. “We love the Rose Bowl relationship.”
The Pigskin Classic was played at Anaheim Stadium in late August each year through the mid-1990s. It revisited Southern California in 1998, when USC faced Purdue in the Coliseum.
“There’s a lot to think through,” Scott said. “I would only want to do it if it wouldn’t tarnish what it means to play in the Rose Bowl. This is hallowed turf.”
Media day is big on platitudes and short on information if only because coaches aren’t allowed to watch their players train over the summer.
Still, with Oregon State picked to finish third behind Oregon and USC in the media poll, the Beavers know they must avoid another sluggish start.
From 2007 through 2009, they opened a combined 5-7 before rebounding each time for a winning season and a bowl appearance. Now, they have the added challenge of finding a new starting quarterback, but star running back Jacquizz Rodgers thinks things will be different.
“It’s a matter of how we worked in the off-season,” he said. “A lot of guys bought into staying in Corvallis for the summer, more guys than we’ve had in past years.”
Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh, known for sending out cryptic tweets filled with esoteric references, was no less mystifying at media day.
Asked to make an opening comment about the upcoming season, Harbaugh discussed the origins of New Year’s Day and suggested that the yearly calendar should begin at the start of training camp.
Later, a reporter noted that Stanford, picked fourth in the media poll, had enjoyed a renaissance in recent seasons. He asked how Harbaugh hoped to sustain momentum.
The coach lurched forward in his seat and bellowed as if struck by an arrow.
“We’re not sustaining a gosh-darn thing,” he said. “We despise the word sustain.”
Big city, bright lights
Thursday’s event concluded a three-day campaign during which a Pac-10 contingent traveled to meet reporters in New York and tour ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
Several coaches hoped the trip boosted their conference’s profile and counterbalanced some of a perceived East Coast bias. They also sounded as if they don’t get to Manhattan too often.
“I’ve only been to New York two or three times,” Arizona State Coach Dennis Erickson said. "…there are a lot of people there.”
Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian, whose team is expected to contend for the Pac-10 title, got a taste of hotels in the Big Apple.
“My room was so small, there was only room for the bed and me,” he said. “I had to leave the luggage out in the hall.”