by Pete Arbogast, the voice of the Trojans:
And so it begins anew.
At the fun Warner Brothers Studios in Toluca Lake today, home of the two-day Pac-12 media extravaganza.
Having never been on the lot before, I first notice the large bronze plaques on the wall outside of each of the many stages. On them are listed each of the movies and TV shows of note that were filmed inside. Ours featured the likes of Casablanca, The Music Man, and Blazing Saddles, plus only about 40 more of the same ilk. That, to me, is pretty cool.
I head over the press row before the 9 a.m. start time for Commissioner Larry Scott’s comments, and check in with our flagship station 710 ESPN, KLAA and my friends in the OC and The Beast 980, plus numerous Sports information guys and The dean of Pac-12 play by play announcers, Cal’s Joe Starkey, who is never, as far as I can tell dressed in anything but blue.
It’s the conference’s 100th anniversary in many incarnations with lots of letters of the alphabet associated therein.
Scott’s talk is clear and concise, and he’s generally honest in his responses to questions, the first of which are negative and deal with the “quality” of football officiating.
The media swag is a lightweight mini backpack, with a thermos and as many thumb drives and ear bud holding zippered pouches as we can grab. Much of which goes into the Christmas “prize closet” at our house for those extra special gifts of the season.
The Pac-12 guys are all wearing official 100 year Pac-12 shirts, with the Nike Swoosh covered over by a large red “100” so as not to offend Addidas, the new partner of the Pac-12.
Hey, how about a shirt like that for swag, or a hoodie or even a hat?
SC wins the media poll as the suspected conference champion. In all the years I have been going to this event, I have NEVER heard of when the vote is taken, or who votes in it. No one else I talk to seems to know either. Must be a very secret society.
Scott says we have no intention to expand in the foreseeable future. We’ll see how long that is.
ASU’s Todd Graham says this is his best, toughest, smartest and strongest group of his 4 years there. Oh, and their most explosive, which for ASU is saying something. In other words he thinks they’re good.
The coaches talk for about two minutes, introduce their players who are situated in the back of the room at tables, and everyone then goes into a press round up where they gather around the coach or athlete and ask questions until 30 minutes go by.
There are ZERO media guides. Everyone has gone green, which is fine, but maybe just guides for those of us who actually use them in our day-to-day work? I hate trying to prep a game and having to scroll through 800 pages to get what I want, this after a long download process. Ugh.
Oregon State’s new headman Gary Anderson says his team will be very young….only ten seniors. Gonna be a tough season in Corvallis from a guy who just left the hotbed of Madison, Wisconsin. The Beavs are picked 11th just ahead of Colorado.
Looks like Mike Riley squeezed all he could out of the gig before heading to Nebraska
I spend a goodly amount of time chatting with long time friend Jim Alexander, sportswriter for the Riverside Press Enterprise. I worked in Riverside doing high school, JC and UC Riverside games before moving to KNX, which led to getting the SC gig in 1989.
Arizona play-by-play man Brian Jeffries saunters over and we figure out that he and Oregon’s Jerry Allen are tied for second in terms of longetivity just ahead of UW’s Bob Rondeau, and then me. I started in 1989 as I mentioned above, and am 5th out of 12! I think that’s awesome that so many teams are so greatly loyal to their voices in the booth for such long times.
Not so with Washington State’s Bud Namek, who waited behind 50 year voice of the Cougars Bob Robertson to finally land his dream job two years ago, only to be unceremoniously dumped in favor of Matt Chazenow, who comes from the state of North Carolina to Pullman.
I feel terrible for Bud. Matt says they called him and offered him the job and he knew nothing about why or what happened up in the Palouse.
Former sales funny man and long time buddy Glenn Cooper and I chat. He’s retired, but it appears we are partners again working for WeAreSC.com.
As Ucla’s Jim Mora takes the stage, I immediately am overwhelmed with a peaceful feeling that this is his last Pac-12 media day. It came to me like a dream.
The Bruins were picked third in the South behind SC and ASU. Sure it could happen.
Mora is caught saying something along the lines of feeling that beating Stanford and Oregon, something he has never done, is more important that beating USC which he’s done three straight times.
I had to get out at this point and take a walk. But it was quite hot and humid (for L.A.) outside, so before long I was back in nice ol’ air conditioned Stage 12. I got back just as Colorado coach McIntyre was speaking. It sounded like a realistic guy who says it might take some time. Still.
Speeches over, it’s time for lunch. Hi Petros! Hi Jim Hill! Wayne Cook, Matt Stevens.
Lunch over, I am interviewed in a dark room with a green screen about some history of USC football and the conference in general. They ask about who I think the greatest offensive and defensive players and best coach in conference history are, and about some great games and names.
And just before leaving I finally run in to new Ucla radio man Bill Roth, who comes West after 27 years at VTU.
He has family out here (although unmarried), and likes the weather a lot more than there. He immediately seems very likeable. He also lives nearby in Marina Del Rey so I suggest a frosty beverage at Hinano’s.
Well, that’s day one. Back tomorrow to hear more, including the only one I care about, and some Pac-12 ref telling us all how much better it will be this year.