Colorado's Mike MacIntyre and Oregon State's Mike Riley agreed with Utah's Kyle Whittingham that the Pac-12 isn't getting any easier.
MacIntyre said it's a matter of solid quarterback play. Riley mused that it was because many of the conference's coaches Mike Leach, Todd Graham, Rich Rodriguez have had time now to follow their own blueprint for a program.
But that doesn't solve the problem for Whittingham or MacIntyre, who are trying to catch up in the Pac-12 South.
"I'm glad the league's good and we've got to keep improving to be able to compete," MacIntyre said, adding that he believes new facilities (promised to him when he took the job) will raise the "ceiling" for a proud Buffalo program.
Stanford's Jordan Richards says Cardinal learned from Utah loss
Last year's loss to Utah doesn't stick in his craw, said Stanford safety Jordan Richards. It was a lesson.
"Obviously we learned last year that you can't take any days off," he said. "You can't have any relaxed performances and you can't expect to win if you only play two quarters of good football."
Stanford should've already known that, he said, but they simply failed to make tackles on the swing passes that Utah employed in the first half.
"That should be two-, three-, four-yard gains, and when you miss a tackle it becomes nine, 10, 12, 13, and the chains just move down the field," he said. "It's just demoralizing when you see guys bounce off and miss plays, and that's myself included, I was part of that."
Richards said that if Stanford is to accomplish its goal this year winning a Pac-12 title it will take "being 1-0 on every Saturday."
David Shaw on the perils of Twitter
It's Stanford, so you'd expect David Shaw's players to compose themselves intelligently, but Shaw said Thursday that monitoring social media has become part of the job for his staff.
"My general comment on social media, and Twitter in particular: It's been the best and the worst thing for a lot of young people," Shaw said. "There's such potential for so much damage to be inflicted on other people, so much damage to be self-inflicted by what is done and said on social media."
Shaw said Stanford's program tries to hammer home the message to their players that Twitter is not the place to go for a personal conversation.
"This is a window into your world, so show people what you want them to see," Shaw said. "Social media is not a place for you to go on and complain about what's going on in your life. … You're putting a lot of negativity out there in the world that only comes back to you."
And if you've got something specific to say to somebody?
"Pick up the phone and call him and talk to him," Shaw said. "Let's not let the world in on every single thing that goes on in your life. I try to remind them sometimes. I have to tell them, myself included, our day-to-day lives are not that interesting. Nobody needs to know what I'm doing every 10 minutes."
Chris Petersen talks about leaving Boise State
For a few years, Chris Petersen's off-seasons were a focus of as much attention as Boise State's seasons.
There were few, if any, big-conference coaching searches that made no mention of Chris Petersen.
The new Washington head coach told reporters Thursday that he never had one school in mind, and he was happy in Boise. "The grass isn't always greener," he said.
"I was just always content and happy at Boise."
Then why did he choose Washington?
"It really is kind of a gut decision," he said. "It had to do with growing and stretching myself a little bit."
Ironically, the notoriously spotlight-averse Petersen said, he's more under the radar in Seattle, where few ever recognize him, than in Boise, Idaho.
The only difference now is that "there's more of you" meaning pesky reporters "than at other media days."
Another difference? Traffic. Petersen said he is still flummoxed when people tell him it will take hours to travel a few miles in and around Seattle and Los Angeles.
Mannion gets to know Wilson at Elite 11
While both served as counselors at the prestigious Elite 11 camp for the nation's top quarterbacks in Oregon earlier this month, Travis Wilson and Oregon State's Sean Mannion became fast friends, Mannion told The Tribune on Thursday.
"Great guy," Mannion said. "He's real quiet, but getting to know him, he's a real laid-back guy and I was real happy he was there."
Mannion said he'd already met Wilson after games, but this July they saw a lot of each other hanging out during drills, meals and at the hotel.
Mannion said he didn't realize just how big Wilson is.
"I hear it all the time that I'm tall," said the 6'5 Mannion. "But that guy's real tall."
Wilson told Mannion that he loves to surf, and that he spent every day back home this summer catching waves.
Asked to describe Wilson's game, Mannion said:
"He's a real good runner, real good athlete, and he's got a strong arm, too. I only see him getting better and better from this point on."
Kings of L.A.?
Brett Hundley said that when he came to Los Angeles a few years ago, he saw few residents wearing Bruin blue.
He liked that.
"Everybody can go to Alabama and just be another player," he said. "I wanted to be a part of something special."
Thursday, UCLA was the main attraction for media assembled from throughout the Western U.S. UCLA, not USC, is picked to win the South, and people can wear Bruins gear around Los Angeles without fear of being mocked.
But head coach Jim Mora said they're careful to emphasize to their team that they're 0-3 against Stanford, that they haven't won a Pac-12 championship, and that they haven't done anything that they're really trying to do yet.
He does feel that UCLA is benefiting from the exposure, though. The Bruins will be featured on "The Drive" a season-long behind-the-scenes documentary from Pac-12 Networks and Hundley and Myles Jack have Heisman buzz.
"Anytime you can get positive visibility, it helps you recruit," he said.
Ironic, given that their lack of visibility helped them land Hundley.
Mora says Hundley has earned team's faith
It's been a long time since expectations have been so high for UCLA, but head coach Jim Mora says his quarterback isn't bending under the weight of scrutiny.
Nor is he taking for granted that UCLA will meet those expectations, Mora said.
Mora said that in addition to visiting the Bruins coaches to talk Bruins football, Hundley has exposed himself to some of his craft's masters. This summer he met with Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Tim Tebow.
"He doesn't just show up and kind of wing it," he said. "When you see a young man work as hard as Brett is … it gives you a great deal of faith in him."
Douglas has high praise for Utes
Asked about the competitiveness of the Pac-12 South with USC on the rise and UCLA among the favorites to reach the first-ever college football playoff, Arizona State offensive lineman Jamil Douglas inserted the Utes into the discussion.
"Like you said, you've got UCLA, USC, us, and don't count Utah out," he said. "They're good as well."
Douglas noted that Utah beat Stanford, who beat the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and he credited Whittingham's defense.
"They came up short in a couple games, but I think they're a great team," he said. "A very physical team."
I noted that he didn't mention Arizona in his South analysis.
"Oh that's my rival, I can't. I can't. We expect to beat them every year," Douglas said.
Riley hopes counterprogramming will help in spread era
Could Oregon State's pro-style offense become the "gimmick?"
Asked if Oregon State might benefit from being the go-to for recruits like quarterback Sean Mannion, who are less suited to the ever-more-popular spread, Riley said he'd like to think so.
What's more, he said, Oregon State could become tricky for Pac-12 defenses that were built and prepare for the seven or eight variations of a spread offense that they are likely to see virtually every other week.
"I'm not sure that's true, but I'm hoping there's something to that," he said of his team, which he called "a little bit of a dinosaur. … We still huddle."
Taylor Kelly, mechanic
The senior second-team All-Pac 12 selection has drag raced in Eagle, Idaho, since he got his permit, and he's handy with a wrench.
He won't work on Jamil Douglas' car for free, though.
"He actually wants me to pay him," Douglas said with a laugh.
Kelly said he's happy to help if a teammates needs a jump, tire fix or oil change and will give out tips.
"He's a genius when it comes to cars," Douglas said.
Kelly said Todd Graham doesn't need his help, and that it's a little-known fact that Graham is a racer, himself.
But "he retired me for my best interest," Kelly said.
Graham says Sun Devils have best offense he's coached
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham showered praise on his offense Thursday.
His offensive line is bigger and stronger, his skill players are faster, and they're an especially close-knit group, he said.
"This is the best offensive team I've ever coached."
But in Year Three of Graham's tenure, coming off a Pac-12 South championship, nobody is questioning whether Taylor Kelly and Co. will score points.
As telling about Arzona State is that while their coached gushed about the offense, no dfensive players were on hand to discuss the team's loss of nine starters. ASU was the only delegation at Pac-12 Media Days not to bring a defender.
Pac-12 Network boss announces digital international distribution service
There was no mention of DirecTV in Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans' address to media on Thursday.
So, so much for that.
Murphy-Stephans' big reveal was that Pac-12 Networks will distribute content internationally through a subscription-based channel on YouTube.
The channel, which will block access to those in the United States, will stream 850 live events this year, according to a press release.
Learn more about the service here: http://pac-12.com/pac-12-networks-international
Murphy-Stephans also beamed proudly while media watched a clip of "The Drive," which this year will focus on a UCLA team that's hungry to take the next step and compete for a national championship.
Pac-12 media poll
First-place votes in parentheses.
1. Oregon (37)
2. Stanford (2)
4. Oregon State
5. Washington State
1. UCLA (37)
2. USC (1)
3. Arizona State (1)
Pac-12 Title Game champion: Oregon (24 of 39 votes). UCLA 13, Stanford and USC with one.