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Universal City, Calif. • The Utah Utes were pleased to hear they'd been picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South Division in a preseason poll by media members.
USC was picked to win both the South Division and the 2012 Pac-12 title. The Utes received 514 points and one first-place vote while USC had 729 points and 117 first-place votes.
"Last year we were just nobodies," running back John White said. "To be picked in second place, it is a great honor."
The Utes were picked to finish third in their division last season, and at 4-5 they tied with Arizona State for that spot.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said this year's poll was about where he would put his team.
"I try not to get too caught up in it," he said. "It is more for the fans and media, but it's a good show of respect."
Network launch set
The launch of the Pac-12's network remains on schedule for Aug. 15 according to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Pac-12 Networks president Gary Stevenson, who spoke to media members at the Pac-12 media day held at Universal Studios.
The Pac-12 will launch a national network and six regional networks along with several multimedia options, Scott said.
"This is going to be a major innovation and a new and exciting development in the world of college sports, the first conference to completely own and control its own network," Scott said.
Stevenson said every football team will be featured at least once during the first four weeks. In addition, the Pac-12 plans to feature every team in 30-minute shows, will produce a show called the "Pac-12 Football Encore," which will be a summation of the top 10 games played from 2011, and will broadcast the "Pac-12 Playbook," a show that will provide local features and coach interviews. All 79 games will be replayed in a 60-minute format, too.
Another option, the Pac-12 Digital, will allow users to access Pac-12 news through various devices, Stevenson said.
"Our goal is to deliver a unique and exciting user experience to our fans, including an opportunity to share their experiences with friends through our social media initiatives," Stevenson said.
Whittingham said he expects all of Utah's players to be in camp when it opens next week. In the past, Utah has had some players delayed due to academic issues.
"That shouldn't happen this year," he said. "We're in good shape."
The lone exception could be running back James Poole, who is transferring to Utah from Saddleback College.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Poole led the Gauchos in 2011 rushing with 305 yards and four touchdowns.
Whittingham can't comment on Poole's situation until he signs with the Utes, but it is expected Poole will add some depth to an already deep position for the Utes.
The Utes not only have White returning, but also added junior college transfer Kelvin York and were excited about the way freshman Jarrell Oliver looked in the spring.
Former Bingham High star Harvey Langi has left on a church mission, a decision Whittingham said he supports fully.
"I'm proud he made that commitment," he said.
Not all football
Most of the coaches at the Pac-12 media day were asked to give their thoughts on the situation at Penn State.
Whittingham said the focus should be on the victims, not the football program.
"I feel for the victims," he said.
Part of the NCAA sanctions handed down to Penn State allows players to transfer from the school without penalty.
Already, USC is said to be pursing Penn State running back Silas Redd.
Whittingham said the Utes would take a look at possibilities too, although he said the Utes have little contact with any of the Penn State players.
"Most of them are east coast guys but it's interesting to look at," he said.
Pac-12 preseason media poll
1. Oregon (117) 732
2. Stanford (5) 533
3. Washington 502
4. California (1) 382
5. Washington State 228
6. Oregon State 205
1. USC (117) 729
2. Utah (1) 514
3. UCLA (2) 435
4. Arizona 385
5. Arizona State (3) 353
6. Colorado 164