Pac-12 media days: 5 storylines

THE ANNUAL gathering of coaches and star players for Pac-12 media days is coming up fast. Here's what to expect in Hollywood on July 14-15.

For WSU fans, the biggest unknown for Media Day is the over/under on how many football questions will be asked of Mike Leach before the goofy questions come out.

Leach, who will be accompanied by Cougar wideout Gabe Marks and nickelback Parker Henry this year, has been the most quoted coach of every Pac-12 media day he's attended. Those quotes have been more about lemurs and the Civil War than they have been about football, but that's how it goes. Leach figures to get at least a couple football questions but after that, anything goes.

Here's the unofficial list of 5 storylines that we guarantee will be coming out of the Pac-12 media days.

1. Husky-fest
Prepare yourself now, because it's going to be a wall-to-wall Washington love-fest. The media this offseason has been talking non-stop about the Huskies winning the Pac-12 championship.  The more reserved media members are limiting themselves to picking the UW to win the Pac-12 North. UW went 7-6 last year and has some big questions on the offensive line  but that will pass quickly, there are undefeated seasons to talk about!

2. Stanford-Oregon
The first-place votes in the Pac-12 media poll released on the morning of July 14 will say that if the Huskies don't win the North, Stanford or Oregon will. Stanford coach David Shaw will come across as supremely confident in each and every new starter while Oregon coach Mark Helfrich will simply look uncomfortable, as he seems to at every media obligation. At least one media member will bring up last year's Duck collapse in the Alamo Bowl, when Oregon lost to TCU after holding a 31-0 lead, leading Helfrich to check his watch.

3. Where are the quarterbacks?
The Pac-12 conference always hangs its preseason hat on its returning quarterbacks, but not this year. Only four QBs are locks to start: WSU's Luke Falk, UW's Jake Browning, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Arizona's Anu Solomon. Colorado's Sefu Liufau could make it five if he can get healthy in time and Oregon State will probably go with Utah State transfer Darrell Garretson. Beyond that, there are simply questions. Count on the press trying to get the coaches to tip their hands at media days, and the coaches staying mum.

4. USC has a hard schedule, UCLA has expectations to meet.
Southern Cal's difficult schedule (with Alabama and Notre Dame bookends) will be talked about to the point it might have its own theme song by the end of Day One. Pat Haden's final major decision as AD to promote Clay Helton to the head job has the fans in Troy restless already. And so there doesn't figure to be much of a honeymoon with the media. Meanwhile, UCLA will probably be picked to win the South because of Troy's schedule. That may or may not be a good thing, with some UCLA fans not as enamored with Jim Mora Jr. as they once were.

5. The predictions will be predictable and everyone will say "I'm excited..." a total of 1,000 times.
WSU will be picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 North behind UW, Stanford and Oregon.  The Cougs will also be this year's hedge-your-bets-darkhorse-candidate.  In other words, 'I picked WSU fourth, but they could win the North too.' Coaches, asked for specifics on position battles, injuries, unit strengths and overall season prospects, will say they're excited.  Players, not normally used to such a stage, will understandably reach for the same term. After the first 20 mentions, everyone not on stage will be reaching for the Red Bull.

--Washington State’s contingent will take center stage and field questions from the assembled media on Thursday, July 14 at 11:30 a.m.  The event is expected to be streamed live for free on's Lew Wright will be on hand to bring you all the coverage.

--The event is being held at Hollywood and Highland, a famed 1tourist site that includes the Chinese Theater, Hard Rock Cafe, Lucky Strikes bowling alley and Loews Hollywood Hotel. The media days are taking place two weeks earlier than normal in an effort to get coaches as much face time with ESPN talent this year the day after the ESPYS is held.

--Pac-12 commish Larry Scott will kick things off at 9 a.m. on Thursday with his annual state of the league address, also knows as 'No news on DirecTV.' On Friday at 9 a.m., Pac-12 VP of Officiating David Coleman will open things with a Q & A.

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