06 Aug 2022 | 08:06
The Pac-12 will perform a football media showcase unlike any other in convention history on Friday at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles.
The list of participants includes commissioner George Kliavkoff, football executive Merton Hanks, head coaches and players from every school, and an existential crisis.
With USC and UCLA tied for the Big Ten for two years and the conference struggling for survival, the 2022 season is fast approaching, bringing with it important conspiracies that will have to share the stage.
The top storylines to watch…
1. What will Kliavkoff say?
The second-year commissioner will deliver his contemporary remarks at 8 a.m. with no shortage of topics to address.
We don’t expect any thunderous news about expansions, mergers, alliances or media rights deals. It is simply too early in a negotiation process that will likely drag on for weeks, if not months.
But Kliavkoff will certainly make a point on important issues and try to build expectations for the upcoming season.
Odds are, he’ll take the top roads involving defectors, USC and UCLA, who the athletes had to spend two years as the children of a divorce.
That said, Kliavkoff cannot shy away from the fragile reality currently facing a 107-year-old conference.
His counterparts in the Big Ten (Kevin Warren) and the Big 12 (Brett Yormark) have made bold statements about unity, prosperity and predation in speeches at previous media events their season – all helping to mitigate the Pac-12.
Kliavkoff hasn’t uttered a single public look since the Pac-12’s world changed on June 30.
In terms of both tone and content, he has to make the sixth case for a solid future worthy of Power Five, which, as everyone knows, is actually Power Two and Middlin’ Three.
We’re curious to hear Kliavkoff’s views on reports that the College Rugby Round could expand to 16 teams, not 12 – and how that could affect the strategic placement of Pac-12 compared to ACC and Big 12.
2. Lincoln Riley Show
The USC freshman coach was already considered the star of the event before the Big Ten news was announced, with a flood of questions about leaving Oklahoma, USC’s playoff prospects, like in LA and a team The reconstructed figure features quarterback Caleb Williams.
Now, Trojan’s future games against Ohio State and Michigan threaten to overshadow anything on the 2022 schedule.
It won’t make much difference for UCLA coach Chip Kelly, whose standard no-nonsense tact with the media will be pushed to the brink when he’s asked about road trips to Rutgers and Purdue.
The remaining 10 head coaches will attempt to endorse the qualities of their 2022 roster while still learning about the Pac-12’s next move and options for their programs.
Oregon’s Dan Lanning and Washington’s Kalen DeBoer are in the unique position as freshman coaches that schools are hoping for an invite from the Big Ten.
For now, at least, Lanning’s season opener against Georgia isn’t the Ducks’ primary concern.
Herm Edwards of Arizona State, who bears the additional burden of the ongoing NCAA investigation, may be the only coach eager to raise field questions about Pac-12 survival.
3. QBs or not QBs?
Each team will be represented by that team’s head coach and one player from each side of the match.
The list includes only four midfielders but six attacking midfielders – a sign of the times given a conference that has lacked stars in skill positions in recent years.
In fact, one of the conference’s top returnees, UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, won’t even be in attendance. Instead, the Bruins are sending paver Jon Gaines II.
But make no mistake: midfield play is one of the central themes of the 2022 season following the team’s substandard performance in ’21.
At least seven teams will have starters – all transferable: Arizona, ASU, USC, Cal, Oregon, Washington and Washington State.
Of those, only Williams of USC and Cameron Ward of WSU will be in attendance on Friday.
Like their peers and head coaches, they won’t be able to escape the specter of a realignment.
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