Utah Utes football notebook: Pac-12 chief excited about Utes, not about expansion
Tom Smart, Deseret News
LOS ANGELES — Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott acknowledged feeling a bit like a proud father before the expanded conference's first football game Saturday at the Coliseum.
"A lot of work has gone into this day," he said before noting that seeing all the excited Utah fans around created a sense of newness and a dynamic situation.
The enthusiasm of the Utes crowd, Scott added, accompanied a good buzz in the conference and the start of exciting new rivalries.
"I think I feel like everybody else. We're excited about it. I have some people probably more excited than me," said Utah athletics director Dr. Chris Hill. "It's a thrill to have the first Pac-12 game. It's going to be a challenge, but wow what a great experience for the university."
Hill ventured down to the field before the game and acknowledged "this is a pretty nice thing and a pretty great experience for all of us."
PAC-12 EXPANSION: Scott spoke to reporters at an informal press conference prior to kickoff. Pac-12 expansion, of course, was the big topic.
"We're trying to kind of stay out of the story, frankly. (Our) position hasn't really changed," Scott said. "We haven't been looking for or aspiring to expand."
Since adding Utah and Colorado, he noted, the conference has been busy with television contracts and other things.
Instability in the Big 12, however, has led to the Pac-12 being contacted by schools asking if the conference would consider other options.
"Our position is clear. We're not looking to initiate anything," Scott said. "But if schools are going to leave the Big 12 and if there's going to be paradigm shift or a landscape change as people like to describe it, we will then step back and look at options and reconsider."
UNABLE TO MAKE IT: Former Ute Jamal Anderson was supposed to join Utah alumnus Luther Elliss for a pregame ceremony to present a signed football to Scott. Anderson's flight from Atlanta, however, was canceled and no other options were available. Manny Hendrix filled in for Anderson.
The ball, which was signed by all of the Pac-12 head coaches, will be donated to the 9/11 Memorial Fund in New York City for auction.
DON'T FORGET: While much has been made of this being Utah's first road trip to USC since 1948, Saturday wasn't the first time in 63 years the Utes had actually played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Retired sports information director Bruce Woodbury notes that one game has been lost in the shuffle. On Oct. 6, 1973, the Utes dropped a 66-16 decision to UCLA at the stadium. Actor Mark Harmon quarterbacked the Bruins to victory that day.
EXTRA POINTS: The attendance was 73,821. ... Utah linebacker Chaz Walker finished with a game-high 11 tackles. ... Robert Woods, who had a team-record 17 receptions for the Trojans last week, was limited to eight catches by the Utes. ... USC associate head coach/special teams coordinator John Baxter is the son-in-law of Ron McBride, who coached Utah to a 10-6 win over the Trojans in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl.
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