From autonomy to Harvey Langi: Tidbits from the first half of Pac-12 media days

Published: Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:45 p.m. MDT

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott delivers the opening remarks of the 2014 Pac-12 NCAA college football media days at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP Photo)

, AP

The first day of the annual Pac-12 football media days was chock full of interesting tidbits — mostly from conference Commissioner Larry Scott, who talked about the future of the conference.

Scott discussed everything from the upcoming FBS playoff system to the future of collegiate athletics in general.

Meanwhile, Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham spoke to media about Utah's upcoming season.

Scott had a lot to say

Despite the words of Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the sky is not on the verge of falling, according to Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. The commissioner had plenty to speak about to kick off the conference’s media days. Scott appeared cheerful and optimistic in his opening statement regarding the future of the conference.

For starters, Scott said he believes the eventual Pac-12 winner will be one of the four schools in the inaugural FBS playoff. Though he avoided the word “autonomy” for the first 20 minutes of his lengthy opening address, he eventually said he believes the Pac-12 is worthy for an automatic bid into the playoff.

“There's been a lot of give-and-take, but I feel confident that the five conferences are going to get the autonomy and flexibility we've been asking for to be more nimble and to make some important changes that benefit student-athletes,” Scott said.

Scott also said the current athlete system isn’t as far off as other conference commissioners, such as Bowlsby, have feared. However, he said changes need to be made.

“The collegiate model is working for the vast majority of student-athletes,” Scott said in his opening statement. He added that roughly 2 percent of Pac-12 football players will get drafted into the NFL and 3 percent of Pac-12 athletes will play in the NBA.

“You can’t design a system around the 2 percent,” he added.

Scott noted that the conference will invest $3.5 million per year on health studies for all athletes.

Whittingham’s two concerns: Keep the QB healthy and finish strong in close games

In an interview with the Pac-12 Network, Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham said his two major goals for this season are to keep whoever the quarterback is healthy and to close out well in close games. He said Travis Wilson would be the starting quarterback “if we had a game tomorrow,” but said nothing was certain down the road.

In another interview, Whittingham added the importance of keeping the team’s quarterback healthy.

“2008 was the last time we had a quarterback start the season and finish the season. So it's been a tough run in that respect,” the Utes coach said. “Travis is the pinnacle staff has indicated to me and to him that he's at no greater risk than anybody else with this condition that he has.”

Whittingham on Langi? No comment

One of the hot topics Whittingham was asked Wednesday was about running back/defensive end Harvey Langi, who reportedly wants to leave Utah for BYU or elsewhere. As expected, Whittingham’s overwhelming response to the question almost never changed throughout the day: “No comment.”

All eyes on Marcus Mariota

The Oregon Ducks are the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12, and Marcus Mariota is already one of the large preseason Heisman Award favorites. Of the various football questions Mariota was asked throughout the day, perhaps the most interesting involved his playing style.

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