Pac-10 check-in

I will spend the coming days providing some highlights from today’s Pac-10 media day in Los Angeles. Here are a few before I wrap up a long day:

–A reporter asked Cal’s DeSean Jackson if he still stands by his comment after last season’s Holiday Bowl that the Bears will win the national championship this season. His answer was an emphatic yes.

–Cal coach Jeff Tedford expressed optimism that his young group of defensive backs can do the job. He acknowledged their inexperience but stressed their talent level and potential. The Bears have to replace cornerback Daymeion Hughes, who was last year’s Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Robert Peele and Darian Hagan are the frontrunners.

–Tedford said one of the team’s uncertanties is finding quality backups to starting running back Justin Forsett. The Bears had the luxury of having Forsett back up Marshawn Lynch the past couple of seasons. Whoever ends up getting snaps behind Forsett will be inexperienced, albeit talented. James Montgomery figures to be the leading candidate to supplement Forsett’s rushing production.

–A couple of the best moments of the day involved Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh and USC coach Pete Carroll. A reporter jokingly asked Harbaugh if he had any update on Carroll’s future at USC, a reference to Harbaugh’s controversial comment that Carroll was leaving after this season. “That ground has been plowed,” Harbaugh said. When Carroll was asked later for a reaction to Harbaugh’s comment that this year’s USC team “may be the best in the history of college football”, Carroll said: “You gotta love Jim, don’t you?… Thanks, Jim.”

–As they took the podium one by one, it hit me that the Pac-10 has a bunch of rock stars as coaches. Dennis Erickson is in the conference once again, and Carroll and Tedford are two of the biggest names in college football. Tyrone Willingham is a former Notre Dame coach, and that immediately gives him visibility, and Harbaugh is well-known from his playing days.

–Arizona coach Mike Stoops repeatedly lamented his team’s inconsistency as the reason why his program isn’t better. Hmm. Isn’t the coach ultimately responsible for such a shortcoming?

If you haven’t seen it yet, Cal was picked to finish second for the fourth straight year in the media preseason poll. USC was a unanimous choice. The consensus among the coaches was the Trojans are clearly superior but the rest of the conference should be ultra-competitive.

That’s it for now. I’ll have much more in the days to come.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.