No surprise: Coach Steve Sarkisian thinks the 2013 Huskies are a better football team. But the voting members in the Pac-12 Conference media poll in the annual Los Angeles hypefest Friday were less impressed, sticking University of Washington fourth in the six-team North Division.
Oregon was tops in the North with 14 first-place votes and 139 total, barely ahead of Stanford with the remaining 11 first-place votes and 134 points. The rest: 3, Oregon State, 91; 4, Washington, 81; 5, Cal 45; 6, Washington State, 32.
UCLA was the top vote-getter in the South, with 12 firsts and 130 points. The rest: 2, Arizona State (9), 124; 3, USC (4), 113; 4, Arizona, 73; 5, Utah, 58; 6, Colorado, 27.
Oregon was voted Pac-12 title game champ with 13 votes. Stanford had 8 and UCLA 3.
In his time at the podium, Sarkisian acknowledged that he said a year ago the Huskies were better, only to come up with the same 7-6 record as the previous two seasons.
“The reality is we are a better football team,” he said. “We were a better football team last year and unfortunately the record isn’t indicative of how good that football team was. Ultimately, we’re judged on our final outcome and record.
“In our heart of hearts we were better than 7-6, but we didn’t get it done. In turn, it’s left a bad taste in our mouths. It’s been an off-season where these guys, our coaching staff and the entire team couldn’t wait to get back on the field. I feel confident we can get over that hump, but ultimately until we do it, we’re a 7-6 football team — and that’s what we have to change.”
Sarkisian said that tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who pleaded guilty to a charge of DUI and was suspended indefinitely, will be back on the team for the start of training camp Aug. 5. Sarkisian has yet to say whether Seferian-Jenkins will be suspended for any games.
“Austin will be with us when we open training camp,” he said. “He’s been tremendous throughout this entire process. He’s handled himself like I knew he would. He’s a great kid who made a mistake. It’s unfortunate. He feels horrible about it. I think it’s been a great learning lesson for all our guys on our roster.
“I can tell you today that everything he’s done up to this point has been above and beyond what we’ve asked of him. The punitive side of it has been finalized from a legal standpoint, and now my job is to continue to develop a young man who I treat like a son, just like these guys.
“I’m not naïve to think that I have 105 sons between the ages of 18 and 22 years old and we’re (not) going to make a couple of mistakes. How we deal with those mistakes and who are we as real men and the character we possess is what’s important.”
Quarterback Keith Price and safety Sean Parker joined Sarkisian at the event. Price knows he has some media skepticism to overcome after a disappointing 2012 season.
“I have a lot to prove to myself and a lot to prove to you guys,” he said. “I can’t wait. I think this is when I perform best, when people are doubting me and people don’t think I can do what I did. I believe I’m going to be better than I was in 2011, but that’s just me.”
New rules limit contact in practice
Teams will have only two full-contact practices a week in-season as part of a series of changes to reduce contact that will be in effect this year, the conference announced Friday. Changes also include limiting contact during two-a-days during preseason, and limiting the number of full-contact practices per week in the spring to two. The release is here.
The conference said the rules were tighter than those mandated by the NCAA, which like the NFL, high schools and youth football, are responding to cases of head trauma that have spawned litigation from former players and families saying organizations didn’t do enough to prevent injuries.
Still no deal with DirecTV
Commissioner Larry Scott said there has been no progress in getting satellite distributor DirecTV to agree to carry the Pac-12 Networks this fall. The conference had a successful launch of its own network a year ago, but DirecTV said the conference was overcharging for the value received and would go without. Scott and the league’s athletic directors have been vocal in asking consumers to boycott, but have had little impact since many subscribers do not want to sacrifice DirecTV’s NFL package.