LOS ANGELES — — Pac-12 Conference commissioner Larry Scott said he was 'thrilled' to see Colorado begin the first phase of its $143 million facilities project in and around Folsom Field this spring.
He said prior to breaking ground on the project, CU had definitely fallen behind in a conference in which every school has either recently completed similar upgrades or is in the process of completing them now.
"It's huge and I do believe it will be a game-changer for the program," Scott told the Daily Camera.
While Scott continues to be a big fan of former CU athletic director Mike Bohn and credits Bohn for providing much of the leadership that led to CU leaving the Big 12 and joining the Pac-12, he said current CU athletic director Rick George has been another game-changer in Boulder.
"I love his approach," Scott said of George. "I think he comes with a unique vantage point and a very positive one and he's got a real genuine and passionate connection to Colorado given his roots. But his experience in a variety of professional sports and dealing in a world of media marketing is a really good fit for Colorado, especially at this point in time where there needs to be a transformative agenda. You need some bold and progressive thinking to be competitive with the other Pac-12 schools and have Colorado reach its full potential."
Scott said it's good to see Colorado moving in a positive direction after several coaching changes in football and plenty of financial challenges that are the result of switching conferences and a decline in football ticket sales.
Scott said CU and Pac-12 officials knew ahead of time the transition between conferences would be a financial burden for the CU athletic department that would take several years to work through. Buyouts of coaching contracts and less ticket revenue compounded the challenge.
"We all knew going in eyes wide open they had some financial challenges, but I think for Colorado and for the Pac-12 it was very much a long-term decision," Scott said. "We felt the Pac-12 was the right home for Colorado. Their fan base would react better, recruiting would be better, academically it would be a better fit. Those are all decisions you make with the long term in mind so the fact that it was going to take a few years to transition some things, get on a solid financial footing, get some plans in place was to be expected."
Pac-12 football media days are in a word, different, from media days involving every other conference around the country.
Most conferences hold their annual preseason get-togethers with the press in hotel ballrooms. For the fourth consecutive year the Pac-12 is hosting the media at a Hollywood studio lot in the sunshine beneath palm trees and blue skies. This year the event is at Paramount Studios.
But the differences don't end with a more exciting venue. At this year's media days, coaches and players competed in a cornhole tournament in between different sessions with the media. Coaches and players also were asked to combine their talents to produce the best rendering of their school's logo and they donned assorts costumes to pose for goofy pictures.
Scott said he tried the standard approach used by other conferences in his first year with the conference in 2009 when the Pac-10 held its media day at an airport Marriott. He said he loves the more laid back and fun approach the conference used now.
"It's partly trying to make a statement about what the conference stands for," Scott said. "We're a conference in L.A. and Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world. We should do something like a media day that builds upon those assets that we have access to. ...I think it's part of the DNA, the signature, the personality of our conference. That's one of the reasons I like to do it here."
Scott said it costs the conference more money to rent space and time on Hollywood studio lots than it would to hold media days in a hotel here or near the conference headquarters in the Bay Area.
"The marginal difference between a hotel ballroom and here is relatively not significant, but if it helps get more national media here and more attention than we would get otherwise, I think it's well worth it," he said.
Mariota and Liufua bond
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, spent some time getting to know Colorado signal caller Sefo Liufau this summer when both attended the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana run by Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his family.
Mariota said he and Liufau found some common ground aside from playing the same position. Both are part Samoan.
"It's cool to have another Samoan quarterback in the Pac-12," Mariota said. "He was a great guy. He came up and introduced himself and was one of those guys who is always making sure people were having a good time."
Liufau is entering his sophomore season this fall. He became the Buffs' starting quarterback midway through last season and led the Buffs to two of their four wins, including a Pac-12 victory over Cal. Liufau was named a team captain by his teammates and coaches in the spring.
"He's done a good job and come along way," Mariota said. "I think he learned a lot last season. We'll see what he is capable of doing this year."
Class of 2012 dwindling
Colorado signed 27 players in the 2012 recruiting class and 11 of them have either left the program or never made it to CU.
Running back Donta Abron is the latest casualty from former coach Jon Embree's only full-year recruiting class. Abron was deemed academically ineligible for the 2014 season after the spring semester and has since decided to transfer to a junior college closer to home in Southern California.
Another member of the 2012 class, defensive back Jeffrey Hall, is suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of his court case. Hall is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 17 on two felony counts of second-degree assault and obstruction of a peace officer, consumption of alcohol by a minor and resisting arrest.