HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Defending Pac-12 champion Washington has lofty expectations once again.

The Huskies (12-2, 8-1 Pac-12 last year) played in the College Football Playoff semifinals a year ago, and many believe they can get back there this year.

Pac-12 media has picked the Huskies to win the North division title again, and while most voters think USC will win the conference title game, 22 of 52 voters picked the Huskies to win that game.

Washington has been projected nationally as a top five or top 10 team in most preseason publications.

The high expectations are no big deal to the Huskies.

"The expectation level is high, but our expectation level for ourselves has always been pretty high, too," quarterback Jake Browning said during Pac-12 media day Wednesday. "Higher than any media or any polls can put us. We have high standards that we carry ourselves with. That's more pressure, to hold up to our own standard."

In addition to Browning, who was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year last season, the Huskies return star running back Myles Gaskin, receiver Dante Pettis, three offensive linemen and several players from a defense that was the best in the conference last year.

Possible return?

Earlier this week, Colorado announced that outside linebacker N.J. Falo has been dismissed from the team for violating team rules.


Advertisement

CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said Falo's career as a Buff might not be over, however. In the past, MacIntyre has brought back three players - Samson Kafovalu, Josh Tupou and Evan Worthington - who were previously dismissed from the team.

Falo could use this year as a redshirt and then have two years to play if he were to return next summer.

"Hopefully he does the right things and we can be able to bring him back like we did with Samson and Josh and Evan," MacIntyre said. "It's helped all those guys, so hopefully it's a wake-up call (for Falo)."

Replay command center

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced that the Pac-12 will have a centralized replay command center at its headquarters in San Francisco.

The command center will work with in-game officials to make instant replay decisions.

"We expect this is going to lead to even more consistency in replay reviews," Scott said.

Shorter games

Scott said the Pac-12 is doing a pilot program this year to test a model of shortening the length of games.

During four non-conference games (still to be announced), the conference will test a model that includes fewer commercial breaks and cutting halftime from 20 minutes to 15 minutes.

Scott said the average length of a Pac-12 game is almost three and a half hours, as opposed to NFL games being closer to three hours.

Title game staying in Santa Clara

The Pac-12 has extended a partnership with Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., to host the conference title game through 2019, with an option for 2020.

After expanding to 12 teams in 2011, the Pac-12 held its title game at the home site of the team with the best conference record from 2011-13. For the past three years, it's been held at Levi's Stadium, home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.

With the NFL's Oakland Raiders set to move to Las Vegas in 2019, Scott said there is not an "active conversation" about eventually playing the title game at the Raiders' new home, but said the Pac-12 is open to it.

The Pac-12 men's basketball tournament is held in Las Vegas, and the conference has a strong partnership with the Las Vegas Bowl.

"I think we've shown that with our basketball tournament being so successful in Las Vegas and a successful bowl agreement that we're very open to bringing the championship to Las Vegas," Scott said.

Notable

Colorado players report for preseason camp on Friday, with the first practice slated for Saturday morning. ... Cornerback Kevin George, a transfer from Georgia Military Academy, will not report until early August, MacIntyre said. George has some academic obligations to finish before he can report to CU.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@prairiemountainmedia.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.