PASADENA, Calif. -- It was probably the first media day with complimentary sun screen, misting tents and towels. Don't forget the towels. They kept the sweat off the bald domes in the Pac-10 media crowd.
"You look like Al Davis carrying around those towels," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.
That hurt. Bad. I may be balding but I'm not that pathetic and wrinkled.
If so, please don't let me near Lane Kiffin. He might freak.
Thursday was the West Coast version of the Pac-10 East Coast media swing. Coaches and players spent a few days this week making the rounds in New York, then rode G4s back to their ancestral homeland here in Cali.
"People knew who we were," Arizona State's Dennis Erickson said of New York.
That's startling considering the conference is generally ignored in the East. Some Pac-10 games start at 10 p.m. ET. It's also another backhand winner down the line for commissioner Larry Scott. There was a lot of angst this summer over whether the Big Ten could get into the New York market with expansion. Scott chartered a couple of planes and cabbed it into Times Square from the airport.
Bingo, Pac-10 on Park Avenue, ringing the ball on Wall Street, going through the "carwash" at ESPN and generally introducing itself to the biggest media market.
"We've been that Left Coast conference, kind of perceived as the finesse conference," UCLA's Rick Neuheisel said. "If I got into a conversation with somebody east of the Mississippi, they'd say, 'You play that throw-it-around ball.' It was a bold move. I'm not sure how it will work out but I think it is brilliant.
"We have a perception hill to climb. That's why I applaud commissioner Scott for taking the ball step to do that. I don't think any of us should rest until we're considered the top conference in the country."
Well, minus two of the biggest names in Pac-10 football on Thursday. Stanford's Andrew Luck and Washington's Jake Locker didn't show. Apparently they were good enough for ESPN but not for the media who actually cover them here out West.
There's my rant. It beat sitting in conference rooms with the thermostat set at 55 degrees listening to pimp references. I was impressed. No stunned. The media day was on the floor of the Rose Bowl. The San Gabriels were shining in the background. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. Think of it, this is the field where Reggie Bush played. He was well compensated but he did play here.
There was a short promotional film to kick things off. The narrator, with one of those Captain Big Boy voices, said, "Here, on the western edge of the New World ..." I expected a ship full of Spanish conquistadors to pull up in San Pedro and start pillaging cruise passengers.
Best line of the day came from Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. As a former USC coach, he was hurt by the NCAA penalties. I asked him if Reggie Bush can ever come back to campus.
"In this day and age he can," Sark said. "Our president [Bill Clinton] faced the country. Guys face the music. Look at Andy Pettitte and look at Roger Clemens. One guy owned up, he's still getting standing ovations. The other guy is social outcast. It's how he embraces it."
California sun, veggie subs and a Slick Willie reference. It was not a bad day.