Bruin Bites: Preseason Polls, LA Steel and the Rise of the Pac-12

Media Day is nearly here - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

With the Pac-12's media day just a week away, preseason polls are nearly upon us while writers kept their keyboards busy with the Bruins' LA Steel alternate uniforms.

We are getting close to Football season! With less than three weeks until spring camp, and a month and a half until the Bruins step on the field at UVa's Scott Stadium, the team is continuing to draw attention and build anticipation for what we all hope will be a special season.

Jack Wang published his ballot for the Pac-12's preseason media poll, noting that for the Bruins this fall, wining the South Division is a basic part of the program's expectations.

1. UCLA — Given the Bruins’ growing status as a trendy pick for the College Football Playoff, not winning at least the Pac-12 South would be a tremendous disappointment.

Beat writers for the Arizona Republic and Corvallis Gazette-Times have also posted their ballots - with UCLA atop the South - for the preseason poll, the results of which will be released at next week's Pac-12 Media Day.

The biggest news in recent days has been the unveiling of this season's new "LA Steel" alternate jersey. JoeBruin15 Blogged some of his thoughts on the uniform yesterday, and the national sports media is following along. The sports blogosphere also had some things to say about the new look. LostLettermen gave the outfit a B- , approving of the helmet and font, but not a big fan of the color scheme. TotalProSports had some fun with the initial presentation of the new alternate look.

...we do have some pretty funny takeaways. Like why one pant leg is regular and the other is capri. Or why there is so much fog in LA for the first time in history. Or why there’s a dude in full football gear in the middle of the night hanging out in what I presume are the Hollywood Hills. Also, did he bring up that heavy-looking "L.A. Steel" sign with him, or was it there to begin with?

And the Zubaz. Oh the Zubaz... Fox Sports focused on the TECHFIT uniform's design making it more difficult for opponents to tackle the Bruin wearing it.

The LA Times has discovered the UCLA coaching staff's national recruiting efforts, with Samantha Zuba writing a story looking at how Coach Mora and his staff are pursuing a sort of national recruiting strategy, at least by looking at successful gets out of the south and southwest. The recent verbal commitment of Florida running back T.J. Simmons is the focus of the piece  He talked with the Times about his decision to commit to the Bruins.

Simmons said he felt a connection to UCLA because he quickly saw how he could fit in.

"I mainly felt at home as soon as I got on campus and really wasn't [thinking] a lot [about] how am I going to be able to act while I'm out here," Simmons said in a phone interview. "They just welcomed me as family."

Athlon Sports has a piece on the 'Rise of the Pac-12' - using the recent rise in coaching quality in the conference (remember folks, Sark's hiring at USC was a lateral move within the conference) along with the greater visibility and financial gains made possible by recent TV and media deals. While the conference is making progress against the popular conception of the SEC being the dominant force in the sport, Coach Mora noted that the Pac-12 can't really hope to prevail until one of its teams wins a national championship.

...but Mora understands that real recognition doesn’t come until someone from the conference can jab an index finger skyward and shout, "We’re number one!"

"It’s great when the whole league is good, because it shines a brighter light on teams excelling in any given year and gives teams the respect they deserve," he says. "But we need to win some national championships.

"The only way we will get national respect is by winning a national championship in football." is reporting that Southern Cal is planning to spend an estimated $1 million/year on an "Enhanced Fueling Plan" for its athletes, including walk-ons, as allowed by a recent NCAA rule change.

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