Utah Ute Players Loving The New White Helmet

It’s a common video that surfaces from college football programs these days. Team meets. Coach unveils a new uniform. Players freak out. It happened with the Utah Utes program as head coach Kyle Whittingham showed off their latest uniform featuring a new white helmet. Like many programs these days the Utes have a variety of uniforms they have shown off in recent years. I will say in my opinion that the white helmet is very sharp and perhaps better thank the red and special black one they’ve worn in the past.

Here’s the video with a variety of angles showing the players getting excited.

Putting the Pac-12 Football Programs In Tiers

On Tuesday’s edition of the radio show I cohost, Gunther and Graham on 1320 KFAN in Salt Lake City, we talked with San Jose Mercury News Pac-12 columnist Jon Wilner. During that interview he mentioned that Washington was in the second tier of the Pac-12 and that Steve Sarkisian needs to take the program up into the first tier to keep his job long term. That sparked an idea to create and place the Pac-12 programs in tiers.

In all I created four tiers and listed all the Pac-12 football programs appropriately:

TIER 1: (National Championship contenders; regular appearances in the top 10)

-Oregon: The Ducks clearly are considered an elite program with nine winning seasons and three Pac-12 titles in the past 10 years including an appearance in the BCS Championship game.

-Stanford: The Cardinal has become a regular top 10 program doing it the old school way.

-USC: Despite last year’s disappointing season the Trojans have six Pac-12 titles in the last 10 years and is still regularly considered the leagues most talented program.

TIER 2: (Pac-12 league title contenders)

-UCLA: This is a school that clearly gets talent but hasn’t seemed to have the coach to corral it all with great results on the field. With Jim Mora it appears they have finally found their guy.

-Oregon State: After a couple down years Mike Riley has the Beavers back on the upswing.

-Washington: After leading the Huskies to three straight winning seasons Sarkisian is under pressure to take the program to the first tier.

TIER 3: (Middle of the pack, average teams in the Pac-12)

-Arizona State: Another program that is considered to have talent but has posted just five winning seasons in the last 10 years. Year one was good to Todd Graham. Curious to see if he can sustain it.

-Arizona: Wildcat fans are putting their faith in Rich Rodriguez to get this program into a higher tier and the hope to one day win a Rose Bowl.

-California: Under Jeff Tedford, the Golden Bears posted eight winning seasons including one Pac-12 championship in the last 10 seasons. Definitely enough to warrant at least a Tier 2 designation. Problem is Tedford is gone and now the program begins to rebuild under Sonny Dykes.

TIER 4: (Schools with limited hope to contend in the Pac-12 in the near future)

-Utah: After going 7-5 in year one of a down conference, the Utes went backwards in year two and have yet to post a signature league win (have failed to even post a victory over a Pac-12 team with a winning record). Add in that they will finally have to play Oregon and Stanford after being left off the schedule the first two seasons it will take time for the Utes to move into a higher tier.

-Washington State: With only one season with a winning record in the past 10, I’m not sure even Mike Leach can get this program to respectability.

-Colorado: Entering their third season the Buffaloes are already on their second head coach. Like Utah, it will take time to build.

Arizona Wildcats Debut New Football Uniforms

Another day, another college football team debuting new uniforms for the upcoming season. This time it’s the Arizona Wildcats. As is the case for most they’re sharp. It also appears they have seven different combinations. At the rate that schools are going they might as well have a different uniform for every game. The always popular uniform video is below:

Pac-12 Power Poll Plus BYU: Week 2

It’s the week two version of the Pac-12 Power Poll plus BYU. Why is BYU included? Because an independent poll would consist of like four teams and because we feel BYU should be linked to Utah even though Utes athletic director Dr. Chris Hill is essentially trying to end the rivalry. The poll is compiled by the 1320 KFAN afternoon show team of Gunther and Graham featuring hosts Kyle Gunther and Kevin Graham as well as producers Will Smith and Ben Anderson. Send all complaints to the producers. By the way why were the USC Song Girls rolling in the sand on a beach in their uniforms? Not that were opposed to that of course!

PAC 12 Power Poll Plus BYU–Week 2:
1. USC (Last Week-1): Trojans blow out Hawaii and already show they are the class of the league.

2. Oregon (2): After blasting Arkansas State the Ducks will continue their cream puff schedule Saturday against Fresno State.

3. Utah (3): We’ll get a better idea of how the Utes rank after playing Utah State Friday.

4. BYU (7): Technically the Cougars are the only team with a Pac-12 win already and therefore they move up three places.

5. UCLA (8): Bruins roll Rice jumping up three spots and now get a big test hosting No. 16 Nebraska.

6. Stanford (4): After struggling against San Jose State the Cardinal will try to prove they should be back up near the top of the poll hosting Duke.

7. Washington (5): Steve Sarkisian brought in a Tiger to try to motivate his Huskies against LSU this Saturday. Pretty sure a Tiger can eat a Huskie.

8. Arizona St (9): We’ll get a better idea if Todd Graham is truly transforming this program Saturday when they host Illinois.

9. Arizona (11): Lost in the overtime win over Toledo is Rich Rod’s offense piled up 624 yards of total offense. Now if they could just limit mistakes and make some field goals they could possibly compete with Oklahoma State Saturday.

10. California (6): Biggest drop in the poll after being upset by Nevada. One would think they’ll have no trouble with Southern Utah but then again thought the same thing against Nevada.

11..Washington St (10): Mike Leach should be able to shake off the BYU loss to get his first Cougars win against Eastern Washington.

12. Oregon State (12): After having their opener postponed against Nichols State the Beavers now must begin the year against No. 13 Wisconsin. At least they get the Badgers at home.

13. Colorado (13): Could Colorado be worse this year than last? Losing opener to Colorado State certainly indicates it’s a possibility.

Kyle Gunthers Pac-12 Power Poll plus BYU:
1. USC
2. OREGON
3. UTAH
4. STANFORD
5. WASHINGTON
6. BYU
7. UCLA
8. ARIZONA STATE
9. CAL
10. ARIZONA
11. WASHINGTON STATE
12. OREGON STATE
13. COLORADO

Kevin Graham’s Pac-12 Power Poll plus BYU:
1. USC
2. OREGON
3. UTAH
4. BYU
5. STANFORD
6. WASHINGTON
7. UCLA
8. ARIZONA STATE
9. ARIZONA
10. CAL
11. WASHINGTON STATE
12. OREGON STATE
13. COLORADO

Pac-12 Power Poll Plus BYU: Week 1

By Kevin Graham:

Here is my week one Pac-12 Power Poll plus BYU ballot. The Gunther and Graham team poll (combine all of our polls) is revealed every Wednesday on 1320 KFAN. For those of you that are wondering why BYU is included we say why not? An independent power poll would be short and boring. And by the way your welcome for the pic of the Oregon cheerleaders hanging out at a lake in bikini’s with the Duck.

PAC-12 FOOTBALL POWER POLL PLUS BYU–WEEK 1:

1. USC: Most talented team in the conference if not the country. Injuries should be the only thing holding them back.

2. OREGON: New quarterback will result in the same old results-wins.

3. STANFORD: Can Josh Nunes replace Andrew Luck? No but they can run the ball.

4. UTAH: Utes success will be all on the offense because you know the defense will be strong if not dominant.

5. BYU: If this team is truly the fifth best team they should roll past Washington State.

6. WASHINGTON: Quarterback Keith Price is dynamic. Combine a questionable defense with a rough schedule and this team could have some struggles.

7. CAL: Some say the pressure is on Jeff Tedford this season. You can only hang your hat on discovering Aaron Rodgers for so long.

8. UCLA: Jim Mora Jr. is trying to instill toughness. I’ll believe it when I see it.

9. WASHINGTON STATE: Expect a lot of games in the 40’s due to Mike Leach’s new offense the Cougars lack of a defense.

10. ARIZONA: Rich Rodriguez’s bunch will get better as the season goes along but it will depend on whether his offensive line can develop.

11. ARIZONA STATE: They have some talent but it will be tough for Todd Graham to tame this undisciplined crew.

12. OREGON STATE: If they can stay healthy they should be more competitive than a year ago.

13. COLORADO: Coach John Embree says he’ll play 14 to 16 freshman this season. That assures another long year.

THE GUNTHER AND GRAHAM SHOW PAC-12 FOOTBALL POWER POLL:
1. USC
2. OREGON
3. UTAH
4. STANFORD
5. WASHINGTON
6. CAL
7. BYU
8. UCLA
9. ARIZONA STATE
10. WASHINGTON STATE
11. ARIZONA
12. OREGON STATE
13. COLORADO

Pac-12 Football Media Day: The Infamous Alien Interview With Mike Leach

Kyle Gunther and Kevin Graham had the opportunity to sit down with new Washington State head coach Mike Leach at Pac-12 Football Media Day. There was football talk but invariably much of the conversation focused on pirates and yes, aliens. A definite classic!

Pac-12 Football Media Day: Utah Ute Interviews With Kyle Whittingham And Star Lotulelei

Few thoughts on the Utah Utes after talking to head coach Kyle Whittingham and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from Pac-12 Football Media Day (Full interviews posted):

-After being away from Salt Lake for two years it’s interesting to see the change in Kyle Whittingham. You can tell he definitely is comfortable and confident in his role as head coach.

-Star Lotulelei is a mammoth of a human being but at the same time seems smart and well spoken. Unless something goes completely awry I can’t believe he won’t be a top-5 if not top-10 pick.

-We also talked with running back John White IV but due to technical difficulties we are unable to post the interview (apologize for that). The big takeaway from him is imagine how successful he can be if the Utes could actually throw the ball this year? If that happens, look out.

Preseason Pac-12 Football Predictions

In preparation for Tuesday’s Pac-12 Football Media Day in Los Angeles (Both Kyle Gunther and myself will be there live for 1320 KFAN) the conference asked the media for their predictions. Here is what I projected and why:

Pac-12 North:

1. Oregon: The Ducks lost their quarterback (Darron Thomas) and top running back (LaMichael James) but this program is at the point where they can just reload with outstanding athletes. Add in a relatively soft schedule the Ducks should roll to a division title.

2. Stanford: I know the Andrew Luck era is over but they return their workhorse running back in Stephan Taylor and their defensive front seven could be one of the best in country. From a schedule standpoint their is nine winnable games with likely losses to USC and at Oregon and Notre Dame.

3. Washington: Quarterback Keith Price is a playmaker but he loses his two starting receivers and running back Chris Polk. Defensively this team was awful a year ago and it will be interesting to see if new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox can make that unit respectable switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4. We’ll know if this team can be competitive by the way they play at LSU early in the year.

4. California: Jeff Tedford’s program seems to be finally creeping back up to being solid again but still has a ways to go. Zach Kline is a decent quarterback and does have a weapon in Keanan Allen. While returning their top three cornerbacks on defense they also lost both safeties, their best two linebackers and both starting defensive ends. Add in a road schedule that includes Ohio State, USC, and Utah it won’t be an easy climb to the top of the standings.

5. Washington State: Obviously all the focus is on Mike Leach who will have some young talent to work with. The question is if he has enough to run his “Air Raid” system. The potential is there for them to become bowl eligible with a relatively favorable schedule. You have to wonder how long though it will take Leach to change the school’s losing mindset.

6. Oregon State: A lack of depth and injuries killed this team a year ago. They have some solid pieces to build around in quarterback Sean Mannion and some playmakers at wide receiver. Definitely have to try to get a running game going to have any success and it would help if they can stop the run better than a year ago when they were absolutely atrocious.

Pac-12 South:

1. USC: The Trojans are absolutely loaded and the clear-cut favorite to win the North, the Pac-12 title with a legitimate shot at the National Championship. Matt Barkley is the best quarterback in the country who has a variety of weapons to throw to plus a strong running game with Curtis McNeal returning to the backfield. Defensively they basically return most of their linebackers and entire secondary and should be able to just reload to replace the two starters gone on the line. The schedule is also set up for a run at going unbeaten.

2. Utah: The defense will be good once again led by Star Lotulelei although they’ll be young at linebacker. The key to the Utes success will be whether quarterback Jordan Wynn is a) strong enough to throw the ball downfield and b) can stay healthy. If both those things happen that will allow John White IV to continue to have success running the ball. If not then the defense will have to do what they did last year–that’s win games.

3. Arizona State: The rest of the South is a toss-up. If Todd Graham can successfully instill some discipline they have enough talent to be bowl eligible again. That is a big if though. The running back core is solid, the quarterback and receivers will be young. Defensively they are switching up to a more attacking style.

4. Arizona: Rich Rodriguez inherits a team that has a quarterback in Matt Scott who at least has a chance to be able to run his spread. He also has is entire offensive line that was young and struggled last year returning. The defense is hurting for talent but new defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is well respected and the master of coaching the 3-3-5 system.

5. UCLA: New coach Jim Mora’s team could fall here or finish as high as third depending if he can find a quarterback and find a playmaker or two. Unfortunately he seems to have neither at this point.

6. Colorado: Last year they were young, talentless and ravaged by injuries. This upcoming year they continue to be young, talentless, and already hit by injuries losing their top receiver Paul Richardson for the season with a torn ACL. When the best thing you can say is they return second team all-conference tackle David Bakhtiari then you know this is a team that will struggle again. But they did end strong a year ago beating their “new rival” Utah.

Pac-12 Title Prediction:
USC over Oregon

Utah Sports Radio: Gunther And Graham 1320 KFAN Podcast

As Kyle Gunther and I (Kevin Graham) prepare for our first live show on Utah’s 1320 KFAN (announcement of official start date coming very soon) they got together Friday to talk about all the recent big sports stories in Utah. Topics included a Pac-12 football preview and Tuesday’s media day (we’ll be there so you might want to tune in to 1320 KFAN or 1320KFAN.com for a live broadcast), BYU’s scheduling, the Utah-BYU rivalry, Utah Jazz off-season moves and yes even Jimmer Fredette. Enjoy and let us know your thoughts. Also feel free to follow us on Twitter–GuntherKFAN, @KevinGrahamKFAN and like our new Gunther and Graham Facebook page.

Kyle Gunther’s Pac-12 Football Power Poll Plus BYU

With the Pac-12 Football Media Day approaching on Tuesday (we’ll be there live) Kyle Gunther contributed his Pac-12 Power Poll plus BYU for Sports Mashup. Of course this a feature we created and submitted weekly last season. If you missed the news and video Gunther will co-host the afternoon show with Kevin Graham on Utah’s 1320 KFAN. Follow him on Twitter @GuntherKFAN.

1. USC: Almost everyone on offense is a returning starter including the best QB in college football this year, Matt Barkley. USC has been looking for a run game for 2 years now though and I don’t see USC having much success in that area unless they can find another linebacker to move to running back.

2. Oregon: The Ducks will be fast and talented yet again but I think their QB, Darron Thomas, leaving early for the NFL surprised them. The battle to replace Thomas will continue into the fall but whoever plays QB for the Ducks will be running Chip Kelly’s crazy offense so I’m sure they’ll be a track star. The Ducks also have a sneaky good defensive line that may wear down as the season moves along because of the fast pace that Oregon plays with on offense. We also know that their utility player De’Anthony Thomas, may be the fastest player in the country this year.

3. Cal: I think their QB Zach Maynard is primed to have a big year as a senior because he has a veteran RB to lean on in Isi Sofele and a future 1st round draft pick in WR Keenan Allen. There also might be a third consecutive DE taken in the first round for the Cal Bears in Deandre Colemen. The Bears are also able to play in their actual stadium this year as it was under renovation last year.

4. Utah: If the Utes could’ve made a field goal against Colorado a year ago they would have represented the Pac 12 south the championship game. Utah has the best defensive tackle in the country and the best running back in the PAC 12. If Jordan Wynn’s weight gain is any indication of his overall ability to stay healthy then Ute fans should expect a big year for the Utes. If both USC and Utah are able to start 4-0 their matchup in SLC on October 4th will be an epic battle

5. Stanford: The Cardinal had 4 players drafted in the first 2 rounds of last year’s NFL draft so replacing that much talent will be difficult. So much of what allowed Stanford to be successful the last couple of season was based on Andrew Luck’s ability to simply wake up in the morning and be the greatest QB prospect since John Elway. The Cardinal won’t be as “Lucky” this year.

6. Washington: The Huskies return a stud at QB in Keith Price but they lose one of the best running backs to ever play at Washington in Chris Polk. Keep your eyes peeled for their tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He was a true freshman last year and he looked like he could already play in the NFL. Seferian-Jenkins will surely build on his freshman all-American season from a year ago.

7. BYU: If only we didn’t have to speculate about this and could just have the Utes and Cougs in the PAC 12 it would be perfect but they’re not. BYU does already play Washington and Oregon state though so we will get to see that for sure. BYU has elite talent at the top of their roster but I wonder about some other key positions. In 2011 for example, BYU had a safety starting for them that wouldn’t start for too many other teams in division 1. BYU will have to commit to running the football sooner this year than they did in 2011.

8. UCLA: The UCLA campus is in one of the most well known and “hip” cities on earth and yet the Bruins have not been able to take the next step as a program for nearly a decade. It’s a mystery to me. NFL scouts drool every year watching the talent at UCLA only to be left disappointed by the Bruin’s season win total. Jim Mora has taken over and has apparently been cleaning house. By that I mean he’s been weeding out the swussies (sweaty wussies) and championing the stud muffins. UCLA could surprise people this year but I’d be surprised if that happened-pun intended.

T-9/10: Arizona and Arizona State: the Wildcats return five starters on their offensive line that had zero returning starters a year ago. On defense they were putrid last year so my expectations are not very high for them this year either. The Sun Devils of ASU could not have ended their season any worse last year and that led to a coaching change. It’s now up to Todd Graham to change the culture of an ASU football program that for the last decade has revolved almost entirely around beer bongs and hot blonds. Neither of these schools should be world beaters in 2012

11. Washington State: Everyone is assuming that new head coach Mike Leach can turn things around up there in Pullman, I’m still on the fence. Leach will improve the overall talent and attitude for the Cougs but it’s still nearly impossible to recruit to Pullman, Washington. I should know, they recruited me when I was in high school and there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell you were getting this California Kid to Siberia. On the plus side though WSU has not one but two studs at their disposal at the quarterback position.

12. Colorado: You could not pay me to watch a Colorado game on TV. I have no idea how the Buffaloes managed to beat the Utes a year ago because that was their first victory outside the state of Colorado since the Reagan administration.

13. Oregon State: The Beavers are led by a head coach that I am very fond of, Mike Riley. I am not however, fond of Oregon State this year. Their QB Sean Mannion surprised us all last year with his moxie, but other than that the Beavers were rather awful to watch. We won’t be spending much time in 2012 talking about Oregon State.