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Taking stock of the Pac-12 South Division

Previews of every team in the Pac-12 South.

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Southern California head coach Lincoln Riley watches his team

Southern California head coach Lincoln Riley watches his team during an NCAA college football practice Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Los Angeles.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

This article was first published in the Ute Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Wednesday night.

In preparation for the upcoming college football season, I wrote an overview of the compelling storylines in the Pac-12 and compiled reports on every Pac-12 program.

Last week’s newsletter highlighted the six teams from the North Division. This week, let’s take a look at the South Division.

Here are a few quick takeaways from my South Division team previews:

USC: “I’m not going to take any goal off the table. I said it Day 1. That’s not why we came here, so we expect to compete for and win championships every single year. I’ll save you that question for the next 10-15 years. That’s going to be the same answer. That’s just who we are as a staff. That’s what we believe in and frankly, that’s what this program should be about. This is USC. The expectation here should be to win championships every single year.” — first-year USC coach Lincoln Riley. Read more.

UCLA: “He has a ton of reps under his belt that he has in his catalog in the back of his brain. Like, ‘I’ve been in this situation before and this is what happened.’ He’s displayed great leadership with all the younger guys. To have the quarterback really be a leader and coming back for Year 5 has really been huge for us.” — UCLA coach Chip Kelly on quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Read more.

Arizona: “I feel like there is no ceiling. I really believe that. I really believe the sky is the limit here. We have all the resources we need to be able to be successful as long as we can start becoming successful. As we build it, I would never want to put a cap on what we can accomplish. That’s not the way we talk. … I hope we’re just getting started.” — Arizona coach Jedd Fisch (per The Athletic). Read more.

Arizona State: “We tried to do our best to block it out. At the end of the day, (it was) just tough because distraction is what … kills things kinda, what messes up things. I feel like that was one of the biggest things that I felt like messed up our last season, is kind of being distracted by it and not being able to zone it out.” — Former ASU running back Rachaad White, who told a radio station that the NCAA investigation created a big distraction last season. Read more.

Colorado: “Every place he’s been he’s had a quarterback or two that had opportunities to play in the NFL that have done some really positive things in their careers. What I was looking for was a developer and then a guy that can mold a roster into having some success. Those are the things that stood out to me.” — Colorado coach Karl Dorrell on the hiring of new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. Read more.

Utah: “We’re the champions coming back. We’re not going to sneak up on anybody. There’s a lot of good teams in the (Pac-12) South. We’ve just got to go about our business like we usually do. We don’t have that under-the-radar feel to us this year.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. Read more.

In case you missed it

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is now one of the highest compensated coaches in the Pac-12. Also, read Jay Drew’s fantastic story about why Utah basketball coach Craig Smith is a family man first.

Numbers Game

1: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is the highest paid coach at a public university in the Pac-12, per The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner. With a salary of $6 million this year, he’s earning nearly $2 million more than Oregon’s Dan Lanning and more than than Cal’s Justin Wilcox and UCLA’s Chip Kelly.

8 million: How much Whittingham could make by 2027 by virtue of his amended contract, which was revealed last week.

From the archives

Extra Points

  • Utah football gets another commit from the JUCO ranks (Deseret News)
  • ‘It has to make sense’: How will coach Craig Smith use his last remaining scholarship (Deseret News)
  • Former Utah guard David Jenkins has his transfer destination, will join a perennial NCAA tournament team (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers

We’ve never previously had so many recruiting visits this early and we’re already reaping the benefits. Recruiting is THE source of a program’s success and this is what I’ll be paying the most attention to in this ‘commitment.’


I bet on the Utes D stopping the USC offense more often — but I’m not sure that the Utes offense outperforms USC, going to likely be the USC defense being unable to beat the Utah offense. As good as the Utes are on offense it’s hard to look at the team USC has put together and think that it’s going to be outperformed, it’s going to be stopped because of a superior defense for the Utes.

— Josh from london

Up next

 Sept. 3 | 5 p.m. | Football | vs. Florida | @Gainesville, Florida | ESPN