2016 Pac-12 Media Days Goes Light on Quarterbacks

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The 2016 Pac-12 media days list of attendees* (*subject to change) features as many punters as quarterbacks. To add to that peculiarity, the only quarterback slated for attendance at the event next month in Hollywood — Colorado’s Sefo Liufau — has been rehabbing from a Lisfranc injury to his left foot that cast uncertainty on his 2016 season.

Compare the 2016 Pac-12 media days itinerary to 2014, and the contrast is stark. The event two years ago featured Cody Kessler (USC), Brett Hundley (UCLA), Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Taylor Kelly (Arizona State), Connor Holliday (Washington State) and Sean Mannion (Oregon State) ahead of what was dubbed as the “Year of the Quarterback.”

Here’s how the 2016 quarterback landscape breaks down:

• Cal’s replacing a three-year starter and the No. 1 overall draft pick, Jared Goff.

• Arizona State will start a quarterback with zero college experience when the Sun Devils open the campaign.

• Oregon’s embroiled in a three-man competition, with FCS transfer Dakota Prukop the likely leader.

• Max Browne and Sam Darnold are still jockeying for the top spot on USC’s depth chart

• Arizona’s Anu Solomon is working to fend off competition for the job he’s held the previous two seasons.

• Stanford and Utah both replace four-year starters in Kevin Hogan and Travis Wilson, respectively.

• Oregon State’s starter for much of 2015, Seth Collins, transferred…then un-transferred, returning to the Beavers as a wide receiver.

The Pac-12 has arguably never faced so much uncertainty at quarterback in one season, but the league’s hardly bereft of proven playmakers. It just so happens only one will attend media days.

That means no Josh Rosen, UCLA’s talented, lightning rod sophomore. No Luke Falk, the surprising, breakout star of Washington State’s unlikely, 9-win campaign. No Jake Browning, the Washington sophomore who just might end up being the best of the bunch in the Pac-12 come autumn.

Rosen and Browning’s absences aren’t necessarily surprising, given coaches tend to bring upperclassmen. Further, Rosen’s media availability throughout his UCLA has been limited. He made his first approved appearance following the regular-season finale at rival USC, and this spring, spoke only after the Bruins’ spring showcase.

Limitations aside, Rosen still finds ways to attract media attention — and land in hot water.

Falk’s exclusion might be the most surprising. A redshirt junior, tore onto the scene a year ago with 4,561 yards passing and 38 touchdowns. He’s a dark-horse Heisman Trophy contender for a Washington State team deserving of preseason Top 25 consideration.

Instead, the Cougars’ offensive representative is wide receiver Gabe Marks: an outstanding play-maker and key cog in the Cougars’ air-raid attack.

I’ve covered every Pac-12 media day event since 2012, and personally enjoy seeing a more diverse cast of attendees. Quarterbacks get the shine year-round.

And hey, punters are people, too. See you in Hollywood, Nick Porebski.