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Originally published Friday, July 31, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Team-by-team reports from Pac-10 football media day

New coach Steve Sarkisian said he doesn't dwell on the fact Washington hasn't won a football game since 2007.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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LOS ANGELES — Count Steve Sarkisian as one of a minority in Seattle. He enjoys the commute.

Sarkisian became almost rapturous here Thursday at his first Pac-10 football media day as Washington coach, talking about how he daily glimpses his home field from the Evergreen Point floating bridge and the juices start flowing.

"I'm 35 years old, coaching the University of Washington and staring at Husky Stadium," said Sarkisian. "It's an unbelievable feeling."

His life will become more hectic in a hurry, but Sarkisian finally had time to settle in sometime after spring practice. He and his wife bought a home in Yarrow Point after a four-month stay in a hotel.

"It's been good to meet people around the campus, rather than just say, 'Thank you, I've got to run,' " he said. "We've had a chance to embrace the city. We love the community we've living in."

Sarkisian said he doesn't dwell on the fact Washington hasn't won a football game since 2007, saying, "I don't talk to players about it. It's a clean slate for everybody. Let's move on."

Sarkisian said several junior-college recruits are "close" academically to qualifying — including offensive lineman Daniel Mafoe — and the issues should be cleared up next week. He also said multithreat Chris Polk, who has battled several injury issues, will be ready for the start of fall camp.

The Huskies were picked ninth by Pac-10 media. More on the other nine, in descending order as they were selected:

USC (1)

O'Dea product Taylor Mays, an All-American safety who unexpectedly decided to return for his senior year, aims to lead by example, saying, "I want to do things right. I don't want my teammates to see me at a party, or they might think it's OK for them to be at a party. I have no problem sitting home all day, looking at the wall."

Aaron Corp is the No. 1 QB, but coach Pete Carroll added that second-team Matt Barkley, who entered school only in the winter, was "a total shock to us. He was able to perform at a level we've never seen at this stage."

California (2)

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In an odd juxtaposition, Cal has a formidable Heisman Trophy candidate in RB Jahvid Best, but is one of a growing number of schools that will publish its media guide online only.

Meanwhile, said coach Jeff Tedford, "Our fans, I think, would prefer to go to the Rose Bowl than the national championship. That's the mindset at Cal. They're so starved for the Rose Bowl."

Oregon (3)

The Ducks have one of the nation's early marquee games, meeting Boise State Sept. 3 under first-year coach Chip Kelly. "I think our defense is really going to surprise people this year," said Kelly.

Oregon State (4)

Like Erik Bedard, incumbent quarterback Lyle Moevao won't throw a lot of pitches early in camp for OSU, since he's coming off shoulder surgery. Sean Canfield will thus enter with the edge. But the Rodgers brothers, James and Jacquizz, are healthy after late-season injuries.

Arizona State (5)

"We were 5-7 and that's unacceptable for us," said coach Dennis Erickson, referring to 2008. "When you're not as successful as you'd hoped to be, it puts a little fire in the coaching staff. Sometimes when you're 10-3 [Erickson's debut record at ASU in 2007], you take things for granted."

Stanford (6)

This is what awaits Washington State in its opener with the Cardinal Sept. 5 in Pullman: "Our guys don't quit," said coach Jim Harbaugh. "You cannot kill them. You cannot get them to be demoralized or go away. We've got to step up now and become a relentless team, to take that next step to get up there with teams like USC and Cal and Oregon."

UCLA (7)

The Bruins go to Tennessee Sept. 12, where the Vols likely remember that they let struggling UCLA QB Kevin Craft beat them in the opener last year.

"Personally, I'm looking forward to hearing that song [Rocky Top]," said Bruins LB Reggie Carter. "A lot of people say the SEC is tough. I guess the Pac-10 isn't as tough. I'm looking forward to getting into that fight."

Arizona (8)

The Wildcats have gotten surprisingly little media bounce from their 8-5, bowl-winning breakthrough of 2008. And that clearly has taken coach Mike Stoops by surprise. "I feel this is our best overall team from 1 to 85," said Stoops.

Washington State (10)

The Cougars are facing a potential setback with playmaking sophomore LB Louis Bland, who aggravated a posterior-cruciate ligament tear in a summer workout. Coach Paul Wulff characterized Bland as "way behind" and said he didn't think he'd have him for the start of fall drills.

But QB Marshall Lobbestael, coming off knee surgery, should be ready to go, Wulff said.

It will be an odd start to fall camp for Wulff when the Cougars begin drills Aug. 9. He can't attend practice or meet with the team the first three days as a result of sanctions the NCAA levied in February stemming from violations at Eastern Washington mostly related to exceeding the maximum number of coaches.

Wulff minimizes the impact, recalling that he missed much more extensive time at Eastern in 2001 when his late wife Tammy was ill with cancer.

"It was a lot more than three days," he said. "I still have staff meetings to get everything organized, watch film and all that."

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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