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Pac-12 Media Day: Opposing coaches not overlooking Utah

By Robert Jackson, KSL.com Sports Director | Posted - Jul. 26, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.


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LOS ANGELES -- Being the new kid on the block isn't easy. For a team that built quite the reputation as a BCS buster, Utah certainly has their work cut out for them. Not only are they playing in the inaugural season for the newly formed Pac-12, but they are also playing for the first time as a member of one of the automatic qualifying conferences in the Bowl Championship Series.

"It's exciting to have Utah come in. Utah has played so well. You look at what Coach (Kyle Whittingham) has done over the past five years and it has been incredible," USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin told KSL.

"Utah has built themselves into a national power over the last decade, and I see it as a great fit (in the Pac-12)," UCLA Head Coach Rick Neuheisel added.

No one questions Utah's ability to win any given week. Just ask Pittsburgh, Michigan, Alabama, USC, Arizona, Texas A&M or any of the many other BCS opponents that the Utes have upset over the past decade.

But will playing in one of college football's elite conferences week after week take a toll on the Utes?

"Utah is a little bit of an unknown, but we are certainly wary that they are capable of beating anybody on any day," Neuheisel told KSL.

"It will be interesting to see how playing in the conference on a weekly basis, and what that does to their attrition and so forth. But they are certainly a quality program, and I know that they think they can win the Pac-12 South."

With Utah's recent success, it will be hard to envision any team overlooking the Utes on their schedule.

"We won't be," Kiffin quickly replied after being asked if any team would be overlooking Utah and its transition from the Mountain West Conference. "I know that. We sure won't. They've won more games than us the past two years, so we are going to have our hands full."

"Utah - it is no secret how good of a football team and program they have there We have a great deal of respect for Utah and I think they are going to be very competitive in the conference," Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford said.

Utah, who was picked to finish third in the Pac-12 South Division by the media, kicks the season off in 37 days against Montana State.

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Robert Jackson Sports Director

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