Amid an unexpectedly tumultuous offseason, the Pac-12 held its 2022 edition of Football Media Day on Friday at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles. It was my first in-person coverage for The Daily Californian, and admittedly, I had only gotten two hours of sleep the night before. Sleep deprivation had nothing on me, though; I was running on pure adrenaline, excitement and love for the sport of football. Nothing will ever top the experience I had at Pac-12 Media Day.
The day was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. with the commissioner’s remarks, but media registration opened at 6 a.m, a time I had locked into the very grooves of my mind. The thought of getting a media credential for the first time was one of the things that kept me up the night before. I was always the punctual type, so I arrived at the event around 6:15 a.m., got my credential and had the chance to soak in the moment before the day’s proceedings.
The stage and workroom area was small, but had a welcoming atmosphere, one where I wasn’t afraid to meet other reporters or speak to members of the conference schools.
Going up the floors, I walked into radio row, where broadcasters were preparing for the long day of interviewing ahead. I sat in the room for a minute before heading up to the terrace for the provided breakfast. As I walked into the elevator going up, my reporter bias flew out the window. There I was in an elevator with the commissioner of the Pac-12, George Kliavkoff, who, might I add, was way taller than I imagined. It was really difficult containing my inner fan, but I stayed professional and couldn’t find it in myself to interrupt his conversation.
Walking onto a rooftop terrace in downtown Los Angeles, you would think the first thing that caught my eye would be the breathtaking scenery. Wrong. The Leishman Trophy, Pac-12 football championship game trophy and National Championship Trophy were on display on the terrace. My heart burst: These were trophies that I’d only ever seen on television, I couldn’t help but catch myself grinning from ear to ear just being in their presence.
Containing my excitement was an incredible challenge, especially being a historian of the sport, knowing what these three trophies stood for. But, when I was finally ready to return to the stage, I met a wonderful reporter for the Washington State Cougars, who told me stories about his time covering different teams across collegiate football. As a newer addition to the sports staff, I really valued hearing his escapades and absorbing his knowledge of the game.
The day was naturally engulfed in tension, and rumors ran rampant throughout the small theater about UCLA and USC’s decision to realign to the Big Ten in 2024. I was sure that the two schools were scheduled to give remarks last because of this news. The representatives from Cal — head coach Justin Wilcox and players Daniel Scott and Matthew Cindric — were scheduled to give their remarks in the afternoon portion of the day as well. I noticed the players would be speaking and taking questions on a smaller side stage, as the head coach did the same from the main stage.
When it was time for Wilcox to take questions, I could feel my voice start trembling, not out of fear, but from being overwhelmed by the happenings around me. The best way I could describe it would be to say that it was like an out of body experience; I felt like I was watching myself ask the question about a new-look offense for the Bears this fall. I then found myself asking the two players about the importance of keeping the Axe at UC Berkeley, and as a fellow student, I could only secretly smile at their answers.
My experience at Pac-12 Media Day solidified my passion for sports journalism. It has become a core memory that will always be a reminder of the day I realized what I really wanted to get out of my college experience.