Pac-12's lunch links

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
2:30
PM ET
Cinnamon. It should be on tables in restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime someone says, "Ooh, this is so good -- what's in this?" the answer invariably comes back, "cinnamon." Cinnamon. Again and again.

Watch list week continues with the release of the names on John Mackey Award and Rimington Trophy lists.

Here are the Pac-12 players on both lists:

John Mackey (tight end)

Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins won the award last season, but he left early for the NFL and was drafted in the second round by Tampa Bay. Looking strictly at how productive each of these players were as receivers a year ago -- which will always be the most significant factor in this award -- Hamlett has to be considered the conference's early favorite to contend for the award. He had 40 catches for 364 yards and five touchdowns a year ago and the Beavers need a combination of players to step up to replace Brandin Cooks' production.

The midseason watch list will be released on Oct. 13, the semifinalists will be named on Nov. 17 and the finalists will be revealed on Nov. 24.

Rimington (center)

Grasu, a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection, might be the favorite nationally after being named a finalist a year ago. Seumalo and Brendel are both team captains that started every game the past two seasons, while Gurrola, a one-time junior-college All-American, helped paved the way for Ka'Deem Carey last season. Shuler was included despite not having started a game for the Cardinal.

Note: A spring list was also released and there were no changes relating to the Pac-12.

Other watch lists
We're a little over five months away from the first Pac-12 championship game at Levi's Stadium, but it's not too early to bet on who will be there -- and other things, of course.

Among its division, conference and national-championship odds for college football, online sports book Bovada has made Oregon a 6/5 favorite to win the Pac-12 championship. The Ducks are a 1/2 favorite to emerge out of the North Division and are projected to meet UCLA, a 3/2 favorite in the South.

Following Oregon, here are the rest of the odds to win the Pac-12: UCLA 4/1, Stanford 5/1, USC 5/1, Arizona State 6/1, Washington 14/1, Arizona 25/1, Washington State 25/1, Oregon State 33/1, Utah 66/1, California 100/1 and Colorado 100/1.

What does it mean? Not much, really. However, it's an interesting gauge at how Vegas feels the public will bet.

Nothing jumped out as all too surprising, but I thought there would be a small gap between Stanford and USC/ASU considering the Cardinal's recent run of success.

If you'd prefer to bet on individual divisions, they have that covered, too.
  • North: Oregon 1/2, Stanford 3/1, Washington 6/1, Washington State 12/1, Oregon State 14/1, Cal 50/1.
  • South: UCLA 3/2, Arizona State 2/1, USC 2/1, Arizona 10/1, Utah 33/1, Colorado 50/1

The Ducks (8/1) come in just behind Florida State (11/2) and Alabama (6/1) on the odds list for the national championship. We'll go ahead and extrapolate that to mean Bovada is suggesting another run of the "We Want 'Bama" shirts for a potential semifinal in the new college football playoffs.

After Oregon, the rest of the Pac-12 odds for a national title are: UCLA 16/1, USC 25/1, Stanford 33/1, Arizona State 66/1, Arizona 100/1, Washington 100/1, Oregon State 200/1 and California 500/1.

A quick (albeit pretty much meaningless) takeaway here is that ASU and USC have the same odds to get to the Pac-12 championship game, but their odds to win the national title are significantly different. Feel free throw out your own rationale in the comments.

Also, if you planned on setting yourself up for life with a big bet on Colorado, Utah or WSU to win the national championship, you'll have to look elsewhere. Bovada doesn't currently offer those bets.
video

Sam Darnold (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) took time out to talk to WeAreSC on Day 2 of the Elite 11 Finals about what the experience has been like so far, and what he believes he brings to the table at the quarterback position.

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- A trio of California standouts will announce their commitments this week at The Opening, as ESPN 300 defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, ESPN 300 athlete Isaiah Langley and three-star athlete Stephen Johnson will put a stamp on their recruitment.

video
LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Offensive guard Fred Ulu-Perry is the No. 76 overall prospect in the country, but schools are still entering the race for the talented lineman. He picked up recent offers from Oregon State and UCLA, which put those two schools at the top of his list, but the No. 5 offensive guard said he is still looking forward to hearing from schools such as Cal, Oregon and USC.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

CFB Future Power Rankings

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
3:19
PM ET

CFB Future Power Ranks10 future stars | Chat wrap | 2013 FPR

It's Insider's second go-round projecting college football's next three years in our Future Power Rankings.

What did we learn from our first edition? For one, teams can make a substantive move in just a year's time. Just look at Auburn, which jumped from 23rd to fifth after a run to the championship game. USC, now with coaching stability, made the biggest leap (25th to sixth). Oklahoma, UCLA, FSU and Baylor were among other risers, and you'll soon read why.

On the other side, we were high a year ago on Florida and Michigan. Oops. The Gators' injury-plagued 4-8 season dropped them from No. 4 to No. 14, while the Wolverines, who lost five of their last six games, fell from fifth to 20th. We know Will Muschamp's job is in danger, but is that an omen for Brady Hoke's future in Ann Arbor?

Alabama is again our No. 1 team, but with two losses to end the season, its lead shrank. Is that a subtle signal that the Tide might have peaked under Nick Saban?

We'll examine those topics and more in the Future Power Rankings.

Here's how we compiled it: Our panel -- myself, Brad Edwards, Brock Huard, Tom Luginbill and Mark Schlabach -- provided 1-10 ratings in five different categories that we found to be comprehensive in determining current positioning, as well as a projection for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Here are the top 25 college football teams over the next three years:


  • 1
Alabama Crimson Tide
SEC FPR RANK: 1

The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category. Category averages are weighted by importance to generate overall score.

Coaching: Saban did not receive a perfect 10, as he did a year ago. Maybe the one panelist who gave him a nine dinged him for how he managed the final second of the Iron Bowl.

But seriously, Saban is still well ahead of No. 2 Urban Meyer (9.2) and No. 3 Bill Snyder (9.0). (Have to appreciate that Snyder gets that kind of love, even if K-State didn't break the Top 25.)

Edwards thinks 2014 is a big year for Saban because it will show whether he can adapt his defense to better handle tempo offenses. Look at how Saban's defenses mightily struggled last year against not only Texas A&M, but also Auburn and Oklahoma.

"You put them all together and you realize, 'You know what, Alabama might have an issue with this,'" Edwards said. "I happen to believe Saban and [defensive coordinator] Kirby Smart have done enough to deserve the benefit of the doubt. Let's see what they can come up with this year before I decide the dynasty is over. Saban is now recruiting to find those types of players [to defend tempo offenses]."

As for the best coach in the state?

"I want to see Gus Malzahn beat Nick Saban one more time before I say he's a better coach," Edwards said, "which is a conclusion a lot of people are already making."

Current talent: There are more positional questions than in the past few years, especially the offensive line and cornerback spots. Rival coaches are even rumbling about it. "I don't know about them," one SEC coordinator said. But do not be fooled for an instant into thinking the Tide have suddenly become as barren as a bachelor's refrigerator in terms of talent.

Bama still has the top running back group in the country with T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry, who was a bright spot in the otherwise drab Sugar Bowl performance. The time could be now for LB Reuben Foster and FS Landon Collins to shine on defense. MLB Trey DePriest will be the defense's rock.

And what about QB Jake Coker? His old coach at FSU, Jimbo Fisher, believes Coker is capable, which is why Coker nearly beat out last year's Heisman Trophy winner to start at FSU.

Recruiting: This is why Alabama earned association with the word "dynasty" -- it started winning almost every major recruiting battle, and the program became the closest thing there is on the planet to the NFL's minor league system. It has not dipped, and there's no reason to believe it will as long as Saban is around; he will not let it slide.

Title path:  It's going to happen, and it could happen this year: The SEC is going to knock itself out of the playoff. The strength of the top half of the league could turn out to be a bad thing in some seasons.

The Tide are regularly part of a kickoff game of some kind, playing the likes of Clemson, Virginia Tech or West Virginia, but the nonconference slate is typically manageable. The conference schedule always works for and against the SEC. For the Tide, Auburn is the new-slash-old menace.

The rating suggests that it isn't the ideal road to the playoff, but it should not be preventive for a power program such as Alabama.

Program power: Like the coaching category, Bama still received four 10s and a nine. The takeaway: It's hard to remain perfect.

"We all know that every dynasty comes to an end, but when you look back on every dynasty, you know where the turning point was," Edwards said. Will we say it was the Iron Bowl and Sugar Bowl, perhaps? "I think what you have is a lot of people trying to be the first one to predict the end of the dynasty," Edwards said. "They want to be the ones to say they didn't miss it. I think they're jumping the gun a little bit."

Which is why Alabama is still No. 1. But one program is making up ground in a hurry ...


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Pac-12 lunch links

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
2:30
PM ET
It's the remix to ignition.
We're continuing our preseason position reviews. Please, hold your applause until we are finished.

Here's how we do this. We provide three evaluative categories: "Great shape," "Good shape" and "We'll see."

Hint: You'd prefer your team to be in "Great shape."

"We'll see" doesn't mean you're going to stink at said position. It means just what it says -- we'll see, because there's no way at present to know.

You can review last year's rankings here.

Up next: Defensive end. And as we said before, this is a difficult position to stagger when teams vary their scheme between 3-4 and 4-3 looks.

GREAT SHAPE

USC: Would we start with anyone other than Leonard Williams? Of course not. He was the only sophomore on the All-Pac-12 defensive team last season and he's out for a monstrous junior year, too. He recorded 13.5 tackles for a loss last season (including six sacks) and with the added depth on the D-line, he'll be an even bigger force this year. When Williams is out, look for Delvon Simmons to get in on the attack. Simmons, a Texas Tech transfer, has added 20 pounds since his sophomore year with the Red Raiders (in that season he tallied 27 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss).

Washington: The Huskies will field the nation's top-returning sack leader, Hau'oli Kikaha. On the UW website, he's now referred to as an outside linebacker, but for the sake of this post, we're going to still refer to him as a defensive end because chances are that his responsibilities are going to be largely the same. Evan Hudson and Joe Mathis will also be names to know, but the headliner at DE -- undoubtedly -- for the Huskies will be Kikaha.

Oregon: The Ducks have DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Those two are a talented pair that really came out this spring. Buckner has the most experience of the defensive ends and Armstead, who was a dual sport athlete (basketball) until last season, is now focused solely on football -- which showed. Plus, there's good depth behind those two with T.J. Daniel, junior college transfer Tui Talia and Stetzon Bair.

Stanford: Between Henry Anderson, who could be one of the best defensive linemen in the conference, and Blake Lueders, the Cardinal are in a very good place. Add to that group players like Luke Kaumatule -- the converted tight end -- and Aziz Shittu -- who can play tackle or end -- and Stanford should be talented up front yet again in 2014.

GOOD SHAPE

UCLA: Between Owamagbe Odighizuwa (who's still flying under some folks' radars) and Eddie Vanderdoes the Bruins have two pretty good-looking bookends on their defensive line. Vanderdoes sat out during the spring because of a broken foot, but should be up and available come fall. Ellis McCarthy is a bit of a tweener, but he and Kylie Fitts should be able to contribute.

Utah: Nate Orchard, who has 23 starts under his belt, is back for the Utes and will anchor one side of the line. Opposite Orchard is either going to be Jason Fanaika, the Utah State transfer, or Hunter Dimick. Orchard is going to be a force, and we have a feeling he's going to bring along whoever is opposite himself. The Utes have a good thing going here.

Oregon State: The Beavers are in solid shape with Dylan Wynn on one side and the other side still up for grabs in a pretty interesting position battle between Jaswha James, Lavonte Barnett and Titus Failauga. James will most likely snag the starting spot officially by the fall, but the competition is good for all involved. Oregon State also built in more depth here this spring when Obum Gwacham moved from receiver to defensive end (incredible position switch but a tremendous athlete and jumper), so he should also provide a few interesting rotations.

WE'LL SEE

Arizona: The Wildcats lost Sione Tuihalamaka and only return Reggie Gilbert (34 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss) and Dan Pettinato (10 tackles). However, they got an offseason boost from the addition of LSU transfer Jordan Allen, who will be able to play immediately for Arizona. He only registered 16 tackles and two sacks last season while losing his starting job, but he'll bring experience and depth to the Wildcats' defensive ends. These three guys present a pretty intriguing position group, but there are still too many unknowns.

Washington State: Xavier Cooper is moving inside to tackle, leaving the end spots up for grabs. Toni Pole and Destiny Vaeao will fit on the outside with Robert Barber and Lyman Faoliu taking some reps as well. There's just not enough experience or production (with too much of a history of not being consistently strong up front) to say this is anything other than a group that has lots of unproven potential.

Arizona State: During spring season the Sun Devils lined up in a bit more 4-3 than we've seen in the past. This move puts Mo Latu and Chans Cox at the end positions. Marcus Hardison played a bit inside but finished the spring season as the No. 1 DE on ASU's depth chart, with junior college transfer Edmond Boateng as his backup. It seems as though the Sun Devils might show a few different looks this season, which makes the differentiation between whether a player is an end vs. tackle vs. whatever a bit more difficult. Overall there are too many questions lingering here.

California: With new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, the Bear defensive line is going to be experimenting in 2014 with a new version of the 4-3 this season -- the Miami 4-3 -- which leaves a few question marks until it's truly implemented into game situations. However, there's good talent and decent depth at the end positions for Cal. Brennan Scarlett, who missed last season with a broken hand, will be anchoring one end and will be backed up by Todd Barr and Antione Davis. On the other side, there's a position battle brewing between Kyle Kragen, Puka Lopa and junior college transfer Jonathan Johnson.

Colorado: Replacing Chidera Uzo-Diribe is no small task for the Buffs and though senior Juda Parker returns (28 tackles) it seems like the other end position will be filled by a redshirt freshman -- Derek McCartney. And if that doesn't work out, true freshman Michael Mathewes could become a contributor (or at least a fixture in the rotation) for the Buffs. Youth isn't always a bad thing, but when it's filling in the spot of a player like Uzo-Diribe, a guy who played the most snaps on the Colorado defensive line in 2013, it's not great.

OTHER POSITION REVIEWS:
It's here! It's here! The start of watch list season!

This morning, the National College Football Awards Association rolled out its first two watch lists and -- no surprise -- several Pac-12 players were named to both the Bednarik Award watch list (given to the nation's best defensive player) and the Maxwell Award watch list (the nation's best offensive player).

Of the 76 players on the Maxwell Award watch list, 16 hail from the Pac-12. Arizona State, Oregon and USC lead the way with three players a piece on that list but again -- no surprises here -- the quarterbacks ruled the day for the conference as seven Pac-12 quarterbacks were listed. Five wide receivers got nods and four running backs made the list (including both of the Ducks' top guys).

MAXWELL AWARD WATCH LIST

Of the 76 players on the Bednarik Award watch list, 13 are from the Pac-12. Stanford landed four guys while USC and Washington notched three apiece. Like the offense, almost half of the conference's recognition was in one position group (the linebackers), but there's still a good spread of recognition among the rest of the Pac-12 position groups -- three defensive linemen, six linebackers, two cornerbacks and two safeties.

BEDNARIK AWARD WATCH LIST

For a full list of the watch listers, click here. The lists will continue rolling out over the next two weeks so keep your eyes peeled. Don't get too distraught if you don't see your favorite player's name. It's early and there's still plenty of time for change. All of these lists are in pencil (like, a digital pencil) so don't panic yet.
When a football coaching staff signs one of the top few recruits at any position, it's cause for celebration. Therefore, grabbing two of the top three prospects at that position might warrant an Animal House-style party.

Between 2006, when ESPN began assembling recruit rankings, and 2013, individual programs managed to sign at least two of the top three players at a position 16 times. In many cases, one -- and sometimes both -- of those players became instant stars as true freshmen. Think Taylor Mays and Joe McKnight at USC, De'Anthony Thomas at Oregon, Laremy Tunsil at Ole Miss and Sean Spence at Miami.

This was a relatively unique occurrence up until 2014, when it happened five times -- with four of the five instances occurring in the SEC: twice at Alabama, which signed the top two players at both center (No. 1 Josh Casher and No. 2 J.C. Hassenauer) and outside linebacker (No. 1 Christian Miller and No. 2 Rashaan Evans), plus at LSU (with No. 1 and 3 wide receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn) and Florida (with No. 2 and 3 defensive tackles Gerald Willis and Thomas Holley).

Clemson was the other school to accomplish the feat in 2014, signing No. 2 and 3 receiving tight ends Milan Richard and Cannon Smith.

In some of these cases -- particularly at LSU, which lost the vast majority of its receiving production from 2013 -- expectations are high that the star signees can immediately become valuable contributors as true freshmen. The Tigers have multiple alternatives at receiver, including Travin Dural and John Diarse, but Dupre and Quinn might rank among the leading contenders for playing time.

Judging by the long list of Freshman All-America and freshman all-conference honors won by those who previously signed as part of such a dynamic duo, perhaps it's not such a long shot that at least one of the newcomers will make a similar instant impact.

2006

Safety | USC
No. 2 Taylor Mays, No. 3 Antwine Perez

Mays appeared in all 13 games -- starting the last 12 at free safety after Josh Pinkard suffered a season-ending injury in the opener -- in 2006 and led the Trojans with three interceptions. Mays was fifth on the team with 62 tackles and tied for second with six passes defended, ending the season as Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year and as a member of multiple Freshman All-America teams. Perez played in seven games and recorded three tackles.

2007

Center | Auburn
No. 1 Ryan Pugh, No. 3 Chaz Ramsey

Pugh started six of Auburn's final nine games at left tackle and appeared in eight games overall. He also backed up Jason Bosley at center and earned Coaches' All-SEC Freshman team honors after the season. Like Pugh, Ramsey appeared for the first time in Week 4 and went on to start nine of the Tigers' last 10 games at right guard. He also made the Coaches' All-SEC Freshman team.

Running back | USC
No. 1 Joe McKnight, No. 2 Marc Tyler

McKnight played in all 13 games in 2007, ranked third on the team with 540 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown and served as the Trojans' primary punt returner, with his 8.4 yards per return helping him earn a All-Pac-10 honorable mention nod. Tyler redshirted in 2007 while recuperating from a high school leg injury.

2008

Inside linebacker | Ohio State
No. 1 Etienne Sabino, No. 2 Andrew Sweat

Sabino played in all 13 games and notched six tackles. He notched the only touchdown in the Buckeyes' 16-3 win against Purdue by returning a blocked punt 20 yards for a score. Sweat appeared in the last nine games and recorded five tackles, also contributing mostly on special teams.

Outside linebacker | Miami
No. 1 Arthur Brown, No. 2 Sean Spence, No. 3 Ramon Buchanan

Not only did Miami sign ESPN's top three outside linebacker prospects in 2008, it also signed No. 5 Jordan Futch. That's an outstanding haul for one year. At any rate, Spence emerged as the key member of this group from the get-go, ranking third on the team with 65 tackles and leading the Hurricanes with 9.5 tackles for a loss in 2008. He was ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and made multiple Freshman All-America teams. Brown (who later transferred to Kansas State) played in 11 games as a freshman, notching four tackles and shifting from outside to inside linebacker. Buchanan had six tackles in nine games, playing mostly on special teams and also contributing at safety and linebacker.

Offensive tackle | Ohio State
No. 2 Michael Brewster, No. 3 J.B. Shugarts

Brewster played in 12 of the Buckeyes' 13 games in 2008 and started the last 10 at center, earning Freshman All-America honors in the process. Shugarts appeared in seven games at offensive tackle and missed six other games with a shoulder surgery that required offseason surgery.

Safety | Florida
No. 1 Will Hill, No. 2 Dee Finley

Hill played in 13 games and ranked sixth on the team with 48 tackles. He also picked off two passes and notched 1.5 sacks. He made the SEC All-Freshman team and led the Gators with 22 tackles on special teams. Finley did not qualify academically and spent the 2008 season at Milford Academy prep school. He eventually enrolled at Florida and shifted from safety to linebacker, but transferred away from Gainesville in 2011.

2009

Safety | South Carolina
No. 2 Stephon Gilmore, No. 3 DeVonte Holloman

Early enrollee Gilmore started all 13 games at cornerback, ranking fifth on the team with 56 tackles. He tied for the team lead with nine passes defended and ranked second with eight pass breakups, adding six tackles for a loss, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception. The Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-America honoree also averaged 10.1 yards per return as a punt return man. Another early enrollee, Hollomon also played in every game, notching 30 tackles, an interception (which he returned 54 yards against rival Clemson) and a tackle for a loss.

2010

Athlete | Florida
No. 1 Ronald Powell, No. 2 Matt Elam

Powell played in 13 games at strongside linebacker and recorded 25 tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack en route to winning Freshman All-SEC honors. Elam also played in all 13 games, mostly on special teams and at defensive back, and notched 22 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sack.

Defensive tackle | Florida
No. 1 Dominique Easley, No. 3 Sharrif Floyd

Easley recorded four tackles in six games. Floyd played in all 13 games, earning Coaches' Freshman All-SEC honors by making 23 tackles and 6.5 tackles for a loss.

Wide receiver | Texas
No. 2 Mike Davis, No. 3 Darius White

Davis ranked second on the team with 478 receiving yards and 47 receptions (a record for a Texas freshman). He became one of only three receivers in Longhorns history to post multiple 100-yard games as a freshman. White appeared in 10 games in 2010, but caught just one pass for 5 yards and eventually transferred to Missouri after two seasons, citing a need for a fresh start.

2011

Athlete | Oregon
No. 1 De'Anthony Thomas, No. 2 Devon Blackmon

The speedy Thomas earned Pac-12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year honors and was named an All-Pac-12 kick returner and a Freshman All-American. He was the only player in the nation to post at least 400 yards rushing, receiving and kick returning in 2011, ranking as the Ducks' second-leading receiver (595 yards on 46 catches) and third-leading rusher (608 yards and seven touchdowns). His 983 kickoff return yards ranked second in school history. Blackmon redshirted in 2011 and appeared in two games in 2012 before announcing his plan to transfer. He played at Riverside City College before signing with BYU as a juco transfer in 2014.

2012

Defensive end | Florida State
No. 1 Mario Edwards, No. 3 Chris Casher

Edwards became the only freshman to start all season for a loaded FSU defense when he replaced the injured Tank Carradine in the ACC Championship Game. He also started in the Orange Bowl win over Northern Illinois. In all, Edwards finished the season with 17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Casher played in two early games before suffering a season-ending injury and taking a redshirt in 2012.

2013

Offensive guard | Michigan
No. 2 David Dawson, No. 3 Patrick Kugler

Dawson and Kugler both redshirted in 2013. Dawson practiced during the spring at left guard and left tackle, while Kugler is among the candidates to start at center this fall.

Offensive tackle | Ole Miss
No. 1 Laremy Tunsil, No. 3 Austin Golson

Tunsil immediately became one of the better offensive tackles in the SEC, earning second-team All-SEC and Freshman All-America honors in 2013. He played in 12 games and started nine at left tackle, making him one of only two true full-time freshman starters at the position in the FBS. Tunsil allowed just one sack all season. Golson played in 12 games, mostly at guard, before missing the Rebels' bowl game because of shoulder surgery. He transferred to Auburn this summer, citing a family illness as the reason he wanted to move closer to his Alabama home.

Safety | USC
No. 1 Su'a Cravens, No. 3 Leon McQuay III

A 2013 early enrollee, Cravens started 13 games at strong safety, ranked eighth on the team with 52 tackles and tied for second with four interceptions. He made multiple Freshman All-America teams and earned an All-Pac-12 honorable mention nod after the season. McQuay played in all 14 games, picked off one pass and recorded 19 tackles.
LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Nineteen of the nation's top quarterbacks landed in northwest Oregon on Saturday afternoon, a day before the annual Elite 11 quarterback competition begins. While eyes will be focused on several storylines during the event -- including having the top six dual-threat quarterbacks in the country on hand -- attention on Saturday turned to the few uncommitted quarterbacks in attendance, including Sam Darnold, Torrance Gibson and Deondre Francois.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Happy Fourth of July!

July, 4, 2014
Jul 4
9:00
AM ET
The Pac-12 blog will be celebrating the Fourth of July with family and friends today.

So go watch fireworks.

See you back on Monday.
Happy July 4th Eve. The mailbag arrives early this week.

You can follow me on Twitter here.

To the notes!

Landon from Atlanta writes: I have heard rumblings of late, as to the upcoming demise of Oregon's dominance ? probably not this year, but in coming seasons. People point to solid coaching hires within the Pac-12, as well as a perceived slipping in recruiting recently. Some of these things make sense (CFB is cyclical), but is the recruiting issue more of perception than anything? People think Oregon SHOULD be recruiting better, because they are a more of a football power. However, Oregon has never been in the top 10 of recruiting. When ESPN ranked the top 150 quarterbacks in the class of 2011, Marcus Mariota was 123rd! Could Oregon be doing what it has done along, and it's just people's expectations that have changed? Maybe Oregon should be quoting Mark Twain about their demise.

Ted Miller: We've written about this before, though to a different question. Oregon, as previously noted, is doomed.

Consider this analysis:

Purple John from Seattle writes: Oregon is doomed. They are Johnny-Come-Latelies with no tradition. With Chip Kelly gone, it's just a matter of time before the glorious and stately Washington program stomps the Duckies into oblivion.

Orange & Black Sarah from Corvallis writes: Oregon is doomed. They are a lawless program under the thumb of a dithering plutocrat. Everyone knows that good eventually wins out, which means the Beavers and Mike Riley soon will overcome the evil kingdom in Eugene.

Stanford Steve from Bristol, Connecticut, writes: Oregon is doomed. As a former Stanford great both on the field and in the classroom, I have discovered the unifying equation for the universe. The eureka moment came when I eliminated Oregon from Pac-12 contention.

See. Oregon is doomed.

What's the source of these "rumblings" you're hearing? It's not any preseason publication I've seen. Oregon is practically a unanimous pick to win the North Division and Pac-12 championship. The Ducks are being ranked anywhere from No. 2 to No. 6 in preseason polls. Mariota is a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

As for recruiting, have you been keeping up with the latest news, Landon? While the Ducks have missed on a few national prospects, most notably a couple of QBs, they've jumped seven spots to No. 18 in the latest ESPN.com recruiting rankings. That made the Ducks the No. 1 team in the Pac-12.

Oregon is 57-9 over the past five years, a span during which it being in the national title hunt has become the standard not the exception. Folks mostly expect that to continue in 2014. While replacing Mariota won't be easy in 2015, keep in mind he's the third starting QB during this run, not the only one.

Yes, people's expectations have changed. Two regular-season losses now constitutes failure for some Ducks fans. That's how things go. Is it likely Oregon is going to go 57-9 over the next five years? Probably not. But I doubt there will be a massive downturn in the program's trajectory anytime soon.

Chester from Tempe, Arizona, writes: What are your thoughts on Arizona's RB situation and if RichRod n Co have enough offensive firepower and options to off-set the lack of a running game threat? You would think defenses would key on the passing game now.We recently lost a former 4 Star RS Frosh RB Pierre Cormier to injury retirement.

Ted Miller: While running back is a legitimate question for Arizona, I see it as more of a question of a name -- "Who's it going to be?" -- rather than a "Will the Wildcats be able to run the ball."

Arizona is going to run the ball well in 2014 for two reasons: 1. Rich Rodriguez offenses always run the ball well; 2. The Wildcats have one of the Pac-12's best and most experienced offensive lines.

I have no idea who wins the job between Nick Wilson, Zach Green, Terris Jones-Grigsby and Jared Baker, or some combination thereof with some contribution of elusive receiver DaVonte Neal. What I suspect strongly is the program will eclipse 5.0 yards per carry and 3,000 yards rushing as a team while throwing the ball better this fall.

Ben from LA writes: I don't know anything about Dykes, or who the Chancellor has in mind for AD, but I think of Cal as a sleeping giant. It's the Pac-12's best university that isn't saddled with an admissions handicap, it's got the campus, the weather, and proximity to a favorite city and America's premier industry, and it receives the same TV dollars as all the other schools. Given Cal's extraordinary proficiency at every academic and professional endeavor, what do you think are the obstacles to football excellence?

Ted Miller: I wonder what might have happened if Cal had completed its facilities upgrades in 2005 when Jeff Tedford and the Bears were an established Pac-12 power. I'd certainly wager that Tedford would still be the coach and Cal wouldn't have gone 0-8 in conference play in 2013.

The biggest thing holding Cal back before -- and during -- Tedford's tenure was a lack of commitment. Berkeley was Berkeley first -- Telegraph Avenue! -- and Cal Bears football was an afterthought, casual amusement or something to protest. That is no longer the case. The facilities are A-list, the Pac-12 is surging and fans and the administration are fully committed to being competitive.

The problem Sonny Dykes inherited was talent. He didn't have enough to be consistently competitive in the North, and then the guys he had got hurt.

Is Dykes the long-term answer? We should get a better idea of that this fall. The Bears need to show improvement, even if that doesn't include reaching the .500 mark.

But to your question about what might be holding Cal back, there is nothing exceptional you could point to, as there is with, say, Utah (three years removed from non-AQ conference) or Washington State (isolated location with limited recruiting base).

Cal can win, which means it should win. All it takes is the right coach and right players.

Jon from Tumalo, Oregon, writes: Zero, zip, nada, nudge games between the SEC/PAC in 2014 unless there is a meeting in the Playoff.How can anyone possibly compare Conferences that hardly tee it up against one another? After all, WAZZOU gave Auburn at its place all that the Tigers could handle. I know scheduling is arranged far in advance but wouldn't an SEC/PAC Challenge (SEC teams 6 and 7 from the prior season play one another) be super sweet? LET'S PLAY BALL AGAINST THE BEST.

Ted Miller: The Pac-12 and SEC don't play often as it is and won't play any regular-season games this year. This was specifically called a drag by ESPN brass and your Pac-12 reporters during a meeting this past week. You are not the only one who wants to pair the two best conferences and, you know, see what happens when stadium size and bombast no longer matter.

Yet I wouldn't hold your breath. I don't get a sense either conference is aggressively seeking out the other in any consistent way. The SEC doesn't want to play home-and-home series with West Coast teams, and the Pac-12 isn't eager to do too many one-game visits in enemy territory, as the Cougars did last year when they proved to be nearly the equals of the SEC champions. That leaves neutral-site games, which are complicated to put together and limited in number.

While there have been some tentative talks -- and some intense Twitter speculation about certain marquee matchups -- nothing has progressed to a point that it can be seriously discussed as a possibility.

As for quality nonconference games, the Pac-12's special relationship with the Big Ten is prevailing -- see good matchups this fall with Michigan State (Oregon), Michigan (Utah), Northwestern (Cal) and Illinois (Washington).

There are a couple of SEC-Pac-12 matchups in the future: Texas A&M will play Arizona State at Houston’s NRG Stadium Sept. 5 2015, and then has a home-and-home with UCLA in 2015-16. There also are some more SEC-Pac-12 games scheduled a few years down the road.

Maybe we'll get one in the College Football Playoff?
There’s nothing like a good ol’ award watch list to generate some college football discussion during the height of summer, and the good folks at the College Football Performance Awards are the latest to publish theirs.

Eight Pac-12 schools are represented (sorry ASU, Cal, Colorado and Utah) on the three defensive lists, highlighted by USC’s Leonard Williams, UCLA’s Myles Jack and Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

Here is the full list of Pac-12 representation.

Defensive linemen
Tony Washington, Oregon
Leonard Williams, USC
Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
Xavier Cooper, Washington State

Linebackers
A.J. Tarpley, Stanford
Myles Jack, UCLA
Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Hayes Pullard, USC
Shaq Thompson, Washington

Defensive backs
Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Arizona
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
Steven Nelson, Oregon State
Jordan Richards, Stanford
Su'a Cravens, USC
Josh Shaw, USC

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Darnold talks on Day 2 at the Elite 11
Sam Darnold (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) took time out to talk to WeAreSC on Day 2 of the Elite 11 Finals about what the experience has been like so far, and what he believes he brings to the table at the quarterback position.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 8/28
Friday, 8/29
Saturday, 8/30