Players Who Won't Get a Lot of Friend Requests
Just because you love the Pac-12 doesn't mean you love all of its players. In fact, assuming you only support one specific team, most of its players probably rub you the wrong way.
But some guys are worse than others. Some guys, whenever they walk onto an opponent's field, automatically become public enemy No. 1.
The common denominator among them is talent; J.J. Redick was the most hated college athlete ever, but he was also one of the best. There are plenty of jerks in college football, but the ones who ride the bench go unnoticed.
The ones who succeed on Saturdays, however, do not escape the scorn of Pac-12 diehards.
Here are the five most vexing players in the Pac-12 this season. Chime in with comments, all you lucky current students, and let me know who I missed.
RB Silas Redd, USC
Pac-12 loyalists see Redd the same way original members of the Mighty Ducks saw Adam Banks: You don't belong here. You're only here because of a technicality. Wearing a Pac-12 jersey doesn't make you a real Pac-12er.
With the help of jovial moppet Charlie Conway, Banks eventually found a route to acceptance. But Pac-12 fans have never been quite so quick to embrace. Especially given the circumstances of Silas Redd's transfer.
After the Freeh Report was released, Penn State players were allowed to transfer schools without sitting out the usual one year. It was a tempting offer given the state of Penn State's program, but most of the team's leaders—guys like quarterback Matt McGloin—opted to stay, to persevere, to show solidarity in the face of extreme conflict.
Silas Redd went running to Hollywood.
Redd chose greener pastures and sandier beaches over men he once called teammates. True Pac-12ers (at least, as they like to see themselves) don't associate with that sort of treachery.
The fact that it was Lane Kiffin, of all people, whose recruiting pitch convinced him to defect just cements Redd's place on Team Jerk.
QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Nobody likes a showoff, and in 2012, that's exactly what the Oregon Ducks were.
Marcus Mariota seems like a pretty good guy, all things considered. He was barely recruited coming out of some Podunk high school in Hawaii, he's humble for a dude who might win the Heisman in six months (take notes, Johnny Football) and for nonpartisan viewers, he really is a treat to watch on Saturdays.
But it's hard not to hate a guy who makes your favorite team—your heroes—look like they've never played football before, and that's precisely what Mariota does. He either passed for a 200-plus rating or ran for 80-plus yards in each of Oregon's final six conference games, even managing, somehow, to accomplish both feats against USC in November.
Throw that Stanford game out the window (in statistics, we call that an outlier) and Oregon averaged 54.25 points per game in conference play. Now that Chip Kelly and Kenjon Barner are gone, Mariota is the undisputed face behind that flamboyance.
Expect Pac-12 crowds to treat him accordingly.
RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Carey was cleared of domestic violence charges last weekend, saying through his attorneys that he was "thankful to be so thoroughly vindicated." Far be it from most people to speculate further—if the court says he's innocent, they'd just drop it—but Pac-12 crowds aren't most people.
They're going to rip him apart.
Not that they wouldn't have any way, though. Carey led the nation in rushing as a sophomore, totaling 1,929 yards on 303 carries. If nothing else, at the very least, he's the most despised athlete in Boulder right now.
But last year's success also comes with an asterisk. Carey gained just 425 yards on 91 carries as a freshman, but he magically transformed into an All-American the moment Rich Rodriguez stepped through the door. The same Rich Rodriguez who made stars out of Quincy Wilson and Steve Slaton and Noel Devine before him.
There's a perceived lack of merit surrounding Ka'Deem Carey, the implication that without his current system, he'd still be toiling in obscurity. Riding coattails—or at least being accused of it—is an easy way to tick off opposing students.
LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
Guys with mohawks and war-paint-style eyeblack are easy targets for hate. They're basically inviting it. But the vitriol lobbed at Shayne Skov extendds way past his facial aesthetic.
Opposing fans hate Skov, first and foremost, because he's really good at football. Let's be honest: You wouldn't take the time to loathe him if he wasn't blowing up quarterbacks every weekend.
But Skov even alienated his own student body this year, posting in one of those asinine "Facebook confessions" groups and arguing that Stanford football players aren't stupid. His first comment was kind of funny, but everything past it was ill-disposed and frivolous.
Oh, and he also got arrested for a DUI in 2012, cementing his place in the pantheon of unlikable Pac-12 players.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
"Future NFL prospect" and "criminal offender" are common themes you'll find throughout this list. And just like Shayne Skov before him, Austin Seferian-Jenkins is both.
Perhaps the nation's best tight end, Seferian-Jenkins was suspended indefinitely for a DUI arrest this March. The length of the suspension remains to be seen, but Washington can't afford to be without him for long; according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., he's the No. 24 prospect (subscription required) for the 2014 NFL draft.
After Washington State upset UW in the 2012 Apple Cup, fans stormed the field in Pullman to celebrate. Somewhere in the fracas, for reasons still unknown, two Cougars fans punched Seferian-Jenkins to the ground.
It's not clear what Seferian-Jenkins did, if anything, to deserve that punch, but being assaulted by Pac-12 fans certainly doesn't help his case.