Members of the Pac-10 media have put it all on the line and gone way out on a limb.
Since 1961, the conference has polled selected members of the media for their predictions on how schools will finish the season. And to be honest, they get it right most of the time.
Giving credit where it's due, the media polled for the conference preseason poll has picked the champion correctly every year since 2000. That's quite a record, considering what can happen to a college football team if the injury jinx runs through their roster.
In case you're wondering, no, USC hasn't been picked to win the Pac-10 every season since 2000. Domination by the Trojans was predicted in 2003 and has been a constant since.
If you're looking for some trivia to share with someone at the office cooler, here's some for you.
Can you name the last time/year Washington State was picked by the media to finish first in the Pac-10 media preseason poll?
The answer is 2002.
Yes, the Cougs did finish in first at the conclusion of that Pac-10 campaign.
WSU finished first in the Pac-10 in 1997. That was a typical year for the media predicting how the Cougs would fare over the course of the season. Washington State was pegged to finish a distant seventh behind their cross-state rival Washington.
Technically, WSU and UCLA tied for the conference championship. Each had a record of 7-1. The Cougs were the Pac-10 representative in the Rose Bowl because UCLA had been there more recently than WSU. (correction: WSU defeated UCLA that season to earn the right to represent the Pac-10 as pointed out by Lucas Nurmi)
Let's end the history lesson there, OK?
Back to the "out on a limb" point.
When the Pac-10 released the results of their poll of hand-picked media reps, USC was chosen to finish in first place. Yes, 28 of the 32 voters cast their ballots in favor of the Trojans winning a conference championship for the seventh consecutive year. Three voters were bold enough to recognize the talent at Berkeley and pick them to finish ahead of the pack.
Then there was the lone voter who picked Oregon to finish in first.
Are you kidding?
We'll give the anonymous member of the media credit for thinking outside the box, but Oregon?
Don't be surprised if first-year Coach Chip Kelly has his team averaging more than 50 points a game this season. Trouble in Eugene is they may give up an average of 55 points a game.
Here's a look at the official results published by the Pac-10:
There are a couple of curious results on this poll.
How can Arizona get about as much respect as Rodney Dangerfield used to?
The Wildcats finished last season strong and have an experienced, potent running game back this year. Coach Mike Stoops has a talented group on defense.
Sure, someone has to fill in the eighth best slot, but Arizona?
Picking Oregon to finish ahead of the Beavers doesn't make a lot of sense either. Oregon State has the most exciting player in the Pac-10: Quizz Rogers.
They have two outstanding quarterbacks, but the Beavs sent just about their entire 2008 defensive unit to NFL camps this summer. The good thing for them is the fact that there are some extraordinary young men ready to step in and fill their shoes.
Both Washington and Washington State are projected to have a lock on the conference cellar. That's probably a solid prediction for a couple of football programs that have fallen on hard times.
Given the droning about national media bias toward the east, it shouldn't come as a real shock that the Pac-10 media have a bias toward schools south of the Columbia River.
Truth be known, preseason media polls are little more than something to pass time waiting for fall camps to begin later this week.
Anyone, especially Pac-10 media, who is itching for another season of college football actually could not care less about polls.
There's only one serious question on their minds.
Is it September yet?
Originally published on Examiner.com