Don't look now but the PAC 10 is gaining on the nation.
One of the strongest leagues from top to bottom, the PAC 10 will return to a far more balanced conference in 2010.
The dominant program in the conference over the past decade, Southern California, has seen the torch passed from Pete Carroll to Lane Kiffin. Further, probation removes any talk of the Trojans having an impact this year.
So who will lift the banner of this proud league? The most likely candidate is Arizona.
The Wildcats, still seething over a perceived bad call by an official in the Oregon game last season (a call which cost the 'Cats the host role in the Rose Bowl), are not only stalking the PAC 10 title but a shot at the BCS Championship.
Arizona is loaded top to bottom, inside and out, superior to any PAC10 opponent who they will meet this season. The apex predator of the PAC 10 in 2010, if Arizona takes out Iowa early in the season it could be a virtual home game for the in-state Wildcats in the BCS Title match.
The most serious contender for Arizona to deal with is Oregon State.
The Beavers, led by their fine coach Mike Riley ( the same Mike Riley who was an all-sec defensive back for Bear Bryant in the 1970s), has been hanging around the top spot of the PAC 10 for several years now.
Similar to Arizona, the Beavers are thirsting for payback against Oregon. The past couple of seasons have been good to the Ducks in their Civil War battle. This year the Beavers get their revenge and finish No.2 in the PAC 10.
Washington has the best player of the PAC 10 in quarterback Jake Locker. The up and coming Huskies will battle the fading Ducks of Oregon for the third position in the conference.
Stanford and Southern Cal will slug it out for the remaining spot in the upper division. The Cardinal feature Oliver Luck's son at QB and fine coaching from Jim Harbaugh. Says Andrew "Coach and I have a lot in common, we both had to grow up playing for our Dad."
Quickly now, what coach in the PAC 10 has won two national championships? The answer is Dennis Erickson of Arizona State. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, this year will not add another ring to his fingers.
California is a program very much like Virginia Tech. The coach is respected by some around the country, the school is very much a blended and diverse student population, and the team never quite lives up to the pre-season press. Failure to launch–West Coast Style– is definitely Berkeley.
UCLA is in such bad shape they had to resurrect the career of a disgraced head coach in order to compete with the USC recruiting tactics. It has done the Bruins a lot of good, now they are still losing but have no respect nationwide.
Washington State? Well, if you were offered a scholarship to play for the Cougars what would you do? Right, take it if it's the only one you receive.