2007 Pac-10 Football Prospectus
April 25, 2007
2006-07 PAC-10 BOWL RESULTS (3-3):
Rose Bowl Presented by Citi: USC 32, Michigan 18
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: California 45, Texas A&M 10
Brut Sun Bowl: Oregon State 39, Missouri 38
Emerald Bowl: Florida State 44, UCLA 27
Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl: BYU 38, Oregon 8
Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl: Hawai'i 41, Arizona State 24
THE RETURNEES: If experience is your thing, the Pac-10 is your place. The Pac-10 has a remarkable number of starters returning in 2007 as a total of 165 starters return (out of 240, including kickers). That works out to 68.8% of last year's starters reporting back for duty in `07. To put that number in some perspective, over the last ten years the average number of starters returning in any given year has been 146. UCLA has the most starters back with 21 out of 24, followed by Arizona and Stanford with 19 each. Washington returns the fewest starters with 12. The 'average' Pac-10 team returns 16.5 starters--8 on offense, 7.5 on defense and one kicker. Here is a breakdown of who has what coming back:
THE HEADLINERS: Despite losing three first-team All-America selections to early entry in the NFL draft, the Pac-10 returns plenty of headliners among those 165 returning starters. Included are 11 players who were voted first-team All-Pac-10 by the league head coaches last season and an additional 20 players who were voted second-team All-Conference. Two of the most explosive players from `06 return in California's DeSean Jackson and Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter, both of whom dazzled as both receivers and punt returners last season. Jackson won the Randy Moss Return Man Award as the nation's top returner, was a consensus first-team All-America pick as a return man and was named first-team All-Pac-10 as both a punt returner and wide receiver. He established a Pac-10 season record by returning four punts for touchdowns, led the league with a 17.5-yard average per return, and had 59 receptions for 1,060 yards (18.0) and another nine TDs. Stroughter was equally impressive in earning second-team All-America honors as a return man, as well as second-team All-Pac-10 at both receiver and punt returner. Stroughter was second behind Jackson in punt returns with a 15.7-yard average and three returned for TDs and led the Pac-10 in receiving yards with 1,293 yards and five TDs on 74 receptions. . . . USC OT Sam Baker was a consensus first-team All-America selection last year and Trojan FS Taylor Mays was named secondteam All-America as a freshman. Mays also was voted Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year by the coaches and was the Sporting News Pac-10 Freshman of the Year on defense. Trojan TB Emmanuel Moody was Sporting News Pac-10 Freshman of the Year on offense and Trojan NT Sedrick Ellis was named winner of the Morris Trophy as the outstanding defensive lineman in the Pac-10. . . . In addition to Jackson, Baker and Ellis, other first-team All-Pac-10 selections back for more in 2007 are QB John David Booty and LBs Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers of USC, TB Yvenson Bernard and OG Jeremy Perry of Oregon State, C Alex Mack of California, CB Antoine Cason of Arizona and CB Wopamo Osaisai of Stanford, selected for his performance on special teams. As noted, an additional 20 players named second-team All-Conference also return. . . . Nine teams, all but Oregon State, return their starting quarterbacks from the end of last season, although some of those returnees became starters due to injuries in front of them. Two quarterbacks who passed for more than 3,000 yards are back in Booty (3,347) of USC and Nate Longshore of California, with Washington State's Alex Brink not far behind (2,899). Booty (29), Longshore (24) and Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter (23) all had more than 20 TD passes in 2006. . . . Three of last season's 1,000-yard rushers are back in Bernard (1,307) of Oregon State, Ryan Torain (1,229) of Arizona State and Chris Markey (1,107) of UCLA. TB Jonathan Stewart of Oregon just missed 1,000 yards rushing (981) and led the league in kickoff returns (28.1).
BOWL PARTNERS: Only minor shuffling in the Pac-10 bowl picture this season. The champion is slated to go to the Rose Bowl, unless ranked one or two in the final BCS standings, in which case it would go to the BCS National Championship Game hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The rest of the Pac-10 bowl lineup features the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, Brut Sun Bowl, Emerald Bowl, Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl and Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth Texas.
NO MORE MISSES: The Pac-10 is in the second year of a full round-robin nine-game Conference schedule. The schedule reverses from last year and each school will play one home and one road game against a team from the other four geographical areas of the Conference, The traditional rival games alternate each year to determine which teams play four and which teams play five Conference home games each year. Hosting the traditional rivalry games this year, and thus having five home Conference games, are Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, USC and Washington.
NEW COACHES: Technically, two new head coaches in the Pac-10 this season, although one can hardly be called new to the league. Dennis Erickson becomes the first coach to ever lead three different Pac-10 football programs as he takes over the reins at Arizona State. Erickson previously served as head coach at Washington State (1987-88) and Oregon State (1999-2002) and won a pair of national championships at Miami (Fla.) in between. He is a two-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, once at WSU in 1988 and again at OSU in 2000, when he also was named National Coach of the Year by the Sporting News. In 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Erickson has posted a record of 148-65-1 (.694), including 43-27-1 (.613) in six Pac-10 seasons. . . . Jim Harbaugh takes over as head man at Stanford, moving up after a very successful stint at University of San Diego, where he compiled a record of 29-6 (.829) in three years, including 11-1 in each of the last two seasons. Harbaugh had a 15-year playing career as a quarterback in the NFL and was quarterbacks coach of the Oakland Raiders prior to going to San Diego. His father, Jack Harbaugh, was Stanford's defensive coordinator for two years (1980-81) and Jim Harbaugh played his prep football and graduated from Palo Alto High School, across the street from Stanford Stadium.
TURNSTILES CLICKING: Pac-10 football has never been more popular as the Conference set a record for overall attendance in 2006. A total of 3,604,124 fans attended games at Pac-10 stadiums last year, an average of 56,314 per game. That 56,314 average figure is impressive considering it is more than the capacity of five of the league's 10 stadiums. Leading the way was USC, which for the second year in a row topped more than 90,000 fans per game as a record average of 91,480 jammed the L.A. Coliseum for Trojan games.