Media Tabs Huskies Eighth in Pac-10 in Preseason Poll
July 24, 2008
LOS ANGELES, Calif.--Five-time defending Pac-10 champion USC is a near-unanimous choice to win the 2008 Pacific-10 Conference football title in a preseason poll of West Coast media members who regularly cover the league. The Trojans were listed in the top spot by 38 of the 39 voters participating in the poll. It marks the sixth consecutive year the Trojans have been the choice to win the title. USC has won or shared the last five Pac-10 titles and has two National Championships and a national runner-up finish in the last five years. The Trojans fashioned an 11-2 mark last season, capped by a 49-17 rout of Illinois in the Rose Bowl. Defending Pac-10 co-champion ARIZONA STATE is picked to finish second in the poll, with OREGON edging CALIFORNIA for third place. The Golden Bears received the lone first-place vote not cast for the Trojans. The media poll has correctly selected the Conference Champion in 25 of 47 previous polls, including the last eight years in a row. Following are the results of the preseason media poll (points 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses):
1. USC (38) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 389 2. Arizona State . . . . . . . . . . . 330 3. Oregon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295 4. California (1) . . . . . . . . . . . 274 5. UCLA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204 6. Oregon State . . . . . . . . . . . 192 7. Arizona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185 8. Washington . . . . . . . . . . . . 139 9. Stanford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 10. Washington State . . . . . . . . 61
POLL NOTES: Preseason media poll has correctly picked the Conference champion 25 of 47 times and has been very accurate of late in correctly identifying the Conference champ the last eight years in a row. . . . USC becomes the first school to top the media poll for six straight years since the Trojans had an 18-year run atop the poll from 1965-1982. . . . Defending Pac-10 co-champion ARIZONA STATE is picked to finish second, the Sun Devils highest pre-season slot since being picked second in 2003.
Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham
Opening Remarks: 'The University of Washington football team is looking forward to 2008. We have a mixture of youth and experience. It should be an exciting year, we can't wait to get on with it, especially with the leadership of our quarterback, Jake Locker, who is one of the finest players in the Conference and in the country.'
On the strength of schedule: 'I look at it as a challenge and I think our team accepts it as a challenge. We have one of the most difficult starts in the country because we play our opener against a Conference team on the road. But we believe that If you can prepare yourself for Autzen stadium and for Oregon to start off, you can do anything down the road.'
On Locker: 'The thing that I value most in Jake is the person more than the athlete because I think it is the person that creates the athlete. He is a solid young man and you can give him these accolades in public and it doesn't change him as a person, it creates a drive in him. There is no one on our team who works harder than Jake. When I talk to our football team, I always tell them to be humble and he shares that value. He is humble but hungry and he has the potential to be very special.'
On last season's five losses by five points or less: 'As a coach, you've got to look at three things. One, are they physically able to finish the ball game? Two, as coaches are we making the right decision? And three, did they have the right approach in those situations? We beefed up our conditioning this summer. Coaching-wise we are making sure that we clearly understand those situations, and we're making sure our guys know how to handle those situations.'
Washington QB Jake Locker
On playing baseball this summer: 'I got an opportunity to play baseball this summer with an amateur team in Bellingham on the weekends. We played a three-game series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was fun for me, I got to hone my competitive edge and I enjoyed that. Anytime you can do something that counts and keep score it's fun.
It didn't take away from what I did football-wise, I feel like I really improved myself as a football player this summer. We are young at receiver and in the backfield, so being around those guys has helped me take a bigger leadership role, just because of the necessity to have them understand what they are doing. I took them under my wing and am trying to give them the best chance to succeed this year. I believe that one of the best ways to learn is to teach, so hopefully that is portrayed this Fall.'