I've lived all over the country but for the last eight years I have called California and Arizona home. During that time there are many things about the West Coast that I have really enjoyed. I love the fact that the early game comes on at 9am, that is quality I can live with. No excuses not to make a full day of it when college football Saturday starts that early. It has also given me a chance to get pretty familiar with the Pac-10. Here are some of my observations on said conference heading into 2009.
Washington- The "Molder of Men" Ty Willie dropped Little Boy on South Bend but he saved Fat Man for Seattle. Going 0-12 in year four pretty much sums it up. That would be the definition of FAIL! Steve Sarkisian has a brutal uphill climb ahead of him if he is going to restore any kind of luster to this once proud program. He is going to make his initial attempt at shaking off the bad juju by changing up the Husky uniforms. I’m sure that will work. Despite Jake Locker being a stud I don’t expect any quick turnarounds at the U-Dub.
Washington State- The Coogs are brutal but do have some use in the college football blogosphere. Ask your drinking buddies this trivia question. Which college football team consistently wears two different helmets, one at home and one away? The Coogs dammit, they wear silver at home with red jerseys and red helmets on the road with white jerseys. Of note Hawaii also employs two helmets and Oregon is just ridiculous with three. Speaking of Oregon……..
Oregon- Apparently Webfoot U is short on running backs. That’s not good for new front man Chip Kelly. I personally think they way the Belotti to Kelly transition went down was odd to begin with, and they still haven’t hired a new Offensive Coordinator to replace Kelly himself. After a failed attempt to hire Jon Gruden I get the impression Donald and his Nephews are grasping at straws here. I expect the Ducks to struggle some through the transition in 2009. As a side note they still have the most heinous collection of uniforms in all of football.
Oregon State- When your QB throws for 500 yards in a spring scrimmage that is not necessarily a good thing. Despite this glaring lack of a secondary or anything resembling QB pressure these guys will probably still be decent by Pac-10 standards in 2009. Mike Riley consistently does more with less in respects to this team and I expect that will continue. Worst case he can hand it off to the Quizz.
California- Jeff Tedford’s career at Cal Jumped the Shark on December 30th 2004. Up to that point Tedford was one of those hot "it" coaches that was being labeled by the World Wide Leader as a super genius. Then he went and pulled a John Cooper that December and started publicly crying that he got juiced out of a Rose Bowl appearance by none other than Texas. Vince Young led Texas to victory in Pasadena over Michigan as a prelude to the 2005 Texas title run. Meanwhile Tedford took his #4 ranked Bears down to San Diego and proceeded to get smoke checked by none other than the Dread Pirate himself Mike Leach. Texas Tech put on a clinic at Cal’s expense in the Holiday Bowl that night. Immediately following that ass kicking everything changed for Tedford and the Bears but the effects were not readily apparent. In the last five years Tedford’s recruiting class rankings from rivals.com go like this: 9, 19, 22, 32, 40. See a trend? It’s not a great one. His Juniors, Seniors and 5th year kids in 2009 are pretty good bad but that Freshman and Sophomore class are going to come into play at some point. Just ask Charlie Weis. By Pac-10 standards he still has decent kids that are roughly in the same ball park as UCLA and Oregon but all of them are miles behind USC. On top of that he’s taken to second guessing himself and after never really identifying a QB in 2008 appears to be doing the same thing heading into 2009. He does have Jahvid Best in the back field, and that kid is serious, but the supporting cast leaves a fair amount to be desired. I’ll be interested to see what becomes of the Golden Bears in 2009, but the real down side for Tedford is those last couple of recruiting classes that will manifest themselves a couple of years down the road.
Stanford- This write up on the Stanford Spring game makes it sound like Andrew Luck might be the real deal at quarterback. It does fail to point out that he did it against the Stanford defense (#83 in pass efficiency in 2008) in a glorified scrimmage. That said Jim Harbaugh has proved thus far to be a pretty effective coach and I expect that the Trees could be one of those annoying teams that pulls an upset or two here and there and perhaps even do something crazy like maybe finish 3rd or 4th in the Pac-10 in 2009.
Arizona/ Arizona State- I don’t need to link anything to back up what I’m going to say here. I have been a resident of Southwest Arizona for the last three years. I have lived in Texas, Florida and California and kept track of a lot of High School football in the process. I can honestly say that as a state Arizona is light years behind those three power states when it comes to high school football and as a result neither of these schools will ever have a truly serious football team. The high school programs are under funded and the emphasis does not exist. I know I have a warped perspective here after growing up the son of a Texas High School football coach but as a state Arizona is pretty far behind the power curve. Little Stoops has a great defe
nsive mind and Dennis Erickson is OG shady and put together some great teams at Miami. But this is an uphill battle. Unless the culture of the state changes in regards to football, both these teams will never be anything more than mediocre at best. They’ll kick your ass in baseball or softball but not football. Ever.
UCLA- Aaaahhhh Slick Rick. Neuheisel is a really good football coach. Start throwing empties if you want to but the guy has produced good teams at Colorado and Washington. For the record I think the stuff he got canned for at Washington was more than a little ridiculous. Granted, had they put some effort into it they might have found some real dirt, but an NCAA Basketball pool. Come on. Neuheisel can recruit and he can coach kids up. The only problem is he really needs a competent Quarterback to run his system and right now he still doesn’t have one. In the mean time Slick Rick had some interesting things to say about the spread as broken down by Chris over at Smart Football that prove he is hell bent on beating USC at their own game. In the end I think he’ll prove to be a formidable opponent for Sneaky Pete. I really think it is just a matter of time. Neuheisel’s comments are interesting but Chris’ subsequent comments are even more interesting from a student of the game standpoint.
USC- Sneaky Pete has named Aaron Corp his starting QB heading into the Trojan spring game on Saturday. Sneaky Pete is at an interesting crossroads heading into 2009. The Trojans will return their offense almost intact with the exception of QB Mark Sanchez, while the defense will have to replace almost every starter. Pete will also be breaking in new offensive and defensive coordinators. Granted those defenders will be replaced with fresh 5 star talent, but that’s still quite the obstacle to overcome. On top of that he’s dealing with swirling rumors that the NCAA could potentially get it together and drop the hammer on the program for "Lack of Institutional Control" following a lengthy investigation into several scandals surrounding the university. The marquee item being the 300k Reggie Bush was allegedly paid by wannabe sports marketers while playing for the Trojans. I don’t care how good Pete is that’s a lot on the plate of any head coach. Pete has recruited better than anyone by hedging his bets running a loose program and promoting the Hollywood lifestyle. Loose programs are powder kegs next to a bonfire. Eventually they blow. It’s really just a matter of time.