By a conservative count, more than two dozen true freshmen made significant impacts for their teams during the 2014 season, with players such as Oregon running back Royce Freeman and USC do-it-all talent Adoree' Jackson stealing headlines all season. The possibility of earning playing time as a true freshman is now a recruiting pitch that must be used by every coach across the country. Pac-12 prospects are taking advantage, as seemingly more and more young players are making impacts each year. Looking ahead at the 2015 season, here are 10 prospects committed to Pac-12 programs who could make their presence felt on the field as true freshmen.

Pac-12 all-bowl team

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
The Pac-12 finished the season with the best bowl record among the Power 5 conferences -- 6-3 -- and generally is regarded as displacing the SEC at the No. 1 conference in 2014, even if Oregon got run over by Ohio State in the national title game.

Here's how things went.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: No. 22 Utah 45, Colorado State 10
Hyundai Sun Bowl: No. 15 Arizona State 36, Duke 31
National University Holiday Bowl: No. 24 USC 45, Nebraska 42
Foster Farms Bowl: Stanford 45, Maryland 21
VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: No. 20 Boise State 38, No. 10 Arizona 30
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon 59, No. 3 Florida State 20
Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 14 UCLA 40, No. 11 Kansas State 35
TicketCity Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma State 30, Washington 22
CFP National Championship Game Presented by AT&T: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Oregon 20

[+] EnlargeByron Marshall
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesOregon's Byron Marshall notched his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season in the Ducks' 42-20 loss to Ohio State on Jan. 12.
So who were the Pac-12 stars of the bowl season? Too many for this list, so apologies in advance for leaving off many of the fine performances.


QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon: Completed 26 of 36 passes for 338 yards yards with two TDs and rushed for 62 yards and a TD in the Ducks' win against FSU in the Rose Bowl. Passed for 333 yards and two scores in the loss to Ohio State in national title game.

RB Thomas Tyner, Oregon: Rushed for 124 yards on 13 carries (9.5 yards per carry) and scored two TDs in the win against Florida State.

RB Paul Perkins, UCLA: Rushed for 194 yards on 20 carries (9.7 ypc) and scored two TDs in the win against Kansas State.

WR Darren Carrington, Oregon: Caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the win against Florida State.

WR Byron Marshall, Oregon: Caught eight passes for 169 yards with a 70-yard TD in loss to Ohio State.

OL Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah: The Utes rushed for 359 yards and didn't allow a sack against Colorado State.

OL Jake Fisher, Oregon: The Ducks dominated FSU up front, not allowing a sack and rushing for 301 yards.

OL Andrus Peat, Stanford: The Cardinal line led a 206-yard rushing attack in a win against Maryland and yielded just one sack.

OL Jake Brendel, UCLA: The Bruins rushed for 331 yards against Kansas State.

OL Toa Lobendahn, USC: Held All-Big Ten end Randy Gregory to four tackles and no sacks in the Trojans' win over Nebraska.

K Casey Skowron, Arizona: Went 3-for-3 on field goals with a long of 42 and good on all three PATs vs. Boise State.


DL Nate Orchard, Utah: Sack and forced fumble in win against Colorado State.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Williams
Jake Roth/USA TODAY SportsTrojans defensive end Leonard Williams tackles Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah in the National University Holiday Bowl.
DL Leonard Williams, USC: Had nine tackles and a sack in the win against the Cornhuskers.

DL Deon Hollins, UCLA: The outside linebacker -- yes, we are fudging here -- had three sacks in the win against Kansas State.

LB James Vaughters, Stanford: Had five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in win over Maryland.

LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA: Had 10 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for a loss in win over Kansas State.

LB Tony Washington, Oregon: Had four tackles and a sack against Florida State. Also forced a fumble from FSU QB Jameis Winston and returned it 58 yards for a TD.

LB Antonio Longino, Arizona State: Had a game-high 17 tackles in the Sun Devils' win against Duke.

DB Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Arizona: Had 11 tackles -- 10 solo -- with a sack, two tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against Boise State.

DB Adoree' Jackson, USC: Had seven tackles and a deflection on defense against Nebraska. Also caught three passes with a 71-yard TD and returned a kickoff for a 98-yard TD. Played 103 plays, 78 on defense.

DB Kweishi Brown, Arizona State: Grabbed the game-clinching interception in the Sun Devils' win.

DB Troy Hill, Oregon: Led the Ducks with nine tackles against FSU with a tackle for a loss and two pass breakups.

P Drew Riggleman, Arizona: Averaged 43.1 yards on seven punts, killing three inside the Boise State 20-yard line.

Top recruiting targets in the Pac-12 

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
With a little more than two weeks before signing day, a number of uncommitted prospects remain who could greatly alter both the college football landscape as well as the way recruiting classes are perceived on Feb. 4. Remaining “must get” recruits don’t check all the same boxes for every program, as some schools already have commitments from their must gets (for example, Arizona with Keenan Walker, or UCLA with Josh Rosen) and some of these prospects won’t exactly break a class if they don’t wind up there. But whether it’s keeping a local prospect at home, landing a five-star standout or filling a position of need, these are the uncommitted must-get recruits for every Pac-12 program between now and signing day.

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As usual, the Pac-12 experienced some significant star drain from players opting to enter the NFL draft before their eligibility was over -- seven first-team all-conference performers amid the crew of 16 -- and, as usual, USC was hit the hardest.

The Trojans lost four players, including their best receiver (Nelson Agholor), running back (Javorius Allen) and defensive lineman (Leonard Williams). The lone quasi-surprise was receiver George Farmer, who apparently is counting on his raw talent to overcome his notable lack of production and injury-prone nature.

While USC welcomes back quarterback Cody Kessler and a talented crew around him, that's a drain of 3,607 yards and 26 TDs from a team that is expected to be ranked in or near the top 10 to begin the 2015 season.

Overall in the conference, there were few surprise decisions. While Oregon and UCLA lost elite quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley as expected, two A-list running backs opted to return in Utah's Devontae Booker and Arizona State's D.J. Foster, who will switch positions to slot receiver.

Oregon got good news on defense when end DeForest Buckner decided to return, but Ducks fans might note that their marquee nonconference game at Michigan State on Sept. 12 will be against a Spartans team welcoming back quarterback Connor Cook and defensive end Shilique Calhoun.

While USC lost four players to lead the Pac-12, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Washington each lost two, though that counts Huskies cornerback Marcus Peters, who was kicked off the team during the season.

Arizona, Colorado and Oregon State didn't lose any players early to the NFL draft. The Buffaloes were relieved that wide receiver Nelson Spruce decided to stick around, while the Wildcats' group of receivers remains deep after Cayleb Jones decided to return for his redshirt junior season.

Here is the Pac-12's early-entry list:

Arizona State
WR Jaelen Strong

WR Chris Harper

QB Marcus Mariota
DE Arik Armstead

CB Alex Carter
OT Andrus Peat

QB Brett Hundley
DT Ellis McCarthy

WR Nelson Agholor
WR George Farmer
RB Javorius Allen
DE Leonard Williams

OT Jeremiah Poutasi

LB Shaq Thompson
CB Marcus Peters

Washington State
DT Xavier Cooper

Pac-12 morning links

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
Happy Friday!

Leading off

The end of the college football season also means it's time for the NCAA convention. Having covered it last year in SoCal, I can tell you it was a non-stop laugh riot. OK, I kid. It can be a little dry. But it's also very important.

And as the Power 5 conferences (Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten) move into the age of their newly-granted autonomous governance model, there are going to be some significant changes. Chief among them is full cost of tuition. That's just one of the topics that's on the table at this year's convention near Washington D.C.

Part of the restructuring also involves student-athlete feedback. Here are the three Pac-12 representatives.

Luke Cyphers put together a really informative Q&A style article for espnW that's worth your read if you have any interest in the future of collegiate athletics. And it's not just football-centric, it's men's and women's sports across the board.
On Saturday afternoon, the Power 5, their pockets filling with new FBS playoff cash, will propose several new rules under a new voting system. A group of presidents, athletics directors, faculty and athlete representatives will decide on new concussion protocols, boosting scholarship grants to cover the "full cost of attendance," extending scholarship guarantees beyond a one-year commitment, and increasing players' options to buy insurance to hedge against career-killing injuries.

George Schroeder of USA Today has a nice summary of the first day here.

News/notes/team reports
Just for fun

Utah kicker Andy Phillips is ready for the preseason watch lists to come out.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
With the dead period over, this weekend marks the first of three official-visit weekends before signing day on Feb. 4. While several Pac-12 programs will host official visits, the top three teams in the conference were fairly easy to separate this week.

Arizona State

The Sun Devils will get official visits from several committed prospects, including Tommy Hudson, Cade Cote, Paul Lucas, Alfred Smith, Mason Walter, Malik Lawal and Bryce Perkins, and will have some top uncommitted targets in attendance as well. At the top of the list is ESPN 300 cornerback DeChaun Holiday. The 6-foot-2 defensive back is looking hard at UCLA, but a positive visit to see the Sun Devils could put Arizona State back in the battle for Holiday. Arizona State is also scheduled to host 6-foot-3, 225-pound athlete Jay Jay Wilson, safety Kareem Orr and defensive end Shareef Miller, who would be nice late additions to the class. The junior college ranks will be represented as well as ESPN JC 50 defensive tackle DeOnte Reynolds and ESPN JC 50 wide receiver Dominique Reed will take official visits to Tempe.

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Few recruiting battles are more intriguing than the ones going on in Texas for high-profile players such as Daylon Mack, Soso Jamabo and Chris Warren III. What schools they pick could tilt recruiting supremacy in the Lone Star State moving forward

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Mailbag: New QB starters?

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
Welcome to the mailbag. It happens every week, so it's never way-too-early.

Jim in Los Angeles writes: Which team replacing a historical quarterback (Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State) has the most intriguing quarterback competition? Who wins each job?

Kevin Gemmell: You’re not going to like my answers:
  • Oregon: I don’t know.
  • UCLA: I don’t know.
  • Washington State: I don’t know.
  • Oregon State: I don’t know.

Does that help? No? Oh well.

Each of those four are fascinating for their own reasons. In Oregon, you are replacing a Heisman Trophy winner and the new QB commands one of the nation’s most potent offenses.

At UCLA, you could conceivably have Jerry Neuheisel running the show while Josh Rosen develops. So that would be another year with a Rick Neuheisel quarterback at the helm. Not that Jim Mora cares about perception (Neuheisel recruited Hundley, but Mora & Co. developed him) but there are those curious to see what he does with his own quarterback. I remember chatting with Mora during the QB competition in his first season. He wanted to make a point of naming a guy early -- not just so the quarterback could start being a leader -- but so the rest of the players could learn and accept their roles.

At Oregon State you have a completely new coach to go with a completely new quarterback. So you’re starting from scratch. Sometimes that’s a good thing. But it usually comes with the condition of patience.

And at WSU we’ve seen what the offense is capable of. Luke Falk gained some valuable experience in the wake of Connor Halliday's injury, so you have to think he’s got at least a tiny advantage. Then again, Bryan Bennett had playing experience ahead of Marcus Mariota. Different schools and coaches, but a reminder nevertheless that the past doesn't always dictate the future.

The Oregon competition, confirmed by Mariota’s announcement Wednesday that he’s going pro, will obviously draw the biggest attention nationally.

Worth noting this could mean another step backward for the Pac-12 North as half the teams replace a quarterback and at least one more doesn’t know who its quarterback will be in 2015.

The South is in a much stronger position at the position. Mike Bercovici’s transition should be seamless and Cody Kessler and Anu Solomon are already in place. We have to see if the competitions open up at Utah and Colorado, but there are experienced options available to those schools.

Peter in Vancouver writes: If Oregon had won the National Championship, I would have expected that the Pac12 would have been considered the top conference-for at least this year. Oregon lost. But the Pac12 won most of their bowl games, and, in fact, most of their games against the other Power-5 conference teams this year. At worst they are the second best conference (still above the SEC), and at best they are ahead of the Big10 (only 3 teams in the top 25).

Kevin Gemmell: If you look at the final rankings, I think it’s pretty clear the Pac-12 was the No. 1 conference in college football this season. The league placed six teams in the final rankings … along with the SEC (which has two more teams). The ACC had four and the Bigs had three each.

I wrote last week that regardless of what happens in the title game, the Pac-12 was the strongest conference this season by virtue of what it did against the rest of the Power 5s, which was significantly stronger than any other conference.

Chantel reiterated that point with her column Wednesday morning and it’s evidenced by the final power rankings from ESPN Stats & Information.

I thought the Big Ten, which was an underdog in every postseason game, finished impressively strong -- beyond winning the national championship.

I fear that when July and August roll around, the “poll mentality” will once again take over. Voters will look at, say, Alabama, and call their loss in the semifinals a glitch and place them in the top two or three spots. The Pac-12 will get its recognition in numbers, but likely in the 10-20 range more so than the top 10. And as the league picks itself apart again -- because we all know it’s going to happen -- the poll mentality will again dominate until we see playoff rankings. Team X lost, therefore team Y must move ahead of it.

We’ll deal with that when it pops up next season. But for now, take comfort in the fact that the Pac-12 was by almost every definition, the strongest league in college football in 2014.

Pac-12 Fan in Reno writes: Unfortunately, Kevin lost significant credibility in his final Pac-12 power rankings for 2014. First, he states that Todd Graham has gone 34-19 at ASU. Really? 53 games in three years? Actually, Graham has compiled a 28-12 record at ASU, I believe. Unfortunately, this same oversight continued when Kevin ranked Arizona 3rd in the final rankings. How can a team whose last two games consisted of an embarrassing beat-down by Oregon and then an embarrassing shellacking by a Moutain West team (who earlier lost to Air Force?) -- in Arizona's own backyard, no less -- be the third best team in the Pac-12 at this point of the season? Arizona should have been ranked behind Utah, or more appropriately USC (to whom they lost at home). Sigh. The love-fest from ESPN for all things RichRod continues unabated ....

Kevin Gemmell: You are absolutely right on Graham’s record. I’m going back through my notes and I have no clue where that number came from. Maybe I carried an extra one? Maybe it was just a brain-flatulence typo because I was writing it during the championship game. I try hard to avoid those, but they happen. Mea culpa.

Now, on to Arizona. The final 2014 rankings were voted on by all members of the Pac-12 blog. I’m just the lucky sap who typed it up. But we all had Arizona at No. 3. So if I’m losing credibility, so should my colleagues.

I caution you, assuming you're an ASU fan, not to be too harsh on the Wildcats and consider the body of work. We showed the same respect to ASU last season and weren’t too harsh on the Sun Devils, who likewise folded in their bowl game and were beat down by Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. ASU only dropped from No. 2 to No. 3, despite losing to a Texas Tech team that, and let’s not kid ourselves, the Sun Devils should have beaten by a couple touchdowns. A two-game skid to close out the year doesn’t stain the entire season, but it warrants a slight drop in the rankings.

It has nothing to do with a Rich Rodriguez love fest. But rather the fact that the Wildcats won arguably the toughest division in college football in 2014. ASU wasn't ranked behind Oregon State. It’s not just about one game. It’s taking stock of the entire season.

Apologies again for Graham mistake. I’ll work hard to win back some of that credibility.

Hogan, Lyons returning to Stanford

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
Stanford's strong finish to 2014 has spilled into 2015 with the announcement that quarterback Kevin Hogan and defensive back Wayne Lyons would be returning as a fifth-year seniors.

Both announced their decisions via Twitter.
Hogan finished the year with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 65.9 percent of his throws for 2,792 yards. He also accounted for 295 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.

Stanford, which came into 2014 as the two-time defending conference champs, failed to three-peat. But it played quite the spoiler at the end of the season. After knocking off Cal for the fifth straight time, the Cardinal upended UCLA in the regular season finale, denying the Bruins the South Division title. They kept rolling with a 45-21 win over Maryland in the Foster Farms Bowl to finish the season 8-5 (5-4).

Hogan showed a strong control of the offense in the final three games, completing 76 percent of his throws -- including a 16-of-19 performance and two touchdowns -- in the win over UCLA.

With highly-regarded backups Ryan Burns and Keller Chryst waiting in the wings, there were thoughts that Hogan might jump to the NFL -- or possibly even transfer. But head coach David Shaw gave Hogan a vote of confidence several times during the bowl season.

Hogan took over for Josh Nunes midseason in 2012 and helped guide the Cardinal to back-to-back Rose Bowls in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. They beat Wisconsin the first year and lost to Michigan State following the 2013 season.

He’s 24-8 as a starter and 11-6 against Top 25 teams. Coming into 2014 he boasted a 10-1 mark against ranked teams, but Stanford struggled offensively for a large portion of the season and were just 1-5 against ranked teams in 2014.

Including Hogan, who is on pace to graduate in the spring, Stanford returns eight of 11 starters on offense next season.

Shortly after Hogan's announcement, Lyons made his. He appeared in all 13 games and recorded 30 tackles, breaking up three passes and forcing one fumble.
We continue our series looking at some of the top individual performances in the Pac-12 in 2014. If you feel a little nostalgic, you can check out the top performances from 2013, too.

Up next: U-C-L-A? More like U-See-El-D(efense)?

Who and against whom: Linebacker Eric Kendricks came up huge for his team when the UCLA offense struggled mightily against Virginia in the 2014 season opener. The Bruins -- because of Kendricks and the defense -- pulled out a 28-20 win over the Cavaliers.

The numbers: Kendricks finished with a team-high 16 tackles and one forced fumble, which he returned for a 37-yard touchdown. That score put the Bruins up 21-3 and was the third defensive score of the day for UCLA.
video A closer look: The UCLA offense was a roller coaster this season. Between this season-opening performance, giving up 10 sacks to Utah and putting 40 points up against No. 11 Kansas State in the Valero Alamo Bowl, nobody really knew the identity of this offense. And yes, at times the defense struggled, but so many times this season when the offense would put the Bruins in tough spots, Kendricks and his defensive teammates came up with big stops -- and sometimes even turned those into scores. The Bruins finished the season with 11 interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) and five fumble recoveries (one of which was returned for a TD). Kendricks was a vital part of this defense, leading the Bruins with 149 tackles.
Oregon has long faced a national perception that it is a finesse team, that it lacks physicality, that its lineman aren’t as strong as those in, say, the Big Ten or SEC.

And through a lot of the season the Ducks did their best to prove that perception wrong. The Ducks beat up on Stanford, which in the past had provided some of the prime examples of how Oregon was soft. The Ducks destroyed Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game. The Ducks commanded Florida State in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual.

Leading into the Rose Bowl, coaches and players did their best to put those questions to bed both in press conferences and on the field.

[+] EnlargeEzekiel Elliott
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesEzekiel Elliott's dominating performance in the championship game only reinforced the perception that Oregon was soft.
Offensive coordinator Scott Frost was asked about fighting off the perception of being a finesse team and he responded by saying, “the more people say that we struggle against physical teams, I think the more motivated our kids will be.”

Heading into the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T, the Ducks had seemingly done everything they could to really shake that soft perception, including that thumping of the Seminoles.

But then -- on the biggest stage, on the biggest night of college football -- the Ducks confirmed everyone’s perception by laying a physicality egg against Ohio State.

This doesn’t mean Oregon is soft -- anyone who has watched them all season knows that’s not the case -- but what it does mean is that 33 million viewers saw a team get manhandled and that’s going to perpetuate the perception of Oregon football.

It doesn’t matter necessarily what reality is as long as those 33 million people know what they saw. And what they saw was a team that, defensively, couldn’t stop the run to save its life. It saw a team that allowed Ezekiel Elliott to collect 171 yards before contact. Does that sound physical to anyone? Anyone other than the Charmin bear?

Oregon allowed the Buckeyes to rush for 227 yards inside the tackles, while its own offense could only manage to put together 67 yards of the same stuff.

The country saw a team that, offensively, couldn’t be physical. It saw a team that was stuffed on its own goal line. It saw a team that couldn’t convert on third downs. It saw a team that got bullied by Ohio State’s pass-rushers.

None of that looked or sounded physical. So while folks who’ve watched Oregon all along can say, “Well, that wasn’t really how they’ve been playing” or “That was very out of character,” the truth of the matter is that people are going to take that with a grain (or five-pound bag) of salt considering they know what they actually saw.

It’s like people who haven’t seen a certain award-winning movie.

They heard it was great. But they don’t actually know whether it was until they take the time to watch it themselves.

Then, they watch it but it doesn’t deliver. It was overhyped. How is that any different than what Oregon did?

People said they were great. People said they were physical. The word on the street was all about getting this monkey off their back.

Then, when 33 million people finally tuned in with no other competition for viewing (OK, fine, "The Bachelor" was on), the Ducks go out and roll over. The reviews were bunk. The word on the street that Oregon was physical this season was just fallacy and what people saw backed up the previous months and years worth of words that Oregon wasn’t, in fact, physical.

For Oregon fans, that might hurt even more than not winning the national title. But it’s easy to get pushed around by these types of things when you're soft -- just ask the Buckeyes.

The final update to ESPN 300 player rankings coupled with several significant commitments has led to some movement in the class rankings. Alabama continues to hold onto to the top spot as it heads for a fourth-straight No. 1 class on national signing day. The Crimson Tide landed their 20th ESPN 300 commitment with the addition of No. 2 RB Damien Harris. This well-rounded back with big-play ability and he could potentially come in and help replace some of the production lost with second-leading rusher T.J. Yeldon declaring for the NFL draft.

Tennessee slides into the No. 5 slot after not only adding ESPN 300 QB-DT Sheriron Jones, but also having a few committed prospects move up in the player rankings. What was already a very strong defensive line class, became even more impressive with big DT Kahlil McKenzie and DE Kyle Phillips getting significant bumps up, as well as pass-rushing end Marques Ford moving into the ESPN 300.

USC also got a bump up the class rankings following the updated player rankings. Recent Trojans RB commit Ronald Jones II is now the No. 1 RB in the nation and fellow offensive weapons TE Tyler Petite and WR Tristan Payton both moved into the top 100, helping to push USC to the cusp of the top five.

Outside the top 25, Nebraska was a big mover jumping up a handful of spots to No. 33. New head coach Mike Riley landed his highest-profile commit thus far, adding massive, mauling, top-five OG Jalin Barnett.

To see the complete class rankings, click here.
videoLet's take a minute to appreciate just how well this all worked out.
The playoff was supposed to diminish the regular season, but instead we got passionate debate, huge games and high drama on a weekly basis.

The playoff was supposed to undermine conference titles, but instead we saw the one Power 5 league without a championship game miss out on a shot at a national title.

The doubters suggested the playoff would only serve to give undeserving teams a chance to win it all, but instead Ohio State -- a team that may well have finished fifth or sixth in the final polls under the old system -- not only won it all, but proved it was no fluke.

From start to finish, we just witnessed the best season in college football history.

But just because the end result was everything we'd hoped for doesn't mean the path we took to get there was the ideal one. The playoff changed the game in so many significant and positive ways, but the process in Year 1 was still very much trial and error, and so it's incumbent upon us to evaluate those trials, pick apart the errors and figure how we can make 2015 even better.

With that in mind, here are a few lessons we learned from this year's playoff debates.

Good teams can come from bad leagues

It's now been two years since the SEC won a national championship, and the two teams that took home the hardware in its place came from the two Power 5 leagues that earned the most criticism nationally - the ACC and Big Ten.

To read David Hale's full story, click here.
The newest and final ESPN 300 was released on Thursday, and eight Pac-12 programs are represented by 34 commitments. Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State all have multiple commitments in the list, with USC's 12 leading the way, followed by Oregon's six. Here are some news and notes regarding the most recent update and how things stack up in the Pac-12.

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Overreacting in the Pac-12

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
Sports are known for having a level-headed, concise, eloquent and generally well-meaning fan bases ... said no one ever.

So, maybe there were a few overreactions or underreactions in the Pac-12 this season. And as the season has come to an end, here are some of our favorite over/underreactions that seem so much more ridiculous in hindsight.


After Oregon football lost to Arizona in October, the Oregon fan base was pretty rocked. Yes, the 31-24 loss wasn't the way any Duck fan saw the season going. But to say that one loss either a) knocked Oregon completely out of the playoff or b) meant the Ducks were a miserable, miserable team was a bit shortsighted.

For example, these are actual user comments that appeared on the site after that game:

  • "Oregon should have never been ranked #2. At best they are no better than #18."
  • "Oregon is not a playoff team."
  • "RIP College Playoffs for Oregon, RIP Mariota Heismen [sic]. You will not be missed." Note: This was not from an Oregon fan. Clearly.
[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
Scott Olmos/USA TODAY SportsSome fans were willing to write off Marcus Mariota and the Ducks following a loss to Arizona.
But my two favorites:

  • "Oregon should fall and fall big just like my Buckeyes. I'll admit lately my buckeyes can't win that big game well you know what neither can Oregon. [Now] it's time people look at them the same way."
  • "Year after year over rated!! Just like Ohio state and N.D."

Notes: Agreed -- Notre Dame might've been overrated, but you've got to love how so early in the season the two teams that eventually played for the national title were 100 percent, absolutely, completely, definitely not going to play for the national title.


After Week 1, when the redshirt freshman threw for four touchdowns and 425 yards against UNLV, some people were ready to hand the crown over to Solomon.

After all, he had "dismantled" a team and everyone loves breakout freshman stars. The only problem was … that team ended up third-worst defense in FBS in 2014 (it allowed 513.5 yards per game).

Let's not take anything away from Solomon right now. He had a very good year for a redshirt freshman, especially one who was in a quarterback battle up until the eleventh hour for this game.

But this first game gave Wildcat fans a bit too much confidence in such a young player at such a crucial position. Learning curves (and bumps, and dips, and valleys) happen. So when he and the Cats barely squeaked by UTSA then following weekend or they lost to UCLA when he only completed 18 of 48 passes, some people were throwing some harsh words in Solomon's direction.

Yes, he was the starting quarterback at Arizona. But to expect a 425-yard performance out of a freshman (and against defenses far better than that of UNLV) was a bit ridiculous.


Remember Week 2 of the season?

At that point everyone who thought that Chris Petersen would arrive in Seattle on a chariot drawn by unicorns was a little bit upset that the coach had led his team to a narrow 17-16 win over Hawaii. Tensions were a little bit high, but those who were upset gave the coach a bit of grace. Sure, it was his first game, things happen. Plus, Hawaii was looking pretty good against Oregon State, too.

That grace was conditional, though, on a stellar performance against Eastern Washington … which never came.

The Huskies gave up (what would become a season-high) 52 points to the Eagles as quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 475 yards and seven touchdowns.

Though this game was a sign of things to come -- a struggling secondary -- the sky wasn't falling quite as much as some thought it would. The stars in this game got overridden by the fact that so much yardage had been given up so Shaq Thompson (who finished with a team-high 14 tackles) and Danny Shelton (who had a team-high 4.5 tackles for a loss) pretty much flew under the radar.

Plus, it wasn't as though the defense was absolutely and completely terrible. Eastern Washington ended up being a very good team this year -- finishing third in the FCS for total offense (513.4 yards per game) and Adams was the Walter Payton runner up (award for top FCS player) for the second consecutive season.