The College Football Notebook

April 24, 2010 9:57 AM

Spring Overview: Pac-10

The Pac-10 had an interesting offseason, with transition at Southern Cal and turmoil in Oregon. Pete Carroll is in the NFL, one step ahead of the NCAA posse in Los Angeles and Lane Kiffin is now the top man for USC. At Oregon, quarterback Jeremiah Massoli has been suspended for the season. When changes hit both the league's pre-eminent program along with its defending champ, it's a sure formula for promising an even more interesting regular season. Oregon not only lost Masoli, but running back LaMichael James was suspended for the season opener. The Ducks have a lot of talent back from last year's Rose Bowl team, but a lot of self-inflicted problems to overcome. At USC, Matt Barkley is back with a year of experience under his best, but has a new system from an unproven coach to learn.

At Cal & Stanford, running back is the story. Each team lost a big-name back from 2009, Jahvid Best for the Golden Bears, Toby Gerhart for the Cardinal. At least for Cal, Best's season faded badly and Shane Vereen was already getting the bulk of the carries. Vereen is back this year. Stanford has to replace the Heisman runner-up and start from scratch. One place there's no question marks in the backfield is Corvallis, where Oregon State returns the Rodgers boys, James and Jacquizz, who made such a marvelous tandem last year, both running and catching the ball.

Places where quarterback talk is pre-eminent are at UCLA, Arizona and Washington. The Bruins return Kevin Prince who started last year as a freshman. The defense carried the team to a bowl game and they are hoping Prince can help them reach another level. Nic Foles, off a very good year in Tucson is back and has to carry the load for a defense that is rebuilding. And perhaps nowhere is optimism higher than at Washington, where Jake Locker is the most prominent of 18 returning starters.

Arizona State and Washington State are both rebuilding, although WSU has taken that to a new level. The Cougar program is perhaps the worst in the BCS conferences, while Arizona State's rebuilding is a little more within the norm.

Our spring overviews conclude next week with the Mountain West, plus a look at Notre Dame, Boise State and other prominent midmajors.

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