It's hard to dive head-first into this whole idea of spring when a lot of us are still digging out from under the snow. But, alas, spring football practice is here.

That means the countdown to the 2015 college football season has officially begun.

New stars will emerge. Coaches will land on the hot seat, and somebody's going to swear they're getting the cold shoulder from the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Which players have the most to prove this spring and heading into the 2015 season? Some might be coming off injuries. Others weren't as productive or consistent last season, and a few are taking on even bigger roles or getting fresh starts. The players are listed alphabetically:

WR Bralon Addison, Oregon

Oregon was without its three best receivers in the title game loss to Ohio State last season. Of course, one of those had been out all season. Addison tore his ACL last spring, and just like that, the Ducks' leading returning receiver from the 2013 team was gone. But he's back and eager to re-establish himself in a receiving corps that should be as dangerous as ever. There was some talk before the title game in January that he might play, and he even suited up during warm-ups. The Ducks, though, weren't going to use an entire year of eligibility for just one game. Addison is electric in the open field, whether he's catching passes, taking off on jet sweeps or returning punts. If everybody is healthy, Oregon should have the fastest group of receivers in the country. Addison gets to prove he's as good as new.

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Spring has sprung, which means every team can show you hope in a handful of grass -- real or artificial.

Some Pac-12 teams have already started, such as Colorado and Stanford, and others begin this week, such as Arizona, Oregon State and USC. Others start later.

But it feels like the right time to take a look at 10 burning issues in the conference. Please keep your hands clear of this post, as it is sizzling hot.

1. Life after Marcus Mariota at Oregon: You might recall Oregon's quarterback over the past three years was a pretty fair player. But Mariota is off to the NFL, where he's sure to get blinged up, buy four Bentleys and start giving everyone alternating left-right cheek air kisses. That leaves the Ducks with a vacancy behind center. While many -- including a few of my esteemed Pac-12 blog associates -- believe Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams is almost certain to take over when he arrives in the fall, you all know I am an inveterate party pooper, so I'm skeptical the transition to an FCS QB, albeit a very good one, will be all rainbows and puppy dogs. So what happens this spring, pre-Adams, should have a high degree of relevance for the ensuing fall competition. That means Jeff Lockie and Morgan Mahalak or someone else has an opportunity to throw down the gauntlet and stake a strong claim to the job.

[+] EnlargeGary Andersen
Susan Ragan/USA TODAY SportsOregon State's Gary Andersen is the only new head coach in the Pac-12.
2. Gary Andersen takes over at Oregon State: Mike Riley started the 2014 season as the dean of Pac-12 coaches. Stanford coach David Shaw went so far as to call him the Godfather, which showed Shaw was once a reader of the Pac-12 blog's "Best case-worst case" stories. Riley, however, will begin the 2015 season at Nebraska, a stunning development that is, well, still a bit stunning. Enter Andersen, who's hiring away from Big Ten power Wisconsin was almost as much of a stunner. That means the Beavers, the only Pac-12 team to change head coaches, will be installing new systems on both sides of the ball, as well as getting to know a new coaching staff. Andersen certainly will want to get past the "Hello, my name is..." phase as quickly as possible.

3. USC returns returns to national relevance? The first issue here is whether this deserved a question mark or a period, because the Trojans are fairly certain to begin the 2015 season ranked in the top 10. That means they start the season nationally relevant, period. The question mark, though, concerns whether they can sustain that elevation as they move beyond crippling NCAA sanctions with an impressive roster and improving depth. One might recall it wasn't too long ago when the program's "Unfinished Business" campaign flopped. Second-year coach Steve Sarkisian will be under not inconsiderable pressure to make sure he doesn't suffer through a Lane Kiffin redo.

4. UCLA replaces Brett Hundley: UCLA has 18 starters and a number of other contributors coming back from a team that won 10 games last season and finished ranked 10th. That makes you wonder if perhaps the wrong L.A. team is getting hyped. Ah, but the Bruins are replacing Hundley, a three-year starter who is on the short list of best QBs in program history. While it seems like more than a few folks -- NFL sorts, mostly -- are picking apart Hundley's game of late, what should stand out is how often he delivered for the Bruins, including a troika of wins over That Team From Downtown. Further, this is an interesting battle between a scrappy veteran with a familiar last name in junior Jerry Neuheisel, and a brash, touted true freshman in Josh Rosen, who entered school early with the anticipation of taking over for Hundley. It will be interesting to see if any pecking order develops this spring or if coaches drop an "or" between them on the depth chart. Oh, wait. UCLA is the only Pac-12 that doesn't publish a depth chart. Never mind.

5. Oregon State replaces Sean Mannion: Mannion and the Beavers didn't have a great 2014, but you don't say goodbye to a four-year starter with 83 career touchdown passes lightly and without some sense of transition, particularly when there's also a new coaching staff on hand. Things appear to be wide open between Luke Del Rio -- Mannion's backup -- Brent VanderVeen, Kyle Kempt, Marcus McMaryion, Nick Mitchell, etc. (There are seven QBs on the roster.) It seems reasonable to believe Andersen will want to winnow that list down to around three guys by the end of spring.

6. Washington's no-name defense{ The Huskies say goodbye to six defensive starters, including three -- linebackers Shaq Thompson and Hau'oli Kikaha and defensive tackle Danny Shelton -- who were first-team All-Pac-12 and earned All-American honors. All three are expected to be early picks in the NFL draft, so the talent drain is legitimate, not just a system thing. The only returning defender who earned any type of postseason recognition is true sophomore safety Budda Baker, who was honorable mention All-Pac-12 and has huge upside. That's a good start, but it's unlikely the Huskies will be able to replace these mainstays' production with typical depth-chart promotions. If the Huskies' defense is going to equal or, perhaps, exceed its 2014 numbers, it's going to have to play better as a team, which will be a key test of the second-year coaching staff led by coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.

7. Getting coordinated: Oregon State had the only coaching change at the top, which included new coordinators on both sides of the ball, but four other teams have changed defensive coordinators and Utah replaced both coordinators, who both bolted for other jobs. Utes coach Kyle Whittingham went the familiar face route, promoting Aaron Roderick from within on offense to replace Dave Christensen, now at Texas A&M, and bringing John Pease out of retirement to replace longtime defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, who joined Andersen at Oregon State. Colorado pushed aside defensive coordinator Kent Baer, who left for UNLV, and hired former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt, a major coup for the Buffs. UCLA replaced Jeff Ulbrich, who departed for a job with the Atlanta Falcons, with former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who was at West Virginia in 2014. Washington State fired Mike Breske and replaced him with Alex Grinch, a defensive backs coach at Missouri last year. That's a pretty significant amount of turnover on one side of the ball, which will make life more interesting for the conference's offensive minds, particularly early in the season.

8. Stanford rebuilds defense: Speaking of defense, the conference's best unit over the past five years is replacing seven starters, including all of its D-linemen and three of four starters in the secondary. Further, a number of injuries, most notably to D-lineman Aziz Shittu and cornerback Ronnie Harris, will muddy the waters this spring. While it seems unlikely the bottom will fall out for the Cardinal -- there's plenty of promising youngsters on hand -- it's difficult to believe this won't be a transitional season on the mean side of the ball.

9. California dreaming? Cal has 17 starters back, second most in the conference and among the most in the nation, from a team that seemed to turn a corner in 2014 in Year 2 under Sonny Dykes. That crew includes quarterback Jared Goff, an NFL prospect who could make a star turn this fall if the Bears start to win. The offense, which averaged 38 points per game last season, should be good. The question is defense. That unit improved its points surrendered total by nearly a TD from 2013 to 2014, but that still ended up ranked last in the Pac-12 at 39.8 points per game. The Bears might be good enough to become bowl eligible with a defense that is only slightly better. But if they want to take a decisive step forward in the North Division, they need to at least find a way to be mediocre on defense.

10. Next-step QBs: Last season, the Pac-12 featured a glittering group of returning starting quarterbacks led by Mariota, Hundley, Mannion and Arizona State's Taylor Kelly. This year, seven teams welcome back established QBs, but the list is far less scintillating, while a couple other teams have decided front-runners at the position, most notably Mike Bercovici at Arizona State. USC's Cody Kessler leads the bunch, but he has to show he can win big games. Goff is a candidate for all-conference honors, and Stanford's Kevin Hogan finished strong last season after muddling through the first three-fourths of the season. Arizona's Anu Solomon and Colorado's Sefo Liufau are trying to take the proverbial next step, while Utah's Travis Wilson wants to show he should be a four-year starter this spring with Kendal Thompson out with an injury. Washington's returning starter, Cyler Miles, figures to face a tough challenge this spring to retain his job, while Washington State's Luke Falk wants to build on the mostly solid job he did after replacing Connor Halliday.
[+] EnlargeCardale Jones
Chuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsCan Cardale Jones parlay last season's run into the full-time starting QB job at Ohio State?

Defending national champion Ohio State might have too many quarterbacks.

Traditional heavyweights such as Florida, Michigan and Texas might not have enough.

As spring football practice opens around the country, many of the sport's best teams will start to sort out quarterback questions. Six of the teams that finished in the top 10 of the final Associated Press top 25 poll in 2014 -- Oregon, Alabama, Florida State, Baylor, Georgia and UCLA -- will have new quarterbacks this coming season.

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Roundtable: Most intriguing nonconference game

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
In this week’s poll readers voted on which nonconference/non-Notre Dame game was the most intriguing of the 2015 season. Fear not, next week we’ll be discussing which nonconference game (including Notre Dame games … and, yes, a certain Arizona State game) will tell us the most about a team early in the season.

But for now, we were talking about intrigue -- intrigue in storylines and crossed paths and coaching changes and whatnot. The poll revealed that many readers thought that the Oregon-Michigan State matchup would be the most intriguing and our writers had a few thoughts on that as well. Specifically, David Lombardi, Chantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell decided to hash it out for the world to see in this week’s roundtable.

Which nonconference/non-Notre Dame game provides the most intrigue to you this season and why?
  • Lombardi: Utah vs. Michigan
Opening weekend has a heavenly flurry of nonconference action in store for us. Friday features Washington-Boise State, and Saturday boasts ASU-Texas A&M, which is some pretty darn rich icing on the cake. But look no further than Thursday -- opening night -- for the biggest intrigue. That’s when Michigan visits Utah to kick off the 2015 campaign.

In other words, that’s when Jim Harbaugh makes his return to college football in front of a crowd known for its fervor, especially at night. Utah wasn’t in the conference back when Harbaugh made a massive mark at Stanford, but the Utes did spank Michigan in the Big House last year. That means there’s recent history here to pour gasoline on this game’s fire. The Wolverines will be hungry for vengeance under their new head coach, while Utah is already champing at the bit for more after their resurgent 9-4 season.

Both of these teams will be looking to address significant question marks, and that only adds to the fascination factor of this game. That national perspective will likely focus on Harbaugh and how quickly he can bring the Michigan engine roaring back to life, but Utah is a compelling character in its own right. After playing a game of serious catchup to their new conference in recruiting and player development, the Utes featured a rugged, physical roster in 2014. They seriously competed in the chaotic Pac-12 South. Devontae Booker's return means that quarterback play may be the one critical variable Kyle Whittingham's team needs to make that next push, and this opener is a chance for Utah to begin their much-anticipated bid.
  • Jennings: Oregon at Michigan State
C’mon, guys. Everyone loves a good rematch.

Michigan State gave Oregon a good fight last season but it wasn’t a consistent fight and Mr. Marcus Mariota did what he always (with a few exceptions) did and the Ducks rolled in the fourth quarter. But I think this season is going to be a little bit different.

You’ve got two teams that really don’t have that big of a test in Week 1. Oregon will face off against Eastern Washington (which, actually, could be a decent test) and Michigan State plays Western Michigan in its opener. Those aren’t exactly awesome measuring sticks for either team. But, lucky for football fans and the coaches, a great measuring test is right around the corner.

And what makes this such an interesting on-field matchup is that no one really knows what either team is going to look like. Sure, Oregon is going to have an up-tempo offense, but, how up tempo exactly now that Mariota is gone? And who exactly will be running that offense? And the Spartans will have their stout defense, as has become their trademark, but will it look exactly the same now that Pat Narduzzi -- MSU defensive coordinator of eight years -- is gone? And it’s not just Narduzzi that the Spartan Dawg defense loses. It’s Trae Waynes (who just ran the fastest 40 time for a CB at the NFL combine); it’s safeties Kurtis Drummond and Tony Lippett; it’s linebacker Taiwan Jones and defensive end Marcus Rush.

Two big returners for the Spartans are defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun (aka Bane) and quarterback Connor Cook. Personally, I can’t wait to see how Cook handles Pellum’s defensive schemes and pass rush and whether Scott Frost/Steve Greatwood can put together a QB/OL combo that will fare as well against Calhoun as did Mariota and his O-line last season.

Plus, there’s just something so great about a Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup. It’s old school Rose Bowl feelings and with the Rose Bowl not acting as a semifinal this season, we’re going to have another chance for an awesome, top-25 Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup at season’s end.
  • Gemmell: Washington at Boise State
There’s simply no way to stress the importance of the Washington-Boise State season opener, other than to say this is a must-win game for the Huskies on so many, many different levels.

All new head coaches are generally given a honeymoon when they take over a new program. But when you’re the only coach to ever win the Bear Bryant Award twice, your honeymoon has all the romance and courtship of a shotgun wedding.

For years, Petersen was the great white buffalo of coaching. Teams with far greater tradition weren’t able to lure him away from Boise State. But Washington landed him. And in his first season the Huskies were an inconsistent 8-6, failing to beat a ranked team and losing to Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl.

I’m of the opinion Petersen will still work out to be a great hire ... given the proper time. That’s why his date at Boise State is so critical. Because anything but a win cuts into whatever goodwill remains from his initial hire. He made Boise State what it is today -- a hard-nosed program that, for one week, can compete with virtually any team in the country. We can debate whether the Broncos could sustain it in a Power 5 conference another time. That’s irrelevant. For one week, with lots of prep time, Boise State is dangerous, regardless of the venue. See: Bowl, Fiesta.

Petersen will be facing players he recruited, and then divorced. He’ll see coaches he groomed, and then left. And they’d love nothing more than to blast Petersen and his new team, followed by a “sorry, not sorry.”

A win sets up Washington for a likely 3-0 start heading into conference play -- though Utah State is no gimme with Chuckie Keeton back for a 17th season. A loss, however, discourages a fan base that was hoping to see improvements over the 2014 edition. And perhaps it raises unfair questions about whether Petersen is the right guy.

You could probably argue that others are “the best.” But for a team at a crossroads like the Huskies are, this one is by far the most intriguing.
The Oregon defense was on an upward trajectory from the middle of the season to the end until it hit the season finale, struggling mightily against Ohio State in the national title game.

On Wednesday, Oregon defensive coordinator Don Pellum chatted with the Pac-12 Blog about that performance, as well as the season as a whole and what he's looking for out of his defensive unit this spring.

Warning: Pellum is as lengthy with his responses as he is sartorial with his suit choices.

With the number of ups and downs the Oregon defense had this season, how exactly do you grade the unit?

[+] EnlargeDon Pellum
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/USA TODAY SportsOregon defensive coordinator Don Pellum said the Ducks "didn't communicate as well," and "fundamentally, we didn't play well" against Ohio State.
Pellum: The way we evaluate ourselves and our players is that throughout the season the issues or things that we weren't doing well, the problems that came up -- did we come up solutions? The solutions are not just changing calls or changing personnel, some of it may be that there was a period of time early in the season when we weren't tackling well and we were leaving a lot of plays on the field, we were giving up a lot of yards after contact so we created some periods [in practice] where we did more tackling, but it wasn't just your normal tackling drills. We took the film, looked at the tackles we were missing and the leverages that we were missing and created some drills to clean it up. That was kind of our approach throughout the season and I think right about midseason we played better. I think the improved performance was a byproduct of us really continuing to look at ourselves and how we could get better at what we did defensively.

I think overall from that standpoint we grew the defense. It was a new defense, a new staff, some new faces last year. Although the defense from the outside appeared the same, it was coached differently, there was a different emphasis, different stress points and it took us a while to actually get to a point where it was looking like how it was supposed to look. I think we did a pretty good job of that. Could it be better? Absolutely.

Along with tackling, communication was an area where the Ducks struggled this season early on. Did you see the same kind of improvement there?

Pellum: Absolutely. The things that improved the most … [if] we're going from the first game to the end of the season, it was the tackles and the leveraging of people the right way so that your teammate could make tackles and then the overall communication. There were a couple games down the stretch when we gave up a couple big plays and they just lacked communication but the majority of the game, even with us rotating a lot of guys, because of the communication we were successful and we played a lot better.

Not to beleaguer the downfalls of this group but one of those games that lacked communication and tackling was the title game. How many times since you've been back in Eugene have you watched that game film?

Pellum: I've seen it a fair amount of times. [Laughter] Yes, I have seen it a couple times.

They say you're never as good as you think you are, nor are you ever as bad as you think you are. What did that film say about the team -- did that saying hold true?

Pellum: Honestly, we did a lot of good things but they were definitely overshadowed. From midseason right down to the conference championship game and then spilling into the Florida State game we were playing better, we were making strides in different areas. And then in the national championship, we didn't play our best game. We had been working toward it, but we didn't. We didn't communicate as well. The thing we did a poor job of was that we didn't read well, we didn't tackle well, probably could've changed some calls and done some other things. But fundamentally, we didn't play well.

So going forward, you have to replace a lot of faces and you're coming off a rough loss, but you want to have optimism for 2015 -- what's your baseline for this group?

Pellum: We're back to basics the day after the championship game. The first thing from coach [Mark] Helfrich was, ‘We've got to get back in the weight room, we've got to get back into conditioning, we have to get back into our routine.' From a defensive standpoint, our base 3-4 package, we really, really excelled in there. Down the stretch it was very, very good. So, we've identified some things that were very good. … We've got to do a better job in some of the passing situations.

We've got to settle down on the two or three things we're going to do in the third-and-long categories and how we're going to disguise them and then really fine tune those. And then we have to continue to get better with the communication, which is something the kids can do every day. Those are areas. We've got some real good things we've identified. We've already put those on the board and labeled them ‘This is the bread and butter, here it is.' Then we have to go add the dressing on it, what are the other things we want to feature? Last year got us a lot of good and a lot of bad, but it has given us an opportunity to go through a season of what we thought we were going to do and what we thought we liked, and now we can really hone in on what we really like and the other things, move away from.
Last week your humble Pac-12 Blog broke down the 2015 Pac-12 recruiting class and where those players came from. But those kinds of numbers always prompt more questions like: OK, this is one class, what about the last two classes? The last three? What about every class that each Pac-12 coach has signed?

Well, your humble Pac-12 Blog is back. And it's back with those answers (with signees by state).

Rich Rodriguez, four classes -- 98 signees, 11 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 41
  • Arizona: 16
  • Texas: 9
  • Florida: 7
  • Louisiana: 5
  • Colorado: 3
  • Two signees: Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia
  • One signee: Canada, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington
Todd Graham, four classes -- 100 signees, seven ESPN 300 members
  • California: 46
  • Arizona: 17
  • Florida: 7
  • Louisiana: 6
  • Three signees: Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas
  • Two signees: Nevada, Washington, Washington D.C.
  • One signee: Canada, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, New York, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah

Sonny Dykes, three classes -- 71 signees, four ESPN 300 members
  • California: 49
  • Texas: 6
  • Three signees: Arizona, Washington
  • Two signees: Hawaii, Mississippi, Oregon
  • One signee: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana

Mike MacIntyre, three classes -- 66 signees, no ESPN 300 members
  • California: 33
  • Colorado: 14
  • Texas: 8
  • Arizona: 3
  • Two signees: Hawaii, Utah
  • One signee: Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Washington

Mark Helfrich, three classes -- 63 signees, 17 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 26
  • Oregon: 5
  • Four signees: Arizona, Texas, Washington
  • Three signees: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii
  • Two signees: Louisiana, Nevada
  • One signee: Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee

Gary Andersen, one class -- 22 signees, no ESPN 300 members
  • Utah: 6
  • Four signees: California, Florida
  • Two signees: Oregon, Texas
  • One signee: American Samoa, Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana

David Shaw, five classes -- 95 signees, 26 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 25
  • Georgia: 7
  • Six signees: Arizona, Florida, Texas
  • Five signees: Utah, Washington
  • Four signees: Louisiana
  • Three signees: North Carolina
  • Two signees: Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia
  • One signee: Hawaii, Indiana, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington D.C.

Jim Mora, four classes -- 92 signees, 31 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 55
  • Texas: 10
  • Arizona: 5
  • Three signees: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii
  • Two signees: Delaware
  • One signee: Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Washington

Steve Sarkisian, two classes -- 43 signees, 25 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 32
  • Texas: 3
  • Two signees: Florida, Utah
  • One signee: Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma

Kyle Whittingham, five classes* -- 108 signees, 0 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 40
  • Utah: 29
  • Texas: 15
  • Florida: 8
  • Louisiana: 6
  • Nevada: 3
  • Two signees: Arizona, Hawaii
  • One signee: Maryland, New Jersey, New York

*This is only counting Whittingham's classes that he recruited into the Pac-12 conference (so, starting with the 2011 signing class since the Utes made it official on June 22, 2010).


Chris Petersen, two classes -- 49 signees, 4 ESPN 300 members
  • California: 28
  • Washington: 14
  • Idaho: 2
  • One signee: Maryland, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Wyoming

Mike Leach, four classes -- 102 signees, one ESPN 300 members
  • California: 57
  • Washington: 14
  • American Samoa: 7
  • Three signees: Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Texas
  • Two signees: Alabama, Georgia
  • One signee: Colorado, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Oregon, Oklahoma, Utah

There are 20 states from which no current Pac-12 South coach has ever signed a player, and 18 from which no current North coaches have never signed a player. Of those states, 11 are overlapping, meaning that no player from the following states has been signed to a current Pac-12 coach during his tenure as head coach -- Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

It's not surprising that no players has been signed from Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska or North Dakota because those are the four least-populated states in the U.S. What is surprising is that only three players have been signed from the state of Alabama -- two to Mike Leach and one to Sonny Dykes.

Long story short: If you're a high school prospect and you want to play in the Pac-12, it doesn't hurt to live in California, Florida or Texas (if you live outside of "Pac-12 territory"). If you're a high school prospect and you live in Wisconsin or West Virginia -- even though some of these coaches have been head coaches in those states, your chances don't look good at all.

Eleven of the 12 programs have signed the most players from the state of California during current coaches' tenures. The only coach who hasn't is Oregon State coach Gary Andersen, but California is tied for second-most on his list.

North coaches have signed -- on average -- three classes per coach while the South coaches have signed -- on average -- four per. While it's really only a difference of one class, it is a difference of 20-30 student athletes per coach, so really the possibility of 120-180 different home states.

In the South the most recruited states outside of California and home states -- as a whole -- are Florida and Texas. Again, this might not be surprising considering how talent-rich both of those states are, but the only Pac-12 South coach who has ever coached in one of those states is Todd Graham (Rice).

In the North, it's a bit more of a mash-up. The states of Arizona and Washington are big for Cal and Oregon. Florida is big for Oregon State and Stanford. Chris Petersen really hasn't had to reach out of California or Washington, much like his in-state foe, Mike Leach. However, Leach also likes to go to American Samoa, where he has signed seven players.

USC has had the most success with the top recruits. Fifty-eight percent of Sarkisian's recruits are ESPN 300 members. After him, the next most "successful" recruiting coaches are Mora (33.7 percent), Shaw (31.6 percent) and Helfrich (27 percent).

Signing top recruits certainly gives teams a boost on the field as evidenced by the teams above and the successes they've had under each coach. But look at Utah. Whittingham hasn't signed a single ESPN 300 player and yet his team was in the hunt for the South title last season. It's the same with Rich Rodriguez: Even though just 7 percent of his players have been ESPN 300 members, he has still had major success on the field for the Wildcats.

Ranking the Pac-12 coaching jobs

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
Our task today is a subjective one: Rank the head-coaching jobs in the Pac-12. Note: jobs, not individual coaches.

For me, this is like ranking my children. I love them all equally, however different they might be.

Let's take a gander at it.

1. USC: USC is arguably the nation's preeminent football program in terms of national and conference titles, award winners, All-Americans and NFL Hall of Famers. It's a big-stadium team, and its new football building is pretty freaking cool. Moreover, while there are great national programs with comparable -- or perhaps even superior -- traditions such as Alabama or Notre Dame, USC is in Los Angeles, which is infinitely cooler than Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and South Bend, Indiana.

2. Oregon: The Ducks rank No. 2 based on their steady rise to national prominence, as well as a seven-year run that ranks the program among the super-elite. Oh, and their facilities are sparkly.

3. UCLA: Nos. 1 and 2 are pretty obvious here. After that, things get pretty bunched up, but UCLA emerges in the coveted No. 3 spot because of its recent success under coach Jim Mora, which includes three consecutive wins over the Trojans. While the Rose Bowl is off campus, it's still the Rose Bowl, and its recent renovation gave it a considerable upgrade. It also appears that the school is finally investing in the program -- see a new football building on the way -- so it can debunk the notion it's a basketball school (the basketball team also is contributing to that cause). Further, Southern California's A-list prep talent means the Bruins can sustain success under the right coach -- read: Mora.

4. Arizona State: Todd Graham appears to have awoken a program that has long been termed a "sleeping giant." The school is in the process of upgrading Sun Devil Stadium, which is long overdue. There is also potential to continue to upgrade recruiting with a nice combination of location, weather and admission standards.

5. Washington: Obviously, we feel the Washington job has room to move up, as the program has just about everything, other than a recent run of success, to help it. There was a temptation to put Washington higher just because of the magisterial renovation of Husky Stadium.

6. Stanford: Ah, the subjectivity of this list. The Cardinal sit here in the middle of the pack in large part because of academic standards that most coaches would feel are highly unfavorable. David Shaw, a Stanford graduate, doesn't feel that way and has found ways to make it a recruiting benefit instead of a bane. Still, when a program can't even consider most of the ESPN 300 due to academics, that's a challenge for a coach.

7. California: While Berkeley is arguably the nation's best state university, it has been able to get "special admits" to the football program through the years, which was particularly a boon to former coach Jeff Tedford. It appears things are a bit tougher for third-year coach Sonny Dykes. Still, there's good talent available in Northern California and the facilities are A-list. No reason the Golden Bears can't regain the traction they once had under Tedford.

8. Arizona: Arizona has upgraded its facilities and is on an uptick under Rich Rodriguez. Still, most view Arizona as a basketball-first school, and the historical success of both programs supports that perception. Of course, if Rodriguez gets the Wildcats to the Rose Bowl for the first time and eclipses rival Arizona State on the field on a consistent basis, Arizona would move up.

9. Utah: The teams from here and down on this list find themselves hit for at least one of two reasons: (1) stadium size/attendance; (2) winning. Utah is on the uptick on the latter, which is why it ranks ahead of the others. It has also experienced the most recent national relevance, though not as a member of the Pac-12.

10. Oregon State: The Beavers typically found a way to win under Mike Riley, but the program -- other than a charmed 2000 season under Dennis Erickson -- has not been able to take substantial and consistent steps toward national relevance. We do take note that when Riley bolted for Nebraska, the Beavers were able to impressively lure Gary Andersen away from Wisconsin. If Andersen makes Oregon State a nine- or 10-win team, the Beavers will move up.

11. Colorado: Though its time in the Pac-12 has been miserable, Colorado has solid tradition -- highlighted by a split national championship in 1990 -- and Boulder, Colorado, is among the nation's very best college towns. That said, the facilities and administrative commitment have lagged behind other programs in college football's arms race. The losing is an issue as well.

12. Washington State: The Cougars have played in two Rose Bowls since 1997 -- how many other programs can say that? So it's a fact that the right coach can win at Washington State. Still, when the wins aren't coming, it becomes relevant to note the size of Martin Stadium and the isolation of Pullman, Washington. As noted by alumnus Kyle Bonagura, Washington State is the Pac-12's most challenging job.

Five programs in need of a 2016 QB 

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
Quarterbacks are committing earlier and earlier in the recruiting process. With 16 of the 27 signal-callers in the ESPN Junior 300 already having given verbal pledges, there is increased pressure to get a top quarterback in the fold early. While some programs are set in 2016 or for the future at the vital position, several programs face the task of having to sign a potential difference maker at the position in the 2016 class.

Here are five programs that must sign a difference maker in 2016, and some of those are well on the way.

The talk for the 2015 Pac-12 title is already in full swing, but let’s bring it back a notch. Or a few, depending on wherever you might place -- in varying levels of importance -- the nonconference football season.

But it’s what’s closest for us for football action, and the Pac-12 has a few very, very exciting games on the docket in 2015. Now, for the sake of this vote (as our technology only allows five options) we’ve taken Notre Dame games off the table. Sorry, Irish, maybe next time.

So, which nonconference, non-Notre Dame match up do you find most intriguing in the 2015 season?

1. Utah vs. Michigan | Thursday, Sept. 3


Which 2015 nonconference (non-Notre Dame) game is most intriguing?


Discuss (Total votes: 4,332)

What a college football homecoming for Mr. Jim Harbaugh. While he was at Stanford, the Utes were of little thought considering they hadn’t even joined the Pac-12 yet. But now with Harbaugh back in college football and back in the Pac-12, he gets to face one of the newest to the Pac. And if the off-the-field storylines aren’t enough for ya, the on-field ones are pretty good, too. Utah took care of business in Ann Arbor last season but this year, in the season opener, they welcome the Wolverines to Salt Lake City for a Thursday night game in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Michigan is in a state of flux -- losing its quarterback (Devin Gardner), top receiver (Devin Funchess) and top defensive player (Jake Ryan) from the 2014 season. Utah has had a few significant losses as well -- Nate Orchard, Kaelin Clay and Dres Anderson ... just to name a few.

2. Cal at Texas | Saturday, Sept. 19

The Bears shocked many (well, not me, I was the only one to pick that upset) when they went on the road last season in Week 1 and beat Northwestern, 31-24. But going on the road to Texas is an entirely different beast. Can Jared Goff lead Cal to victory in front of 100K in Week 3 this season? Cal is a perfect example of how much a program can grow between the first and second year under a new head coach. The Longhorns had their own struggles under Charlie Strong last year -- player dismissals, injuries, etc. -- but they still managed to make a bowl game. Plus, let’s add a bit of history to this game. Cal fans will still remember the 2005 Rose Bowl -- one that Texas got into (with politicking from former Texas coach Mack Brown) instead of Cal, even though the Bears led the Longhorns in the final regular season BCS poll that season.

3. Oregon at Michigan State | Saturday, Sept. 12

This was one of the most talked about matchups of the 2014 season and expect the same to be true for 2015. This year, it’s going to be a little bit different. The headlining quarterback? Not the Duck, but the Spartan -- soon-to-be-senior Connor Cook, who led the Big Ten in passing yards per game (247.2) last season. He’ll be matched up against a largely revamped Oregon secondary, which will feature mostly new (and young) faces. On the other side of the ball, this will be the first chance fans get to see Royce Freeman -- with another college offseason under his belt -- perform against an FBS-level defense (though, it will be a non-Pat Narduzzi defense, which should be noted). And what quarterback will Oregon field for this game? Still up in the air. But whoever it is should get ready for whatever Mark Dantonio is going to throw at him. Because even though Narduzzi is gone, Dantonio is going to want to use this game as a statement game for the MSU defense and specifically, its pass rush.

4. Oregon State at Michigan | Saturday, Sept. 12

Nothing like a former Big Ten coach taking his first road trip of his Pac-12 head coaching career … back to Big Ten country. And, there’s nothing like a former Pac-12 coach leading a Big Ten team against a former Big Ten coach leading a Pac-12 team. Follow? It’s a bit dizzying. Gary Andersen was more recently in the opposite conference, but he isn’t too familiar with Michigan. During his two seasons at Wisconsin, the Badgers and Wolverines never met on the field. But with the statement an underrated Utah team made at Michigan in Week 4 last season, could we see a bit of déjà vu in the Big House in Week 2 this year? Jim Harbaugh begins his Michigan tenure with two Pac-12 teams -- we’ll see how much either team tests or bests his Wolverines.

5. Washington at Boise State | Saturday, Sept. 5

SO. MANY. HOMECOMINGS. Next up: Chris Petersen gets the chance to go back to Boise State and that beautiful blue field to avoid what he did to so many Power 5 teams when he was at Boise State. The Broncos are coming off a solid season, 12-2 in its first year of the non-Petersen era. And Pac-12 teams might remember that No. 20 Boise State took down No. 10 Arizona in the Vizio Fiesta Bowl, 38-30. (And Arizona took down Washington, 27-26, six weeks earlier -- we know how our Pac-12 Blog readers love the law of transitive property…) But how much different will Washington look in Year 2 under Petersen? There’s certainly a lot to replace -- Shaq Thompson, Hau’oli Kikaha, Danny Shelton -- and that’s only the defensive side of the ball. But, can this offseason be a strong enough one for the Huskies that they come out full force in the first weekend of the season and avoid a defeat against a historically strong giant slayer? We’ll see.
Congratulations consumers of Pac-12 football, you now know what you already knew you knew: Marcus Mariota is fast.

At Day 2 of the NFL combine's on-field activities, quarterbacks, receivers and running backs were on display. Here's how those from the Pac-12 fared:


Marcus Mariota, Oregon: Since 2006, only five quarterbacks have run a faster 40 time than Mariota's 4.52: Reggie McNeal 4.35 (Texas A&M, 2006); Robert Griffin III 4.41 (Baylor, 2012); Marcus Vick 4.42 (Virginia Tech, 2006); Brad Smith 4.46 (Missouri, 2006); Tyrod Taylor 4.51 (Virginia Tech, 2011). It was in no way surprising that Mariota's other numbers measured up well, but probably more important, he drew good reviews as a passer.

40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds (1 of 13)
Vertical jump: 36.0 inches (t-3 of 13)
Broad jump: 121 inches (3 of 13)

Brett Hundley, UCLA: Hundley might be the most interesting prospect among the group simply because he was asked to a lot of different things in college and is tough to project where he'll go in the draft. He confirmed he's one of the best athletes among quarterbacks.

40-yard dash: 4.63 seconds (5 of 13)
Vertical jump: 36.0 inches (t-3 of 13)
Broad jump: 120 inches (5 of 13)

Sean Mannion, Oregon State: USA Track and Field won't be calling anytime soon, but Mannion's lack of speed isn't a new revelation. As a pocket passer, he showed what he needed to by delivering accurate, catchable balls.

40-yard dash: 5.14 seconds (13 of 13)
Vertical jump: 31.0 inches (9 of 13)
Broad jump: 105 inches (10 of 13)

Bryan Bennett, Southeastern Louisiana (transferred from Oregon): Bennett might have been talked about as one of the draft's best quarterbacks if not for a certain Hawaiian's decision to attend Oregon. After two years in the FCS, he's a relative unknown, but the combine showed he matches up favorably from a physical standpoint.

40-yard dash: 4.81 seconds (7 of 13)
Vertical jump: 37.0 (2 of 13)
Broad jump: 125.0 inches (1 of 13)

Connor Halliday, Washington State: Halliday met with teams, but is still not ready to workout as he continues to rehab from the broken ankle that ended his senior season prematurely.

Wide receivers

Nelson Agholor, USC: Agholor tested well, but suffered a minor setback with a dislocated finger that ended his day early.

40-yard dash: 4.42 seconds (t-7 of 39)
Bench press: 12 (t-20 of 30)
Vertical jump: n/a Broad jump: n/a

Dres Anderson, Utah: Not fully recovered from a season-ending knee injury, Anderson met with teams and participated in the bench press.

40-yard dash: n/a
Bench press: 13 (t-14 of 30)
Vertical jump: n/a
Broad jump: n/a

Kaelin Clay, Utah: Put simply, it was a rough day for Clay. As a guy who figures to have a shot to make a team as a potential return specialist, the raw numbers might be more important than for others. However, after watching how dangerous he is all year, I'm comfortable saying he's more athletic than the numbers indicate.

40-yard dash: 4.51 seconds (t-20 of 39)
Bench press: 10 (t-25 of 30)
Vertical jump: 33.0 inches (t-32 of 38)
Broad jump: 113 inches (36 of 38)

Vince Mayle, Washington State: Mayle is at risk of being labeled a system receiver after testing well below average -- at least compared to the other receivers -- in Indy. After a quiet Senior Bowl, Mayle hasn't helped his stock after a brilliant senior year.

40-yard dash: 4.67 (37 of 39)
Bench press: n/a
Vertical jump: 35.5 inches (t-22 of 38)
Broad jump: 117 inches (30 of 38)

Ty Montgomery, Stanford: As was the case during the season, Montgomery's hands were called into question during the combine.

40-yard dash: 4.55 seconds (t-26 of 39)
Bench press: n/a
Vertical jump: 40.5 inches (6 of 38)
Broad jump: 121 inches (t-17 of 38)

Jaelen Strong, Arizona State: If we were handing out a Pac-12 blog award for the day's best performance, it would go to Strong. After measuring in at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, his 4.44-second 40 and 42-inch vertical jump make him a rare combination of size and athleticism. Which is basically a confirmation of everything Arizona State fans have known for awhile.

40-yard dash: 4.44 (t-13 of 39)
Bench press: n/a
Vertical jump: 42.o inches (2 of 38)
Broad jump: 123 inches (9 of 38)

Running back

Buck Allen, USC: Good speed for a running back, but was tied for the fewest reps on the bench press.

40-yard dash: 4.53 (t-6 of 31)
Bench press: 11 (t-29 of 30)

Jameis Winston throws at combine

February, 21, 2015
Feb 21

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, who each promised to do the full workout at this year's NFL scouting combine, kept their word Saturday as both quarterbacks went through the paces at Lucas Oil Stadium.

In what will be a constant exercise in comparison shopping until the NFL draft April 30, the best quarterback prospects in this year's class proved they were well prepared for the big stage.

Throwing in the orchestrated drills of the combine to an unfamiliar group of wide receivers, with all dealing with the adrenaline of the moment, often can be a difficult thing for all involved.

But both Winston and Mariota each showed an easy throwing motion and deep-ball accuracy, and competed well in the drills.

Winston's work was given particular attention since concerns arose over some weakness in his throwing shoulder during the extensive medical exam players receive at the combine. In addition to the usual assessment by every team's medical staff that all players at the combine receive, Winston was also sent for an MRI on his shoulder.

Some scouts wondered Friday night whether Winston would still throw, given a player who had his throwing shoulder examined as extensively as he did would likely experience some soreness. But the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner threw as scheduled.

Winston said Friday that he was not concerned about the attention being paid to his shoulder.

"I had an MRI, just like everyone else," the former Florida State star said. "I've been playing football for, since I was 4 years old, and my shoulder has been fine."

Of the top quarterback prospects, only Colorado State's Garrett Grayson

(Read full post)

Pac-12 at the combine -- Friday recap

February, 20, 2015
Feb 20
A large chunk of my day was spent watching large human beings run 40 yards in spandex. I'd call the whole exercise pointless, but that would require me to come to grips with the fact that I woke up earlier than I would have otherwise to watch something that is pointless and I'm just not ready for that.

Six Pac-12 players were expected to participate in the NFL combine's first day of on-field activities. Here's how they fared:

Offensive linemen

OG Jamil Douglas, Arizona State: Nothing popped out about Douglas' day, but he did turn in an impressive 10-yard split in his 40-yard dash -- which is actually more applicable for a lineman.

40-yard dash: 5.25 seconds (21 of 40)
Bench press: 28 reps (t-10 of 37)
Vertical jump: 29 inches (t-19 of 38)
Broad jump: 99 inches (t-21 of 36)
3 cone drill: 7.99 seconds (19 of 37)
20-yard shuttle: n/a

OT Jake Fisher, Oregon: Fisher had the most notable day of the Pac-12 contingent, coming in with the fastest times in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle and second-best marks in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump.

40-yard dash: 5.01 seconds (2 of 40)
Bench press: 25 reps (t-20 of 37)
Vertical jump: 32.5 inches (t-2 of 38)
Broad jump: n/a
3 cone drill: 7.25 seconds (1 of 32)
20-yard shuttle: 4.33 seconds (1 of 37)

OT Andrus Peat, Stanford: Peat elected not participate in the bench press and was good enough in the other events. There wasn't anything about his day that should alter any preconceived notions about him.

40-yard dash: 5.18 second (12 of 40)
Bench press: n/a
Vertical jump: 31 inches (t-8 of 38)
Broad jump: 105 inches (13 of 36)
3 cone drill: 8.01 (21 of 32)
20-yard shuttle: 4.62 (t-10 of 37)

OG Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah: Poutasi's decision to declare for the draft was surprising and he didn't help his cause with a below-average performance Friday. Other than in the bench press, he ranked near the bottom in nearly every category.

40-yard dash: 5.32 seconds (24 of 40)
Bench press: 26 reps (t-13 of 37)
Vertical jump: 26.5 inches (t-29 of 38)
Broad jump: 95 inches (32 of 36)
3 cone drill: 8.09 seconds (t-24 of 32)
20-yard shuttle: 4.89 (33 of 37)

C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon: Considered one of the draft's top center prospects, Grasu was at the combine but did not participate in on-field drills.

Tight End

Randall Telfer, USC: Telfer only participated in the bench press (20 reps).

Mailbag: 'Mercenary' South coaches?

February, 20, 2015
Feb 20
Happy Friday. If you live on the East Coast, well, don't look at this.

Or this. (The Miller Family is eating al fresco this evening!)

Follow me on Twitter and you might get some pictures.

To the notes!

Tom from Lancaster, California, writes: Rival fans and trolls everywhere were convinced that Jim Mora, Todd Graham, and Rich Rodriguez would bolt to greener pastures if they attained any success at their respective schools. All three have a perception to outsiders of being a bit of "mercenaries." Barring anything off-the-field, each is going to complete their fourth season in 2015. Are they at the point of being able to be forgiven by fans if they can land an A+ job?

Ted Miller: Those three certainly have contributed significantly to the Pac-12's South Division becoming the toughest division in college football, apologies to the SEC West, which was exposed as overrated during the bowl season.

Oh, it's just a small troll. Relax.

If all three stay put, those programs will consistently remain in the top 25 and gain even more national traction -- perhaps as College Football Playoff contenders. I also get a kick out of the divergent personalities of all three, though they each share an obsessive competitiveness that might make them seem nutty to the average Joe. Next time I'm among this troika, I'm going to toss a penny into the air and go, "Oh, no, the magic recruiting penny is loose!" and then watch them lose all decorum and go wide-eyed loony as they dive and brawl to recover the slightest potential advantage against the others.

The South should continue to be great fun.

I do, however, pause at the term "mercenary." That word gets thrown around a lot about coaches, typically when one party feels wounded because a coach bolted for a better-status and better-paying job. "What about loyalty!" the abandoned whine, thinking only about themselves.

If Mora, Rodriguez or Graham get offered a job they want more than their present jobs -- whether due to money, opportunity, prestige or location -- they should take it. That, my friends, is America.

When the Florida job opened this past season I was worried, most specifically, about Rodriguez. I actually pulled out the big rhetorical guns when I told Rodriguez that if he left for Gainesville he likely wouldn't get to see me that much anymore. That clearly had an impact. And, fortunately, the folks at Florida weren't smart enough to pursue him.

Funny thing is that there's more evidence that they aren't particularly mercenary -- at least not more than any sane person.

Rodriguez turned down Alabama and Arkansas -- among others -- while at West Virginia. His eventual departure to Michigan was as much about his battles with West Virginia administrators than any mercenary tendencies. He bolted for many reasons, including the allure of coaching Michigan, but my impression is money didn't top the list -- especially when you consider the buyout at West Virginia that he left behind.

While Graham has a reputation as a climber, the mostly maudlin and often disingenuous reactions to his leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State almost always left out that he didn't get a notable raise. He got a better job with a better program in a better conference in a better area to live.

The "mercenary" term actually was hauled out to bite Graham because he'd used it a few weeks before he uprooted to describe some of his assistants who left Pittsburgh to join Rodriguez at Arizona. Graham has insisted his words were taken out of context.

As for Mora, he rebuffed Texas. While there are lots of Texas writers who say this didn't happen, their sources on this are a bunch of Texas boosters and administrators who don't want folks to write about Mora rebuffing Texas. What I've gathered is that if Mora really wanted to leave UCLA for Texas, he could have.

Does this mean this threesome is set for life or even a decade hence in their present jobs? Heck no. In fact, I'd be surprised if all three last more than three or four more seasons. Stability in coaching is extremely rare -- just 14 FBS coaches have been in their current job for 10 or more years.

Does this mean they should be forgiven if they do decide to pack their bags for another job?

Heck no.

Jon from Tumalo, Oregon, writes: Ted, will you please explain the difference between a player signing a National Letter of Intent (NLI) and a player receiving a Grant In Aid (GIA) without signing an NLI?

Ted Miller: A national letter of intent, at present, a binding contract between player and team for one year. Signing Grant In Aid scholarship papers is a promise from the school to the player but is non-binding for the player. In fact, he could sign scholarship papers with several schools and then make his ultimate decision by showing up to preseason camp at one school or another.

If I were advising an elite recruit, I'd tell him not to sign a NLI, just on principle. It's not required. The only downside of not signing a NLI is you'd still be recruitable, which could be potentially annoying for the athlete.

We previously linked this Mitch Sherman article. Andy Staples picked up the topic here.

The only way a player can get out of a NLI is if the NCAA or the school grants a release, which is a bureaucratic nightmare. Meanwhile, the school can revoke the scholarship because of academic or behavioral issues.

All this said, the game is changing. Power 5 conferences are shortly going to make scholarships cover full cost of attendance, and many schools and conferences are now guaranteeing multi-year scholarships, instead of the one-year renewables that worked against the players' interests.

Simply put, if a player signs scholarship papers and shows up to preseason camp, that qualifies him for a guaranteed scholarship.

Kevin from San Jose writes: Ted, You conveniently left out some context in your mailbag answer about the EWU / Vernon Adams issue. EWU PLAYS OREGON NEXT SEASON! I certainly would't let Adams train at the school facilities with former teammates ... prepping for the game. Heck, he already knows the playbook. But, Baldwin is behaving poorly?

Ted Miller: If I can recall, my focus was exclusively on the transfer itself and the quotes suggesting sour grapes from Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin and Montana State coach Rob Ash about FCS to FBS transfers.

Not only does it make perfect sense for Baldwin to give Vernon Adams Jr. a full-on divorce from the Eagles after Adams announced he was headed to Oregon, it would have be insane if he didn't for the very reason you mention.

To be clear: You do not let a player from your season-opening opponent hang out with your team and use your facilities.

So, no, I don't believe that represented poor behavior.

Jared Goff from Buzzerkely writes: What will it take for me to be 1) a Heisman candidate? 2) The Heisman winner?

Ted Miller: If Jared Goff puts up numbers that match what he did last year and California starts 3-0 after a win at Texas, Goff will start to make Heisman Watch lists.

The Golden Bears then start the Pac-12 schedule at Washington and against Washington State. Those games are far from gimmes -- no conference game is -- but the Bears have the potential for a 5-0 start and the national ranking that comes with that.

If Cal is 5-0 and Goff has big passing numbers, he would be an official Heisman candidate.

As for winning it? Well, he'd have to: 1. Be spectacular and 2. Cal would at least need to be ranked in the top 15 or so, which means winning nine or 10 regular-season games.

I see Goff as a future NFL QB, and that future might begin with the 2016 NFL draft. While some might view this question as presumptuous -- or just plain nutty -- Goff has the talent to become an elite QB. If Cal improves significantly on defense in 2015, the Bears could be a dark-horse contender in the North Division.

So what I'm saying is there is a chance.
The NFL Combine kicks off on Friday.

Here’s a breakdown of which Pac-12 players will be appearing on which days.

FRIDAY, FEB. 20 | Specialists, offensive linemen, tight ends

Offensive linemen:
Tight ends: SATURDAY, FEB. 21 | Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers

Running backs:
Wide receivers: SUNDAY, FEB. 22 | Defensive linemen, linebackers

Defensive linemen:
Linebackers: MONDAY, FEB. 23 | Defensive backs


Programs Most Desperate for a Quarterback
National recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton joins ESPN's Phil Murphy to discuss which college teams most need a quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class.