NCF Nation: Lombardi Trophy

On Friday, the Pac-10 becomes the Pac-12, and life as we all have known it ends.

Kaboom!

Before we start looking forward -- oh, well, guess that's all we've been doing this offseason -- let's take a look back at the 10-team conference that started in 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State joined the Pac-8 (and Pac-8 purist grumbled about life ending as they knew it).

Today, we compile an all-time, All-Pac-10 team (No player who graduated before 1978 was considered). Thursday, we'll rank the best Pac-10 teams.

As for picking the players, you might imagine this wasn't easy. Lots of great players over the past 33 years. This list doesn't include many consensus All-Americans, national award winners and players who won multiple All-Pac-10 honors.

[+] EnlargeMatt Leinart
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesUSC's Matt Leinart is the conference's all-time leader touchdown passes.
I struggled with receiver and offensive line the most. And kicker (UCLA fans will slap their foreheads at my pick). Ten selected players already are in the College Football Hall of Fame.

NFL success wasn't a part of this measure -- just look at the QB. But there were a couple of moments -- tight end and kicker -- when it waved at me from a distance.

As for the per school tally, it should be no surprise that USC led the way with seven players. It might be a surprise that Arizona, with no Rose Bowl berths, was second with four. Neither Oregon nor Stanford have a player on the team.

Feel free to disagree. Or to post your own team.

Offense

QB Matt Leinart, USC (2005): 2004 Heisman Trophy winner. Finished third in 2005. Won two national titles; played for a third. 99 career touchdown passes is 14 more than any other quarterback in conference history.

RB Charles White, USC (1979): 1979 Heisman Trophy winner. Fourth in 1978. Pac-10's all-time leading rusher. College Football Hall of Fame.

RB Marcus Allen, USC (1981): 1981 Heisman Trophy winner. 2,427 yards rushing in 1981 is conference single-season record. College Football Hall of Fame.

WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC (2006): A two-time consensus All-American. Ninth in Heisman Trophy balloting. 41 career touchdown receptions is nine more than any wide receiver in conference history.

WR Mike Hass, Oregon State (2005): Biletnikoff winner. Consensus All-American. His 1,532 yards receiving is a conference single-season record. He also holds the single-game receiving yards record (293).

OL Jonathan Ogden, UCLA (1995): 1995 Outland Trophy winner and consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

OL Randall McDaniel, Arizona State (1987): Consensus All-American, two-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

OL Brad Budde, USC (1979): Lombardi Trophy winner. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame

OL Alex Mack, California (2008): Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. Two-time Morris Trophy winner.

OL Lincoln Kennedy, Washington (1992): Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. Two-time Morris Trophy winner.

TE Tony Gonzalez, California (1996): Consensus All-American. First-team All-Pac-10.

Defense

DE Terrell Suggs, Arizona State (2002): Bronko Nagurski, Lombardi Trophy and Ted Hendricks Award winner. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. Set NCAA single-season sack record (24).

DT Steve Emtman, Washington (1991): Outland and Lombardi winner. Finished fourth for Heisman Trophy. Consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

DT Rob Waldrop, Arizona (1993): Outland and Bronko Nagurski winner. UPI lineman of the Year. Two-time consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

DE Tedy Bruschi, Arizona (1995): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. Morris Trophy winner.

LB Chris Clairborne, USC (1998): Butkus Award. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

LB Ricky Hundley, Arizona (1983): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

LB Jerry Robinson, UCLA (1978): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Conference. College Football Hall of Fame.

S Kenny Easley, UCLA (1980): Four-time first-team All-Conference. Three-time consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

S Ronnie Lott, USC (1980): Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

CB Antoine Cason, Arizona (2007): Thorpe Award winner. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

CB Mike Richardson, Arizona State (1982): Two-time consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

Specialists

P Nick Harris, California (2000): A consensus All-American in 2000, he punted a lot and was very good at it. He set NCAA records for most career punts and punting yardage.

K Jason Hansen, Washington State (1991): Consensus All-American (1989). Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. 39 career field goals of 40 or more yards and 20 of 50 or more; both Pac-10 records.

Top 10 Pac-10 players of the decade

January, 19, 2010
1/19/10
9:07
AM ET
The assignment: Rank the top-10 Pac-10 players of the decade.

Gulp.

The list of folks not on this list includes numerous consensus All-Americans, award winners and record-setting players. So feel free to disagree.

And, yes, NFL success sometimes functioned as a tiebreaker, which is why Reggie Williams, Mike Williams, Rien Long, Dave Ball, J.J. Arrington, Mike Hass and Derek Hagan, among others, are not on this list.

Every player on this list, other than Steven Jackson, was a consensus All-American.

10. Troy Polamalu, S, USC: Pete Carroll's first great defensive player, he was a two-time All-American. The 16th overall pick in the 2003 draft and five-time All-Pro is on track for a Hall of Fame NFL career.


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesUSC quarterback Matt Leinhart led the Trojans to three national championship game appearances.
9. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona: The four-year starter grabbed 15 career interceptions and won the the Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back in 2007. He was the 27th pick (San Diego) of the 2008 draft.

8. Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon: The 345-pounder was the best run stuffer the Pac-10 has seen of late. He blocked seven kicks at Oregon and piled up 17.5 tackles for a loss his final two seasons before becoming the No. 12 pick in the 2006 draft (Baltimore).

7. Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC: What separates Jarrett from the conference's other All-American receivers is simple: His 41 career touchdown receptions are nine more than any other player in Pac-10 history.

6. Steven Jackson, RB, Oregon State: Jackson's NFL career has proven that he was ridiculously underrated in college. He finished with 3,625 career rushing yards, which ranks 11th on the Pac-10 career list, and 46 career touchdowns.

5. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: The 2009 Heisman Trophy runnerup finished with 3,522 career yards and 44 touchdowns.

4. Terrell Suggs, DE, Arizona State: In 2002, he set an NCAA record with 24 sacks and Pac-10 record with 31.5 tackles for a loss. He won the Lombardi Trophy as the nation's best defensive lineman and the Nagurski Award as the nation's best defensive player.

3. Reggie Bush, RB, USC: He won the 2005 Heisman Trophy after finishing fifth the year before. He led the nation with 222.3 all-purpose yards per game and set the Pac-10 record for total yards from scrimmage with 513 (294 rushing, 68 receiving, 151 return) against Fresno State. And every time he touched the ball, everyone held their breath.

2. Carson Palmer, QB, USC: He won the 2002 Heisman Trophy and his 11,818 career yards passing is No. 1 all-time in the Pac-10.

1. Matt Leinart, QB, USC: He won consecutive national championships and the 2004 Heisman Trophy. In 2005, he finished third in the Heisman voting and lost the national championship game to Texas. He owns the Pac-10 single-season (38) and career (99) records for touchdown passes.

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