Pac-12 offseason winners and losers


ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman takes a look at the big winners and losers this offseason, and two Pac-12 teams make his list.

One in the good way, one in the bad way.

Here's what Feldman says about Stanford, which he rates No. 1 among the rising teams.

1. Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal lost, as expected, Jim Harbaugh to the NFL. The job Harbaugh did at Stanford should go down as one of the best turnaround jobs any coach has pulled off in the past 25 years. The Cardinal also lost a couple of other top assistants.

So why is Stanford on this list and not the one below it? Simple: The Cardinal kept stud QB Andrew Luck for one more season. And, because of that, Stanford is a legit top-15 team. Without Luck around this fall, I'm not sure that Stanford would make a bowl. He is that much of an impact guy.

And here's what he says about Oregon, which he rates No. 4 among his falling teams.

4. Oregon Ducks

There's been some bad off-the-field news for Oregon involving a couple of key defenders. Talented CB/KR Cliff Harris was stopped for driving 118 miles per hour, costing him the opener against LSU and potentially more games than that. Middle linebacker Kiko Alonzo, who was one of Oregon's stars of the spring, was arrested and charged with burglary. His status with the team is also in doubt. Then, there is also the dark cloud hanging over the program from the Will Lyles recruiting mess.

Couple of quibbles.

Stanford is a bowl team without Luck. While there's a perception that Stanford is Luck and a bunch of no-names, my guess is NFL scouts will tell you differently over the next two or so seasons.

And, with Luck, Stanford is not only a "legit top-15" team, it's a national title contender.

As for Oregon falling, that could be viewed as relative. The Ducks went undefeated last year before losing to Auburn in the national title game. If they go 10-2 this year and win the Pac-12 championship, how much have they really fallen?

But the off-field issues are a legitimate concern, particularly what the Lyles imbroglio might mean down the road with the NCAA. These issues could bring the players closer together -- unite them in adversity, in an "us versus the world" season -- but the absences of Harris and, perhaps, Alonso for one or more games are significant hits in terms of straight-up on-field talent.

Of course, if the Ducks whip LSU in the opener, there will be a lot less talk of off-field issues and a lot more talk of a return trip to the title game.