Center of attention

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The Pac-10 is popularly known as the "Conference of Quarterbacks." This year, that's been changed to "The Conference of Injured Quarterbacks."

But one position has shone in this offensive-minded league that isn't terribly offensive-minded this year.


It's possible the All-Pac-10 First-Team will feature three and maybe four centers.

Seven conference centers are on the 44-man watch list for the Rimington Trophy.

Most folks know about California's Alex Mack and Oregon's Max Unger. Both are All-American candidates -- Phil Steele made both Second-Team Midseason All-Americans -- and are likely first-day picks in the NFL draft this spring. Mack may even go in the first round.

But I'm not sure that either of them is playing any better than Stanford's Alex Fletcher, who's the unquestioned leader of the Cardinal line, which is the conference's best run-blocking unit.

And USC sophomore Kristofer O'Dowd is a future All-American who will be hard to keep off the All-Conference team.

Toss in Washington's Juan Garcia, who was second-team All-Pac-10 last year, and Arizona's Blake Kerley, who was knocked out for the year in game four because of a knee injury, and Washington State's Kenny Alfred, who's having a good season on a terrible team, and you've got extraordinary depth at one position.

Too bad "Conference of Centers" isn't very catchy.