Spring practice is already in bloom in the Pac-12, so we’re taking a look at each program to see where things stand.
Next up: USC
2015 record: 8-6, 6-3 in Pac-12 play
Three-year record: 27-14
Coaching situation: Outgoing athletic director Pat Haden elevated Clay Helton from interim head coach with a five-year contract, which should seemingly indicate Helton will be around for a while. But this is USC. If the Trojans don't show significant improvement quickly, Helton's job security will become a topic of conversation -- especially with Haden leaving and his replacement still unknown. Helton's most important hire was bringing back Clancy Pendergast to run the defense, but he also feels comfortable in handing over play-calling responsibilities to Tee Martin, who was elevated from receivers coach to offensive coordinator.
Roster situation: There are two major holes: defensive line and quarterback. The defensive line is more of a concern because the unit is almost starting over after all its key contributors exhausted their eligibility last season. Three-year starter Cody Kessler's exit at quarterback presents an unknown well. Besides those two spots, though, the Trojans are in really good shape. Their stable of running backs and receivers stacks up well nationally -- highlighted by wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back Ronald Jones II -- and only one starting offensive lineman, center Max Tuerk, is gone. There is still a lot of youth on defense as well, but it's experienced. Cornerbacks Adoree' Jackson and Iman Marshall might be the best CB tandem in the Pac-12 and several young linebackers made an impact last year.
Recruiting situation: Surprise, surprise -- USC landed the Pac-12's top-ranked class. It was highlighted by defensive end Oluwole Betiku, who will be counted on to contribute from Day 1, and features a nice offense-defense balance. Safety Jamel Cook and cornerback Jackie Jones could add depth the the secondary this season and several receivers could force their way onto the field as well.
Trajectory: Despite winning the Pac-12 South for the first time, it's hard to say the program is trending in the right direction. Not after a six-loss season. There were clearly some positive takeaways, but heading into the season, the players and coaches were consistently vocal about their intentions to win the national title. To fall so woefully short of that goal defines how the season was viewed, and as a result, the trajectory of the program. That said, there's still enough talent to allow for the possibility, if not expectation, a Pac-12 title run in 2016.