It’s hard to believe that the college football season is fast arriving, with the first games scheduled for the end of August.
I know that’s a cliche, but it’s true when you think about it, as (to coin another worn cliche) it seems like yesterday that UCLA’s Bruins were getting beat by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl, while USC’s Trojans, who were ranked first by all the polls in the preseason and were a favorite to play in the BCS Championship game, were instead getting smacked around by a 6-7 Georgia Tech team in the Sun Bowl.
It was the first time that a losing team had ever won a bowl game, putting a bow tie on the Trojans’ embarrassment of a season.
Now, with the Pac-12 Conference’s Football Media Day having been held in the Los Angeles area at Sony Studios in Culver City, the page has officially been turned as UCLA, USC, and the other ten Pac-12 teams commence on a season that will culminate with the 100th Rose Bowl Game on January 1st.
And perhaps a spot on the BCS title game if things go perfectly.
The overall good fortune continued for coach Jim Mora’s Bruins – their last three games, which resulted in losses after their 38-28 win over their crosstown rival Trojans, notwithstanding – as they were picked to win the Pac-12’s South Division.
It was the first time since 1998 that UCLA was predicted to finish first, and the first time since 2001 that they were chosen to finish ahead of ‘SC, who was picked to finish third in the South behind the Bruins, who had 12 first place votes, and Arizona State, who garnered ten.
The Trojans managed four first place votes in the poll, which was held by the 26 media members who gathered at Sony Studios.
Here’s the complete list of where the 12 teams are picked to land:
1. UCLA (12)
2. Arizona State (10)
3. USC (4)
1. Oregon (15 first place votes)
2. Stanford (11 first place votes)
3. Oregon State
6. Washington State
Oregon’s Ducks were chosen to win the Pac-12 championship game and be the conference’s representative in Pasadena; that is, if they don’t finish with a number two ranking in the BCS and end up playing for the national title, which will also be held at the Rose Bowl on January 6th.
“The fact that people are recognizing us, at least to some extent, is a sign we’re making some progress,” Mora commented.
As for USC, athletic director Pat Haden released a video that emphatically stated that the Trojans’ head coach Lane Kiffin is not on the hot seat after his 7-6 debacle in 2012, in which the team lost five of their last six games after a 6-1 start.
“I’m behind Lane Kiffin 100%..he knows USC and he knows what it takes to be successful here,” Haden said.
‘SC will start training camp on August 3rd, and they will kick their season off at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI on August 29th when they face Hawaii.
Meanwhile, UCLA will once again head for San Bernadino to begin their fall camp on August 7th with an eye on August 31, which is when the Bruins will open the 2013 campaign at the Rose Bowl against Nevada.
“We’re a program that has a new set of standards,” UCLA’s all-conference linebacker Anthony Barr told reporters. That wasn’t there a couple of years ago. (Being picked to finish first) brings high expectations.”