Football: My Pac-12 ballot

Pac-12 media day is now just about 36 hours away, with it taking place Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. My colleague Jon Wilner will be making the trip for the BANG newspapers and will have extensive coverage.

The Pac-12 preseason media poll will be released Tuesday morning. Here is how I voted:


1. Oregon

2. Stanford

3. Washington

4. Oregon State

5. Cal

6. Washington State



1. USC

2. Utah

3. Arizona State

4. Arizona


6. Colorado

PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP: Oregon over Utah

And now for some comments:

  • I have a strong feeling Cal will end up being picked just where I picked them. There is a growing sense out there that Washington is a program on the rise. With top skill players Jermaine Kearse and Chris Polk back, the Huskies will still need to get some quarterback play to be a good offense. But truth be told, Jake Locker wasn’t exactly great last season. Washington also has an improving defense.
  • It’s hard to pick Cal over Oregon State, not only because the Beavers have had their number in recent years, but because the Beavers have been so consistent in recent years as well. Last year, of course, didn’t go quite as well for OSU. The question is whether that was an exception or a sign that the Beavers are falling off.
  • The Bears simply have too many holes on offense right now to choose them above anyone but Washington State in the North. They should have a very good defense, but relying on defense leaves too little margin for errors. Cal figures to play in a lot of close games. But with an unproven quarterback and field goal kicker, it’s hard to feel confident they are going to win a lot of them. The quarterback position could end up being good; we just don’t know right now.
  • Top to bottom, USC still has the most talent in the conference. Of course, the Trojans also have a lot of distractions and baggage, and that may have hurt them last season. I still see them winning the South and then giving way to Utah in the Pac-12 title game because of NCAA sanctions.
  • Utah should be one of the elite teams in the conference for the time being. The Utes have already proven to be one of the top mid-major programs in recent years and joining a BCS conference will only help them, especially in recruiting. Utah can now tell recruits they will be on network television often and will travel to Los Angeles every year as well.
  • I’m not on the Arizona State bandwagon. Many are picking them to win the South. I don’t see enough talent at the skill positions. The Sun Devils should once again have a strong defense, but their offense isn’t at a championship level.
  • And before you all get on me for picking Cal so low, just a reminder I picked them seventh last season and that ended up being generous. The Bears ended up finishing eighth in the Pac-10.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Ozone

    Either 4th or 5th seems reasonable. This is a rebuilding year. A .500 season and then a bowl win is probably to be expected. Next year however, this team is going to win the Pac-10. Book it.

  • Jan K Oski

    I think Utah will be the biggest unknown. Yeah, they showed up against good teams after those good teams took a pounding all season, while the Utes cruised through easy competition. The play on the field will determine the quality of that team. Could they take the South? That’s anyone’s guess in my opinion. I’m guessing they come in 3rd or 4th behind the Toejammers and Zona.

    Cal is going to surprise some people this year. This game is all about conditioning and Blasquez is going to have these kids in the best shape of their lives. Plus, this defense is going to be full throttle, and Pendergast has a better feel for the college game after major hiccups. Thank goodness for the bye week before the Duck game, as he’ll have our Bears seeking respect in Duckland. If one of these RBs starts another 1,000 yards parade, I’m thinking .500 is easily attainable. Go BEARS!

  • zato

    Did you “pick” Riley to get injured last year? I’d say there’s no way we finish eighth with Riley at QB. Tied for fifth with a win over UW or tied for third with win over ORE. Sure injuries are a part of the game. Take Jake Locker out then, see how UW finishes out?

    Who knows how the Bears will finish this year but I think you’re underestimating the Bears and overestimating the competition.

  • Kyle

    I don’t totally agree with where you picked Cal although I don’t think your far off. I really think they will be consistant and surprise a few people. I think they finish 3-4 slot. I know UW has some skill players but they are in the same QB situation cal is and I think Cal’s defense is better than UW’s. Cal is even in most categories agains OSU except QB which obviously goes to OSU. But having them at AT&T might equal that out. Cal 8-4 overall. There will be an upset this year. Keep an eye on those thursday night games…just sayin!

  • Uh Huh!

    So, I’m not going to jump om you, JF, for picking the Bears low. I’ll agree with you about the holes on offense (unproven qb, rb, o-line), and lets also throw in there that while the defense looks promising, it may take another year or two for the highly touted lb and d-line recruits to be ready to reach their potential.

    Instead, I want to ask you to follow up on the consequences of your low finish prediction for Tedford. I mean, wow, if we lose as many games as you say, again, folks are going to get restless, no?!

    How about if I take a stab?

    In any other season, this could spell trouble for the esteemed coach, but when we arrive in the newly upgraded Memorial, a project Tedford can take significant credit for, we will find ourselves focusing on the rebirth and he will be given a hall pass.

    I, personally, think JT is going to have the Bears back in the Rose Bowl before its all said and done. I don’t know when exactly, but soon enough!

  • Bobby

    Totally reasonable pick for Cal–if:

    (1) Our question marks turn out to be problem spots,
    (2) OSU’s question marks turn out fine, and
    (3) Washington’s question marks turn out fine also.

    I do not believe all three of those will happen, expect at least one to happen, and would not be surprised if two do.

    So, the odds are that Cal will finish #4, with an outside shot at #3 or #5.

  • rollonubears

    The team with the most heart will win this division. Overall, the talent is pretty similar.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    You got it right JO except WSU will be gunning for you guys knowing the winner stays out of the cellar. They might have won the game last year if not for the blown call by the ref who allowed the receiver to advance forward another 20 yards when his LOS had been stopped.

  • John Scott

    You seem to be discounting the fact that our coaching staff has added some improvements including known quality coaches such as our new O-line coach and receivers coach. So I think it’s a good bet that our O-line will be better and more experienced. I think that counts for A LOT. As well Our QB will be better than last year,and although that doesn’t necessarily say much, it’s still an improvement. I got Cal at #3 because I don’t see where Washington or OSU are getting better anywhere.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    And JO I do remember you picked the team to finish 7th but do you remember I picked them to finish 8th?

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Sarkisian > Tedford
    Riley > Tedford

    That is why OSU and UW will win

  • furio

    Hey! 5th place in the PAC-12so? You are cuckoo in the dodo-bird cuckoo clock? Here’s the way they’ll finish, NO and SO.

    1/ Oregon — long on talent.
    2/ Cal — getting it done.
    3/ UDub — on the rise, like bread.
    4/ Farm — lost of genius.
    5/ OSu — a down season
    6/ WSu — it’s lonesome in the Palouse

    1/ $uSC — it is theirs to lose, and they might.
    2/ UU — wants to make the big impact.
    3/ ASu — Coach Erickson gets a clue.
    4/ CO — why not?
    5/ UA — brings back Coach Stoops’ tantrums.
    6/ Ucla — because I say so and because that’s just the way it is!

  • Bobby

    lol, someone’s trying oh so hard to get a reaction…

  • MoreSanctionsComing

    Anybody > Annoying trolls

  • GOGO Bears

    Reactions are as hard to get as a law degree.

  • Eric

    JO – interesting. I predicted Cal would go 5-7, so I think that puts us at 4th or 5th in the division. Hope we’re both wrong.

    John Scott – fair points, but what I think is the biggest drop-off is the lack of a proven running game. Since 2005, notwithstanding QB concerns, we have always had a known top-shelf running back to give us some semblance of offense. This is the first year we don’t. So unless the running game exceeds expectations (possible, with the return of Coach M on the line) or the defense is even better than last year, we are placing tremendous hope on an unproven QB in a system where since 2005 the QBs have quickly become damaged goods.

  • GOGO Bears

    Since someone wants us to remember his past predictions, let’s take a look at his predictions from the 2010 season:

    Game vs. Arizona State
    Prediction by the “expert”: The Arizona State Offensive Coordinator must be licking his chops for today’s game. He has the Pac 10’s second leading QB (behind Matt Barkley!) and he is playing against a team with no pass rush and no DBs. This one could be another rout if ASU gets up early. Look for Cal state to mail it in.No QB U in a battle with ASU to see which team finishes 8th.

    Cal won 50 to 17.

    Game vs UCLA
    Prediction by the “expert”:No QB U Gets Pistol Whipped By Rickey
    pucla shoots up “No QB U”. I wish I could be there just to hear the Cal state fans groan the first time Captain Riley sails one. Look for Rahim Moore to give that freshman WR a “welcome” to the Pac 10 message. Just when Cal state looks to be coming back Riley will throw an interception and Ayers will go sack happy.

    Cal won 35 to 7

  • Dan

    Next to last. Probably correct … and pretty sad.

  • Robert

    You’re reasoning, J.O., is a little weak. UW seems a program on the rise, and OSU maybe just had a one year blip? Don’t think that is very in depth stuff!

    Also, maybe Locker with his leadership and all the little things was better than his numbers suggest. Certainly that is what the media and NFL execs. threw at us last year. You can’t have it both ways, can you? UW lost a lot at LB and DL and if you look closely their D was pretty weak overall last year. Not a stretch to says the Bears are far superior there. Marvin Jones and K. Allen match up with Uw receivers. Backfield is a big advantage to Huskies. Lines are about a tossup. Which new QB plays better?

    Don’t see where the huskies are that much better. Momentum? Come on!

  • John Scott

    Fair enough. Might it be that his year Cal becomes a pass first to set up the run since the passing game seems to have more talent? I just think have a more experienced and better coached O-line will translate into more points this year. I also think it’s fair to say that the defense is going to be better with the team in it’s second year with Pendergrast. I agree with Robert. Just what are we to make of such soft analysis by J.O. re: UW and OSU. Come on, man!

  • 66Bear

    I agree with you, GOGO Bear and Eric that JO has relegated the Bears to the second tier based on good feelings about our opponents and unjustifiably negative feelings about the Bears. I think that JO’s effort to remain objective and unbiased has caused him to be cynical about the Bears rather than unbiased. The Bears’ defense will stuff Washington and OSU this year, and the Bears offense will be better than erratic QB play in recent years has made it look. The Bears will be a top tier, winning team this year and will get as far as an improving offense will allow it to get. Go Bears!

  • GOGO Bears

    66B — sorry for the confusion, but you misunderstood. JO doesn’t refer to Cal as CalStateBerkeley. JO doesn’t have obsessive hate for Cal. JO doesn’t predict Cal will lose every game and then go “See how I predicted your loss!”. That role belongs to someone else. A broken clock is right twice a day, and a hater just hates all the time.

  • furio

    Hey! Pride and poise or just grey noise? Hail to the Golden Bears…prevail and roll on…ha, ha…so what!

  • noduck

    Erratic qb play wasn’t the only problem. I remember many dropped passes–far too many.

    5th is fair. There is no real reason at this point to expect cal to finish higher. If they fall to fsu (which is not at all impossible) its going to be a long season in the city.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Last week Daddy met with a former football player. He is a nice young man. Daddy said he majored in Social Welfare. This young man said he regrets that he didn’t take a better major. He also said he wished “they” didn’t put him in the classes “they” did.

    According to your published roster the players and their majors have the following break down.

    Sociology – 7
    African American studies – 4
    American Studies – 7
    Soical Welfare – 5
    Undeclared – Many

  • GOGO Bears

    Last week Mommy met with a nice guy who had a son that got into law school with daddy’s “help”. And the kid never graduated. Mommy said the daddy was a nice man, but he’s pretty unhappy cuz now his son has no real job (want to book a cruise?) and the man knows he won’t be getting any grandchildren from that son.

    Meanwhile, according to the published rosters, 65% of SC’s upper division players are in the Sociology department. That’s called a major dump — when it happens, there’s a reason. The fact that Sociology at SC doesn’t have exams but you just submit papers might be a reason. How do you know who wrote the paper?

  • GOGO Bears

    And I notice a lot of silence about the UCLA and ASU predictions from last year? What’s wrong — Daddy won’t let you speak?