Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott defended USC coach Lane Kiffin’s decision to drop his vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
“I think it’s an unfair position to put the coaches in, to supposedly vote objectively when they’ve got a very natural conflict of interest, No. 1, and, No. 2, I think most coaches are focused on their own games — let alone breaking down tape afterwards and all that,” Scott said.
“So to expect that coaches could have a good, balanced, well-researched perspective on who the best teams are in any given week is a fallacy.”
Elsewhere . . .
– New UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr., unhappy with his team, kicked his players out of practice Wednesday.
– USC freshman defensive end DeVante Wilson has torn the ACL of his left knee, will undergo surgery and is out for the season.
USC was a clear choice Tuesday morning to win the Pac-12 football championship in a poll of 123 media members who cover the conference.
The Trojans received 117 first-place ballots to easily outdistance Utah for the South division crown. Oregon also collected 117 first-place votes to top the North division.
USC received 102 votes to win the Pac-12 title game, with Oregon earning 18 votes and Arizona State, in a surprise, drawing three votes.
Stanford was placed first on five ballots and wound up second in the Pac-12 North, ahead of Washington. Cal got one first-place vote and finished fourth in the Pac-12 North.
PAC-12 MEDIA POLL
Results of the annual media poll, with first-place votes in parenthesis and total points:
1. Oregon (117) 732
2. Stanford (5) 533
3. Washington 502
4. Cal (1) 382
5. Washington State 228
6. Oregon State 205
1. USC (117) 729
2. Utah (1) 514
3. UCLA (2) 435
4. Arizona 385
5. Arizona State (3) 353
6. Colorado 164
Pac-12 championship game winner: USC 102, Oregon 18, Arizona State 3.
Home wins over Oregon and Oregon State elevated the Bears to No. 29 in the latest NCAA official RPI rankings. Cal was No. 36 at this time last week.
No other Pac-12 teams is among the top 50. Washington, tied with Cal for first place in the conference standings, is No. 54, just ahead of Oregon at No. 55.
Utah, Cal’s Thursday opponent, is No. 275 — the worst of three Pac-12 teams mired in the 200s.
Meanwhile . . .
— Still no Pac-12 team in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, but Cal has moved to third among others receiving votes, meaning they are No. 28. The Bears are eighth among others who got votes in the AP Top-25.
— No significant changes in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s newest NCAA tournament projections. He still has Cal as a No. 9 seed playing Southern Miss in Omaha, with the chance to take on top-seeded Missouri in the second round. Washington is a No. 11 seed, Arizona a No. 12. Oregon is listed among the first four teams out.
Two wins in Southern California lifted the Golden Bears (20-6, 10-3 Pac-12) from No. 48 to No. 36 in the latest official NCAA RPI rankings.
Washington is the next highest-rated Pac-12 Conference team at No. 62. Arizona checks in No. 66, followed one spot later by Oregon. Colorado is No. 74.
Stanford, which has dropped five of its past seven games, plummeted to No. 105.
Then it gets truly grim for the Pac-12: UCLA is No. 124, Oregon State No. 143, Washington State No. 150, Arizona State No. 229, USC No. 230 and Utah No. 274.
Cal’s win over Stanford has elevated the Bears to No. 30 in Monday’s edition of the official NCAA RPI computer rankings.
Washington is the next conference team in the RPI ratings at No. 72 — a bad sign for NCAA tournament at-large wannabes from the Pac-12. Oregon is No. 74, Arizona No. 85, Stanford No. 86. Ouch.
Oregon State is No. 122, UCLA No. 134 and Washington State No. 145.
Saint Mary’s checks in at No. 20, one spot ahead of WCC rival Gonzaga.
Elsewhere . . .
– Cal is projected as a No. 9 seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest NCAA tournment “bracketology.” He has Cal plugged in to play No. 8 Harvard in a first-round game at Louisville, with No. 1 Kentucky awaiting in round two. UW only other Pac-12 team — and Huskies are in a No. 12 play-in game. Saint Mary’s is seeded No. 5.
— Cal gets two votes in the coaches poll (the only two any Pac-12 team gets), but no one from the Pac to be found in “others receiving votes” at bottom of AP Top-25. Saint Mary’s climbs to No. 16 in coaches poll, No. 18 in AP.
— Oregon State junior guard Jared Cunningham (San Leandro HS) is the Pac-12 player of the week after scoring 27 points in the Beavers’ win at Oregon. Cal, tied for first in the conference, is 0-for-12 in the weekly conference award department.
Cal is No. 35 in Monday morning’s official NCAA RPI listings — the only Pac-12 team in the top 60.
Here’s where Pac-12 schools rate:
127. Washington State
138. Oregon State
226. Arizona State
Following a 64-63 loss at San Diego State, Cal has dropped from No. 24 in the AP Top-25 to out of the rankings, leaving the Pac-12 without a representative in the poll.
The Bears (6-2) are 33rd, one spot behind Stanford (8-1). Arizona is 37th and Oregon State 39th.
Cal checks in at No. 28 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Here are both polls.
Meanwhile . . .
— Utah, off to the worst start in school history at 1-6, has indefinitely suspended point guard and leading scorer Josh Watkins for undisclosed conduct detrimental to the team. Watkins was averaging 17.7 points per game, but shooting 29 percent from the 3-point line. Here’s more from the Salt Lake Tribune.
— Arizona freshman forward Sidiki Johnson of the Bronx, N.Y., has left the program two weeks after being suspended by coach Sean Miller for violation of team policy. Johnson averaged 0.3 points and 0.7 rebounds in three games.
Cal’s two big wins opening the season have inched the Golden Bears up to No. 23 in the Associated Press Top-25 and to No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Here are both polls.
Today, hours after UCLA lost its season opener to Loyola Marymount on Friday night, the Sports Illustrated college basketball issue arrived in my mailbox with Bruins forward Reeves Nelson on the cover. Wonder if Ben Howland is happy about that?
SI picks UCLA at No. 15 in the country, followed by Arizona at No. 18.
Cal checks in at No. 23 with Washington at No. 26. The magazine also projects Oregon reaching the NCAA tournament.
Meanwhile, two Pac-12 teams played Saturday . . .
– Washington 91, Georgia State 74: C.J. Wilcox scored 22 points and Darnell Gant added 18 to lead the Huskies. Freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr. had 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four turnovers in his debut.
— Oregon State 86, Cal State Bakersfield 62: Ahmad Starks and Joe Burton each scored 16 points and San Leandro HS product Jared Cunningham had 14 points and five steals for the Beavers in their opener.
CBSSports.com has ranked the top 100 players in college basketball this season and Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez is No. 47 on the list:
47. Jorge Gutierrez (senior guard, California). It’s hard not to love this kid. Terrific work ethic and can do it all for the Bears. — Jeff Goodman.
Allen Crabbe checks in at No. 77 on their list:
77. Allen Crabbe (sophomore guard, California). A lights-out perimeter shooter who needs to develop more versatility in his game this season. — J.G.
Curious that Oakland native and Oregon freshman Jabari Brown, who plays essentially the same wing position as Crabbe, is No. 49 — without having ever played a college game:
49. Jabari Brown (freshman guard, Oregon). Could wind up being Dana Altman’s leading scorer. Strong, athletic and can fill it up. — J.G.
Other top-100 Pac-12 players: No. 23 Terrence Ross, Washington; No. 24 Reeves Nelson, UCLA; No. 42 Josh Smith, UCLA; No. 46 Josiah Turner, Arizona; No. 85 Jared Cunningham, Oregon State; No. 88 Trent Lockett, Arizona State.
Two other players with local roots: No. 84 Damian Lillard (Oakland) Weber State; No. 94 Kevin Foster, Santa Clara.
The full list is here.