Many people believe that the Trojans are as vulnerable this season as they have been in a long time, and while that might be true, it didn't stop the media from voting USC the top team in the Pac-10, once again.
With nine returning starters on offense, and a defense that features the nation's top secondary along with several young emerging stars, it's hard to argue against the Men of Troy.
The Trojans received 28 of 32 first-place votes in the poll of West Coast media members. It's the seventh straight year that the Trojans have been picked by the media as the top team in the Pac-10. The California Golden Bears received three first-place votes and the Oregon Ducks also got a first-place vote.
USC's seven year run atop the media poll is the most since the Trojans were voted the top team for 18 straight years from 1965-1982.
Pac-10 Preseason Media Poll
1. USC (28) …………. 316
2. Cal (3) ………....... 277
3. Oregon (1) ………250
4. Oregon State …..216
5. ASU ……………….. 155
6. Stanford ………… 150
7. UCLA …………….. 145
8. Arizona ………….. 142
9. Washington …….. 74
10. Washington State … 35
One of the big news items to come out of the Pac-10 Media Day for the Trojans was the announcement that oft-injured linebacker Luthur Brown is in danger of being ineligible this football season due to academic reasons.
"Luthur's academic situation has been in question for some time now. I don't know where he is right now as far as his eligibility," Pete Carroll said. "He has been a question with a class that he had to finish and don't know what has happened with that."
Brown, who has been limited his entire career with back problems and other injuries, was hoping to end his career with a big senior season but that is now in jeopardy.
When Carroll was asked if he expected to have Brown available this season he responded, "As of right now, no."
With the recent medical retirement of freshman Frankie Telfort and now the news that Brown could be unavailable, the already thin linebacker position at USC just took two more major hits.
Carroll said they have come up with some options to add depth at linebacker but wouldn't give any details.
Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere?
Nearly every team and every conference claim that they are willing to play anyone, anytime, anywhere, but just look at the SEC nonconference slate and you will see that isn't exactly the case.
Fans of the SEC and Pac-10 love to debate the strengths of the two conferences, but one area where there is no debate, is on the strength of the nonconference scheduling.
A few stats on Pac-10 scheduling :
- The Pac-10 has the most teams (6) without a 1-AA opponent
- The Pac-10 plays the lowest percentage (13%) of nonconference games against 1-AA opponents.
- The Pac-10 plays the highest percentage (50%) of nonconference games against BCS opponents.
Carroll Talks Telfort
One of the first questions that Pete Carroll answered during the Pac-10 Media Day was about freshman linebacker Frankie Telfort, who was forced to end his football career early due to a serious genetic heart condition.
"This a crushing report for Frankie and his family, and for all of us," Carroll said. "We are just so disappointed for him."
Carroll said that Telfort will remain on scholarship at USC and that the team and coaching staff will do all they can to keep him connected to the program.
"Frankie will be with us, he's going to be a proud graduate, and a Trojan," Carroll said. "He will be part of the program as much as we can find ways.
"This is a pre-med student and a great kid."
Later in the day, Carroll was asked about Telfort's football ability and raved about his understanding of the game.
"We had great expectations for Frankie coming into the program. He was unusually gifted in terms of understanding football," Carroll explained. "He was a remarkable guy understanding scheme. I can't tell you that we have had anybody that knew so much about football as Frankie did. He was able to audible defenses and change calls, and do all kinds of things that you never hear high school kids doing.
"He's a great kid and a great family. It's a crusher."
- There has been talk that freshman Jarvis Jones could receive the coveted no.55, but Carroll said as of right now he doesn't think that will happen. In typical Carroll fashion he went on to say, "that could always change." We will keep you posted.
- If Pete Carroll was in charge of the NCAA for a day, what would he change? "We'd have an awesome playoff system," he responded.
- Pete Carroll was encouraged by the overall health of the team heading into Fall Camp. He was particularly pleased to see offensive linemen Jeff Byers up to 295 pounds after a strong offseason and Joe McKnight healthy after recovering from a toe injury.
Carroll said the one remaining concern is the health of tight end Blake Ayles. The young tight end has been working out this offseason but Carroll said it remains to be seen if he is full speed.
USC LB Chris Galippo is ready to assume a leadership role in 2009.
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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at firstname.lastname@example.org