You’ve heard of the tired cliché of taking a step back to take a giant leap forward. Last season the Pac-12 took a giant leap back, but it should lead to a massive blast ahead. And why?
Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA all underwent coaching changes and should all be stronger in Year Two under their respective head men. Throw in new head coach Mel Tucker at Colorado – and the explosion returning on offense – and the league should be ready to get out of the dark.
Oregon State is still a ways away from going bowling again, but Jonathan Smith has a veteran team coming back with a whole lot of good parts to play around with.
No chance Arizona isn’t better in Kevin Sumlin’s second season – the Cats are in for a winning season – and so is UCLA. It’s Chip Kelly. His team isn’t going to be that miserable again, especially after the way it showed signs of explosion and life last year.
Kelly had to tear down the program and do a complete overall, and the payoff will start to kick in.
Arizona State was strong under Herm Edwards, and it has a whole lot to like coming back, and Oregon is about to go from very good to preseason top five – okay, maybe top ten – with Justin Herbert leading a way-too-experienced and talented team.
Cal’s defense isn’t going anywhere, Utah’s defense isn’t going anywhere, and Stanford’s defense is going to be fantastic once the linebackers get their feet wet.
All Washington did was go to the Rose Bowl last season, and all it did was upgrade its quarterback situation with Georgia transfer Jacob Eason taking over. There’s a bit of reworking to do, but Chris Petersen has dealt with worse problems.
And then there’s the big key to the Pac-12 being ahead of the ACC and Big 12. USC has to start being USC again.
This isn’t going to be a national championship-level powerhouse again quite yet, but other than UCLA, no one in the league did more to get the young guys going to prepare for the next few years.