Can the Oregon Ducks and Dan Lanning change the Pac-12 conversation?
The talk is about USC heading into Pac-12 Media Day, but Oregon has a roster that's ready to peak.
It’s going to be a bit awkward, isn’t it?
The Pac-12 media day, hosted in the city soon to be lost from the conference’s footprint. UCLA and USC? The Bruins and Trojans have to just sweat out two more of these things before they can take their athletic programs, facilities and this location and ship it across the country to the Big Ten.
And try to deny as the rest of the conference might, the Pac-12 has been attempting to sell a star-studded vibe for a decade, moving media days around from various movie studios, hotels and now to this year’s location at L.A. Live., just miles from the campus of USC, whose new coach, Lincoln Riley, is sure to be the star.
The 38-year-old coach with the $110 million contract, $17 million house, star transfer quarterback and star transfer receiver was, for a moment, believed to be a potential savior for this conference. Instead this week’s media day feels more like the “Tell All” reality show finale where all the contestants who didn’t win return to vent before the Big Ten takes USC and UCLA to the honeymoon suites.
“While you weren’t looking, USC became a power again,” headlines Saturdays Down South this week.
“New-look USC Trojans emerge as most popular bet to win College Football Playoff,” reads ESPN.
The hype is understandable, to an extent. Riley had incredible success during his five years at Oklahoma, Caleb Williams is a potential Heisman candidate and so too, apparently, is Travis Dye. That’s not to take a swipe at Dye, the former Oregon running back, but I was listening to a college football podcast this morning where all of a sudden Dye was being referred to as a top every-down running back in college football.
He wasn’t talked about that way at Oregon. Why?
Well, because he’s at USC now. And for more than the last decade, USC’s reputation hasn’t actually been backed up by the results. Keep in mind, while the Trojans’ offense will no doubt rip, this is also a team that allowed Stanford (42), Oregon State (45), Utah (42) and UCLA (62) to put up more than 40 points in wins against the Trojans at the Coliseum. USC could be really good. But with 40 players gone from last year’s roster and 16 new players coming in via transfer, there’s a lot of volatility here. Utah could be better. Washington State could be better. UCLA could be better.
Oregon should be better.