Seventh Heaven?

WEST COAST MEDIA members tabbed the Southern Cal Trojans as its preseason choice to win the Pac-10 this season. Washington State was selected seventh. So why are we smiling? Because the staff at <I></I> remembers another year when WSU was picked to finish in the exact same spot.

USC narrowly edged out Arizona State for top honors with just three votes separating the two schools, 227 votes to 224.  It was just as close in the 1st place voting with the Trojans garnering 10 of 25 votes, while the Sun Devils came away with 9. 


Rounding out the top five were Washington (4 first place votes), Oregon State (2), and Oregon.  They were followed by UCLA, Washington State, California, Stanford and Arizona.


The Pac-10 media has correctly picked the winner of the Pac-10 the previous three years and four of the last five.  The overall success rate for members of the West Coast media is 48% since the inception of the poll in 1961.  (20 of 42)


This year marks the first time Southern Cal has been picked to win the league title since 1996.


In the media poll's history, the Trojans have been selected to win the Pac-10 more than any other school; 23 of 42 times, including a streak of 18 years in a row.  Over those twenty-three seasons, USC won the title just over half the time.  (12 of 23 years)


In the last decade, there have been four teams picked to finish between 6th and 8th who have ended up winning the league title, one being Washington State in 1997.  (Like this year's poll, the Cougs were also picked to finish seventh in 1997 by the Pac-10 media.)


Following are the results of the pre-season media poll (first-place votes in parentheses):



USC (10)



Arizona State (9)



Washington (4)



Oregon State (2)









Washington State














Some of us were actually more worried last year.  For the first time in its history, the Pac-10 media selected Washington State to win the conference in 2002.  Since the league expanded to ten teams in 1978, WSU had never been picked higher than fourth in the Pac-10 media poll. 


Because the members of the West Coast media are wrong more often than not when selecting the champion, we were a little concerned with being their favorite.  No such worries this year.


The last time the poll selected USC to win the league title was 1996. The Trojans finished fifth that year. 


Last year, the pollsters had the most difficult time with USC, picking the Trojans as high as first and as low as eighth.  This year, the ‘most difficult' honor falls to Oregon State.  The Beavers were selected to finish as high as first and as low as ninth.


In 2001, Washington State was slated to place tenth in the conference by members of the Pac-10 media.  They got the number "ten" right, in a sense.  The Cougs finished with 10 wins and a No. 10 National ranking.


The team picked to finish dead last in 2002 was California.  The Bears posted a winning record.  Will the same hold true for Arizona, this year's tenth place pick?


So this year the Pac-10 media has once again returned Washington State to its underdog status.  Will it be like 1997 or 2001 all over again?  Stay tuned to see if Bill Doba can author a similar script to one of those years.  Stay tuned, indeed. 

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