Pac-10 links: Walker the leader for New Mexico State job

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

You smell that? It's the bowl season starting to catch fire.

  • It appears that UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker is the leader for the vacant New Mexico State head-coaching job, according to the LA Daily News, which also reports that Walker's departure might mean the return of Ken Norton Jr., presently an assistant at USC, to UCLA.

  • Columnist Tom Shatel writes about the Big 12 vs. the SEC, but his thesis fits for every conference when considering the carefully managed hype of the SEC. Yes, it's about self-promotion and regional unity overcoming bitter rivalries.

  • California's key against Miami is obvious: Lots of Jahvid Best. There is mutual respect between the programs, with each telling the other how fast they are.

  • Hey, what about Oregon's defense? It might make the difference in the Holiday Bowl against Oklahoma State. And so might the playing surface. And so might nagging issues for running back Jeremiah Johnson.

  • Oregon State got a boost from the return of running back Jeremy Francis, who's dealing with some tough issues at home.

  • USC returns to practice but some guys are banged up. How will USC's defense be remembered?