'Official' returning starters

The Pac-12 has released its "official" numbers on returning starters, which is a fairly fluid term. Typically, it means a player who started at least five games in 2011, though in some cases it might include a 2010 starter who missed last season due to injury.

As a conference, 173 total starters are back out of a possible 288, including punters and kickers. That's an average of 14.4 per team, which is slightly down from a 10-year average of 14.9. Slightly more defensive starters are back -- an average of 6.8 versus 6.3 for offense.

USC welcomes back the most -- 19 -- which is a good reason the Trojans may begin the season No. 1. Arizona State has the fewest returning starters with 10 -- and just eight position players.

Among those returning starters are nine first-team and 16 second-team All-Pac-12 performers.