'Official' Pac-12 returning starters

The Pac-12 has published its official 2013 media guide, which means each team has provided its official tally of returning starters.

What is a "returning starter"? Typically, it means a player who started at least five games in 2012, though in some cases it might include a 2011 starter who missed last season due to injury.

As a conference, 187 total starters are back from a possible 288, including punters and kickers. That's an average of 15.6 per team, which is well above the 10-year average of 14.9 returning starters. Last year, 173 starters -- 14.4 per team -- were coming back.

Washington returns the most with 20 starters, followed by Colorado with 19. Utah returns the fewest, with 12.

Here are the numbers:

That's an average of 7.1 players on offense and 7.3 players on defense. Last year, the numbers were 6.3 for offense and 6.8 for defense. The numbers are slightly down for specialists (1.2 versus 1.3).

Of the returning starters, 12 were first-team All-Pac-12.

Of course, returning starters don't mean everything.

USC was widely celebrated for its 19 returning starters in 2012, which earned it the No. 1 ranking in the preseason Associated Press poll. Things didn't go so well thereafter. Meanwhile, Arizona State went a surprisingly sound 8-5 with just 10 returning starters, fewest in the conference in 2012.