'Official' Pac-12 returning starters

The Pac-12 has published its 2015 football media guide, which you can view here, and it is chock full of valuable information.

For one, it includes an "official" tabulation of returning starters, a staple of preseason previews and projections. A player is typically deemed a returning starter if he started five games the previous season.

That's 178 starters back out of a possible 288. Last year, 181 starters were back, an average of 15.1 per team -- 7.3 offense, 6.4 defense, 1.4 specialists -- so the numbers are slightly down. Further, while eight first-team All-Pac-12 players are back this fall, two of them are specialists and a third -- Oregon TE Pharaoh Brown -- is doubtful for the season because of injury. In 2013, an average of 15.6 starters returned. The 10-year average of returning starters for the conference is around 15.

The media guide also points out that, despite some big-name losses, seven starting quarterbacks return as well as two -- Arizona State's Mike Bercovici and Washington State's Luke Falk -- who recorded three starts in 2014.

Other notes:

  • Eight of the Pac-12's top-10 rushers return, led by UCLA's Paul Perkins and Utah's Devontae Booker.

  • Just three receivers who eclipsed 1,000 yards will return (Colorado's Nelson Spruce, Arizona's Cayleb Jones and Oregon's Byron Marshall).

  • Pac-12 teams welcome back an average of 3.5 starting O-linemen with no team returning fewer than two. USC, Oregon State and Washington State welcome back all five starters from 2014.

  • Defenses took some hits, as 24 of the 39 NFL draft picks came from that side of the ball. Just six of 22 first- and second-team All-Pac-12 defenders are back.

  • With Gary Andersen's hire at Oregon State, there have been nine coaching changes in the Pac-12 in the past three years. The current crew of Pac-12 coaches owns a .639 FBS career winning percentage.

  • The Pac-12 championship game will be on Saturday -- not Friday! -- Dec. 5 at 4:45/5 p.m. PT and will be televised by ESPN or ABC.

And, in case you hadn't seen this, here are the Pac-12 schedule "misses" for this fall.


California (Arizona, Colorado)

Oregon (Arizona, UCLA)

Oregon State (Arizona State, USC)

Stanford (Arizona State, Utah)

Washington (Colorado, UCLA)

Washington (USC, Utah)


Arizona (California, Oregon)

Arizona State (Oregon State, Stanford)

Colorado (California, Washington)

UCLA (Oregon, Washington)

USC (Oregon State, Washington State)

Utah (Stanford, Washington State)