As a freshman last season, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 2,677 yards and ran for 752 more while going 12-1. He will be among the early Heisman contenders.


Everyone's a potential champion on media day.

Every team has redoubled its effort in the weight room, each player is in the best shape of his life, and every coach is ready to start fresh.

But still, we love Pac-12 media day, which returns Friday in Los Angeles. It's the unofficial start of the football season.

To get you prepared for Friday, here's a look at three things to watch:

• The stars. A half-dozen Pac-12 performers will be early Heisman Trophy candidates.

USC junior wideout Marqise Lee caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards last year, and Oregon sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 2,677 yards and ran for 752 more while going 12-1 as a freshman. And he might not be the most exciting player on his team, thanks to scatback De'Anthony Thomas.

Arizona Wildcats junior Ka'Deem Carey ran for 1,929 yards last season, the most in the NCAA and a UA record. On defense, there's Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, both All-Americans.

Lee, Mariota and Barr will attend Friday's festivities - an important first volley in the race for a trophy that is, even in the best circumstances, part popularity contest.

• The new guys. Three new coaches will make their formal league-wide introductions Friday: Colorado's Mike MacIntyre, Cal's Sonny Dykes and Oregon's Mark Helfrich.

Helfrich, the Ducks' former offensive coordinator, inherits the nation's fastest sports car and replaces Chip Kelly, who went 46-7 before leaving for the Philadelphia Eagles.

On the other end of the spectrum sits MacIntyre, the former San Jose State coach who will try to improve the Buffaloes' No. 117 offense and No. 120 offense.

Dykes, the former UA offensive coordinator, joins Cal after leading Louisiana Tech to a nation's best 577.9 yards per game last year.

• The storylines. The league is already full of questions, and the games won't start for another 4 1/2 weeks: If USC struggles again, can Lane Kiffin keep his job?

Who will strike the next blow in a burgeoning rivalry between Oregon and Stanford?

Can UCLA win the Pac-12 South for the third-straight year?

Will Colorado win a game?

We won't get those answers Friday.

But it'll be fun to start wondering anyway.

On StarNet: Catch the latest Pac-12 news on the Pac-12 Pundit blog at

Patrick Finley's poll

Star Pac-12 reporter Patrick Finley has filed his preseason poll in advance of Pac-12 media day. And don't discount the poll. Announced on Friday's media day, the official preseason poll has correctly picked the champion in 11 of the last 13 years:

Pac-12 North

1. Oregon

2. Stanford

3. Oregon State

4. Washington

5. Cal

6. Washington State

Pac-12 South

1. USC

2. Arizona State


4. Arizona

5. Utah

6. Colorado

Pac-12 Championship Game

Oregon over USC

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at or 573-4658. On Twitter @PatrickFinley