The year is 1960, John F Kennedy still a few months out from being elected the President of the United States, Brooks Robinson manning the hot corner for the Baltimore Orioles and the Dallas Cowboys are a new expansion franchise. Since then, the Pacific 12 Conference have been publishing a media poll, for 56 years, picking the projected conference standings for the upcoming football season . The 1960 Media Poll was a small blurb in the newspapers. Now, a multi million dollar television channel reaching the eyes and ears of hundreds of thousands is the home to the poll reveal. However, one of the conference’s most accomplished members have never been picked to win the conference title in the preseason media poll..until now.
The Stanford Cardinal, winners of three of the last four Pacific 12 conference championships, and participants in three of the last five Rose Bowl games were picked to win the 2016 Conference championship, taking home the North Division crown, where UCLA was picked to take the South Division crown.
Led by Heisman Trophy winner, woops, runner up Christian McCaffrey. Stanford must replace their Starting Quarterback from years prior in Kevin Hogan and a dynamic offensive line which featured 2 NFL lineman in Kyle Murphy and Josh Garnett. Several loaded recruiting classes should help fill the void on both sides of the ball though, as one of or a combination of Redshirt Sophomore Keller Chryst and Redshirt Junior Ryan Burns will man the quarterback position and physical and reliable pass catchers like Trent Irwin, a true sophomore who dazzled in high school breaking many California State receiving records and Dalton Schultz, a Redshirt Sophomore from Utah are both expected to replace Devon Cajuste and Austin Hooper, Stanford’s leading tight end who decided to take his talents to the NFL a year earlier than expected.
On Defense, Stanford is tasked with replacing tackling machine Blake Martinez and vocal leader Ronnie Harris, both who exhausted their Stanford eligibility. Noor Davis, a Redshirt Senior from Florida is expected to take over Martinez's role and Quenton Meeks, most known for his two game saving interceptions at Washington State and Terrance Alexander could split some time at the cornerback spot opposite of Alijah
Much like Stanford, Oregon, picked third in the conference poll, is faced with replacing a reliable player at the most important skill position, at quarterback Dakota Prukop, FCS transfer from Montana State is expected to take over the starting job. The Wildcard of the Pacific 12 North Division, Washington, most likely the fourth or fifth most talented team in the division is expected to take Boise State type leaps and bounds under head coach Chris Petersen up at Montlake. Petersen, former Boise State head coach is known for taking lesser known or talented players and turning them into title contenders. For all intents and purposes, the early season matchup between Stanford at Washington in September could have a huge say in who ends up playing in the conference championship several weeks later.
The media choosing Stanford to win the Pacific 12 Conference is a tell tale sign that Stanford is no longer the under respected sleeping giant on the west coast. This in a media driven conference that tends to enjoy the flashier teams such as Oregon and USC. The combination of NFL offense and a physical defense has forced media pundits and fans alike to take notice. Further proving that the loss of Toby Gerhart, Jim Harbaugh, Andrew Luck, Tyler Gaffney, Kevin Hogan or any notable player or coach has not forced Stanford to take a significant step back in the last decade.
With the 2016 season looming and 2017 recruiting taking shape, Stanford has also made a dent in the recruiting world as well, with committed talents such as Davis Mills, a top five consensus quarterback among many scouting directors. Along with being in heated recruiting battles for several physical imposing offensive lineman, such as Foster Sarrell and Walker Little. July 14th, 2016 might sound like an insignificant date in Stanford Football history, but in reality, this date marks Stanford’s true arrival on the Pacific 12 conference scene. We’ll check back the night of December 2nd to see if the Media’s prediction holds true..