Now that Arizona and Arizona State have turned their backs on the WAC and the Fiesta Bowl and joined up with the coastal states to form the Pac 10, the first clue as to the possibility of a Rose Bowl host from Cactusland comes on Oct. 14, when USC plays State at Tempe. By then the Sun Devils could be 5-0, thanks to an early schedule that is far from frightening. And Coach Frank Rush's players are rough and ready, notably Defensive End Al Harris and Tailback Arthur (Turtle) Lane. Arizona State has another schedule advantage: it doesn't have to play UCLA this season.
Downstate in Tucson, the other new member of the conference does meet UCLA, but not USC. Second-year Coach Tony Mason admits that his squad enters the conference "without the depth and skill people to be able to compete right away."
California, with a highly respected defense and a new coach, is the conference dark horse. Coach Mike White was fired last year after a 7-4 season and the new boss is Roger Theder, one of White's assistants. He is high on his defensive line, led by End Ralph DeLoach, a hero in last year's upset of USC, and sophomore Tackle Pat Graham.
With the departure of three offensive stars—Quarterback Guy Benjamin, Wide Receiver James Lofton and Tackle Gordon King—Stanford is going to have to depend much more on its defense this year. The Cardinals will use a 3-4 lineup to take advantage of a wealth of linebackers. The standout is Gordy Ceresino, who set a Cardinal record last season with 174 tackles.
Washington State has done its annual coaching switch. This year's head man is Jim Walden, the fourth in four years. Walden had been backfield coach last season under Warren Powers. At least Quarterback Jack Thompson is back for his senior season. Thompson was the first junior in league annals to throw for more than 5,000 career yards and is within sight of several NCAA and Pac 10 passing and total offense records. However, the Cougars are not within sight of the Rose Bowl. Nor are the two Oregon schools, neither of which has been to Pasadena in years. Oregon's Ducks have their leading receiver, Ken Page (40 catches), plus Jeff Wood and Vince Williams, two good fullbacks. Oregon State Coach Craig Fertig has a fine running back in James Fields (740 yards last year) and a quality linebacker in Kent Peyton, but with Washington, USC and UCLA all on the Beavers' schedule, a winning season is unlikely.
With Arizona State and Arizona departing to what is now the Pacific Ten, San Diego State has joined the WAC. Quite possibly the Aztecs are going to make their new rivals wish the league boundaries had remained inland.
San Diego State has a 20-2 record over the past two seasons and has an even longer tradition of winning with a big-play passing offense. How big this year's plays will be depends upon how fast Coach Claude Gilbert's young quarterbacks catch on. Sophomore Mark Halda is returning from shoulder surgery, and Chris Schaefer needs seasoning.
Fresh from a 9-2-1 season that was its best in 30 years, Colorado State counts on the Jones boys, brothers Larry (running back) and Norris (flanker) to keep it moving, and Defensive Tackle Mike Bell to keep the opposition checked.