When USC was upset 26-20 by Kansas in September, the Jayhawks' star was Quarterback Frank Seurer from Huntington Beach, Calif. At Illinois, five starters were pulled out of the California talent pool. Speaking of recruitment of Californians by non-Pac-10 schools, Neuheisel says, "Too many people have found the fountain." Southern Cal Linebacker Jack Del Rio thinks his conference is losing an increasing number of players who would rather play right away at smaller schools, particularly the ones in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, than spend two or more years in the Pac-10 waiting their turn.
And, with the notable exception of Washington and perhaps UCLA, conference schools generally have not depended on redshirting and/or the use of walk-ons to build depth. Some, like USC and Stanford, are too expensive—tuition plus room and board at those schools runs to nearly $13,000 per year—for many walk-on players to be able to pay their own way. Some, especially Cal and Stanford, are too academically rigorous to encourage walk-ons. And the rest, especially the Oregon schools and Washington State, are so short of depth that redshirting is not a very important factor.
Yet, for all these woes, nobody believes that these hard times for the Pac-10 will last. Southern Cal's Andersen says, "It's only down for this year. Next year, it'll be right back up there." He's probably right. Take Arizona State. The Sun Devils, who have been troubled by an inexperienced defense this year, will have 21 of their top 22 defensive players back in 1984. Among the players expected to return the Pac-10 to the heights are quarterbacks Gilbert and Stanford's hotshot freshman, John Paye. Then there are Washington Running Back Jacque Robinson, tailbacks Darryl Clack of Arizona State and Vance Johnson of Arizona. Likely as not, 1983 will seem only a dim memory, an aberration, and 1984 will be a year to go qwazy over. Probably.