The conference today announced the all-league football team, and here it is:
— If I’d told you just before Labor Day weekend that Matt Barkley of USC would stay healthy virtually the entire season (minus the finale against Notre Dame) and not make either the first- or second-team all-league at quarterback, what would you have said?
— I thought the coaches got it right naming Marcus Mariota of Oregon first-team and Matt Scott second-team for Arizona. Scott was right there, but his four-turnover game against ASU didn’t help. Meanwhile, it’s easy to downplay the performance of the Duck quarterback and write it off to the system, but let’s face it, Mariota was superb, especially for a guy who didn’t even know he had the job in mid-August. (Meanwhile, Arizona’s confounding streak continues, of never having had a first-team all-league quarterback since the Wildcats entered the Pac-8 in 1978.)
— Good job, too, by the coaches on the knotty issue of the running backs, who I believe collectively were more productive than at any time in the history of the league. There have been instances in which the league allowed some cop-out, like stacking multiple deserving players at a position, but in this case they made the hard call and left UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin and Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor on the second team. I wouldn’t feel badly having either of those guys hauling it 25 times a game on my team.
— Interesting that Zach Ertz of Stanford wins the first-team honor over Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington. Both are among the three finalists for the Mackey Award given to the nation’s top tight end.
— Not too difficult to figure out why Stanford is so good; look at its honors in places where it counts: Three Cardinal offensive linemen made first- or second-team (and that doesn’t count any of the highly regarded freshmen they attracted in the past recruiting class); and four of its starting front seven were named to the top two defensive units (and that didn’t even include Shayne Skov, the gifted linebacker who came off a 2011 knee injury).
— Cal placekicker Vince D’Amato had a rags-to-riches season. Early, he was the one the Bears couldn’t entrust with a big kick. He finishes as the first-team guy, recalling a bit of the Alexis Serna/Oregon State story a few years back.
— It was a bit surprising not to see Washington State linebacker Travis Long crack the second team. He had 9.5 sacks and seemed universally admired by the coaches for his toughness and work ethic, but that’s probably the result of a defense that was too inconsistent.
— They might have to retire the coaching award and give it to David Shaw of the Cardinal, who has won it twice in his two seasons as a head coach. There were other defensible choices, among them Jim Mora of UCLA, Mike Riley of Oregon State, Rich Rodriguez of Arizona and Chip Kelly of Oregon.