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Beast in the West

Carroll, Trojans haven't tired of dominating the Pac-10 -- unfortunately for rest of the conference

August 26, 2008

The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time.

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Tom Hansen is stepping down as Pacific 10 Conference commissioner after this season, but nothing really changes in the pecking order until Pete Carroll makes his next move.

The Pac-9's best hope from here on in might be boredom.

Maybe Carroll's Energizer Bunny battery finally wears down. Maybe he gets tired of pickup basketball games, or recruiting. Maybe a seventh straight Pac-10 championship (does it always have to be us?), seventh straight 11-win season and seventh straight BCS bowl berth jettisons him to the NFL job Jim Harbaugh swore Carroll was going to take after last season.

Maybe the NCAA uncovers that Carroll, posing as a Century 21 real estate agent, helped Reggie Bush's parents pick out the drapes.

Short of ennui, or scandal, or Carroll's getting called for jury duty, the Trojans are going to win the conference.

If you want to tick them off, call them Southern Cal, but beyond that . . .

USC remains the only West Coast program anyone east of Tucson cares about. It's certainly the only Pac-10 program the South takes seriously.

There are actually some in deep Dixie who think USC could finish third in the SEC East.

The Trojans' challenging nonconference schedule -- at Virginia, Ohio State, Notre Dame -- is necessary again to serve as competitive ballast to all the Eastern sea-bored biased people who think Oregon State still runs the wishbone.

Truth is, USC's four losses the last two years were all conference defeats.

No need to inundate you with personnel minutiae . . .

The Trojans had seven players selected in the first or second round of the NFL draft this year, OK?

Linebacker Rey Maualuga, everybody's first-team All American, probably had amustache in sixth grade.

One former Parade high school player of the year, Mark Sanchez, beat out another, Mitch Mustain, for the No. 1 quarterback spot.

As for Carroll's losing interest . . . well, he seemed to get an off-season kick filming a man-on-the-street segment on campus in which he playfully interrogated unsuspecting USC students.

Some didn't even know he was the football coach.

They know in Berkeley.

They know in Westwood.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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Begin text of infobox

Chris Dufresne's countdown

25. Notre Dame

24. California

23. Fresno State

22. Florida State

21. Rutgers

20. Illinois

19. Penn State

18. Oregon

17. Tennessee

16. Arizona State

15. Texas Tech

14. BYU

13. Wisconsin

12. Kansas

11. Auburn

10. Texas

9. West Virginia

8. Clemson

7. Louisiana State

6. Missouri

5. Florida

4. Oklahoma

3. Today: USC

2. Wednesday

1. Thursday

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