UCLA will be the one chased this season, not the one doing the chasing.
It brings a different challenge for the Bruins. UCLA has played in the conference championship game the last two seasons, though they went in 2011 only because USC was ineligible. But this is the first time they have been picked to win a title since 1998.
"'I'm glad those things don’t matter to me, and I hope they don’t matter to our players,” Coach Jim Mora said. “What is important is we focus on being the best team we can be.”
Still, this was a landmark moment for a program that has meandered for more than a decade.
As to whether this signified a change, Mora said, “I hope so. That’s what we’re after. We’re after wins. We’re after respect. We're after building a program that can be dominant nationally.”
USC was picked to finish third in the division.
Mora shied away from any talk about whether the Bruins were changing the pecking order in Los Angeles.
“The fact that people are recognizing us, at least to some extent, is a sign we’re making some progress,” Mora said. “I think it’s a credit to our players.”ALSO: