Cal and Stanford have switched positions in the Pac-10 football preseason media poll.
The Bears, usually picked near the top of the conference, were projected to finish seventh in the poll released Thursday. The Cardinal, a longtime resident of the lower tier, was picked fourth.
Oregon was picked to win the conference by a three-point margin over USC. Seven teams, including Stanford, received first-place votes — indicative of what looks to be a wide-open race.
It's the first time since 2002 that the Cardinal was picked higher than the Bears and the first time the Bears have been slotted below fourth place since 2003.
"People have told me we're not ranked as high this year,'' Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "But we're not focused on that. We're focused on internal expectations."
If Whiteside isn't eligible, he would attend junior college and enroll at Cal in January — a process known as "grayshirting.''
Cal's top linebacker recruit, Chris Martin, announced last week that he would transfer to Florida. Asked about the status of his linebackers in the wake of Martin's departure and Whiteside's likely grayshirt, Tedford said:
"I love our linebacker unit "... Whiteside would most likely redshirt if he came here (this fall). It would be hard to break into our unit."
Tedford said he expects all his veterans to be ready for training camp, which starts Aug. 7.
Preseason poll as voted on by the schools' local media (points 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses):
1. Oregon (15) 314
2. USC (12) 311
3. Oregon State (3) 262
4. Stanford (1) 233
5. Arizona (2) 222
6. Washington (1) 209
7. Cal 175
8. UCLA (1) 134
9. Arizona State 81
10. Washington State 39