No one is looking forward to the start of the 2018 season more than Larry Scott.

The Pac-12 commissioner is no doubt eager to turn the page after last year’s pratfall on the gridiron when the conference was excluded from the College Football Playoff and finished 1-8 in bowl games.

The forgettable fall carried over into a winter of discontent for men’s basketball.

The Pac-12’s hardwood headlines included the arrest of UCLA players during an exhibition trip to China, the arrest of assistants at Arizona and USC as a result of an FBI investigation into corruption in collegiate athletics, only three teams from the conference being selected for the NCAA Tournament and none advancing past the first round.

With the Pac-12 also lagging well behind the Big Ten and SEC in revenue and annual payouts to member institutions, Scott will have to get creative with the script for his annual state of the conference address at Wednesday's football media day event in Los Angeles.

Here are some new storylines for the commissioner and fans to look forward to entering a critical season for the Pac-12:

Husky expectations

The Pac-12 appears to have a legitimate national championship contender in Washington.

The Huskies, who return 16 starters, including four-year starting quarterback Jake Browning and steady running back Myles Gaskin, are the clear-cut favorite to win the conference.

Washington, which allowed 16.1 points per game last season, should have another stout defense, despite losing mammoth nose tackle Vita Vea to the NFL.

Chris Petersen made a name for himself as a BCS buster at Boise State and has now built a powerhouse in the Pac-12.

Scott will be rooting hard for the Huskies — who visit Autzen Stadium on Oct. 13 — when they open the season against Auburn at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Feeling chipper in Westwood

Chip Kelly, who had a sparkling 46-7 record in four seasons at Oregon, is back in the Pac-12 at UCLA.

After receiving pink slips and lucrative buyouts from the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, Kelly will try to revive his career and make the Bruins relevant in Los Angeles, which is now the home of two NFL franchises.

UCLA, which hasn’t won a conference title since 1998, is viewed as a major rebuilding job.

But if anyone can turn UCLA’s fortunes around, it’s Kelly. The first step will be finding a dynamic quarterback to replace Josh Rosen.

Kelly, who was hired in November before Oregon had another head coaching vacancy, returns to Autzen Stadium with the Bruins on Nov. 3.

Herbie for Heisman?

Oregon has encountered its share of bumps in the road back to the College Football Playoff since playing for the national championship in 2014.

Justin Herbert is good enough to get the Ducks back in the mix in the rugged North Division immediately.

The 6-foot-6, 233-pound junior quarterback from Eugene also has a chance to make a run at becoming the program’s second Heisman Trophy winner only four years after Marcus Mariota brought the hardware back from New York City.

Herbert should put up video game statistics against the three cupcakes on the Ducks’ nonconference schedule before the Pac-12 opener on Sept. 22 against Stanford at Autzen Stadium.

The Cardinal will feature Heisman contender Bryce Love, who rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.

The Oregon-Stanford winner will emerge as the top threat for Washington, and either Herbert or Love will elevate his Heisman stock with a head-to-head victory.

Raising Arizona (and ASU)?

Arizona and Arizona State have hired prominent new coaches, just as both rivals did in 2012 when Rich Rodriguez took over the Wildcats and Todd Graham the Sun Devils.

This time former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin takes over the program in Tucson, with former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Herm Edwards trying to turn things around in Tempe.

Sumlin and Edwards have an opportunity to make some noise during their first seasons with Khalil Tate (Arizona) and Manny Wilkins (Arizona State), two of the top quarterbacks in the Pac-12, leading the way.

The Wildcats have a more favorable schedule, which includes home games against USC, Oregon and Arizona State. The Sun Devils must play at Washington, USC and Oregon.

The next Man of Troy

Sam Darnold is now the face of the New York Jets, which means all eyes will be on the USC quarterback competition.

J.T. Daniels, a 17-year-old true freshman, was a prep phenom and arrives on campus a year earlier than expected after reclassifying to the 2018 class and graduating high school early.

Sophomore Matt Fink, No. 2 on the depth chart last season behind Darnold, and redshirt freshman Jack Sears are the other candidates.

If the Trojans can find their next great quarterback, this is a team talented enough to win the Pac-12.

Sinking ship in Pullman?

Washington State, which won 26 total games and posted a 19-8 Pac-12 record over the past three seasons, experienced a mass exodus and unspeakable tragedy during the offseason.

The Cougars lost record-setting quarterback Luke Falk and offensive lineman Cody “The Continent” O’Connell to graduation. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch left for Ohio State, and defensive line standout Hercules Mata’afa left early for the NFL.

The program is also reeling from the death of Tyler Hilinski, who was expected to lead the team as its starting quarterback.

Mike Leach, who was a candidate for the Tennessee job, spent a lot of time traveling, posting strange tweets and waging a social media war against a national sports writer this offseason.

The former Texas Tech coach is doing a book signing in Lubbock, Texas, on Monday.

If the Cougars can remain competitive in the North Division, Leach might be the conference coach of the year. But all signs point to a dramatic decline for WSU.

Bears, Buffaloes need to bowl

Two teams not involved in the Pac-12’s 1-8 bowl debacle were California and Colorado.

Justin Wilcox was 5-7 in his debut as a head coach last season, but four of the Bears’ losses were by 10 points or fewer. The next step in the rebuilding process will be to get Cal bowl eligible, an obtainable goal with seven home games and a winnable road game at Oregon Sate.

The Buffaloes probably need to roam back into a bowl game to save their coach’s job. During his five seasons in Boulder, Mike MacIntyre has a 25-38 overall record, including a 12-33 mark in Pac-12 play.

Colorado’s lone winning season under MacIntyre was in 2016, when the Buffs finished 10-4 overall and won the South Division. Oregon lured defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt away after that season, and the program regressed back to 5-7 in 2017.

Still rebuilding the dam

Jonathan Smith, a former Oregon State quarterback, needs to complete a coaching Hail Mary to get the program back on the winning track.

Just winning a Pac-12 game will be viewed as progress after the dumpster fire that was last season’s 1-11 finish. The Beavers had to rally just to beat Portland State.

The nightmarish campaign included Gary Andersen quitting in the middle of the season and interim coach Cory Hall being on the wrong end of a 69-10 rout in the Civil War.

Smith is an impressive young coach who understands what it takes to win in Corvallis. But the former Washington assistant has a lot of work to do to compete with Petersen and the Huskies.

The uphill climb begins with a road game at Ohio State on Sept. 1.

Power Five redemption song

The Beavers will need a miracle to upset the Buckeyes at the Big Horseshoe, but the Pac-12 needs to win its share of marquee nonconference matchups.

The conference went 1-7 in bowl games against Power Five programs, including 0-4 against the Big Ten. Oregon’s loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl was the only matchup between the Pac-12 and a Group of Five opponent.

In addition to Washington’s big game in SEC country, other early opportunities for the Pac-12 to change the narrative include: Cal vs. North Carolina (Sept. 1), UCLA at Oklahoma (Sept. 8), Colorado at Nebraska (Sept. 8), Arizona State vs. Michigan State, USC at Texas (Sept. 15) and Stanford at Notre Dame (Sept. 29).

Run for the Roses

If Washington lives up to the preseason hype and is selected for the College Football Playoff, that will give another team an opportunity to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl, which is not one of the sites for the national semifinals or title game.

Should the Huskies win the Pac-12 and are chosen by the CFP selection committee, the Rose Bowl gets to choose a replacement from the conference’s remaining bowl-eligible teams.

The South Division winner — likely USC, Utah or Arizona — would be considered but also coming off a loss in the conference championship game in this scenario.

The runner-up in the North Division behind Washington, likely Stanford or Oregon, could also find its way to Pasadena.

If Mario Cristobal led the Ducks to the Grandaddy of Them All in his first season, a feat Kelly accomplished in 2009, that would heal the wounds the program suffered with Willie Taggart leaving after one season.