Happy Thanksgiving Eve! This is the Mailbag.
To the notes!
Ryan from Seattle writes: A prominent radio personality said that UW is a perennial eight win program, and Don James made them error in believing they are a ten win program. I have to believe that us Huskies are justified in expecting to compete for Pac 12 title every year.
Is it reasonable to expect UW to be a perennial ten win program in the Pac12 north?
Ted Miller: There is no reason Washington can't become a top-25 program that competes for Pac-12 championships on a regular basis -- and, on occasion, finds itself in the national title hunt.
My guess is Washington will finish in the top-25 next year and will be highly competitive in the North Division. Winning 10 games seems a perfectly reasonable expectation. And then, in 2017, Jake Browning becomes a junior. Hmm.
With the right leadership and recruiting, any Pac-12 program can become competitive. It's more difficult to win at certain places, but let's recall that the only conference team that hasn't played in a "BCS bowl" over the past 20 years in California.
Sorry about noting that, Cal.
Rollie from Santa Rosa, California, writes: How Stanford has a chance: Step 1. Beat both Notre Dame and UCLA/USC winner in Pac 12 Championship (preferably UCLA since they are higher ranked). Step 2. If Stanford wins out I believe that alone is worth 2 spots by beating 2 ranked teams. That would move them from 9 to 7. Step 3. Stanford would beat ND which means thats another spot 7 to 6. Step 4. Iowa and will probably play MSU in the Big 10 Championship so the loser is out. 6 to 5. Now Stanford is only 1 spot out and needs only 1 bit of craziness to happen. Maybe Penn St beats MSU and Michigan beats Ohio St then Iowa in Championship. (Stanford [is greater] then Michigan in the 2 loss matchup). Maybe Baylor loses to #19 TCU? Maybe Oklahoma St. loses to Oklahoma and the committee says a 2 loss Stanford (with losses to two ranked teams. one by 2 points on a failed conversion and one the first week of the year at 9 am PST) looks better then a one loss Oklahoma State.
Ted Miller: There are many potential outcomes that would allow Stanford to climb into the top four. Heck, what if there are upsets in the ACC and SEC title games?
Remember, the College Football Playoff selection committee doesn't function like the human polls. It claims it hits a reset button on a weekly basis. That means Stanford could get a substantial boost over the final two weeks, whatever happens ahead of it in the latest rankings. However potential chaos might play out, all Stanford needs to do is have no more than three teams with superior resumes ahead of it.
Khoi from Portland writes: So, what sort of prospect is Vernon Adams for the NFL?
Ted Miller: Judging college stars as NFL prospects is an highly inexact science. It's that way for veteran NFL scouts and GMs, so it's obviously even more difficult for schlubs like me.
I suspect Adams will get drafted and that he has a good chance to climb from the late to the middle rounds if he continues to up his game, as he did with a sparkling performance against USC last weekend. I like Adams' confidence and the way he competes, so I also suspect he'll do well at the Combine -- I'm assuming he gets invited -- and in postseason workouts.
The most obvious comparison is Russell Wilson, who was foolishly dismissed by some because of his height, at 5-foot-11 about the same as Adams. Height does matter, but we've seen enough from players like Wilson and Drew Brees to know it's not a deal-killer.
Adams strength is improvisation. That tends to be less valued in the NFL. As important as anything for Adams is getting in the right situation with the right coach and schemes.
Jeff from San Jose writes: There's going to be A LOT of big college programs looking for new head coaches this offseason. What are the odds that Rich Rod gets poached from my Wildcats for a bigger program? Or would a silver lining to this disappointing season be some ADs might not be too keen on hiring a coach off a 6-6 season?
Ted Miller: Arizona fans should keep their fingers crossed, because Rich Rodriguez's name has been bandied about in connection to several jobs, most notably Virginia Tech and South Carolina.
That said, the chatter seems to have quieted a bit, which might only mean that media speculation has given way to backroom talks that have remained secret.
Though I won't put odds on it, I think Rich Rod only leaves for an A-list offer, one that feels like a long-term, destination job for the 52-year-old and his family. In the preseason, he told me "been there done that," when I asked him about leaving for a job with more resources than Arizona.
Rodriguez works for one of the best ADs in the business in Greg Byrne. He's got a special stock deal that rewards him if he remains in Tucson for eight years, and that could turn out to be highly lucrative. His family has rooted in pretty deeply in Tucson -- his daughter is a Wildcats cheerleader and his son is a junior starting QB for his high school.
Moreover, if Rich Rod left, he might not get to talk to me as much, something we all can agree would be a major downside to leaving.
Katie writes: Do you think there will be much of a difference between Luke Falk and Peyton Bender?
Ted Miller: Well, I've been voting for Luke Falk in the ESPN.com Heisman Trophy poll, so I obviously think he's one of the best and most productive players in the nation. So, yeah, I see a difference, the most obvious contrast being Bender has never started a game and Falk is the nation's No. 2 passer.
Falk is a known quantity, a big reason for the Cougars' surge this season. If he can't play against Washington on Friday, that's a big loss.
That doesn't mean Bender can't get the job done. It only means we have no idea what he might look like against the best defense in the Pac-12.
But, ultimately, your question probably gets answered Friday when Bender steps into the spotlight and leads the offense and we can judge him by his play.