Friday, September 7, 2012
Mailbag: Pac-12 fans happy USC is back?
By Ted Miller
Week 2! Let it be better than week one.
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To the notes!
Brenden from Portland writes: Do you get the general feel that PAC12 fans are happy that USC is back? I, for one, am hoping for them to pair up against an SEC team in a BCS bowl and pound them into submission. But I also remember how much I despised USC in their epic run through the early and mid 2Ks.
Ted Miller: Hmm. Don't know, what say you, UCLA fans?
For a lot of folks, USC serves as a Pac-12 villain. It's certainly the conference's longtime historical superpower. Being a superpower doesn't tend to inspire warm feelings. I've received hate mail about USC from fans of just about every Pac-12 team. The Utah folks are even getting into it this fall.
If we polled Pac-12 fans about which program they like the least, I'd guess USC would be No. 1, though Oregon fans are working very hard on changing that, as are the Ducks by winning three championships in a row with a sometimes snarky coach and a look-at-us! way of doing things.
So, I'd say many Pac-12 fans aren't happy to see USC again at the top of the polls.
Of course, there are the sorts who root for their team first and their conference second. I believe this is the right way to think. For the most part. You get a pass on supporting the conference when it's your bitter rival thriving. Still, I found it notable that, based on my unscientific observation, a greater percentage of Alabama fans rooted for Auburn against Oregon in the 2010 national title game than Washington fans rooted for the Ducks.
SEC fans are so obsessed with their recent dominance of college football, that SEC rivalries now come second to conference loyalty (again, for the most part). It was not like that 20 years ago. Many Pac-12 fans think like NFL fans. They root for their team and then to heck with everyone else.
But USC back doing its USC thing does come in handy. For example, when SEC fans come trolling around the Pac-12 Blog, it's certainly nice to be able to say, "Look, we welcome your trash talk, but if you misbehave, we'll 'sic the Trojans on you and you know you don't want that.
"See! You flinched! As I was saying... USC! You did it again. Too funny!"
I think there are plenty of fans who just hate USC and that's all they've got for you. There are others that want their team to win first but that also want their conference to be successful. These folks would like to see a Pac-12 team knock the SEC off its pedestal, and many believe the 2012 Trojans have the best shot to do it of any team in the nation.
As for me, my general feeling is college football is better as national entertainment when traditional powers are relevant. It's more fun when Notre Dame is good, and the Michigan-Ohio State/Texas-Oklahoma games have national implications.
At the end of the day, I suspect most Pac-12 fans would hold their nose and root for USC if it were playing, say, Alabama for the national title on Jan. 7. I don't, however, suspect it would make them "happy."
Kyle from Austin, Texas writes: What do you think of the idea of waiting a few weeks into the season before making the voting for rankings official? Personally, I like all the speculation and arguing over the preseason and early season rankings. However, I've heard some people who think that the official rankings should wait. What's your take? Any good arguments to wait a few weeks?
Ted Miller: The ideal way to do the rankings: 1. Post a preseason top 25; 2. Restart the poll six weeks into the season.
That would allow a pecking order to be established in the preseason by our speculative, projective selves. And then we'd get a do-over based on what actually happened. You'd get nonconference and a handful of conference games to re-stagger things.
I always tell fans to keep their own weekly poll. Only by doing so can you see how difficult it is to maintain a consistent, defensible logic on a weekly basis. You get so many of those: Team A beat team B, and Team B beat Team C, and Team C beat Team A... so how does that go?
Now, you ask, why do we not do polls this way -- waiting until midseason to re-rank. One reason: People love the polls. It's an engrained part of college football. If the AP started doing its poll this way and stopped doing it weekly early in the season, another organization would step in and fill the weekly void.
Some might, by the way, argue that one of the great things about college football is the messiness -- the subjectivity and endless debate that lasts bell-to-bell and often even goes on after a national champion is crowned.
Mark from Goose Creek, S.C., writes: I'm currently stationed in Goose Creek, South Carolina, with the U.S. Navy.This weekend UCLA plays Nebraska at home. A fellow sailor and I have a little going on the game; If my Bruins lose then I have to grow a mustache for 3 weeks, and the same goes for him if the Huskers lose.What do you think my chances will be of not having to grow a filthy stache?Please tell me that there is some hope for me and the Bruins!Much appreciated.
Ted Miller: Mark, I just want to say I always thought Magnum PI rocked the 'stache.
Now, my partner is Pac-12 Blog Awesomeness, you call him "Kevin G-Man Gemmell" is feeling fairly positive over the chances your upper lip stays naked this fall after a Bruins victory. I, unfortunately, watched Nebraska against Southern Miss and couldn't help but whisper out loud, "'Huskers look good."
I think this game could be interesting. And UCLA has been at its best in recent years against marquee nonconference foes, see a home-and-home sweep of Tennessee and a win at Texas. I certainly think there is hope, and I wouldn't be shocked if the Bruins won.
But my belief is your buddies' upper lip will be spared the Ron Jeremy.
Jamie from Beaufort, S.C., writes: Just wanted to know why so many people are impressed with Oregon. They have a great offense but give up 530 yards and 34 points to Arkansas State. Lucky for Oregon that AS turned the ball over three times. Even though Gus is the man, what will happen to the Ducks when they play someone for real!!
Ted Miller: It was 50-10 at halftime. Other than a 72-yard TD pass, Arkansas State had little to no offense in the first half. The Ducks then played backups all of the second half. Every player who was not hurt or isn't redshirting played.
When Oregon needs its defense for four quarters, it will be there. Promise.
Jeff from Las Vegas writes: Ted, Can you explain why you have Oklahoma ranked ahead of Oregon?
Ted Miller: My justification would be that I don't write too much into Oklahoma's poor performance on the road at UTEP or into Oregon's dominant performance at home versus Arkansas State.
It's one game against an overmatched foe. Sometimes those are blowouts for the favorite. And sometimes the favorite futzes around.
That said: I'm typically more reactive in my rankings. If I had a do-over, I would have reversed the order as many voters did.
Dexter from Hollywood, Calif., writes: The other day you wrote of Colorado's week-one performance, "It was outgained 298 yards to 245 but, most notably, outrushed 125 yards to 58. Fifty-eight! The Buffs, trying to become a physical team as they were during the program's heyday, rushed for 2.0 yards per carry. Yuck."Your choice of stats exaggerates the yuckiness of CU's rushing attack. For no defensible reason the NCAA's official boxscores deduct yards lost on sacks from team rushing yardage. Colorado State sacked Jordon Webb five times for 30 yards on Saturday, but we all know sacks by definition are passing plays. So, although the official boxscore said Colorado rushed for 58 yards on 29 carries (for a 2.2 yards per carry), more accurately they rushed for 88 yards on 24 carries (for a 3.7 YPC). That's still not good, but it's way better than what the official numbers suggest.
Ted Miller: Duly noted.
Is it too late for me to make an observation about the Buffs' pass protection?
Jason from Salt Lake City writes: You did a write up last year I think about the best places to eat/stay/etc according to locals. I'm heading to Tempe in a few weeks. Where can I find the AZ St article?
Ted Miller: You can find all the Pac-12 teams here.
And maybe some of you can help Jason out with some updated recommendations.
Bob from Seattle writes: As much as I have respected your sports journalism regarding the PAC 12 I want to correct the point you made regarding the negative 4 yard punt mentioned in your OSU vs Wisconsin article today. The punt was not backwards. The punter stands 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The punt went forward but landed behind the line of scrimmage...thus the negative yardage. By the way that punter went on to have a good year punting and is now the starting punter for the St. Louis Rams in the NFL.
Ted Miller: Duly noted No. 2.
And congrats to Johnny Hekker. My guess is a fellow up in Seattle is pretty proud.