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Pac-10 mailbag: Rose Bowls and tiebreakers

A day late. Busy Thursday in Pac-10.

To the notes (sort of rushing here; about to get on a plane).

Eric from Portland writes: If both teams in the conference championship game are undefeated where will they play? I read the #1 seed gets home field advantage. How will they determine #1 seed if two teams are undefeated.

Ted Miller: While Larry Scott wouldn't get pinned down on a tie-breaking system -- mostly because there isn't one yet -- the most likely first tiebreaker when both division champs have identical records would be BCS standings.

Of course, there is the head-to-head complication. Say it ends up with Arizona and Oregon finishing 11-1. The Ducks beat Arizona but lost to USC. Arizona lost to the Ducks but beat USC. Many would say Oregon should be No. 1 because of head-to-head. But I've always been one to think the "common opponent" issue is comparable to head-to-head when teams have the same record -- there are gray areas even in something so black and white.

For example, say Arizona went 8-1 in the Pac-10 and won by an average margin of 18 points but lost to Oregon, while Oregon went 8-1 in the Pac-10 while winning by an average margin of seven points. And Arizona is ranked third and Oregon ninth in both major polls. And Arizona beat, say, LSU in its nonconference schedule and Oregon played three directional schools. And when they played head-to-head the Wildcats were forced to use a third-string QB.

See what I mean?

[And I changed this from the original -- which featured Stanford and Oregon tied -- because (duh) Stanford and Oregon are going to both be in the North Division].

If I were doing it -- and I'm not -- I would make BCS ranking the first tiebreaker, period. That's best for the conference in the long run in terms of giving the team more likely to play for a BCS title or to earn a second BCS bowl berth an advantage, which translates to more money for everyone, by the way. That way you award the total body of work during the regular season.


JP from Eugene, Ore., writes: I'm sure we're all aware of the Rose Bowl's new rule that requires it to take a qualifying non-AQ team should the Pac-10 or Big-10 champ be playing in the championship game. ... but what happens if a non-AQ team - like say, Boise - ends up in the NCG against a big ten or Pac-10 team - like say, Oregon? Is the Rose Bowl still required to take a non-AQ team for the free slot, or is it off the hook there? And just for kicks and giggles, what are the selection rules for if the NCG is Big-10 vs Pac-10 and BOTH Rose Bowl slots are open?

Ted Miller: If a non-AQ team plays for the national championship, the Rose Bowl can revert to its regular selection procedure. So if Oregon were to play Boise State for the national championship, then the Rose Bowl could match the No. 2 Pac-10 team -- if it is BCS bowl eligible -- vs. the Big Ten champion.

If Big Ten and Pac-10 teams are No. 1 and No. 2, the Rose Bowl will get the first two selections to replace those teams. If a non-AQ team is ranked in the top 12, it must be one of the teams selected.


Donald from Eugene writes: Since the NW schools will be not playing conference games in SoCal every year, do you see San Diego State becoming a regular OCC opponent?

Ted Miller: Donald, you just gave the four NW athletic directors a great idea!


Michael from Layton, Utah writes: Utah & Colorado will have a tougher road in the Pac-12, but I wonder if anyone is worried about playing in the snow if the CCG is in Utah or Colorado?

Ted Miller: I see your point, but the NW schools probably would handle it better than the South schools.

Which will be interesting to watch in the future South Division races. Arizona, Arizona State, USC and UCLA will be making November-December trips to true cold-weather climates more often. That will be a significant home-field advantage to Utah and Colorado. (And I hope Utah and Colorado strongly resist any effort by other South schools to avoid such games).


Amalgam from Venus writes: Pundit X said this about Oregon. Would you tell him he/she is stupid?

Ted Miller: I won't. Sorry.

But here's a bag of reality for some of the common tweaks you might hear about Oregon.

Note: These are not opinions. They are reality. To dispute them is the right of anyone. There is no law against being ignorant.

  • Oregon is not good on defense: This is a position for someone unfamiliar with meaningful numbers that prove the opposite. It's a lazy take -- as in, "I'm going to take a contrarian position against Oregon's national standing; what should I say? I know! I'll say something about the defense!" Is Oregon's defense as good as LSU's? No. But it's one of the best 25 in the country.

  • The Pac-10 is soft: The Pac-10 went 10-4 vs. every other BCS conference with USC's annual victory against Notre Dame shortly to make it 11-4. Heck, Arizona State gave Wisconsin more trouble than Ohio State did. There is nothing that would qualify as actual "evidence" to support the notion of Pac-10 softness. It's just something trolls or lazy analysts say.

  • Oregon uses a gimmick offense: Right. Chip Kelly's been doing his thing in Eugene since 2007 and the numbers are getting better, not worse. Kelly's offense is a gimmick just as Apple's artful sense of design is a gimmick.

  • The uniforms are weird: The uniforms are weird.


Casey from Gilbert, Ariz., writes: My question is now that they have announced the the new divisions for the pac 12 conference when will the revised schedule be announced for the 2011 football season.

Ted Miller: In about 30 to 45 days, Larry Scott said.


A. Dobson from Los Angeles writes: Who are the "PAC-10 CEO Group?" Why, when I try to google them, does nothing definitive come up? Are they a bunch of philanthropic business advisers, or some kind of macabre, shadowy puppetmaster behind conference decisions?

Ted Miller: Some schools have presidents. Some call the same post "chancellor." "CEO" is a simple way to encompass both.