Opening the Mailbag, Part 2
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Going to try to mix some long-neglected and some new stuff...
Kyle from Mesa, Ariz., writes: Hey Ted I was just wondering if you could give me and my fellow ASU fans some reasons why you have Oregon finishing ahead of ASU? Also I would like to know why you think the Georgia game is going to be so one sided? After all don't you live in Arizona?
Ted Miller: I do live in Arizona but I know you wouldn't want me to be a homer and blow sunshine into your nether regions, right? The reason I have Oregon ahead is based almost entirely on the Ducks significantly superior offensive line. That is also why I believe Georgia won't have too much trouble on Sept. 20 in Tempe. Now, if I'm wrong about the Sun Devils offensive line, or Dennis Erickson and company figure out some way to hide its shortcomings (which has been the major theme of camp), then the Sun Devils, should finish second in the conference, as many prognosticators have pegged them. The rest of the team is fairly salty, though the up-the-middle defense won't scare too many opponents (much like Oregon), including a certain tailback called Knowshon Moreno.
Ryan from Portland writes: Reading over the fan posts across the espn.com spectrum, I find myself distressed. Every team and every conference has their loud obnoxious people trying to scream at everyone in order to cover up their lack of objective analysis. I am a die-hard Duck fan, and I will be at every home game this year just like I have been since I was 17. UO is no exception. Many of our fans are drunk, rowdy, unreasonable, and obnoxious. Many fans at EVERY STADIUM IN THE COUNTRY are this way. Is there any way for you, who has a greater voice in this affair, to attempt to inject some civility, or at least make a call for it, to try and get fans to be honest that they are subjective and biased just like everyone else?
Ted Miller: Ryan, I'll try.
Would you guys be nice to each other and try to be more objective in discussing your teams? Thanks.
Let's see how well that works.
Seth from La Canada Flintridge, Calif., writes: Ted, we all know the shaft(s) Pac-10 teams have received in the past, with regards to getting that coveted 2nd (team) BCS berth. Aside from USC making the BCS Championship Game, is it safe to assume it's going to take a one-loss Oregon/Arizona State team, to get the Rose Bowl berth? Or can a solid 2 (ASU loss to UGA & SC or Oregon loss to SC & ASU) loss squad make it to the Rose Bowl? Because to be honest, in our league, if you don't win it, the Holiday Bowl is a poor second.... Much less the Sun, Vegas, etc.
Ted Miller: Other than last year, it doesn't seem to me that a bunch of two-loss teams from any conference have earned at-large BCS bowl berths. So, to answer your question, yes, I'd think a Pac-10 team trying to get a second BCS bowl berth via an at-large invitation can only lose only one game. The exception might be USC because it will start so high in the polls. And the Trojans, by the way, got an at-large berth after the 2002 season despite two losses. The Pac-10's gripe with the BCS is getting into the championship game (Oregon 2001, USC 2003), not really the at-large berths -- other than, of course, the shafting of California in 2004.
Matthew from Seattle writes: Greetings, in regard to your recent Cal QB article, I just thought I would let you know that Cal's stadium is in Strawberry Canyon, not Sourberry Canyon.
Ted Miller: Matthew, you obviously didn't get the memo that they temporarily renamed it after the sixth game of the 2007 season.
Derek from Beaverton, Ore., writes: All reports out of practices for Oregon State so far seem very optimistic about what the season holds, and as a fan with Orange and Black Colored glasses, all the fancy words make it seem like the Beavers are destined for the Rose Bowl this year. Yet the talking heads, such as your self, seem to take a much more reserved estimate on the Beavers chances this year. Your reading the same practice reports and blogs that I am reading. Aren't you getting to be the slightest bit worried that your sixth in the Pac prediction for the beavs will prove to be false? Are there any other reports out of camps from the other 9 teams that have you second guessing your original predictions?
Ted Miller: Derek, just about every team is optimistic this time of year and just about every group of fans sees the world through glasses tinted with their teams' colors. I've stated repeatedly my questions about the Beavers (rebuilt front seven, issues on the OL and a QB who struggled at times last year). As for being "worried" about picking them sixth: No. It's not about worry. I don't do voodoo to hurt teams I've picked against. I base my rankings on my honest take on things. Often I'm terribly wrong. Other times I'm right. There's some pride in being right but not that much emotion. For one, I like and respect Mike Riley, so it would be fairly hard for me to scream at the television for the Beavers to lose a game in order for my prediction to be right.
As for other camps that left me second-guessing... I'm starting to believe California has a legitimate chance to finish as high as second in the conference (picked them fourth). And I continue to believe that Arizona and Stanford could surprise some folks this season.
Eric from Westport, Wash., writes: Can Jake Locker win six games for the huskies this year?
Ted Miller: If anyone can, it's Locker, but I'm not expecting the Huskies to get to six wins. Much of that is due to a brutal nonconference schedule (BYU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame) that doesn't include a sure-win or two. So you have to look at the Pac-10 slate and find at least four and probably five wins. Do you see five Pac-10 wins?
And I'm not even mentioning a defense that is rebuilding up front after the worst season in team history. Dramatic improvement would only get the D to mediocre in 2008.
Tim in Bellevue, Wash., writes: Quick question: In your opinion, what is it that makes Mike Riley so (relatively) unknown and unrecruited? Is it his low-key personality? The perennially low expectations in the preseason? His failed stint with the Leafster in SD? Or do people think he is just not interested in leaving his hometown again? It seems that anyone paying attention would see that all he does it make OSU relevant in the Pac-10 every year(not an easy place to win as who grew up in Corvallis know)...you'd think we'd hear his name floating around more for more prestigious college vacancies. Not that I'm complaining, by-the-way. I'll take Riley for the next 20 years at 9-3 or 8-4 and never get tired of seeing the first number be larger than the second in the W-L column.
Ted Miller: Riley's name has come up for some jobs: Remember Pete Carroll wasn't USC's first choice. Riley, then the coach of the San Diego Chargers, was approached first, along with then-Beavers coach Dennis Erickson. And Riley was in the thick of the rumor mill involving both Alabama and UCLA. That's a fairly highfalutin list of schools.
But you're probably wondering about the past couple of years. Beats me. He seems very content right now. He is fairly low-key. And, if we're looking for a potential negative, he hasn't won an upper-tier bowl game -- the Holiday Bowl, a BCS game -- yet. My guess is if the Beavers end up winning eight, nine or -- oh my gosh -- 10 games this year, his name will pop up for a number of jobs, including any openings that may appear in the Pac-10. And, at worst, that should get Oregon State to give him a much-deserved raise on the $1.1 million he's making a year. (I know it sounds good to you and me but it's well below market for what Riley has done.)