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Opening the mailbag: Why did Cal drop in power rankings

5/11/2011

The mailbag comes early this week.

Oh, you should follow me on Twitter. Not going to say why. But you should. It's important.

To the notes:

Micah from Northfield, Minn., writes: Why did Cal drop from 8 to 10 in your Post-spring rankings? I am curious as to what has happened that they've actually gotten worse. Cal and UCLA have switched places since January. Why? Both have equally troubling QB issues and both seem to have good defenses (my personal bias gives the edge to Cal). Neuheisel has yet to prove he can win consistently while Tedford seems so be sliding backwards, but at least has a good track record. I'd like to hear more of your logic on switching these two teams.

Ted Miller: First off, just a wee bit of this is the notion that the rankings shouldn't stay static -- for entertainment purposes. Otherwise, I wouldn't get notes from worried or angry fans. And that would make me cry.

Why did the Bears go down? Well, for one, a team that has closed practices sometimes falls for a simple reason: It doesn't get as much of a chance to impress me-- live or through the reporting of others (of course, that could work the other way, too).

While I watched UCLA practice, I thought this: These guys have plenty of players, particularly on defense. I also have a feeling that the quarterback situation will work itself out, particularly if Kevin Prince is healthy and stays that way. The Bruins have two experienced QBs in Prince and Richard Brehaut and true freshman Brett Hundley has plenty of talent. The biggest question is the offensive line, which should be fine if health issues are resolved.

When I left Westwood, my opinion of the Bruins went up (I also think the new coordinators, Mike Johnson and Joe Tresey, are going to do well).

Why did Cal move down? Well, I didn't read anything this spring that convinced me the Bears were going to solve their QB issues. Transfer Zach Maynard appears to have a clear lead heading into the offseason, but it seems that's mostly because he's mobile. Further, the questions at running back and on the O-line are noteworthy issues. As for the defense, we hear about young talent, but the Bears also lost three NFL draft choices: defensive end Cameron Jordan, linebacker Mike Mohamed and safety Chris Conte. When I went position-by-position with coordinator Clancy Pendergast, he kept noting incoming freshmen. And injuries.

When I left Berkeley, my opinion of the Bears didn't exactly crater. I just felt like the team was in a worrisome gray area.

Of course, we've still got the offseason and fall camp to shake things up (no need for an actual game to be played!). An injury here or there, or a player seeming to step up, that could again send a team -- or teams -- up or down in the power rankings. For example, reliable word that Maynard is slinging the rock like a champ could bolster the Bears standing.

It's also important to remember this: I could be wrong. Really. No, seriously. I kid you not.


Eric from Mountain View, Calif., writes: Can you explain to me what the TV schedule that was released means. Are there more games that can be picked up by ABC/ESPN? Did Fox have first choice on any games? Will Fox be releasing their schedule soon? Mostly confused how ABC wouldn't snatch up the Stanford/Oregon game right away, so assuming it's either because Fox got first pick of it, or ABC will pick it up later on.

Ted Miller: First, keep in mind this is all old TV contract stuff. The Pac-12's new blockbuster deal doesn't begin until 2012, when ABC/ESPN and Fox -- big show, network Fox -- will adopt equitable draft system for picking games.

As for the games that were announced Tuesday, those were only the priority picks by ABC/ESPN. Lots and lots of other games are going to be picked up later and televised. From the Pac-12 website:

Some of the games to be televised are selected prior to the season, others will be selected as the season progresses with picks made either six or 12 days prior to the games. Additional telecast selections by Fox Sports Net/Versus/FX will be announced in early June, 2011.

Many games that don't seem terribly important now will become so as the season progresses. The conference's TV partner leave themselves some room to pick up such games later in the season.


Tyler from Corvallis writes: Not one Beaver game slated for the ESPN/ABC schedule? Are they waiting for the underdogs to rise up or are we just that bad of a market for them? Doesn't look like the Pac-12 media deal is working out in our favor much.

Ted Miller: Not yet. But guess what? If you win and get ranked, the TV networks will come running to pick up your games.

The problem is going 5-7 in 2010 and not generating much preseason buzz, particularly compared to last year.

Further, here's the great news about the new TV contract, as opposed to the current one in place this season: It's equal revenue sharing, no matter how many times you're on TV. Oregon State gets the same as USC -- $21 million, plus or minus -- no matter how many times one or the other is on TV.

Pretty cool, huh?


Lawrence from Salt Lake City writes: Just noticed that you said the USC-Arizona State was the Pac-12 opener for both teams in your most recent video. However, Utah plays at USC the 2nd week of the season.

Ted Miller: You -- and many others -- are correct. No edit function on videos. Just the hazards of adding details while speaking without double-checking.


Chris from Phoenix writes: Is California playing Colorado as a non-conference game?

Ted Miller: Yes, California's visit to Colorado on Sept. 10, the second game of a home-and-home series, won't count in the conference standings.