Opening the mailbag: Oregon, Boise & Boise, Oregon

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Lots and lots of mail on the Oregon vs. Boise State debate. Not sure how to handle this in the mailbag because it's a complicated issue that can be stated simply: head-to-head vs. body of work.

Not sure if you guys will be entertained by repeating that endlessly.

Or maybe you will be?

To the notes.

James from Springfield, Ore., writes: It's funny how many pollsters find it so difficult or downright impossible to rank Oregon over BSU because of the win in week one. John Hunt of the Oregonian polled some of the AP voters and at least 16 said they would not vote OR over BSU. Wanna guess how many voted UW over USC in week 4 when they had the same record? ZERO. 14 voted OK over BYU in week 2 (BYU 1-0 with win over OK, OK 0-1). Nine voted Cal over OR in week 5 despite the 42-3 beat down & a higher SOS

Jim from Cascade, Idaho writes: I sure hope that your vote at the end of the season to rank the Oregon Ducks ahead of the Boise State Broncos doesn't count for anything. You represent the Pac 10 and of course you want a Pac 10 team ahead of a lowly mid major. That is the problem of this BCS discussion that dominates the media to such foolishness. If the six major conferences had to share their money and prestige with someone else then pretty soon the mid majors could recruit equally. Besides when nothing else makes sense then follow the money. That is exactly why the majors won't share and pay the media to keep it that way. You act like a proper sheep.

Jon from Los Angeles writes: Is Boise State totally WAC? Sure, the Oregon win looks good now, but is there any chance one impressive victory against a great team on a bad night atones for twelve weeks of beating up on virtual DII teams? What's the debate?

Rob from Boise writes: Of course you will back OR in the polls, you are a blogger for the P10. But I question your mental and physical fortitude, because I doubt (strictly from your posturing during that v-blog) that you have ever been pitted against something hard, tough, or perceived better than you. Please don't take this as an ego boost, because if there were nothing to whom you have been physically challenged to then why the hell are you a writer for E(SEC)PN? Face to face matters most in sports, thats why we need a playoff. Have fun in your basement or study or wherever you videoed that, real men will be out on the field or in the arena. It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt - words you should take to heart Mr. Miller

Moreno from Suthelrin, Ore, writes: Oregon over Boise in the rankings no doubt. Must be nice to only have to train for ONE REAL SCHOOL all off season. then take the rest of the season off. Oregon proves week after week that they're the best. Boise sneaks past schools that my community college could beat.

Jason Mayer from "The Left Coast" writes: When the college football season is finished and Florida, Texas, and Alabama are all undefeated only two teams can play in the big game. How will this be decided, by looking at their body of work. Why, because they have not played any games head to head. You are crazy to think that body of work could ever trump head to head. Body of work is needed if there is no head to head. I would whole hardily agree that Oregon's body of work is light years ahead of Boise State, but it still doesn't trump head to head. Oregon had their chance to be the dominate team on the football field, not only this year but last year and they lost head to head both times. There is no justifying that away, can't be done without having your head in the sand.

Ted Miller: Hey, I did a video clip about this.

Funny thing: This is as much a debate among media sorts as among fans. I was among the gaggle of sportswriters arguing this very topic as we left Autzen Stadium. We were fairly animated.

It almost feels like we should make another distinction.

If it comes down between Oregon and Boise State for a national championship berth or, perhaps, an at-large BCS berth, maybe the Broncos should have the edge.

I think, in fact, that the Broncos non-AQ status helps them here. Say Arkansas lost on the road to a Big Ten team to open the season, then decisively beat Alabama, Florida and LSU and finished 11-1, while that Big Ten team went unbeaten, without playing, say, Penn State or Ohio State. My guess is Arkansas would get a lot of voter sympathy based on their body of work and voter doubts about the Big Ten.

There wouldn't be this sense of BCS systemic unfairness that is the subtext of much of the emotion here.

But beyond the BCS positioning, and only in the context of the national rankings, maybe Oregon should have the edge.

Why? Well, body of work.

And there's this: If you can't honestly say, "I think Boise State would beat Oregon tomorrow on a neutral field" then you are admitting that the body-of-work argument carries some heft.

Both arguments are compelling. In the end, if I have to choose one, I go with body of work.

Mike from Portland writes: Hey Ted! I read your blog every day! One thing I haven't seen you post about is the Pac 10's strength of schedule in hard numbers. Yeah everyone can debate that endlessly, but according the hard facts, aka Sagarin, 9 of the Pac 10 teams rank in the top 20 of his strength of schedule. NINE! And many of those teams are looking pretty good and are doing well with pollsters. I think the pollsters need to be more aware of the hard facts SOS.

Ted Miller: If you wish to see the Pac-10 love from the computers, feel free to go here, or particularly here.

The Pac-10 seems to have joined the SEC in the discussion of best conference this season. But keep in mind we've got lots of football left and then the bowl games. We shall see how things shake out.

Bentley from Bend, Ore., writes: I am a life-long Trojan fan, and I was at the game last weekend. I am definitely disappointed and crushed, but that is not what I want to ask you about. I want to know why the Pac-10 is getting absolutely no love in terms of players being recognized for the Heisman? I don't get it. The race seems wide open this year with Bradford going down and both McCoy and Tebow not performing like Heisman worthy players. What about James? He didn't even get many touches until the third game of the year and he is still almost at 1,000 yards. He has games of 118, 152 (twice), 154, and 184. He averages 7.0 yards a carry! No one is talking about this guy for Heisman? WHY!?!? Or what about JacQuizz Rodgers? He is more than a runner and almost has 1300 all purpose yards already. He averages more yards a game (162) receiving and rushing then Ingram does. Both JacQuizz Rodgers and LaMichael James are more impressive then Ingram in my mind. Why does the media not even talk about this?

Ted Miller: Dude, I've been so ringing the Jacquizz Rodgers bell!

And what if Jeremiah Masoli keeps Oregon rolling? Or what if Toby Gerhart rushes for 180 yards and two touchdowns Saturday and leads Stanford over the Ducks?

The race is still wide open.

For Rodgers, he needs the Beavers to start rolling and return to the national rankings. So does Gerhart.

Name recognition is critical. And it's hard to get that when playing for an unranked team.

Chris from South Korea writes: Do you think it's good for a team like WSU to travel to San Antonio for recruiting and/or a decent paycheck or does a bad defeat hurt their cause?

Ted Miller: The money, particularly for Washington State, which has some financial issues, is critical.

I'm not sure if it will help much in Texas recruiting, though there are Cougars from Texas.

What would help is winning the game. Losing in San Antonio probably does no more damage that losing in Martin Stadium. And judging from struggling attendance figures and frustrated fans, the Cougars may have enjoyed the trip more than a home game.

Vib from Fremont, Calif., writes: Wilner's post on Oregon-Stanford is really just creating hype for a game that will be interesting for only 15-20 minutes. The Stanford defense will be confused with the Ducks misdirection all day. They are running Kelly's offense at a very high level. I don't think the Stanford offense is very good. They just had a relatively easy early schedule. The Ducks defense will do enough and Masoli/James will run past the stumped Cardinal.

Ted Miller: You know Wilner used to routinely whip Anderson Silva? He's won the sportswriter UFC championships, like, 50 times. May want to be careful calling anything he writes "hype."

Because you know we media sorts hate the assertion that we'd ever "hype" something.

I liked his arguments. Thought they were interesting. Still think Oregon's going to win. But if Stanford pulls the upset, we may refer back to his list.

Chris from Parts Unknown writes: Cool article from USC ranking pac-10 away locker rooms.

Ted Miller: That is a cool article. And I'm not surprised about first and last.

Chris from Palo Alto, Calif., writes: Hey Ted, I really enjoy the blog. I have a question as to why Oregon has to make a recommendation to the Pac-10 about Blount. I thought it was the Univ. of Oregon that suspended him, not the Pac-10. If that's correct, why now does the Pac-10 have a say in this?

Ted Miller: The Pac-10 has final say both going in and going out.

Ryan Heredia from Cheney, Wash., writes: Hey Mr. Miller. I am doing a college paper on whether or not there should be a playoff system in college football. I was just wondering what your take is?

Ted Miller: Cheney! Funny story. Got caught in speed trap in Cheney while heading to Seattle Seahawks practice. Officer clocked me at 55 ... on an exit ramp. I was about 100 yards from highway where the speed limit was 75.

My thoughts on a playoff.

I think a playoff would be great. I don't think it will happen anytime soon because the folks who make these decisions don't want a playoff.

And, you know, college football doesn't exactly stink right now.

Derick from Portland writes: With University of Oregon doing so well the last few years (well until QB injuries occurred that is). What is the chance that we will pull in top defensive recruits and wide receivers? We haven't had a decent receiver since James Finley/Demetrius Williams and its been our biggest weakness offensively. Does Oregon stand much of a chance to land big names in this recruiting class?

Ted Miller: Oregon is about to finish in the top-10 for a second-consecutive season. Seems to me the Ducks should stick with their present recruiting strategy.

But this happens a lot with a fanbase. A team surges, and fans want to win in recruiting also. They want to compete with USC, Texas and Florida for guys!

I get notes like this from Oregon State fans, and I just feel such talk is nuts.

I don't get the feeling that Oregon is that bad off at receiver, based on my observations watching the Ducks gain 613 yards against one of the most talented defenses in the nation.

Aaron from Chicago writes: With all the injury issues USC has been having at RB, why isn't Marc Tyler getting playing time? Wasn't he the best RB in America in high school? Was his leg injury so bad that he just isn't the same back, or is there something below the surface that is affecting his playing time?

Ted Miller: It's below the surface... of his toe. He suffered a season-ending toe injury that required surgery.

I've got a feeling Tyler will be a factor next year, though.

Jacob from Beaverton, Ore., writes: My name is Jacob, a freshman at the University of Oregon, and I just had some questions about how you became a sports journalist/ESPN blogger (I think that is how you would classify your profession? yes/no?). I am an avid college football fan and having a profession in this sort of field would definitely interest me.Currently, I have not yet declared a major. I have always enjoyed history and political science, but there really isn't anything to do with those kind of majors in the economy today other than teaching, which doesn't appeal to me at all. This has sparked my initiative to find other career pathways which interest me, and lets be honest, who doesn't like sports!?So on to the questions:What did you major in at the University of Richmond? Did that major play any role in your current career?What do you recommend I major in to pursue a career similar to yours?Is sports journalism even a realistic career to pursue? How did you become one?

Ted Miller: My career advice is to have as much fun as you possibly can before you turn 25. At some point, you need to hang out in Amsterdam. And Barcelona. Then think about your career.

I was an English major. I wanted to be an English professor. And write a few novels and move to Barcelona. And Amsterdam.

Plans change.

I started at a small paper. Then moved to a bigger one. And so-on.

As for what I do for ESPN.com: You can do the same thing right now. Just start writing a blog. Write for the school paper. Try to string for the local newspaper. Gather your clips. Try to get an internship.

It's not rocket science.

It's much, much harder and more important.

DuckVader from "Still Floating" writes: Okie Dokies Mr. Ted Miller. I think it's time to give Oregon's Defense some nifty little catch phrase name so we can keep promoting how amazing we are (Knock on Wood for the love of god). We might need it if we win out (see Texas national title game campaign). I'm thinking, call us the Carbon Curtain... yea? you like?PS Solid work with the new videos. My only comment would be loosen up a bit on them, maybe don't treat them like your a news caster. Your a hip, witty, blogger; so go with that! Be a silly son of a B, people dig that!

Ted Miller: Me silly? Bollocks!

As for a nickname for the Ducks defense, we might want to give it one more week, post-Toby Gerhart.

But you Duck fans out there should feel free to offer suggestions. I will then steal the best one and claim I invented it.

By the way, Duck Vader, do you know my boss, Darth Duffey? I think you Sith Lords run in the same circles.