Welcome to a quick mailbag. Headed back to the Southeast for Christmas.
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To the notes!
AKDevil from Tempe, Ariz., writes: After reading the interesting article yesterday on ESPN detailing why the Big 12 is better than the PAC 12 I am curious on your thoughts. The author's main point was that the computers consistently ranked Big 12 teams higher than PAC teams and therefore the Big 12 is the better conference. Additionally he outlined the end of the year results after the Big 12's mighty 9 game in conference schedule. Isn't this point refuted by the fact there are more teams in the PAC with better records than the Big 12. Additionally, unless the Big wins all of their bowl games against the PAC is there really any sort of evidence to support the author's theory? I see no way in which the Big 12 is better than the PAC this year outside of the bowl games and yet many fans and news articles are demanding that the Big 12 should receive more respect than our glorious west coast war-zone. Perhaps this was just an article to fuel controversy and debate? I'm curious how you would respond to such a statement.
Ted Miller: Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can fuel controversy and debate at will among kindly readers. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design Pac-12 blogs are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.
This is what Big 12 blogger David Ubben wrote about the Big 12 getting an edge on the Pac-12 because of the computers:
But the computers? They factor in every team in the league, and there's no debate there. The Big 12 is the No. 1 league in college football according to the computers, and the Pac-12 is all the way back at No. 3.
First of all, this is great news. Not only do they now have computers in Big 12 flyover states, they no longer believe they are purty, lil' shiny boxes with magical, mathematically skilled leprechauns inside.
No question the Pac-12 is weaker at the bottom. I think you can make a strong case that the Pac-12 is not only superior at the top, it is stronger in the middle. The one head-to-head measure we have is Oklahoma State's 21-point loss at Arizona. The Wildcats were 4-5 in the Pac-12, and the Cowboys were 5-4 in the Big 12.
But, really, the conferences are close enough that it's a moot debate. There's no decisive way to say one is better than the other.
That said: The Pac-12 and Big 12 play three bowl games against each other: Oregon-Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Oregon State-Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl and UCLA-Baylor in the Bridgepoint Holiday Bowl.
The conference that wins two -- or three -- of those games would then have some legitimacy to claims of superiority.
Rob from Santa Clara, Calif., writes: Why don't the Pac 12 and SEC have any bowl tie-ins? Until this is settled on the field, the myth of the supremacy of the SEC will be tough to destroy. There is already what seems to be a shell game that allows at least one SEC team into the championship game every year. The playoffs might even be worse -- filled with SEC teams. There's an easy way to settle this: 2 or 3 yearly major or minor bowl games between the two conferences. It is long overdue. Now espn is even insinuating that the Big 12 is the #2 conference, for crying out loud!
Ted Miller: The SEC has great bowl tie-ins. The Pac-12's are not as good. Geography is a prime culprit. The conferences are separated by 2,000-plus miles. Bowl games in Florida are more lucrative than bowl games out here, so they can throw more money at their teams.
Further, with the creation of the Champions Bowl between the SEC and Big 12, the chances are more remote for creating an A-list bowl game between the SEC and Pac-12.
The only way this is going to happen is if someone is highly motivated to match the two conferences and throws money at the SEC. Say someone builds a stadium for a new NFL team in Los Angeles and promises the SEC's No. 2 team $8 million to play the Pac-12's No. 2 team. That could do it.
Again, highly remote.
I do think the four-team playoff will increase the Pac-12's chances to prove itself versus the SEC. Sure, there might be two SEC teams in the playoff every year and just one most years from the Pac-12. But if the Pac-12 team consistently beats the SEC team, perceptions will change.
It's the same with the other power conferences, by the way.
There really isn't an SEC conspiracy here. That conference just keeps winning national championships. All the other conferences need to do is win that darn title game. This isn't rocket science.
Though Kevin did build a rocket and fly his family to Mars last weekend.
Ryan Roberts from Scottsdale, Ariz., writes: Ted, regarding your recent blog article on Arizona's team next year, I have a question? You ask, 'can Arizona be better?' My question to you is, what do you mean specifically? Can Arizona be better or will Arizona match or exceed 8 wins? I don't know that they'll be better (though I don't think it's impossible that they could be). But with NAU, UNLV and UT-San Antonio for a non conference slate, missing Stanford and Oregon State ... and getting back Wazzu and Cal ... I think the likelihood of Arizona getting back to 8 wins is highly probable. The defense can't get any worse, with everyone coming back ... they will be better. If Anu, Scroggins or Denker can be decent at qb ... and with a very good OLine, Ka'deem and very solid receivers, I see 7-5 in the regular season as VERY attainable.
Ted Miller: You make a good point: Schedule is meaningful. Extremely so. Utah fans are tired of hearing about the Utes' good fortune in not playing Oregon and Stanford during their first two years in the Pac-12, but I suspect they'll better understand the point this fall.
When I look at Arizona's roster this year and its projected one in 2013, I'd pick this one beating that one. To me, subtracting quarterback Matt Scott is huge. I might be wrong, of course. See how Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota answered questions about his ability to replace Darron Thomas.
As for the nonconference schedule, it's far easier next season, but the Wildcats were 3-0 in nonconference games this season, so that's a push.
I see Arizona as being clearly superior only to Colorado in the South Division in 2013. I'd also probably pick the Wildcats over Utah. I see UCLA, USC and That Team From Up North finishing ahead of Arizona.
But this is me in December talking about a team in next August. A lot can happen. Shoot, I could go down to spring practices and completely change my impression.