Mailbag: Nice Washington pick, bloggers

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
9:00
AM ET
Mail+bag=mailbag. Enjoy.

Gordie in Pasadena, Calif. writes: Is Coach Sark on the hot seat? With remaining road games against UCLA and OSU, UW looks headed for a 7-win regular season. Kiffin (65%) and Tedford (59%) both had better win percentages than Sark (projected 52% by end of season) in the Pac. Mike Stoops (45%) wasn't that far off at UA. Not to mention UW getting blown out by the ducks every year. What do UW fans and boosters expect from their coach?

[+] EnlargeSteve Sarkisian
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesAfter a hot start, Washington has struggled and some are wondering if coach Steve Sarkisian is on the hot seat now.
Kevin Gemmell: I don’t know if he’s on the hot seat yet, but some of the goodwill that was built up in the first four games is fading -- fast. Lose to Stanford on the road? Fine. It happens. Stanford is a good team. And Washington played them tough.

Losing to Oregon 45-24, meh … Oregon is Oregon. And this might be the best Oregon team in the last 10 years.

But the ASU loss was the proverbial kick in the … let’s say teeth. The Huskies were just plain bad. The defense looked like the 2011 defense. The offense looked like the 2012 offense. I don’t think ASU was really doing anything special. They were just executing and making plays. Washington wasn’t.

With five games left the Huskies could still finish with nine regular season wins, and a bowl victory would give them double digits. That would include wins over two teams ranked in the BCS top 25 in UCLA and Oregon State. That would cool things off.

Let’s assume they beat Cal and Colorado. That leaves back to back trips at UCLA and Oregon State before closing with the Apple Cup. That’s six wins with three left to play. I’m not totally sold that last week was indicative of what kind of team Washington is. It’s very possible it was just a combination of a bad week for the Huskies and an outstanding week for the Sun Devils.

But if they play like they did last week the rest of the year and finish with seven wins, then the heat really gets turned up.

Peter out West writes: Why do computers hate the Pac-12? Is it just me or is FSU's schedule soft. Like silly-soft. I know the transitive property doesn't *really* apply...but FSU's big win is Clemson. Who stinks. "But they beat GA," I can hear brainwashed people east of the mississippi saying. Please. The same GA team that just lost to Vanderbilt? The same team that eeked out a win over Tenn? Remind me again. Did Oregon beat Tenn by 20? No. Was it 30? No. Was it 40? No. It was 45. Points. 45 POINTS! "But GA beat S.Carolina," they might reply. S.Car LOST to Tenn. I realize as a Stanford fan that I'm kinda living in a glass house here with the Utes game and all...but seriously. Am I taking crazy pills, or do even the computers have East Coast bias?

Gemmell: The late German engineer Konrad Zuse is widely regarded as the father of the modern computer. Per the always accurate and trustworthy Wikipedia, he graduated from Technische Hochschule Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1935 -- the very same year Minnesota went 8-0 and was ranked No. 1 by the UP sports writers. It so happens that same year Oregon was 6-4-1, but unranked. Coincidence? Absolutely not. The fix has been in from Day 1!

I’m no engineer, but I like to think I have a gentle touch when it comes to computers. And I’ve never met one that has an opinion one way or the other. A computer is only as good as the data that goes into it. And a lot of that data is still based on perception. As David Shaw once told me, a computer never won a football game.

Oregon still has the meat of its schedule coming up -- and since you’re a Stanford fan -- the same could be said for the Cardinal. Both teams still have to play Oregon State, which is 25th. And they have to play each other. The winner will no doubt experience a nice spike in perception, computer or otherwise. The good news is one year from today, it’s a question you won’t have to worry about.

So put down the crazy pills and don’t worry about the glass house. That only applies to every other team but yours.

Brandon in Hillsboro, Ore. writes: Ok Kevin, Can you please start giving Mannion and Cooks proper due. Mannion is leading the nation in total yards and touchdowns. He's only thrown 3 INT. Yeah Mariota is good but he isn't on the same level as Mannion right now. No one is.

Gemmell: First, I reject your statement that Mariota isn’t on the same level as Mannion. Check out the latest QBR numbers. Mariota is No. 1, Mannion is No. 12.

Second, when we re-ranked the Pac-12 top 10 players at the midway point in the season, both Mannion and Cooks were in the top five. So it’s not like we’ve totally ignored them. Yes, their numbers are phenomenal. Yes, they’ve done an outstanding job holding the team together after that rough start. And yes, I want to see them do it against Stanford.

Right now Mannion is No. 2 on my Heisman ballot. I noticed someone else has him fifth. Not sure if that's Ted. But I think he deserves the recognition and so I voted accordingly.

His production can’t be denied. The Pac-12 blog has noticed. And if he’s able to put up those numbers this week against Stanford, I think the rest of the country will too.

John in Houston writes: You wrote this week it is unfair players are judge by their Heisman moments. I disagree: Heisman moments represent what makes football so great! Going back to last year, was Johnny Manziel THE best player in college football? Probably not. But it seemed that every time he stepped onto the field, there was the potential for a game-winning play. Robert Griffin III was the same way. While Andrew Luck was (and still is) very good, RG3 epitomized why football is exciting! People may forget Robert’s college statistics, but they will never forget his last second touchdown pass to Terrence Williams to beat then-#5 Oklahoma. Those kind of plays, Heisman moments, make watching football games worthwhile. Your overall point was that Marcos Mariota should and will win the Heisman. I say that he certainly won’t (and shouldn’t) if he can’t produce at least couple Heisman moments. Watching Oregon win by seven touchdowns is just boring to watch. Sorry if Duck’s fans are offended by this, but it’s true. If Oregon really wanted to win the Heisman, they would not have scheduled middle of the road SEC and ACC teams. Tennessee and UVA have been mediocre for years and the Ducks knew that when they made the schedule. Watch and see: Mariota will not win the Heisman. Not because he is not the best players, but because he didn’t make the best plays. That is college football and that is how it should be.

Gemmell: Just so we’re on the same page … you think it’s OK that the best player in college football doesn’t win the award because someone has more highlights?

If that were the case, De’Anthony Thomas should have won the Heisman two years in a row. Kodi Whitfield should be a candidate.

I won’t even get into Oregon and scheduling. I’ll let the Oregon fans straighten you out on that one.

My point wasn’t that Mariota should win the Heisman. My point is the best player should win it, be it quarterback, linebacker or offensive lineman. My point was that highlights and individual plays shouldn’t be the basis, but for a lot of voters it is, and I don’t think that’s right. The Heisman moment has been put up on such a pedestal that it takes away from the bigger picture, which is a player's total performance throughout the course of a season.

Since you brought up Luck, I’d like to re-tell a story that David Shaw told me once. He said Luck once told him that he thought the Washington game in 2011 was the best game of his career. Luck was 16 of 21 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Pretty good numbers, but nothing that jumps off the page.

The point of the story was that Stanford rushed for a school record 446 yards, and it was Luck identifying the plays at the line of scrimmage and getting the Cardinal into the best play against that particular defense. And he was 100 percent right in every play that he called -- hence the big rushing numbers.

The point of that story is that a “Heisman Moment” should be more than a YouTube clip. Watch Luck’s Heisman campaign YouTube clip. There aren’t really any of “those” plays you are describing. Part of it is because he made it look so unbelievably easy.

But this isn’t a Luck-got-hosed response. This is a Mariota response. For the record, I think you put Mariota in any offense -- Stanford’s, Washington State’s, Arizona’s, whatever -- and he’d have equal success because he’s cut from that same type of cloth.

Watching Oregon win by seven touchdowns isn’t boring when you appreciate what the guy pulling the strings is doing. And right now Mariota is pulling all the right strings. And if he’s able to do that against UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State, etc., then he should win the Heisman, regardless of what anyone thinks of his highlights.

Keith in Teutopolis, Ill. writes: I just realized UCLA has a DB named Moreau. Has anyone written a story titled "The Island of Dr. Moreau" about him? Please tell me they have.

Gemmell: That would be Fabian Moreau, and I’m not aware of any headlines. But you get snaps for the creativity. He’s second on the team with four pass breakups, so he seems to be doing just fine on that island.

However, I think we can all agree that that was a low point for both Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. Ice-Man, we hardly knew you.

Arizona State fans everywhere write: Dear (cleansing product) bag. Good call picking Washington. Go (play a round of miniature golf with) yourself. Sincerely, Arizona State fans everywhere.

Gemmell: First, let me say that I appreciate your concern regarding my hygiene. I like to think I’m fresh, but can always feel fresher. And you know, I could use a round of mini golf. Ted picked Washington too. Maybe he can caddy for me. Sound advice from the good people in Tempe.

Yes, I picked against your team. And I was wrong … really, really wrong. I also picked you to beat Notre Dame. Where were you guys then, pray tell? Where were the “Hey Kev, thanks for the support, sorry we couldn't get it done for you” notes in my mailbag?

Great win for the Sun Devils. And if they go on to bigger and better things, this win will no doubt be viewed as a season-defining moment. But much like some of our readers last week who hail from the great state of Utah, let’s not get swelled heads over one win.

It was an impressive performance. More impressive was the run defense. I didn’t see that coming. And anyone who says they did is full of it. What trend pointed toward the Sun Devils holding Washington to minus-5 rushing yards? Consider ASU’s run defense vs. their FBS opponents this year: 231 rushing yards to Wisconsin, 240 to Stanford, 247 to USC, 145 to Notre Dame. Heck, even Colorado had 99. But minus-5 against Washington. Absolutely stunning.

So Arizona State fans everywhere, enjoy the win. But don’t forget pride comes before the fall.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go freshen up.

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