Opening the mailbag: Angry Ducks, 'Cats vs. Devils

October, 23, 2009
10/23/09
7:57
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Happy Friday.

To the notes.

Mark from Scottsdale, Ariz., writes: This will be the only time you will hear me ask to be like the Big 10, but when is the Pac 10 going to have a network like the Big Ten network? I know planets need to align and contracts need to expire, but will this ever happen?

Ted Miller: It's a real possibility, but you have to wait until 2011-12 for it to happen -- at the earliest -- because that's when the current TV contracts run out.

That was one of the things new commissioner Larry Scott said was front-and-center for the Pac-10 as it looked for ways to generate revenue and keep up with the other BCS conferences with mondo-TV deals, like the SEC and Big Ten.



Todd from Jacksonville, Fla., writes: All this Heisman talk is making my head spin!! Mark Ingram goes out and has a crazy game against a rush defense ranked 73rd in FBS and now everyone (not really everyone of course) has him ranked as the number one Heisman candidate. So let me get this straight......Mark Ingram rushes for 905 yards against rushing defenses ranked 75th, 116th, 97th, 69th, 102nd, 76th, and 73rd and he shoots to the top of the Heisman list? Don't get me wrong, he is a talented running back for sure. But are we that desperate for a Heisman front runner this early in the season or am I delusional?

Ted Miller: Your point is fair, but the weekly Heisman polls are mostly about the flavor of the week -- who just did something good. Last week, that was Ingram.

Now, Ingram also has had a good season overall. And the Crimson Tide are an unbeaten national title contender. So that gives rise to the "best player on the best team" evaluation.

Don't worry about Heisman polls now, though. The candidates will, in the end, be judged by their body of work over the whole season.



Jeff from Tucson, Ariz., writes: I was curious if you had any thoughts about the disparity between Arizona's standings in the polls and with the computers. Are we overhyped by the computers? Underhyped by real life people? A little of both? I was surprised when we jumped into the BCS. I think it was a bit premature, once we beat UCLA, then we should be in. But, I'll take it. And reading through the comments in your posts I see you've been accused for being a homer for every team. Seems like you are doing something right!

Ted Miller: You refer to Arizona being unranked by the humans but No. 22 in the BCS standings due to favorable takes by the computers.

The computers see the Wildcats 4-2 record vs. a tough schedule -- the only opponent that doesn't have a losing record is 3-4 Washington, which beat USC and, yes, Arizona. The other loss is to unbeaten Iowa.

The humans probably want to see more and don't see the Wildcats as a program that gets the benefit of the doubt.

The humans would probably have Arizona close to where the computers do if not for an odd bounce late in the Washington game.



Steve from Clackamas, Ore., writes: I haven't read all your columns or blogs, so I don't know if you wrote regarding USC's 7th place ranking on the overall BCS, mainly due to week computer polling . . I would challenge the 'computers' to find any team in the country with two quality road wins equal to going in to Ohio State & Notre Dame and winning . . USC lost one game in the final seconds, partially because they didn't have Barkley . . the BCS has been, and continues to be, slanted against the Pac-10 (which is 10-1 in bowl games the last two years)

Ted Miller: The computers won't see the absence of Matt Barkley at Washington. They will only see the loss to a team that is 3-4. As they only see Ohio State's defeat at Purdue.

The Trojans also are the highest ranked one-loss team.

I don't think USC's present BCS standing is unfair. And if the Trojans win out, they will have a good chance to eclipse any other one-loss team, other than a one-loss SEC champ.

I don't know all the computer formulas. They account for performance on the road in various ways.

The Pac-10 does need to learn how to strategically schedule in order to fool the computers into boosting the conference's strength of schedule rating like other conferences do.

The best way to do that is to drop the nine-game conference schedule and add a nonconference game, which would -- in theory -- add five wins and subtract five losses. But that's not going to happen for a variety of reasons.



Jim from Salem, Ore., writes: With the SEC publicly punishing officials for key mistakes that helped the Florida Gator's keep the BCS Championship alive; don't you think all official grades for each game be made public and that any discipline action also be made public nationwide? It seems to me with video replay, grading officials, and looking to punish instigators the NCAA can creative a competitive, safe, and fair environment for College football.

Ted Miller: Perhaps we should force them to parade around in their underwear in Times Square for 30 minutes for every bad call?

Officials are graded. Those grades aren't made public for a good reason: Too many crazy fans who might overreact and do something stupid.

And when an officials makes a terrible error, he almost always gets a public comeuppance.

Look, there have been many lousy calls this year. And I, like many of you, often can't shake the idea that some official have an agenda. Or enjoy the spotlight too much.

But officiating controversies are part of the game and have been since Ukagut, the caveman, put on his best mammoth skin, picked up a rock and tried to run past Mutuak but got flagged for not saying "Ugh!"


Kyle from Tempe, Ariz., writes: I know that you picked Stanford over my Devils this week, but at least it was by a slim margin. How do you see it going down this weekend in the Bay area? What are the odds that Burfict and Arizona State's Defense can hold Gerhart to under 100 yrds? 125 yrds? More of an offensive or defensive struggle?S O MANY QUESTIONS!!!

Ted Miller: I'd pick Arizona State if the Sun Devils were home. So, obviously, I think this will be a competitive game.

It's a strength-on-strength (ASU D vs. Stanford O) and weakness-on-weakness (ASU O vs. Stanford D) battle.

The Sun Devils win if quarterback Danny Sullivan can distribute the ball to his playmakers in space. But I'm not sure that he has enough playmakers to outscore the Cardinal.

As for Gerhart, he may fall short of 100 because of that ASU D and his troublesome ankle.



Paul from Pittsburgh writes: Ted,not that I need a long explanation but I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for why Arizona plummeted so rapidly after the Holiday Bowl victory. Did Dick Tomey just get too lax with the team? Did they not recruit well? Mackovic had some decent recruiting classes and some high profile recruits like Mike Bell and Richard Kovalchek even though he was a lousy coach. So why did the program hit bottom so quickly?

Ted Miller: The short answer is that Arizona is a basketball school with little football tradition in a state that doesn't produce a lot of elite high school talent (at least until recently). It's the sort of place that has ups and downs, but mostly downs. And that sums up the perception of the school's football program, fair or unfair.

The scuttlebutt when Dick Tomey was pushed aside was he'd let things slide, particularly in recruiting, and didn't take advantage of his run of success. Tomey is a heck of a coach, particularly on defense, but the results going forward suggested some issues within the program. And, of course, hiring John Mackovic was a disaster.

That's what Mike Stoops has been fighting to overcome.

There are still some Stoops skeptics out there, though it's a dwindling number. I am not one of them.



John from Salem, Ore., writes: Ted, you had mentioned in an earlier review of the Ducks that you see them in the Fiesta Bowl at the end of the season. Who would you see playing the Ducks in this game?

Ted Miller: Heck if I know! It's midseason.

But Mark Schlabach thinks the Ducks will play Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. Hey, didn't we do that one before?



Justin from Eugene writes: Unless you're trying to pull some of the Oregon State reverse pick magic from last year on us, UW over Oregon? Really? Yes, Locker's a threat, but Oregon's defense has shown its dominance in the last few weeks. Plus, the Husky D is so full of holes, even a woeful ASU offense put up 24 on them. Battle for the conference starts next week as the SIX and one Ducks take on USC!

Aaron from Eugene writes: You're picking the Huskies to upset the Ducks? I can only hope that you're prepared for the deluge of hate mail. Your points about our quarterback injury issues are well-taken, but I firmly believe that our defense will more than contain Jake Locker.

Jeff from Dallas writes: Washington 30, Oregon 27... Miller you dirty beast. You must be "throwing a bone" to your buddies up north.

John from Leesburg, Va., writes: What kind of sauce do you want on your crow?Oregon 42 Washington 17.

Ted Miller: Got about 50 of these.

Glad to see the Ducks still have a thing for the Huskies.




Bleeding Blue from San Francisco writes: Not that I'm a Cal Apologist or anything (really), but do you think Jahvid might be hurt? Any indication at all about nursing injuries? He showed good speed on that 93 yard TD @ UCLA, but before that he was looking sluggish, his feet weren't moving as efficiently or swiftly as he has in the past. He showed tremendous burst at Minnesota, but the Oregon game and USC game he was looking pretty slow. I know O-Line is a big factor, but even on plays in space he hasn't had that same 0-60 burst he's had in his top games (see Miami). Is it that defenses just aren't out of position?

Ted Miller: Perhaps Best is a bit worn down, but there's no official word on any actual injury.

Part of his problem may be that Oregon, USC and UCLA have good, athletic defenses compared to Minnesota or Maryland or Eastern Washington.

My guess is Best will come up big Saturday vs. Washington State.



Matt from Tucson writes: I'm sorry Ted, but lately there has been a lot of talk back and forth between the UA and ASU fans. Can you, as a non-biased expert please put your word in on who will have the better season, and who is a better team?

Ted Miller: I picked Arizona ahead of Arizona State in the preseason, and I'm sticking with that. For now.

But I'll be a freaking genius on this on Nov. 29. Ask me then.




Marie from Orem, Utah writes: Hi This is Marie Hill, I want to extend an invitation to the ESPN crew that will be coming to Utah for the BYU college game this Saturday to eat at our Restaurant for Free after or before the game!!If you are one the sports anchors or know of the ones coming please pass on my invitation. Our family owns 2 fine Restaurants and we are pleased that you are coming to our town. Please RSVP to know how many will be attending to eat!

Ted Miller: Just thought such a nice gesture from Marie deserves notice. Do you have any restaurants in Seattle Marie?

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