Pac-10 mailbag: Can Stanford get an at-large BCS berth?

November, 20, 2009
11/20/09
2:00
PM ET
Happy Friday.

Bowls, bowls, bowls -- what are you guys, college football fans?

To the notes.

Micah from Berkeley, Calif., writes: You've been talking for a while about the Pac-10 getting that "elusive" 2nd BCS team. Any chance that the Cardinal wiggle their way into the conversation if they don't go to the Rose Bowl?

Ted Miller: If Stanford wins its final two games, it likely will be eligible for an at-large selection for a BCS bowl berth.

(See the rules here -- what's relevant is the Cardinal will have nine wins and likely would rank among the top-14 of the BCS standings. They presently are 17th).

The problem for Stanford is it probably would be a less attractive candidate compared to other potential at-large team.

There figure to be seven automatic qualifiers -- six BCS conference winners and either TCU or Boise State.

That leaves three at-large berths. If both TCU and Boise State are undefeated, it's likely the one that doesn't get the automatic berth -- Boise State -- will still get an at-large berth. We'd have more congressional hearings if it didn't.

The SEC runner-up also is a sure thing.

So that leaves one spot. And bowl organizers concerned about selling out their stadium, selling out hotel rooms and notching high TV ratings likely would find a Big Ten runner-up -- Penn State or Iowa -- more appealing.

It might not seem fair. But Stanford's chances are remote, at best, to receive an at-large berth, even if Toby Gerhart wins the Heisman Trophy.


Donald from Eugene, Ore., writes: You have talked about how the Pac-10's nine-game schedule, and relatively difficult non-conference games, hurt the conference's BCS hopes. But what about the cost to the season ticket holders? Sure having eight home games seems nice, but who wants to pay full price to see exhibition games against the likes of FIU, Chattanooga and Louisiana-Monroe? Personally, I would rather pay to see Oregon play games in which conference standing is on the line, or a non-conference opponent in which the outcome is not predetermined. Watching WSU is painful enough, we don't need anymore cupcakes.

Ted Miller: Obviously, that's the trade-off. I never implied my position was perfect.

This weekend, Alabama will play host to Chattanooga, while Florida welcomes Florida International.

And both Bryant-Denny and The Swamp will be packed.

For many programs that fill their schedule with cupcakes, attendance isn't an issue. Fans are so dedicated, they just want to see their team -- who cares who the opponent is?

The position of Pac-10 athletic directors is that's not the case on the West Coast, and, Donald, you give support to their position. A part of your loyalty is being highly entertained. You aren't a "My team wrong or right." For fans in other parts of the country, it's about supporting their team no matter what.

Please don't be offended. Your position is more sane. But sanity doesn't help win championships.

My counter is this: How'd you like that season ticket to earn you a priority position to buy tickets to the Fiesta or Sugar Bowl?

If the Pac-10 went back to an eight-game conference schedule, it would get a second BCS team on a far more regular basis, particularly with the present rising trajectory of the conference.

That means more opportunities to travel to BCS bowl games, which are much bigger shows than other bowls, and therefore are much more exciting events in which to invest discretionary money. I suspect the allure of that experience, once unleashed, would compensate fans for a cupcake game during the regular season.

Say Oregon, as the Pac-10 runner-up, is coming off a victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl one year. My guess is plenty of Ducks fans -- including you, Donald -- would suffer through a game with Chattanooga to back their team.

If the game was boring, you could talk about who did what on Bourbon Street.


Jeff from Los Angeles writes: If UCLA becomes bowl eligible, what are the likely bowls that would have an at-large spot to take them?

Ted Miller: Mark Schlabach projects that the Bruins will go to the Roady's Humanitarian.

This is a hard one to figure. What I can say is the UCLA should be appealing to many bowls scrambling to fill their spots because they are a high-profile team from a BCS conference that plays in a major media market.

What you're looking for are bowls with tie-ins with conferences that won't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill their slots.

Other possibilities might include: the EagleBank Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Little Caesars Pizza Bowl or the GMAC Bowl.


Jason from Seattle writes: Regarding Harbaugh's 2-point conversion attempt, he's not the one that has made it personal, you, the sports media has. In what is vintage irresponsible reporting, you posted in your blog that Harbaugh was rubbing it in while the game was going on. How did you know that? Did he tell you as soon as it happened? Did he Tweet it? Did he say he had personal issues with Pete before the game? No. Why don't you exhibit some integrity and accountability and quit ascribing actions and motivations without a modicum of proof. Speaking of proof, let's look at a fact. On that preceding drive, Stanford ran six plays all on the ground. Stanford averaged 10 yards a carry. The USC defense looked like they had given up. Stanford was crushing them at the point of attack. You tell any coach that with six-plus minutes left against USC you can get two points easy, 90% of them take it. It doesn't matter who's coaching either team. Harbaugh saw easy points. As a someone who is trained to look for weaknesses, he saw it. You didn't see it. You still don't see it, but you make up attention grabbing nonsene to explain it. Nevermind that you're denigrating a coach's integrity in the process and stirring up animosity amongst fans. Expect more of yourself Ted. Try not to look for the bad in people just to sell headlines.

Ted Miller: Jason, I appreciate a good vent as much as anyone, so here you go.

I also think a diversity of opinions makes the world more interesting. And yours is the most diverse -- and unique -- opinion I've read on Harbaugh going for two with a 27-point lead and 6:47 left.


Andrew from Berkeley writes: Hey Ted, what's with all the videos? Don't get me wrong, you've got a handsome mug, but you've said yourself that you're a writer, not a TV guy.

Ted Miller: Handsome mug! Andrew sent a picture by the way.

The videos are a new way for the bloggers, using a flip camera, to communicate with our audience.

What they lack in polish is made up for with homemade goodness, like a batch of grandma's buttermilk biscuits. Or dad's martinis!

Moreover, it's a great opportunity for many of you to expand your range of insults when expressing unhappiness with the Pac-10 blog.

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