- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Well, the call for iambic pentameter and haiku was very, very well received. As promised, those jump to the front of the line and since you took the time to write in Haiku or verse, I'll take the time to answer in Haiku or verse. It's a good ol' fashioned Pac-12 blog poetry slam.
As always, follow us on Twitter. (And a birthday shout-out to Fvstokes this weekend).
To the poetry!
Darius in "Wish I were at Stanford" writes:
Stanford's wide receivers:
Will they be any good, I wonder?
Hope, good news; otherwise, panic.
Need go-to threat on outside;
Uh Oh Chongo in Danger Island writes:
Pac-12 road trip time.
What is your destination?
Best away game this year?
It's too soon to tell;
Though Pullman in winter rocks;
Nathan in Seattle writes:
When will the Cougs rise?
When will our time come again?
How far are 10 wins?
10 wins are a lot;
For now, enjoy Apple Cup;
New season brings hope.
Yellow in the Pac-12 blog writes (and I'm assuming he's a Washington fan):
But can only see one game,
First game or rival?
Truly, a tough choice;
Broncos or Cougars, hard call;
Ryan in Portland writes:
Do Ducks win Pac-12?
And what about the natty?
I love roses man!
Saying 'Natty bad;
Even in form of Haiku;
No roses for you!
Richard in Winters, Calif. writes: Will David Shaw, his conservative ways relent, And more aggressive nature, can invent?
Kevin Gemmell: A coach of the year twice he's been named. Conservatism seems not to dull his fame.
Basho in San Francisco writes: As I once famously said, "Furu ike ya (An old pond) Kawazu tobikomu (A frog jumps in) Mizu no oto (Sound of water)." In other words, do you think that Helfrich will be able to successfully make a splash jumping in as the new HC for the Ducks?
Kevin Gemmell: It's not often that deceased 17th century Japanese poets write in. So this is a treat. And who knew he was an Oregon fan?
I think Mark Helfrich has a higher burden of expectation than any other coach in the country because if he doesn't win at least 10 or 11 games, there are going to be rumblings. With that said, he obviously knows the system and he was the school's top choice all along, so they seem to think he can keep the momentum going. I tend to agree based on the talent they have coming back -- and coming in.
Chip Kelly went to four straight BCS games -- including the national championship. That is a tough act for any coach to follow -- veteran or otherwise. And Helfrich's ascension comes at a time when Stanford is now a player on the national stage and Washington and Oregon State are trending up. That could create a bit of a paradox. Because if Oregon loses to those teams, will it be because Chip Kelly left? Or is it because the other teams are simply better?
If you're looking for a splash, a spot in the BCS championship game would certainly be nice -- or at least a win in a BCS bowl game. That would reassure the faithful and be considered a splash in his first season. I think that's possible. Anything less than 10 wins, though, will be seen as a disappointment.
Card fan in Rocklin, Calif., writes: "Complacency" seems to be the new buzzword around Stanford Football, as in "Don't get complacent." How realistic a concern do you think this is?
Kevin Gemmell: Not much. David Shaw continues to instill that "us vs. them" mentality. And from the players and coaches I've talked to, they continue to buy into it. Even Stanford's biggest critics say they beat a Wisconsin team that didn't deserve to be in the Rose Bowl and they only beat them by six points.
But those who follow the conference closely knew going in that the Rose Bowl wasn't going to be a blowout either way and that Stanford wins its games by close margins and with white knuckles. For those who understand Stanford football, they realize the Cardinal dominated that game.
They might be getting the respect they deserve as a program -- and three straight trips to BCS bowl games certainly warrants a high level of respect -- but the impression I get from speaking with Shaw is that no one thinks they've "arrived." They didn't buy the negative hype when everyone said they'd take a tumble post-Andrew Luck. And they aren't buying the positive hype now. The team's demeanor matches that of its coach. Which is a good thing.
Papa John in Santa Barbara writes: I love all these interviews that you and Ted are posting. Which made me wonder: What's your Pac-12 all-interview team for 2012?
Kevin Gemmell: I can only work off the guys I interviewed last year. But since I also did the weekly Q&A, I talked to a lot. My team.
QB: Matt Barkley, USC/Jeff Tuel, Washington State -- Both are great, candid speakers. Tuel's Q&A might have been my favorite of last season. Very honest. Brett Hundley and Keith Price get honorable mention.
RB: Kenjon Barner, Oregon. Loves to talk, and we love to listen.
OL: Jeff Baca, UCLA. Get him talking about beach volleyball and you'll run out of batteries on your recorder.
OL: David Bakhtiari, Colorado: Forthright, very well-spoken.
OL: David Yankey, Stanford. Clear, concise, on message.
TE: Joseph Fauria: My go-to guy at UCLA always had something colorful to say, win or lose.
WR: Marqise Lee, USC. Always seems to have a big smile when he talks.
P: Josh Hubner, ASU: Punters are typically pretty funny guys to talk to. Hubner was no exception.
DL: Terrence Stephens, Stanford: Possible MVP. One of my all-time favorites.
DL: Ben Gardner, Stanford: With our without the mullet, he's a great talker.
DL: Will Sutton, ASU: Good sense of humor.
LB: Brandon Magee, ASU. Right up there with Stephens for MVP.
LB: Michael Clay, Oregon: Another guy with a big smile every time he talks.
LB: Travis Long, Washington State: Exudes class and leadership when he speaks.
CB: Jordan Poyer, Oregon State: Speaks with a quiet confidence.
S: T.J. McDonald, USC: Knows how to handle the limelight and does so with poise and maturity.