- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Another healthy mailbag. Settle in.
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To the notes!
Ex-Buff fan in Pac-12 dungeon writes: I am so sick of Colorado being the loser on the block. We were two points away from having ZERO wins last year. I was pumped about our new coach until I hear that he can't even hang on to the few good players we have. Not to mention we have? you guessed it ZERO quality recruits for 2014. Give it to me straight doc: how bad will this year be in terms of win total? Because last year, besides Southern Miss, we were the absolute laughing stock of college football. A retirement home football team could have beaten us.
Kevin Gemmell: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Buck up little camper. Step away from the ledge, inhale deeply, take a cleansing breath and settle down.
I tend to lean more on the glass-half-full side of life. How about this ... you were only 14 points away from having four wins last year -- three more games were decided by a touchdown or less. If you want to make the argument for the lone win, then you also have to concede that they were competitive in those other games.
As for recruiting, it's May. Relax. Yes, we post the recruiting roundup every few weeks. But that's simply to inform. Mike MacIntyre knows how to recruit -- and more importantly he knows how to recruit California. That's going to pay huge dividends in the future.
Players who have left -- meh. Do you need them? If they aren't on board with what Mac's trying to do, so be it. See ya. Make room for someone who is. Of those who left, how many were all-conference?
Win total this year, well, that's going to take a leap of faith on the part of the fans. Remember, San Jose State lost more games in MacIntyre's first year than the year before. But in Year 2 there was progress and by Year 3 they were a Top 25 team. So, and I know Colorado fans are tired of hearing this, you're going to have to be patient and let him do what he does. You probably won't see the results in the win/loss column this year -- although I do think Colorado can do better than 1-11. My best advice is don't lose faith. I think you guys have a good thing going with MacIntyre. It's just going to take time.
BHollandz next to Burrito Stadium writes: I used to be a Coach Riley supporter until I witnessed the horrific season of 2011 and the blunders of the 2012 season. Alamo Bowl game anyone????People say that Oregon State has the best coach it will ever get and that us fans should just be satisfied with that. Well, I'm not satisfied. I want a Rose Bowl and eventually a shot a Championship. Do you think it's possible for OSU to attract a high profile coach to succeed Coach Riley and get the Beavers to the next level? This is big time Pac-12 football after all.
Kevin Gemmell: This is a lot darker and more cynical from you than I expected. The grass always seems greener, but be aware Riley isn't going anywhere for a while. Which high-profile coach would you like?
Maybe a guy who has been a coach of the year? Perhaps someone with more than 80 career wins? Experience at the professional ranks would probably be good also. It's got to be someone who sells tickets and knows how to pack Reser Stadium and you'll want a veteran guy with almost 40 years of coaching experience.
You see where I'm going with this ... you've got him! Yes, he had two bad seasons. But in his 10 years since coming back, he's won at least eight games six times, led OSU to eight bowl games and consistently had the Beavers ranked in the Top 25. Last year was the hottest start in the history of the school. And you're already talking replacements?
Maybe I'm biased since I've known him since the Chargers days, but I know he shares the same goals as you. I do think that mistakes were made in the Alamo Bowl -- it had more to do with not adjusting offensively -- not getting more help to account for Alex Okafor -- but I'm not sold that a coach should be judged by one game. When you look at his body of work, it's outstanding. I don't know if he's the best coach you'll ever get. But he has more career wins at Oregon State than any other coach before him (81). That should be celebrated.
Ryan in New York writes: I have to give you chaps credit. You know how to make a point without being mean or hurtful. Good point about for every Ryan, there's a UCLA guy screaming just the opposite. But remember there's one difference. Us Trojans love SC above all. UCLA fans hate SC more than they love themselves.......Also, excellent point on Devon Kennard too. He must stay healthy and play well. Pass the good word to your partner in crime -- Theodore. Peace.
Kevin Gemmell: I won't get into which fan base loves itself or hates the other more. That's for the individual to decide through deep and meditative soul searching. I'm a big Kennard fan and think USC is going to experience a nice defensive boost by moving to the 3-4. Some guys are just better equipped for different schemes.
Now, I know I'm going to tick you off with this next point, but it's apt. UCLA's Datone Jones got into a 3-4 and absolutely exploded -- showing the potential that many believed he had but we'd rarely seen with him in the even front. Coming full circle, I see the same type of production from Kennard and Breslin, Leonard Williams and George Uko and even Dion Bailey moving back to safety. This is a good move for the Trojans. So says the clown.
Nameless in Escondido, Calif., writes: When will Stanford let Ricky Seale play, had another great spring. One of the best backs from San Diego no way he cannot play at Stanford.
Kevin Gemmell: Because Stanford closes its practices and is usually tight-lipped when it comes to position battles, all I can say is I don't know. Obviously there is something going on behind the scenes that is holding Seale back -- either he's not performing in practice or others are simply performing better.
And I'm a big Seale fan, having covered him since he was as sophomore in high school. I spent many a Friday night in Wilson Stadium watching him tear up defenses.
But I'm not in the position group meetings so I don't know what's being discussed. It's a deep group and the return of Tyler Gaffney (another San Diego great) makes it even deeper. From a coach's perspective, though, this is the proverbial great problem to have.
Darin in Monterey, Calif., writes: Good video with Mike Riley, My question is now that the Beavers have a pretty solid O-line, do you think that Storm will top 1,000 yards this year on the ground? It seems Oregon State has been lacking on thousand yard rushers like Simonton, Jackson, and jacquizz. I do like what i saw last year in Woods and Ward.
Kevin Gemmell: Yes, assuming he stays healthy, I have no problem going out on a very easy limb to go out on and say Woods is going to be a 1,000-yard rusher in 2013.
When you consider the receivers they had last year -- and the quietly efficient season of Connor Hamlett -- it made sense that the passing game was the stronger element of the offense. But with Markus Wheaton gone and question marks on exactly who is going to step up at the other receiver spot opposite Brandin Cooks, I think we're going to see an even bigger commitment to the run game -- which will take some of the pressure off the receiving corps. As noted in the video, the running game improved from 2011 to 2012. I think we're going to see it take an even bigger step in 2013 behind Woods.
Andy in Phoenix writes: Right now we only play one game back east the Alamo Bowl and not to many games against other Power 5 conferences except Big 12. Any word on what the bowl line up will look like in 2014?
Kevin Gemmell: I don't. The Pac-12 is heading into the final year of a four-year agreement with its current bowl lineup. Whenever I ask about it, I get the company line that they are very pleased with their bowl partners and look forward to continuing to work with them.
I agree: I'd love to see a Pac-12/SEC bowl game. But at the same time, let's remember that the Pac-12 hasn't exactly dominated the postseason of late -- so there isn't a lot of room for chest-thumping. Outside of the 2-0 mark in BCS bowl games last year, the Pac-12 went 0-3 against other BCS conferences and 2-1 against non-BCS conferences.
Had they gone 8-0, 7-1 or even 6-2, then I'd say it's time to bump up the competition level and get some more competitive games. But 4-4 isn't blowing anyone's socks off. And the Pac-12 is 40-41 in bowl games since 1999. I think it'd be more beneficial to dominate the current bowl lineup before worrying about bigger, badder competition.
Uh oh Chongo in Danger Island writes: Colorado and Utah are still having a bit of a rough go in the new conference. Two questions - which of those two gets to the Pac-12 title game first, and what do those programs need to do to get there?
Kevin Gemmell: Yikes, the crystal ball just melted down. So much of which team gets to the title game first depends a lot on what happens with other teams in the division. And it doesn't look like Jim Mora, Rich Rodriguez or Todd Graham are going anywhere quickly. And regardless of what happens with Lane Kiffin at the end of this year, USC is still going to be USC.
Utah is in a stronger position right now simply because it has continuity among the coaching staff. The new facilities will be open this summer and I think the addition of Dennis Erickson to the staff is going to pay dividends in years to come. That's probably not a hire the Utes could have made had they still been in the Mountain West -- financially or from a high-profile perspective.
Colorado, well, see the above answer. They are a long ways off from being in the mix for the league title game.
They keys for both of these teams -- and really every other team in the conference -- is depth and player development. Everyone can put a solid 22 on the field. But what does your next 22 look like? When that star player goes down, who can step in so you barely miss a beat? Who can turn that borderline recruit into an all-conference player?
ASU had injuries on the defensive line last year and they went into a skid. Washington battled offensive line injuries last year and were inconsistent. Utah's quarterback carousel last year was unfortunate -- but you've got to have that depth to be able to handle the losses.
The teams that can handle that -- Bryan Bennett stepping up for Darren Thomas; A.J. Tarpley and Jarek Lancaster stepping in for Shayne Skov; Oregon's safeties stepping up when they lost John Boyett -- these are the teams that are ultimately the most successful.
William Shatner at Priceline HQ writes: Hey Kevin, you've been doing a lot more work than Ted these past two weeks. Looks like you could use a vacation. I'll take care of airfare if you tell me what your ideal vacation would be?
Kevin Gemmell: Ted has been hitting the lecture circuit hard the last couple of weeks, appearing at several Ivy League schools to deliver his motivational speeches: "Who else besides Pitt hates freedom?" "Please note that you are wrong," and "Boy, I could sure use a me-tini."
He'll be back Monday.
As for me, every trip through the comments section is a daily vacation. By the way, I loved you as General Mortars in Loaded Weapon 1.