- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Welcome to the mailbag. Can we get you something to drink?
To the notes!
John from Portland writes: Ted, you said in an article you recently wrote that Oregon's athletic department is "notoriously tardy with releasing information to the media." Are you an expert on legal proceedings? Are you qualified to comment on a school being "tardy" when it comes to releasing information to the media? Is Oregon obligated to release information on an NCAA-sanctioned investigation to the media within a certain time frame before the supposed delay can be dubbed "notorious?" It seems like you are just bitter that Oregon hasn't provided you with the information you want to write a juicy story on the investigation. You should probably let the legal system, which you obviously don't care to understand the working of, do its thing without talking trash about the University involved.
Ted Miller: Let's take this one on in an organized fashion.
Are you an expert on legal proceedings? No. But this isn't a legal proceeding. It's an NCAA matter. But I do understand the applicable laws.
Are you qualified to comment on a school being "tardy" when it comes to releasing information to the media? Yes.
Oregon's public records law: “Every person has a right to inspect any public record of a public body in this state, except as otherwise expressly provided."
Ah, but Oregon has become notorious for trying to obstruct the media through the years, in large part because former school general counsel, Melinda Grier, apparently made it policy. The seeming philosophy was that the media can make records request, and Oregon eventually would have to fulfill them, but Oregon's disingenuously adopted gray area was their understanding of "eventually."
Thus the seeming random dumps of documents to reporters in regards to the NCAA's investigation of the Ducks football program and Willie Lyles.
What was the loophole in the case of Oregon not releasing in a timely fashion its notice of allegations, which it received on Dec. 5? Well, according to Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard, who first obtained the documents, it was a matter of nitpicking dates on Freedom of Information requests.
When it was reported on Dec. 19 by Yahoo! that Oregon's attempts to obtain summary disposition had failed, reporters thought to date their request for the notice of allegations from that day. Moseley also was told by Oregon officials that the documents would be provided as soon as they were available because there were so many requests.
It was only when Oregon promptly released its failed summary disposition document from Oct. 30 on April 15 that Moseley and his boss had a Eureka! moment and decided to backdate their request to Oct. 30. Still took a month for Oregon to respond.
By the way, this is not about an athletic department or football program making its own rules. Athletic director Rob Mullens is an open guy and a straight shooter. This is entirely an upper-campus decision.
Bitter? No. But I do think it's legitimate to question whether a taxpayer-supported institution of higher learning should try to tiptoe around transparency laws and look for loopholes. It seems to me that a taxpayer-supported institution of higher learning should have higher aspirations than a "because we can" justification. You might feel differently.
As for the "juicy" part of this story, that was supplied when Chip Kelly didn't tell Lyles to get lost the first time they crossed paths.
Paul from San Antonio writes: In your opinion: Lane Kiffin goes 8-4; beating UCLA but losing to ND.- Does Lane start looking to sell his house? Mike Leach goes 3-9; losing most conference games but again beating Washington- Does he go on the hot seat? Colorado goes 1-11, only beating an FCS team.- Is Mike MacIntyre on the hot seat? Utah again goes 3-6 in Pac 12 play and loses to BYU- Is Kyle Whittingham, despite his tenure, on the hotseat? Oregon State beats Oregon and wins the Pac 12- Will OSU's national image start to beat out Oregon?
Ted Miller: Paul is cheating, asking a bunch of questions in one note.
You might be thinking of two different things -- hot seat versus fired. Just about every major conference coach is on the hot seat after a bad season. That's just how things are. Recall that Oregon State coach Mike Riley was supposedly on the hot seat entering the 2012 season, despite all he's accomplished in Corvallis. Now folks love him again.
First, Kiffin. USC plays 13 games, so 8-4 isn't possible. I think 9-4 with a win against UCLA and a bowl win keeps Kiffin safe, especially if the season progresses with none of the odd-ball controversies -- coaches votes! secret jersey changes! deflating balls! -- of last year.
Leach: If Leach again goes 3-9, he will be on the hot seat in 2014. He's getting paid a lot of money to not go 3-9. But I doubt the Cougars go 3-9.
A 1-11 record would do MacIntyre no favors as he tries to win over Buffaloes fans, but it's difficult to put a first-year coach on the hot seat. Of course, if he goes 1-11 in Year 2, as his predecessor Jon Embree did, his footing wouldn't be firm.
Whittingham has earned some leeway. While another bowl-less season and 3-6 Pac-12 finish would have more than a few Utes fans grumbling, I think only a complete disaster would prevent him from coming back in 2014.
And if Oregon State beats Oregon and wins the Pac-12, of course it would take a step forward in the national picture. But the Ducks' surge is not a one-year wonder. The Beavers can't just win one Civil War every six years.
Eric from Lafayette, La., writes: If the SEC is not going to win the title for the eighth strait time, who will? I was raised in an Olemiss house and attended UL Lafayette but my guess would be Alabama, A&M, LSU, UGA in that order.
Ted Miller: My best guesses for a team to end the SEC's run are Ohio State, Oregon or Stanford.
Another possibility is the SEC champion losing two games, which might be enough to knock it out of the BCS championship game race.
As for the SEC, I like either Alabama or Georgia to play for the conference's eighth title in a row.
James from Salt Lake City writes: The Utes have brutal stretch in the middle of the season as you outlined earlier this week? Any hope for my team to go bowling this year?
Ted Miller: Always hope!
The first key is going 3-0 in the nonconference slate, which would include another win against BYU. If we then can count on the Utes beating Colorado at home to end the season, that gives them four wins.
Where might the other two come from?
First, can the Utes notch a home upset against Oregon State, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona State or Oregon? That seems plausible, but Utes fans will get a nice taste of the Pac-12 at home this year, a far more formidable slate than what they've seen in Salt Lake the previous two seasons.
Second, can the Utes win at either Arizona or Washington State? Or both, if they can't get the home upset.
That would get Utah to six wins. I'd rate their chances as decent to get that done.
Nor-Cal Scott from St Helena, Calif., writes: Uncle Ted, I realize that Cal has a difficult schedule, but what do you think of Cal's chances of going 6-6 this season? Coach Dykes high flying offense should put points on the board with "Kindergoff" at QB and solid WR's Treggs, Harper, Powe, Bouza, Rodgers & newcomer Lawler. And don't forget Bigelow at RB.
Ted Miller: California has talent, but it also has a schedule that provides only one sure win: Portland State.
As far as other games in which the Bears should be favored, there are three: home against Washington State and Arizona, and at Colorado.
That's four wins (hypothetically).
So can the Bears upset two other foes from a list of: Northwestern, Ohio State, at Oregon, at UCLA, at Washington, USC and at Stanford?
Maybe. The key to me is finding an extra win in the nonconference slate. That would bolster confidence early in the season and win the locker room over to Dykes. And the Bears did go nose-to-nose with the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe last year, so there should be no fear about taking on the best of the Big Ten.
Brian from Portland writes: The last time we spoke you enlightened me with the I.D.I.O.T. model. As in "Incoming Dude Is Obviously Transcendent". And you were also very much opposed to the notion of a hypothetical question, mainly because Chip Kelly had soured those for you. BUT Chip is gone! So can we try again?! Kiper has Mariota as one player that can rise quickly up the draft board with a season comparable to his first campaign behind the wheel of the green and yellow race car. I've always thought Mariota was better than the likes of Johnny Football and Touchdown Teddy Bridgewater mainly because of his blend of size, speed, mechanics, and overall unflappability. My question to you is simple.. Hypothetically.. If Saint Marc has another spectacular season this year, how high up the board do you think he'll go?
Ted Miller: Jadeveon Clowney is going to be the No. 1 pick. Period.
If Mariota has a big season -- as in Heisman-worthy -- he could go No. 2.
Peter from Tempe, Ariz., writes: What's your way-too-early prediction for the matchup between ASU and Stanford, particularly between ASU's defense and Stanford's O-line? It's been a couple years since they've played so I for one am very excited. Could be a potential rematch later in the year.
Ted Miller: It could set up for a potential rematch in the Pac-12 title game, but I presently favor Stanford, particularly at home.
Arizona State has an interesting defense. It's quick but undersized, but it has some incoming players who should boost its bulk. The 2012 Sun Devils struggled defending the run, ranking 10th in the Pac-12 while surrendering 182.8 yards rushing per game. They also are replacing weakside linebacker and leading tackler Brandon Magee.
I think Stanford potentially has the best offensive line in the nation.
So I'd rate that an advantage for the Cardinal.
Richard from Birmingham writes: OK, I have made up my mind about you. You are a bald faced liar and use lies and deception to boost your articles. USC didn't win the 2003 Coaches' Poll and two thirds of a NC. That is just a blatant lie and done for the sole purpose of distorting the actual truth.
Ted Miller: Richard is worked up about this article.
2. USC wins "real" national title: In 2003, USC was No. 1 in the AP and Coaches polls at season's end. If you had eyes and knew anything about football, it was clear the Trojans were the nation's most-talented team on both sides of the football, a notion that was reinforced the following season. Two teams picked by computers played in New Orleans -- most folks outside of Louisiana don't even remember who -- and that forced the Trojans to settle for three-fourths of a national title after dominating Michigan 28-14.
The incontrovertible truth is USC did win, to use Richard's fraction, "two-thirds" of the national title: It was named national champion after the 2003 season by the Associated Press and Football Writers Association of America.
I used "three-fourths" because I included public opinion.
In fact, voters in the coaches poll, which solidly ranked USC No. 1 at the end of the regular season, were required to vote the winner of the BCS game No. 1. It was like a North Korean election. Three coaches were brave enough rebel and vote their conscience. They might have been sent to a BCS gulag afterwards.
No need to apologize, Richard, for calling me a hurtful name, you big meanie.
Homer from Homerville writes: Why must you always bad mouth my team and side with our arch rival?
Ted Miller: Because your team is affiliated with the Devil and your arch-rival stands for all that is right and good.