I'll be stepping off the grid for a couple of weeks, leaving the blog in the loving, capable and never-sarcastic hands of Mr. Miller. But I didn't want some of these mailbag questions to go stale in my absence. So here's a special Wednesday edition of the mailbag.
No doubt, Ted will remind you on Friday to follow the Pac-12 blog on Twitter. In the meantime, here's another good one to follow.
Doug in Salem, Ore., writes: Would it not provide us a better Play off if the BCS and NCAA add three post season games on Championship Saturday where the winners move on to a selection committee locked in on only those 8 winners? Seems like that could weed out a Notre Dame if it is really a bad team, allow non-division champions a second chance to earn a spot and a non-AQ team a chance to prove itself. What do you think?
Kevin Gemmell: Essentially, what you're asking is if the playoff would be better with more teams. My answer is absolutely yes. I think an eight-team playoff would be outstanding. Change moves at a glacial pace, however, and this is the system we have in place for the next 12 years.
As for the Notre Dame issue -- they went 12-0. Granted, they tiptoed through dozens of raindrops to get there -- but they still went undefeated. And even if an additional game was added and Notre Dame was 12-1, it would be hard to imagine a scenario where a 12-1 Notre Dame team gets left out.
There is great concern that the new College Football Playoff is going to be a BCS by any other name. That's why so much of its success/failure is going to depend on the selection committee, how it's made up, and how much weight they give to certain variables such as strength of schedule. We have more than a decade to talk about what's wrong with the new system. Let's keep our fingers crossed that they get it right more often than not. Drop me a line again in 2025 and we can start talking about expansion (hopefully).
Andrew in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, writes: With the [Stanford] D given the chance to find itself and build momentum AND having a more balanced attack from the Offence, how will that let David Shaw take a four-down attitude inside the 40, sooner than later, regardless of the competition. This would show faith in both the O-Line, Hogan, and the whole defense to hold and not break. Champions are built on attitude and I'd like Shaw to challenge his players, but also show them his faith that they can do by their own merits, not just by playing the strategy of averages. If we get to the BCS Championship Game, we'll need that attitude and confidence. What do you think?
Kevin Gemmell: Allow me to offer a similar answer to the one I gave Kote in Palo Alto a few weeks back when he mentioned wanting to see some more aggressiveness from David Shaw.
Pac-12 coach of the year honors for David Shaw: 2
Pac-12 coach of the year honors for Andrew in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: 0
Like last time, this is offered with the gentlest of ribbing. Bear in mind that Shaw is an NFL-trained coach, running an NFL offense and he approaches the game with an NFL mentality. He'll continue to play the percentages and -- as he describes it -- take calculated risks when appropriate.
But he's also shown tremendous confidence in kicker Jordan Williamson to hit anything inside of 50. And if he misses, he'll keep trotting him out there. I think if the situation calls for it, he'll take a chance if the numbers are right. You mentioned more balance in the offense. Last year Stanford ran the ball 57 percent of the time. That's who they are. That's who they want to be. I wouldn't expect them to become pass-happy overnight, especially with an untested wide receiving corps.
When they punt on fourth-and-2 from their opponents' 45, it's not Shaw showing a lack of faith in his offense. It's him playing the field position game and believing, 1) his punter can pin the other team, 2) his defense can stop them on three downs, 3) he'll get the ball back around the same spot with four fresh downs. His players understand this. And if there's one thing Stanford isn't lacking -- it's attitude.
Perhaps with the offensive line the Cardinal have in 2013, they might take a couple of more chances during the season. But if you're looking for him to fill Chip Kelly's vacated seat and become the most aggressive playcaller in the league, you've got the wrong coach.
Paul in 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 hot seat? Oregon State beats Oregon and wins the Pac 12- Will OSU?s national image start to beat out Oregon's?
Kevin Gemmell: I think if Kiffin wins eight or nine games and beats UCLA, he'll be safe. Remember, that win over UCLA might be the difference in winning the South Division. So if eight wins gets the job done and they go to the Pac-12 title game, he'll be back. If he loses both games and has another seven-win season, then I think things will get really dicey.
Washington State is invested heavily in Leach, so barring back-to-back 0-12 seasons, I don't see him being on the hot seat. But the pressure will be there to perform in Year 3. If noticeable strides aren't made after three seasons, then I think we'll see his seat warm. But my gut tells me he'll have them at least in bowl contention by the third year.
The MacIntyre situation is clouded by the fact that there's going to be a new athletic director. But I have a hard time believing that he'll be on the hot seat after one, or even two years. Remember, San Jose State took a step backward in his first year before they took steps forward in the second and third years. If three years later the Buffs have only won four games, then we'll talk.
I think you have to give Utah at least four seasons in the Pac-12 -- a full class cycle -- before you can start passing judgment on Whittingham. Remember, not only are they adjusting to a higher level of play every week, but they need a grace period to re-work how they operate their program. Utah is seeing television money never thought possible in the Mountain West, and part of the learning curve is figuring out the proper way to appropriate that funding. Hiring Dennis Erickson is a great start -- a move they never would have been able to make financially in a non-AQ conference. Nor would a non-AQ team be able to attract a big-name coach like Erickson to be a coordinator. Let the money sink in, let the new facilities work their magic on recruits and if Utah has a four- or five-year bowl drought, then you can open up discussions. But Whittingham -- who I believe to be an outstanding coach -- should be sitting on ice for now.
If Oregon State beats Oregon (assuming that's part of a 10 or 11-win season) it will certainly up the nation's impression of the Beavers. But it's going to take more than one victory to raise their national image above Oregon's. The Ducks have done it for a while now -- four straight BCS bowl games, including the national championship. There's a lot of work for the Beavers to do to even be considered in the same conversation with the Ducks nationally. They have to have about four or five consecutive 10-win seasons, go to multiple BCS (or playoff) games and beat the Ducks several years in a row.