- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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I was on vacation last week, and all hell broke loose.
Actually, I knew it was coming when my bosses emailed me a copy of this ESPN.com Insider story: College Football Future Power Rankings.
I read over it just as you surely did, with plenty of "Agree," "Disagree" and "That's just crazy." That would happen with any list like this. That, by the way, is why we in the media make lists like this: Debate. Those who use the World Wide Web love to express Outrage over all the stuff that Outrages us.
The panel of experts who put this ranking together are each gentlemen and scholars: Travis Haney, Brock Huard, Tom Luginbill, Todd McShay and Mark Schlabach. They used a methodology and surely did their best. Not all of them are yoked with the unenviable burden of living far away from the West Coast.
Of course, I think the Pac-12 is under-represented. The Pac-12 teams that made this top 25 should be higher, and several teams that didn't make the list are stronger -- in my humble, humble opinion -- than those that did.
But one inclusion over those Pac-12 candidates was completely cracked. With all due respect to North Carolina, the Tar Heels at No. 21 makes no sense whatsoever.
If you are projecting forward, Washington is more justifiable than UNC. The Huskies are a former national power -- finished ranked No. 3 in 2000 -- who bottomed out, then meandered for several years but appear to be rising as they step into a fancypants new stadium that might be as nice as any in the country.
Yet I immediately emailed my bosses pointing out that omitting Oregon State would be a significant mistake. They made me go and sit in time out. Bosses are so unfair.
What is curious to me is there is no measure with which you could say North Carolina football is better -- past or present -- than Oregon State football.
In 1996 and 1997, the Tar Heels finished ranked in the AP Top 10. With that gloss on his resume, coach Mack Brown bolted for Texas.
Know how many times UNC has finished ranked in the AP Top 25 since then? Zero.
Zero. Zero. Zero.
Oregon State? Five times, including a No. 4 ranking in 2000 and a No. 20 ranking last fall.
Or how about this: Oregon State has five seasons with nine or more victories since 2000.
North Carolina? Zero.
Zero. Zero. Zero.
North Carolina has five losing seasons since 2000. Oregon State has four, but three of those included five wins. Four of the Tar Heels' losing seasons featured four or fewer wins, including a 2-10 campaign in 2003.
North Carolina record since 2000: 76-83 (.478).
Oregon State record since 2000: 97-65 (.599).
Moreover, keep in mind that Oregon State is playing in a conference that has been consistently and significantly superior to the ACC. They've got a better record playing in the Major Leagues compared to what UNC has done in AAA ball.
Is this all about recruiting? Maybe. The state North Carolina produces more highly rated recruits than Oregon by a wide margin, and the Tar Heels typically rank ahead of the Beavers in the national recruiting rankings.
But it's not Oregon State's fault that its recruiting is annually underrated. At present, there are 23 Beavers in the NFL and 25 Tar Heels. That's basically a push.
Oregon State fans have been on the whole pretty irritated for the past few years, even after last year's uptick. A lot of that is due to the rise of rival Oregon as a national power, as well as a two-year downturn in 2010 and 2011.
This is another reason to be annoyed. And, Beavers, I'm with you on this.