Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.
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To the notes!
Matt from Beaverton, Ore., writes: I'm sure by now you've read the news about the Ducks losing Bralon Addison this season due to an ACL tear. He looked to take a huge step in becoming a focal point of the Ducks offense with Huff graduating. Do you think Oregon returns to running the ball far more frequently, or are there players you think will step up to fill the void? I'm curious how Jonathan Lloyd (senior point guard for the basketball team) pans out as a return specialist/WR.
Ted Miller: Losing Addison is a big blow for two reasons. First, he's an intriguing talent who was expected to become QB Marcus Mariota's No. 1 target this fall, an important distinction considering Mariota is a Heisman Trophy contender. Second, the Ducks are now as green at receiver as any team in the Pac-12. They will be without their top four receivers from 2013.
What's left? There's veteran Keanon Lowe, a good leader and a tough blocker, but he only caught 18 passes last year. In terms of wideouts, the next most productive returning receiver is sophomore Chance Allen, who caught five passes.
Of course, there's young talent. A top-five team with Oregon's offensive name brand isn't going to be devoid of guys who could immediately step in and shine, but how that pecking order develops is a mystery. Allen, sophomore Dwayne Stanford, redshirt freshman Darren Carrington and the mercurial B.J. Kelley are possibilities.
Lloyd? It's fun to speculate, but being a great athlete doesn't mean you'll be a good receiver. That gets a firm "We shall see."
As for compensating in the passing game, the Ducks are strong at tight end, so you probably will see more from those guys. They also, as you note, could lean more on the running game, as Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner have the potential to be a 2,500-plus-yard tandem.
One of the Ducks mottos is "next man in" and losing Addison hardly knocks the Ducks out of the Pac-12 and national title race. But if you made a list of the top-five most important Ducks in 2014 a week ago, he would have been on it.
Ray from Tucson, Ariz., writes: Recognizing that football is a big moneymaker for college athletic departments, conferences and networks, I'm curious as to whether we've already seen the peak of this sport. Between unionization of athletes and issues with concussions and the incidence of brain damage in former players, it seems like there are some issues ahead. Can educational institutions continue to feature a sport that has apparent long term consequences to the players and cash the checks without some lifetime responsibility to those students? 18-22 year olds always think they are immortal, but the faculty and administrators should know that a significant percentage of the kids have potential for injury and brain damage. Perhaps not as bad as what the Roman gladiators had, but still substantial enough that some court cases could change the financial equation. Do you think you'll need to bone up on badminton or soccer rules as an alternative sport for the Pac-12 blog at some point?
Ted Miller: This is a time of change in college football on many levels, and those changes aren't independent of each other.
We've reached critical mass with the flowing revenue and big-money salaries, where the relative deprivation between athlete and coach/administrator is impossible to ignore. We've also reached a point where we need to take strong steps to address player safety and long-term health issues. Most folks around the game see this, even if they don't agree on all the next steps.
The good news is this: Crisis often breeds progress.
As for your question, "Has college football peaked?" Maybe. But that's not my impression.
Ultimately, I don't think college football is going anywhere. Too many people love it and care about it to not figure out ways to improve things.
And the notion of no Pac-12 blog surely will motivate them all to come up with changes we all can believe in.
Derek from Salt Lake City writes: So recently it was announced that the student government at the University of Utah was proposing changes to the fight song "Utah Man" because they felt it was sexist and offensive to some people. I would love to know what someone who is not a die-hard Ute thinks about the whole situation ...
Ted Miller: It's funny how trivial things such as this are often highly controversial, emotional and political. My guess is the folks who most loudly claim they are aggrieved probably have never and will never even sing the song.
Still, my first response? Why not change it to "Utah Fan." What is lost? Fact is plenty of Utah fans are women. The assertion that "man" is an inclusion term is disingenuous.
Don't think so? Your momma is a man. See.
The story included Utah social work professor Joanne Yaffe observing, "I don’t think I’m being hyper-PC, I’m just thinking about not really being included in the song."
I agree. Perfectly reasonable observation. And reason to make a change.
Yet she then unfortunately added, "I think that the U can feel like a very isolating, unwelcoming place, and maybe this song is part of that."
Sigh. That's just gobbledygook. And disingenuous whining is a good way to lose a sympathetic audience.
If I were in charge at Utah, I'd change it to "Utah Fan."
And you folks know I'm up to snuff and never bluff.