Monday, July 19, 2010
Post-vacation Mailbag: What's the plan for the title game?
By ESPN.com staff
Wanted to hit the notes that were neglected during my week of vacation.
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Troy from Portland writes: One thing I have struggled with is why OSU seems unattractive to the high end receivers. Is it just the locale? After the success of 2000, and the receiver that shall not be named, my assumption was OSU showed itself as a destination that could showcase a talent with its system.
Ted Miller: You are right. Oregon State hasn't had any good receivers since Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh teamed up in 2000.
Other than James Newson (first-team All-Pac-10 in 2003). Or Mike Hass (two-time first-team All-Pac-10 and the 2005 Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's best receiver). Or Sammie Stroughter (first-team All-Pac-10 in 2008). Or this James Rodgers guy (first-team All-Pac-10 in 2009).
Do you FEEL my sarcasm spewing through your computer screen?
In fact, seeing that the Beavers have seven times produced a first- or second-team All-Pac-10 receiver over the past 10 seasons, you might ACTUALLY say that no other Pac-10 program -- other than USC -- even approaches Oregon State's success producing elite, productive receivers over the past decade.
Now, if you are talking about recruiting rankings, perhaps you are correct. Plenty of other programs have been able to attract 18-star recruits who went on to find comfortable spots on the bench where they could, presumably, read about those lowly 1/2-star recruits for the Beavers catching a bunch of passes and earning postseason honors.
Eric from Arizona writes: You are killing me. Even in most other Pac-10 teams' "worst case" scenarios they beat the Sun Devils. I am not optimistic about the Devils this year, but come on. You don't even give us a shot when the other team's wheels fall off? Worst case, a demoralized Huskies team still beat ASU with a backup quarterback no one has heard of? Is ASU that bad? Have we been bad neighbors? Are you mad about the immigration law? Are you frustrated with the 115 degree temps? What have we done to deserve this?
Ted Miller: Yes, I am frustrated with the 115 degree temps. You folks are great neighbors. I don't do politics on the Pac-10 blog.
Look, I hear you. One of the challenges of doing these "best and worst case" pieces is making sure all the dots connect. And there's also the "collateral damage" of teams that serve as sacrificial lambs in the worst-case scenarios.
The reason Arizona State loses to Washington in the Huskies' "worst case" is twofold: 1. I have picked Arizona State to finish ninth in the conference, so it makes sense based on my media poll vote that it will take it on the chin a few times; 2. It would be far more galling for Huskies fans to lost to Washington State than Arizona State.
As for how "bad" the Sun Devils are, it's more a case of the conference's depth. I see ASU as team that should be competitive in just about every game it plays, and I certainly wouldn't be shocked if the Sun Devils ended up in a bowl game.
Morgan from Los Angeles writes: I follow college football recruiting pretty religiously and recently I have found myself confused at how USC is not seeming to be affected by its scholarship restriction. According to most recruiting Web sites, they already have close to 10 commits for the class of 2011, but have many, many other offers out there for top prospects. How can this be? If even 1/4 of the other recruits that they have offered accept the scholarships, it seems as though they would be over their limit given the sanctions they are operating under. When the sanctions came down, I thought they would be forced to be much more selective and possibly even retract some offers for prospects in this class. Can you help me understand?
Ted Miller: USC is appealing its NCAA sanctions, therefore its 2011 recruiting class won't be limited. You should expect the Trojans to do everything they can to stock up this go-round.
And top prospects will continue to look seriously at USC even when the sanctions do hit. Why? Because USC remains USC: It's an NFL factory and one of the premier programs in the country.
Peter from Palo Alto, Calif., writes: How is Rose Bowl selection affected by the bowl-ineligibility of USC. If USC wins the PAC-10 and is disqualified, does the Rose Bowl have to take the second place PAC-10 team? Or is the Rose Bowl free to select whomever they like from other conferences?
Ted Miller: Here's how it goes this season: USC won't win the Pac-10, even if it does. So the conference actually functions as a nine-team league this season (and if USC loses its appeal, it also won't be eligible in 2011). The top team from that nine will go to the Rose Bowl.
Unless, of course, that team is selected for the national title game. At that point, there is a new BCS rule you may want to be aware of: "For the games in January 2011 through 2014, the first year the Rose Bowl loses a team to the [national championship game] and a team from the non-AQ group is an automatic qualifier, that non-AQ team will play in the Rose Bowl."
So, say, undefeated Stanford is selected to play Alabama in the national title game on Jan. 10 in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. That wouldn't mean that the next team in the Pac-10 standings would become the Rose Bowl representative -- the slot would go to a non-AQ team.
Jason from Emeryville, Calif., writes: Where do you feel the Pac 10 championship game should be played, and where do you think it will end up being played in the future?
Ted Miller: I think the best course is to allow the No. 1 seed to host the game.
The wisdom there is twofold: 1. Giving the No. 1 seed an advantage is both fair and better for the conference's national title prospects; 2. The game is far more likely to sell out than if it were at a neutral site.
On the downside, not knowing where the game will be played in advance of the season makes it harder to plan, both for the Pac-10 (which wants to make the championship game an "event") and for any broadcast partners. Moreover, it wouldn't be ideal if the game ended up in Pullman or Corvallis.
But based on what we've seen so far out of commissioner Larry Scott, I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't have a grand plan, which might include giving the game a permanent home -- perhaps University of Phoenix Stadium -- or rotating the game among major Pac-10 cities.
Damon from Tucson writes: I just read your Best case-worst case: Arizona and it all sounds pretty good, but in the worst case part you talk about UA and ASU both being 5-6. You say that each needs to win the game in order to become bowl eligible. This is correct for Arizona however if you are counting ASU's wins against Portland State and NAU then you must know that a school can only count one win against FCS opponents toward bowl eligibility, so ASU must be 7-5 at the end of the year to play in a bowl. Just thought I would point that out.
Ted Miller: You are correct. My bad. Arizona State, because it plays two FCS foes this season, needs to finish 7-5 to become bowl-eligible.
Brandon from Davenport, Iowa writes: Your "worst case scenario" for Arizona is losing to Iowa by less than two touchdowns?!? Seems to me that is more of a best-case scenario. Arizona lost too much talent to beat Iowa with the defense that they have this season.
Ted Miller: Hmm. Got a couple of notes like this. Iowa fans seem really confident.
We shall see.
Bryan from Berkeley, Calif., writes: Like you I have had a great time laughing at [former Arizona State receiver] Isaiah Mustafa's Old Spice ads and was wondering if you have seen his new video responses to twitter and fan mail. Thought you might enjoy it. This new level of ridiculousness can be seen in this link.
Ted Miller: If that doesn't make you laugh, you are probably dead.