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Friday, July 31, 2009
Opening the mailbag: You can't handle the truth!

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

You guys are in midseason form.

Release the hounds!

Chris from Los Angeles writes: I watched the live feed of the media day press conference and I must say I was REALLY impressed with what the new Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott had to say. He seems like an intelligent and savvy guy that has big "Yes We Can" plans for the conference. It was a refreshing change from the "Change Is Bad" attitude of the last commissioner we've had for too long. Being there in person, did you come away with the same feeling?

Ted Miller: My initial reaction is positive. He is clearly very bright. And that can-do attitude you noticed is going to be critical because his job is not going to be easy.

I also thought jazzing up media day and immediately looking at minor changes that might make a major difference -- hey, let's have this thing last two days so reporters aren't left scrambling to talk to coaches and players -- show the conference isn't just going to sit back while Scott figures out what's going on.

But understand that Scott's learning curve is steep. He really doesn't know anything anything about major college sports. And the Pac-10's next TV deal is going to be CRITICAL.


Joe from Chandler, Ariz., writes: I know I am biased being a U of A Alumnus so I would like your opinion on where you think the 'Cats will finish in the Pac-10 this year? The defense will be a strong point returning 8 players and adding depth along the line. There are three big holes to fill offensively but with 3 500 yard receivers and 1 1,000 yard rusher (Antolin had over 500 rushing yards too), the quarterback just has to get the ball into the playmakers hands and manage the game. Thoughts?

Ted Miller: Only 13 votes separated No. 8 Arizona and No. 5 Arizona State in the Pac-10 media poll, meaning there's little consensus after the top four -- and bottom two -- teams.

Many seem to be predicting a fall for Arizona this year, which likely would mean renewed grumbling about coach Mike Stoops.

I don't see it. Stoops has grown as a coach and he has recruited well. He also has a good staff, topped by one of the nation's top offensive coordinators in Sonny Dykes.

I feel confident the Wildcats will qualify for another bowl game. And I wouldn't be shocked if they even end up breaking into the conference's top-tier.

One thing that folks seem to be missing with the Wildcats is their overall quality on both lines.


Masoli8Blount9 from Eugene, Ore., writes: With all the hype I'm hearing in Eugene and how much time the players are putting in during the offseason (even in the 102 degree heat we're having), this season seems to be turning into Pac10 crown or bust for a lot of people. If Fall practices/conditioning goes well at all for both our lines then Eugene will have a hornet's nest amount of buzz for the 2009 season. As a Pac10 guru, Oregon's best chance this season is 2nd right? Or can we actually win it?

Ted Miller: Can't believe how hot it is in the Northwest this summer. But you think things are going to heat up this fall, eh?

If Oregon figures things out on both lines -- and it might -- this could be a special season, particularly with Cal, USC and Oregon State all coming to Autzen.

Special at this point would not mean second place.

But as for "Pac-10 crown or bust," think about this: In 2010 nine starters (plus or minus), including quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, will return, as well as seven on defense. And coach first-time head coach Chip Kelly will have a year under his belt.

The Ducks look like a top-25, even top-15 team to me this year.

And they may be a year away from something far more interesting than even that.

Jon from Tumalo, Ore., writes: Oregon State had 7 players drafted by the League. How many teams ranked aboue OSU in the final top 25, excluding USC, had 7 or more players drafted? How many PX teams have 7 or more home games? This seems to be the rule and not exception in the B12 and the SEC.Thanks.

Ted Miller: Jon snuck two questions in. Bad Jon!

1. None, other than USC, which had 11 guys drafted. Ohio State also had seven players drafted to tie the Beavers for second-most drafted players.

2. Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford and Washington each have seven home games. No team has more than that.


Nate from Port San Lucie, Fla., writes: if Jesse Scroggins ends up starting at USC, would he be their first black starting QB?

Ted Miller: Not by a long shot. USC has a distinguished history here.

There's Willie Wood, who in the late-1950s became the first black quarterback in the Pac-10, and Jimmy Jones for starters.

Further, off the top of my head, I recall Vince Evans and Rodney Peete.


Landon from Atlanta writes: Oregon seems to be sliding down the preseasons polls over the months because of worries about the lack of returning starters on the offensive line. However, Oklahoma only has a line only 1 returning starter and 29 starts, but they seem to get the benefit of the doubt in the polls. I know they went to the National Championship last year, but why the double standard? Don't things like non-starters getting significant playing time throughout the season and having an Offensive Line Coach of the Year teaching them become intangibles that help them reload just like OU?

Ted Miller: Well... you know... it's Oklahoma. The Sooners get and typically deserve the benefit of the doubt, not unlike USC.

Offensive line, however, is a big question for both the Ducks and the Sooners.

If there is a difference, it's that Oklahoma welcomes back nine on defense (vs. five for Oregon), and most folks outside of Eugene would rate Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and Jermaine Gresham as a better start on offense than Jeremiah Masoli, LeGarrette Blount and Ed Dickson, though that's not too shabby either.

I hear you on how Oregon has more coming back on the offensive front than they've been given credit for. But, then again, injuries and a mediocre spring performance did little to stop legitimate questions about the O-line (Kelly even was asking them).

And don't worry about the rankings slide. If Oregon opens 3-0, they'll be comfortably nestled in the top-10 with California coming to town on Sept. 26. 


Stephen from Los Altos, Calif., writes: Another question, how did Wazzu fall so far so fast? Did Doba really leave the cupboard that empty?

Ted Miller: I've argued this point with other reporters and Coug fans.

My take is yes, the cupboard is that bare.

A lot of WSU fans disagree, noting that the Cougs have never been as uncompetitive as the were last year.

I talked to Paul Wulff about this in the hospitality suite at Pac-10 media day. That's an off-the-record area, so I won't quote him.

But what I will tell you is how I liked his style dealing with difficult direct questions on the matter. He refused to throw anyone
under the bus. He didn't bite when I fed him potential excuses. He was upbeat about his present team's progress -- and potential to sneak up on some folks this year -- while being realistic about where things are.

And he said "we're going to get it done" about 10 times. Whoops quoted him.


Ty from Munich, Germany: I need a way to watch Pac-10 games online while I live in Germany, what is my best option for online College Football?

Ted Miller: You could get one of these bad boys.

Or you could tune in to this super-awesome website called "ESPN.com." Click here.


Jeff from Los Angeles writes: "TED", I'm really tired of you writing negatively about USC. You should be ashamed, the only thing USC does is defend the PAC 10's honor. The rest of the schools should be thankful they get to play 'SC every year. It not only helps their strength of schedule, but it also helps them sell home tickets. So once again try to show more respect for the school with (11 national titles) and clearly the model for the rest of the Pac 10. Most writers would be honor to cover the Trojans.

Ted Miller: Uhmmm... sorry?


Rufus from San Diego writes: Who and what are you talking about?? There is not one thing -phrase, clause, or sentence that makes any sense; and taken as a whole is disconnected mush: "You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use them as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it."

Rufus: You want answers! You think you're entitled! You want the truth!

You can't handled the truth!

Rufus, google that phrase. Watch the YouTube video. Watch Uncle Jack kick butt.