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Friday, December 16, 2011
Pac-12 chat wrap

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

If you missed Thursday's chat, well, for shame! Santa will be alerted.

You can read the entire transcript here.

But here are some highlights, selected just for you.

Andrew (Pullman, WA): Will Mike Leach recruit top players based off of his reputation? Do you see him competing with Sarkisian for top talents in WA?

Ted Miller (3:03 PM): Leach was never a top-25 recruiter. He recruits to a system and is a good talent evaluator. But, yes, I do expect him to be able to better compete with Sarkisian for top prospects. And, yes, the buzz around him should help this year.

Jeremy (Honolulu): Happy Holidays Ted! I think I speak for all Duck fans when I say it's bittersweet seeing LaMichael go. The guy's been a lot of fun to watch. But how much will his departure really impact the team? Barner is good but those are some big shoes to fill.

Ted Miller (3:04 PM): You want as many good players are you can have, but RB is a strong spot for Oregon... Barner and De'Anthony Thomas give the Ducks a great combo, and the big kid Tra Carson will get more touches next fall.

Landon (Atlanta, GA) Todd Graham: Worst coaching transition EVER?

Ted Miller (3:07 PM) Let me ask: Who's the best coach in the nation? You answered, Nick Saban. No one ever lied as as much as Saban when he left Miami for Alabama. There's tape. There's video. It's stunning. But who remembers it? How come no one did this week while blasting Graham? Hmm.

Thomas (Berkeley, CA) How would you grade Tedford this year? How would that grade change after he wins/losses against Texas in the Holiday Bowl?

Ted Miller (3:10 PM) If Cal beats Texas, I'm putting a BIG buy rating on Cal. I see a team that got better late in year that has young talent and is recruiting well to play in a remodeled stadium that is going to be super-cool. With a win over Texas, he gets an B+. Lose, a B-. There's still heat on him. He needs to take a step forward and win 9 or 10 games in 2012. But I see reasons for optimism that he's got his feet back under him. Cross your fingers on Zach Maynard though.

Bo (OC) Ted, what are your thoughts on the recent UCLA hires? Do you feel like they are heading in the right direction?

Ted Miller (3:14 PM) I think Mora has potential to be a good college coach. Thought that way when he was a hot prospect in 2008 when the Huskies wanted him. But he has his critics. I like the makeup of his staff so far. Good hires. But we really don't know the direction of the defense yet, nor do we know if he's going to get some good flips in recruiting. I would suggest cautious optimism. Signing day will be revealing in some ways. But there's a lot of gray area with him. We can't judge him as a college coach because he hasn't been one. And his NFL background, not terribly impressive, paints only a partial picture.

Neil (Houston) Once all the dust settles on the HOW it happened, what will we think when we look back at the Todd Graham ASU hire? Personally I think he was just what we needed, the anti-Dennis Erickson. The only coach I heard discussed by ASU that I would have preferred was Whittingham, so I think it was an out of nowhere triple hit by ASU. What do you think and how do you think it stacks up with Rich Rod and Mora. Finally, now that the coaching situations are pretty settled, what do you think the pecking order in the Pac-12 South will look like? THANKS!

Ted Miller (3:22 PM) If I were stacking those up, I rate Rich Rod No. 1, Graham No. 2 and Mora No. 3, at least in the short term. Rodriguez has done something neither of the others have: Compete at a high level in an AQ conference. Graham has a solid resume, but he's nicked by the ugly cloud hanging over his hire. With Mora, you just don't know. He's got some upside and some questions. But Mora is gaining on Graham because of his staff hires thus far. As for the South, it seems wide open after USC, and even then we need to take the measure of NFL defections. Like does Utah get DT Star Lotulelei back?

Troy (Atlanta) Lets assume Barkley, McDonald, Kalil and Perry all leave for the nfl.... Where does USC stack up on a national scale? With a young o-line and defense overall and the depth at the skill spots I don't see a tremendous dropoff.. Am I just a homer or am I being realistic?

Ted Miller (3:29 PM) Those are some big losses. I'd see a drop-off. Not to .500 but likely to 8 or so wins, which nonetheless figures to be in the mix in the muddled South.

Jon (Utah) Would you take the over or under on Georgia Tech gaining 150 rushing yards against Utah?

Ted Miller (3:31 PM) Over...I'd guess around 200, which would be great against a team that averaged 317 per game. I like Utah's chances in that game.

Ryan (Centerville) Does the combination of Ka'Deem Carey, Matt Scott, and a good corp of WRs give Arizona the tools to run Rich Rod's offense with success.

Ted Miller (3:34 PM) When you look at Arizona, you see plenty of potential for a strong turnaround. So, yes, they fit in pretty well for his offense, though Scott is not a "pure" runner like Pat White or Denard Robinson. The question is defense, but even there with all those guys coming back from injury, there's hope for improvement. I think the Wildcats are a bowl team in 2012.

Jeff (Pullman) Do you see Jeff Tuel or Connor Halliday getting the start on 9/1 when WSU goes to BYU?

Ted Miller (3:35 PM) This will be very interesting to watch this spring because both have a clean slate with Leach's arrival. I'm a firm Tuel lean, though.

Tara (SLC, UT) Will Utah continue to have to squeeze every bit out of 2 and 3 star guys, or will being in the Pac-12 give them access to 4 and 5 star recruits?

Ted Miller (3:40 PM) There a danger of trying to be something you're not, of reaching for the 4- 5-star guys instead of sticking to what made you a good program. But I do think the Utes can skillfully upgrade their evaluation to include guys of a higher quality. Whittingham told me as much this past spring. But if you look at the Utes raw talent on defense... who's better, other than maybe Cal and USC?

Chip Kelly (Eugene) How can I start getting better recruits for me O-line? Why is USC able to get these guys and we're not?

Ted Miller (3:49 PM) Well, USC has always gotten the best offensive linemen. Look at the NFL draft. Kelly's zone-read offense might also not be the cup of tea of a 5-star guy who believes he's certain to to go the NFL and is sold on a pro-style offense. But it seems to me Kelly picked up a couple of good O-linemen in last year's class. It seems in terms of star-value, things are trending up. But Oregon will never consistently beat USC in recruiting, for a variety of reasons, including geography.

Launchpad McQuack (Duckburg) Overall, how would you grade the conference as a whole, pre-bowl games?

Ted Miller (3:50 PM) B-... good at the top, 2 bcs bowl teams, but after the top three mostly mediocre. The Pac-12 should have at least four or five ranked teams annually.

SunDevilPat (Phoenix) Do you think Graham's hire is going to have a positive or negative effect on recruiting? With all the Pitt players blasting him, I can only imagine kids are thinking this guy will bolt on them too.

Ted Miller (3:53 PM) This recruiting season may be a struggle. Recruits and their parents are reading the same things you are. Graham's song & dance will be greeted with skepticism. His job is to overcome that. If not this Feb., then by winning in 2012.

Paul (Denver) No one nationally ever seems to mention that part of the reason, a major part, of Colorado going 3-10 is that it lost something like 120 games in the two-deep to injuries (according to the school). Have you ever heard of anything like that? Cut those in half, maybe they're a 6-7 team.

Ted Miller (3:56 PM) Colorado had bad injuries this year. But so did Arizona State during a 6-2 start (the Sun Devils were actually healthier during their collapse). But 3-10 is pretty bleak, injuries or not. The Buffs had a brutal, 13-game, no-bye schedule. With an easier schedule, they could have won 5 or maybe even six games.