Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.
To the questions!
Chad from Bend, Oregon, writes: I request a tirade directed at how the NCAA favors some geographic areas over others regarding the way they shape their rules.
Ted Miller: Assuming your note is about the NCAA banning satellite camps effective immediately (insert your own harrumph!).
I'm also assuming you are taking note of the immediate reaction, which chuckled over the SEC getting what it wanted -- AGAIN! -- something that yours truly even tweeted about when the NCAA offered up its news release on the matter.
The easy tweaks don't tell the whole story, though. The Big Ten was the only Power 5 conference that was in favor of satellite camps, a source told ESPN, as the motion cleared by a solid 10-5 vote. So the Pac-12 joined the SEC, ACC and Big 12 in voting to end satellite camps. It's important to remember this decision wasn't made by Emperor Palpatine, er, Mark Emmert or a bunch of anonymous bureaucrats at the NCAA. It was made by the FBS conferences.
I've read the pros and cons here, and I understand where the NCAA is coming from. If the college football nation goes all-in with satellite camps, things are going to get messy and it will become a massive pain in the tookus to monitor what goes on. Further, there's the simple idea that, say, Michigan is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and that is where it should hold all its practices and camps.
Of course, as in all things with the NCAA, there is collateral damage, and there will be unintended consequences.
The biggest losers here are those two-star prospects trying to get in front of FBS coaches -- not necessarily Power 5 coaches -- to showcase their skills. As noted here by the formidable Paul Myerberg of USA Today, most satellite camps featured an A-list program teaming with Group of Five teams. So this will hit second-tier programs far more than the Fighting Jim Harbaughs.
Even then, the Sun Belt and Mountain West voted against satellite camps, while the Mid-American, Conference USA and American were in favor of continuing the camps. So there wasn't unanimity even among the have-nots.
When we step out of the logistics here, though, the real question, Chad, is what the heck is Jim Harbaugh going to do next to annoy SEC coaches?
Jason writes: My question is regarding the whole "win now" and "what have you done for me lately" thing in college football. I'd like your opinion. Using Oregon as an example, let's say the Ducks could win the Pac-12 and make the playoff this year with Dakota Prukop starting at QB. Of course, he is another one-and-done grad transfer like Vernon Adams. The other option is Oregon starts Travis Jonsen at QB and goes 9-4 for the second year in a row, but Jonsen (just a redshirt freshman) gets a year of valuable experience and looks positioned to become the first long-term starter at QB since Marcus Mariota. In your opinion, which scenario is ideal for coaches, players, fans and media? Obviously these are all very different perspectives, but as a fan, I am having trouble deciding which I would choose. And we all know coaches have tons of pressure to win now, especially at a place like Oregon these days.
Ted Miller: I've posed this scenario to coaches myself, and I've always received the same response: The starting quarterback is going to be the guy who gives us the best chance to win right now, and that almost always means it's the guy who won the spring/fall competition.
It's not only about "win now," though. It's also about credibility in the locker room, where players expect merit to rule personnel decisions, not some possible payoff down the road. For example, imagine how the Ducks seniors might feel if their coaches were looking ahead to 2017 with their choice at quarterback this fall. Further, one of the great -- and by "great" I mean terrible -- ways to fracture a locker room and to inspire disgruntled players to whisper to fans and reporters is to allow other players to become entitled with special dispensations.
Coaches who start, for example, a five-star freshman over a senior who clearly played better in fall camp are not long for this business. I can guarantee you Nick Saban doesn't do that.
That said, the tag typically goes to the younger player, because if the competition is essentially a draw, it's reasonable to believe the younger player has more upside -- this season and the next. That reasoning also can be complicated by how youth and experience might reveal themselves in games.
If Dakota Prukop is good enough to get Oregon back to the College Football Playoff, there won't even be a moment of reflection among the Ducks offensive coaches. Travis Jonsen's skills won't evaporate if he's not the 2016 starter, and if he becomes a backup, his coaches and teammates are confident that will provide a satisfying sense of security for this season and next.
Chris writes: Yo Ted, after I read the "Pac -12's Best Secondary" debate you guys had, I went over to espn.com to check out some of the numbers. Sure enough, UCLA did have the No. 1 pass defense in the Pac-12 last season, but in FBS, the Bruins were ranked only 39th. So my question to you is: Should it be a cause for concern that the best pass defense in the Pac-12 is only the 39th best in America?
Ted Miller: Two things: 1. How do you evaluate a pass defense? 2. What sort of passing offenses did said pass defense face?
Part of this is a chicken-or-the-egg issue. Pac-12 defensive coordinators would point out that Pac-12 defenses faced nine top-50 passing offenses, including three in the top 20 and two in the top five. SEC defenses faced four top-50 passing offenses -- in a 14-team league -- with two in the top 20 and none in the top nine. Big Ten pass defenses -- in a 14-team league -- faced just three top-50 pass defenses, with No. 22 Indiana leading the high-flying attacks of the Midwest.
That leads into viewing total passing yards as a questionable measure of a pass defense. A better measure is pass efficiency defense, where UCLA ranked 26th, and a key component of that, yards per attempt, where the Bruins ranked eighth.
UCLA's pass defense was predicated on not yielding big plays; it did an excellent job of doing that. The Bruins yielded just 29 passing plays of 20-plus yards, which ranked 10th in the nation.
But positively judging Pac-12 DBs is not entirely about looking back. It's about projecting forward, and the secondary is by far the strongest position group heading into 2016 with conference defenses. Nine conference teams welcome back at least three starters in their secondaries, and seven of the eight first- or second-team All-Pac-12 DBs will be back this fall.
So Chris, if you are looking for something to worry about, it's not Pac-12 secondaries. Now, the dearth of A-list D-linemen? Fret away.