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Pac-12 mailbag: Oregon transfers, Todd McNair and USC leadership

Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.

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To the notes!

Jason writes: What are your thoughts on the whole FCS graduate transfer thing? With Oregon getting an unofficial visit from Montana State QB Dakota Prukop this is a hot topic, especially after the Vernon Adams transfer last year. Fans of other teams want to criticize the Ducks and put them down for this, but let's be honest, the results with Vernon Adams worked out pretty darn well. While it doesn't necessarily say good things about the coaches' ability to develop the young QBs, is it really such a bad thing? To me an FCS transfer is no different than a JC transfer. These are kids who want to play at the highest level and if they are good enough why shouldn't they be given the chance? Is it just because Oregon is a high-profile program and the position is QB? The point of the game is to win, is it not? If a graduate transfer from the FCS level can help a team win while also accomplishing his personal goals, isn't that a mutually beneficial partnership that should be praised rather than criticized? What say you, Almighty Ted?

Ted Miller: Jason, I hope you don't mind that I decided to capitalize your last two words, just in case my editors overlooked it.

My thought is stop thinking, Jason. Let things happen ... be the ball ... see the ball, Jason ... be the ball.

And by that I mean, is this a thing? Oregon can't develop quarterbacks? What school has been more consistent at the position over the past, oh, quarter century?

As for the FCS graduate transfer thing, it is a 100 percent positive with no negatives. It encourages a young man to get his undergraduate degree and to continue his education. It also allows him to step up a level to a higher level of competition. It's a merit promotion. That's very USA.

So anyone who doesn't like FCS transfers is un-American.

Mark Helfrich's job is to get the best play behind center as possible. He did a pretty darn good job of that with Ole What's His Hawaii Face. And he did a pretty darn good job of that with Adams this year, at least when Adams was healthy.

If Dakota Prukop -- all-name team? -- wants to go to Oregon, and Oregon wants him to be a Duck, and he ends up winning the competition for the starting job, everyone wins.

Thus Spoke Almighty Ted.

Steve writes: Why do you think the Todd McNair case hasn't been widely publicized. Is it not big enough that a judge has now stated that the NCAA did not have any substantial proof that McNair knew about the benefits Reggie Bush and his family received and that they were out to get USC no matter what the evidence was. Shouldn't this be a bigger story?

Ted Miller: It will get a lot of publicity when McNair finally gets paid. The latest news was a predictable ruling from a California appeals court. No one -- not a single person at the NCAA even -- thought the appeal would turn out differently.

My guess is you, like other USC fans, just like reading the same thing over again: USC and McNair were screwed over by an overzealous, corrupt, incompetent and predetermined prosecution.

No one thinks any differently at this point. No one. Not even the folks who sat in judgment of USC. They know how they conducted themselves.

But here is what the court said, via Brent Schrotenboer in USA Today.

"This evidence clearly indicates that the ensuing (NCAA infractions committee) report was worded in disregard of the truth to enable the (NCAA committee) to arrive at a predetermined conclusion that USC employee McNair was aware of the NCAA violations," said the ruling from California's Second District Court of Appeal. "To summarize, McNair established a probability that he could show actual malice by clear and convincing evidence based on the (committee's) doubts about McNair's knowledge, along with its reckless disregard for the truth about his knowledge, and by allowing itself to be influenced by nonmembers to reach a needed conclusion."

The NCAA's only strategy is stalling because apparently no one has the ethical backbone to say, "Hey, we need to own up to our wrongdoing and settle with McNair."

Rance "Sir Trojan" from Camas, Washington, writes: In a somewhat stunning but not entirely unexpected move USC hires the esteemed Ted Miller interim AD (later pulling the interim tag and promoting to full-time duties). How would Dr. Miller correct the malaise that has plagued this once-proud program? Other than flat out winning more football games how does the university go about reclaiming its top-tier status in the football hierarchy and manage to stay off TMZ sports?

Ted Miller: First off, I think Clay Helton's promotion from interim coach to head coach has a solid chance to be successful. I continue to hear good things about him, both as a man, leader and coach.

That said: Upon firing Steve Sarkisian, I would have requested two things: 1. A list of all of USC's top football donors; 2. A list of of the school's wealthiest graduates who aren't on the first list but are known to care about football.

I would have invited them all to dinner at Bestia, bringing in my own case of Screaming Eagle 2011 Cabernet. Then I would have said, "Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio. I need $8 million for him and $6 million for his staff. This is our shortest, surest route to a national title. Put up or shut up."

And then I would have stopped at nothing to make it happen.

Adam from Irving, Texas writes: The discussion about how Stanford could get into the Playoff got me thinking about how destructive the Stanford--Oregon rivalry has been for the Pac-12. You could argue that over the past 5 years, the rivalry has kept the Pac-12 out of the National Championship / Playoff 4 times and cost the Pac-12 a Heisman!!

  • 2011 Oregon upsets Stanford and Luck has his worst game in front of a GameDay audience giving the Heisman to RG3. 13-0 Stanford would have easily been in over 11-1 Alabama.

  • 2012 Stanford pulls a monumental upset of Oregon in front of a GameDay audience. 13-0 Oregon would have easily been in over 12-1 Alabama.

  • 2013 Stanford crushes an Oregon playing with an immobile, injured knee Mariota. I would argue that if the Ducks had won, team chemistry doesn't implode and the Ducks play the rest of season par for the course (i.e. beat Arizona; 2012 was 49-0)

  • 2015 3 uncharacteristic TOs keep the better team from winning and going to the Playoff

At minimum, the Pac-12 would have had one more National Championship, another Heisman, and more respect (and Alabama looks far less impressive).

Should the Pac-12 go all SEC, put Oregon and Stanford in different divisions and go to eight conferences games so Oregon and Stanford only play 50 percent of the time?

Ted Miller: No way on Oregon and Stanford switching divisions. That's not going to happen. Period.

As for the eight-game slate, what should happen is the SEC (and ACC) should play nine conference games. The Pac-12 taking a step backwards along those lines would be a bit transparent, particularly with the Big Ten starting to play nine conference games next year.

And these four scenarios merely promote Oregon-Stanford to the national title game. They'd have to close the deal to earn that championship.

Finally, this is the nature of an awesome rivalry -- bitter, inconvenient results. The vicious symmetry is pure poetry.