Happy Friday. Time for this week's mailbag.
To the questions!
Cole in Green Bay writes: Saw your story on [Willie] Taggart. Pretty good. But it was like fast food. It tasted pretty good but wasn't going to be memorable because it doesn't matter. Pac-12? You guys are just a step ahead of the Big 12, which means you're only slightly relevant to the big boys of college football in the Big Ten, SEC and Clemson/FSU duo in the ACC. Yeah, yeah. USC. Blah blah blah. They barely beat Penn State which lucked out last year in the Big Ten. What I'm saying is out here in Big Ten country you've got to earn my respect. So tell me why I should respect the Pac-12 this season?
Ted Miller: Cole, Pac-12 fans living in San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Portland, Tucson and Boulder, Colorado, -- you know; places where you go for vacation -- send their greetings to the frozen tundra.
Thanks for your concern. I humbly will try to speak for the conference that has won seven of the last nine Rose Bowls against Big Ten foes, hoping to generate a modicum of respect. Because the Pac-12 looks at the Big Ten like a brother -- a slightly slower, less cosmopolitan brother, but a brother, nonetheless -- it doesn't feel right to be too severe with our West Coast counters.
The first thing I can think of is the likely 3-0 record Pac-12 teams will post against the Big Ten in the 2017 regular season. First, Rutgers will be spoken of again as if it were an FCS team when Washington romps the Scarlet Knights in New Jersey on Sept. 1. Then the Willie Taggart Era -- thanks for reading, by the way! -- will get a jump start when the Ducks best Nebraska on Sept. 9, on the same day as the Ducks good friends in Corvallis, Oregon, will vanquish Minnesota.
Of course, then there is the postseason, where I'd rate USC's chances of reaching the College Football Playoff as pretty decent. That should concern you, Cole. USC is 69-27-2 all time against the Big Ten and has won 12 of its last 13 matchups against the Big Ten. USC also has won four of five against the SEC and five of seven against the ACC.
Oh and the Pac-12/10/8 hasn't posted a losing decade against the Big Ten since the 1950s.
ACC? Well, the Pac-12 is 17-2 against the ACC this decade. What else needs to be said?
SEC? No need for an argument. Everyone in the SEC respects the Pac-12. Everyone knows that.
If this is not enough, Cole, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has authorized me to send the Stanford band to your home to serenade you in its own special way until the conference wins your all-important respect.
Chris writes: Not sure if you've already answered this but who do you think is in the position to be the next Colorado (biggest turnaround)? I think in 2 years it could be the Beavers.
Ted Miller: Somebody hasn't been doing their ESPN.com homework.
First off, I don't think any Pac-12 team will pull a reversal as dramatic as Colorado, going from 1-8 in conference play to 8-1. That's just stunning, pretty much unprecedented.
I will, however, give you three teams that are perfectly capable of reversing 4-8 records from last year. In fact, I'd rate it a near iron clad lock that among Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA, at least one wins at least eight games next year.
The Beavers are probably the biggest long shot to get to eight wins. If they get solid QB play, I suspect they'll be a bowl team and greatly improved but not yet ready to make that huge leap.
With Oregon and UCLA, I see massive underachievement in 2016. The talent is on hand for both for a quick reversal.