Opening the mailbag: Questioning Carroll's critics

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I worked on this longer than Carl Smith was USC's quarterbacks coach.

Drew from Los Altos, Calif., writes: Ted, I was looking at a CBS college sports early bird polls and it had Oregon 6th. This isn't the first time I've seen Oregon get this much credit. Why is this? They lose a starting RB, (they do get Blount back however) all the Offensive lineman, 2 wr's, a DE, DT, LB, and 3 Dbacks. To me, that doesn't make too much sense. I think Oregon will be good, no doubt. But 6th, I don't know about that. Your thoughts?

Ted Miller: My guess is that Dennis Dodd is showing respect for Oregon and the Pac-10. He also probably was charmed by Jeremiah Masoli's dynamic play at season's end and the way Chip Kelly runs an offense. Sixth? Maybe a little high, but Dodd's got a couple of teams ranked higher than that I think the Ducks would brick.

I think Oregon joins USC and California as a potential top-10 team next fall.

And, of course, Oregon State. Let us not forget the Beavers.

Ryan from Atherton, Calif., writes: How do you think [tight end Cameron] Morrah's departure will impact the Bears this season? Who do think will be the starting tight end next year? With Morrah gone, who do you suppose will be the go-to-guy on crucial passing plays? Also, will Cal's lack of a proven tight end significantly effect their chances of making a run at the pac-10 title in 2009?

Ted Miller: He led the Bears with eight touchdown receptions and was the second-leading receiver, so it's a hit. But the receiving corps, which was lackluster due to inexperience, injuries and inconsistency at quarterback in 2008, should be a lot better next year.

At tight end, I'm guessing Tad Smith will step in. He's far more physical player than Morrah. And sophomore Anthony Miller caught the winning touchdown pass against Miami in the Emerald Bowl, so he appears ready to step up.

Go-to guy? My feeling is Cal's strength will be having three or four capable receivers, not one who gets most of the touches.

Bob from Corvallis, Ore., writes: First off I'm an OSU fan not a USC fan but here goes... why is there such a backlash against [USC coach Pete Carroll] when he feels it better for his player to stick around for a year? ... Mark Sanchez isn't ready. Granted he looked great against PSU. But don't you think Carroll knows his players a bit more than the sensationalist media? Sanchez is very good. But not THAT good. He didn't carry his team like Ryan did at BC. He had great athletes around him. What happens when that all goes away? I think Sanchez could be another potential draft bust. And for some teams, that could be catastrophic. Who can blame the young man for taking his money and leaping to the NFL? I certainly would even in USC's system where backups can even start in the NFL. But I can't understand the dogging that Carroll is getting for seriously believing that the best thing for his player would be to wait another year

Ted Miller: Carroll deserves some heat. He didn't need to make his frustration, however valid, the star of the afternoon. That was supposed to be Sanchez, his player, who'd just won him another Rose Bowl.

I also think Sanchez would have benefited from another year. I think, with further seasoning and after a big year with a loaded offense, he would have ended up the first quarterback taken in 2010, over that duo from the Big 12. (Quick: Name all the Big 12 quarterbacks in the NFL. 'Nuff said).

But I also wonder if he'll end up the first quarterback taken this year. Georgia's Matt Stafford has two significant advantages on Sanchez -- arm strength and experience. Sanchez is better in most other areas, however, and, unlike Stafford, he worked in a complex, pro-style system.

Gary from Sacramento writes: Ted, While Byrd and Thurmond are certainly good, I wouldn't take any set of returning corners over Thompson and Hagan at Cal. You might consider adding "arguably" before the words "the best returning cornerback tandem."

Ted Miller: How about this: Cal now -- inarguably -- has a better set of cornerbacks heading into 2009.

Britton from Chicago writes: Who will USC's starting QB next year be? Mitch Mustain?

Ted Miller: At this point, the favorite is probably Aaron Corp.

Mustain has tantalizing talent. But he has been unable to stop forcing throws into places they don't belong. I remember watching some USC practices, and Mustain would look great up until the point that he threw an interception in the red zone because he couldn't stomach not trying to make a spectacular play.

Corp also has great speed, which is nice.

I am eager, however, to watch this one unfold this spring.

Michael from Alameda, Calif., writes: With all of this drama with Harbaugh, do you think this will be a bit of distraction to potential recruits and also potentially a bit of weird feeling between him and this players this season? Somehow I feel I can't trust him though he says he's 100% committed to Stanford. Oh and where do you see Stanford at next season?

Ted Miller: Yes, it is a distraction and recruits can't help but wonder if Harbaugh will be off to the NFL within a couple of years.

Of course, that's the situation with many teams. And there are reasons to go to Stanford other than Harbaugh. You know, like it being the premier academic institution playing in a BCS conference.

Next year? Stanford will finish in the middle of the Pac-10 pack but it will qualify for its first bowl game since 2001.

Adam from Oregon writes: Ted, i was wondering if you would be willing to apologize to us for having to listen to Sweatervested1 trash our conference? During the season he called our conference names like; Lac-9, Crap-10, Big sky West and Pac-1. He would also refer to USC as USCum Even in his question to you he trashed our conference. Most of us Pac-10 bloggers feel that Sweatervested1 rightly deserves what he got, so what do you think? Ive also noticed that since the end of the season, that more and more SEC people are on here, could you tell me why the SEC bloggers feel the need to come to our blog?

Ted Miller: The Pac-10 blog has only love for our SEC friends, particularly Sweatervested1 who's been having a tough go of it since the Sugar Bowl.

As for all the fans of other conferences hanging out on the Pac-10 blog, well, that's the price of being where the hip crowd gathers.

Be amused by the give and take. It's fun.