Opening the mailbag: Will USC win its appeal?

Howdy, folks. Mailbag time.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ESPN_Pac10. I have taken the big step of embracing the technology, per suggestion from esteemed NFC West blogger Mike Sando.

So tweet, tweet.

Mike from Camarillo, Calif., writes: Smart move on USC's part regarding self-imposed penalties. Accepting one year ban should keep this year's recruiting class intact because they would lose a year if they transfer anyway, and if they lose the appeal it doesn't impact next year's class (by starting the penalties a year later) Agree? Likelihood USC wins appeal?

Ted Miller: It does seem like a good move. If the bowl ban gets reduced to one year, then it will be time served in 2011. If the Trojans get scholarships back, then the appeal was worth it. If they don't, well, that means they can try their best to cover themselves by making sure they sign a full class this go-around so they have a full allotment of 85 scholarship players before the sanctions come down.

As for the likelihood USC wins the appeal, that's hard to say. Everything I've read suggests appeals are rarely successful. But it's hard for me to believe a reasonable person won't look at USC's position and see some merit: The Trojans' football program did not deserve the worst sanctions since Washington in 1993. While I was completely wrong about what the NCAA would do, I still believe I was correct in what the NCAA should have done.

I keep coming back to this line from the NCAA's ruling: "The committee noted that the violations in this case strike at the heart of the NCAA amateurism principal."

Wrong. Not true.

What strikes at the heart of "the NCAA amateurism principal" is pay-for-play by boosters -- the, "Here's $10,000. Now sign with my school." That's corruption that provides a competitive advantage. While the NCAA said in its ruling that Bush and his family getting extra benefits from would-be agents also could indirectly help USC -- the, "Come to USC! If you become an All-American, agents will give you money and stuff!" -- it's notable that the list of football players the NCAA found to be getting extra benefits after a four-year investigation started with Bush. And ended with him.

In fact, agents providing extra benefits to athletes only falls third on the list of most opprobrious NCAA transgressions. No. 2 is academic fraud.

Now, I can already hear the outrage: USC apologist.

Wrong. Not true.

If USC had received a one-year bowl ban and lost 15 scholarships over three years, I would have been writing this to unhappy Trojans: You got what you deserved. And I would have been called a USC-hater.

Under athletic director Mike Garrett, USC has been running a sloppy ship. No question that USC deserves significant penalties for a "failure to monitor." And their attitude and the way they handled their defense certainly didn't help their cause.

But the NCAA penalties against USC's football program were unduly harsh. If the appeals committee takes a full and fair assessment of the facts, I believe they will also come to that conclusion and reduce USC's penalties. Only most folks seem to feel the appeals committee won't do that. We shall see.

Joseph from Pittsburgh writes: Current WSU AD and former Oregon AD Bill Moos is putting together a proposal for Oregon and Washington State to meet annually at Seattle's Qwest Field in the "Evergreen Cup." I've read projections attributed to Moos from Cougar blogs in the neighborhood of $1 million payout for each team. Although it would be great for Oregon to play annually in the University of Washington's backyard while never having to travel to Pullman, the revenue projections seem unrealistic. This proposal isn't exactly the Red River Rivalry. Oregon would lose a sellout home game at Autzen every year that it is the designated home team in Seattle. Furthermore, with WSU being miserable, there is no guarantee this game will attract a television slot. Am I naive with my hesitancy, after all there is neither a title sponsor that I know of nor a Pac-10 network yet, or should I give Moos the benefit of the doubt as a shrewd AD who I'm thankful for all the success he empowered while at Oregon?

Ted Miller: Having the game in Seattle every year is probably more of a benefit for Washington State, but if the end result is more money for both schools, then my guess is both schools could justify making the move.

Both get recruiting benefits playing in Seattle, where a significant amount of Northwest football talent is located. While the Ducks lose a home gate, they make up for that by not having to visit Pullman, which I'm guessing won't upset them.

And Cougar football won't always be in the dumps. Promise. This could once again become a spirited rivalry, one that features ranked teams.

Can Moos put a deal together that pencils out? Not sure. But he's always struck me as a forward-thinking leader who can make big things happen.

Also, I'm guessing having Washington's two fiercest rivals squaring off in Husky territory would be great fun for Cougars and Ducks fans. And Qwest is a great stadium.

Braden from Mapleton, Utah writes: I grew up and spent most of my life in Eugene, so I'm a die hard Ducks fan, but now live just south of Provo, UT where its predominately BYU fans. Now that Utah is headed for the Pac-10, there are tons of angry BYU fans. I don't think BYU was ever really an option, but just to cool some boiling blood in these parts, why pick the Utes over the Cougars?

Ted Miller: Wait. My answer is supposed to cool boiling blood? How the heck would it do that?

The Pac-10 picked Utah because BYU was just too big and bad and cool and smart. Will that help?

My standard answer: Utah is a better fit for the Pac-10, culturally and academically.

Doug from Los Angeles writes: Why no love for any Beavers on the top 25 list yet? I thought we would have a couple on there by now.

Ted Miller: Really? Think of the Beavers you think should be on the list. Now where should they be ranked?

Get it?

Glen from Sacramento writes: I'm sure you've gotten many questions from Pac-10'rs about the divisional makeup. On our Cal boards, I floated the idea of a 3x4 makeup (instead of 2x6), where the NW, CA, and AZ/UT/CO schools would make up the 3 divisions. Another poster, DD, noted that 3x4 would violate BCS rules, and that other schools really want "equitable" access to the LA schools. He posed a pretty smart solution. It goes like this:1. Two - 6 team divisions (complying with BCS rules) 2. Division members change every year. 3. Arch-rivals always reside in same division. 4. Major Region rivals always reside in separate divisions, but play each other every year. (Oregons in Div A, Washingtons in Div B, but guaranteed to play) 5. 9 game conference schedule - playing your 5 division foes, 2 regional foes (in other division), and 2 of the remaining 4 other division foes. This would give all teams pretty good access to the LA's (with Norcal schools maintaining every year rivalry). It would keep arch rivals from meeting in conference championship game (conf championship wouldn't become a re-hash of rivalry week), and would keep regional rivalries intact.What say you to this concept?

Ted Miller: You do know it's Friday afternoon right? You Cal fans. I became a sports writer so I didn't have to take calculus.

I actually delayed cocktail hour and thought about this: Pretty cool. But the chief problem is complexity: If teams change divisions every year, how is anyone going to be able to keep up? As in: Oregon is a North Division power! No, the Ducks are in the South Division. This year.

What you're actually looking for is a way to manipulate the conference schedule in a way that satisfies as many constituencies as possible. My guess is that is what Larry Scott and the athletic directors also will try to do. But I think the end result will be two six-team divisions with permanent football members.

"You're an idiot" from Parts Unknown writes: How does it feel to be so stupid?

Ted Miller: It hurts, but my wife likes it because I'm easy to manipulate.