Opening the mailbag: Vocal fans and backhanded compliments

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Again started from the bottom because many notes got neglected during March Madness.

But first: Two restaurant recommendations from Portland.

Higgins on Broadway. Among those who recommended this place to me were former Sonics and Trailblazers coach, P.J. Carlesimo, a savvy foodie. I don't want to say I had the best hamburger ever here -- heck, the menu doesn't even call it a hamburger -- but the fact I thought about it is meaningful. I'm fighting the urge to go back.

East India Co on SW 11th Avenue: Had lunch here on Tuesday. First flight, flavorful Indian fare. Lunch was 19 bucks with tip.

Bret from Washington DC writes: Ted, Out of curiosity, which Pac-10 teams have the most vocal fans in relation to this blog? Your ESPN brethren at times write that they don't LiveChat questions about the Pac-10 because they don't get nearly as many questions from Pac-10 fans. So, which teams fans do you hear from the most, the least, whose are the most obnoxious, judicious, etc.? Let's get a Pac-10 blog fan contest going!

Ted Miller: There seem to be a loyal group of commenters from Oregon, Oregon State, California and USC. Raymond from Arizona keeps things lively in the mailbag for his Wildcats. Some of you folks provide such good information and commentary, I take notes from what you write.

And, of course, we have the SEC presence, which is considerable in the mailbag.

I won't pass judgment on any group of fans. I appreciate everyone who visits, even those who don't seem to be fans of the blog.

I will say: I think the Ducks-Beavers stuff is highly entertaining. And I will admit that has upgraded the rivalry in my eyes.

When Washington again rises, it will be interesting to see who the Ducks decide they hate they most: Huskies or Beavers.

Nathan from Boston writes: Has an ex-JC player (like Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli) ever won a Heisman?

Ted Miller: Yes. I didn't go through the complete list but I do know Navy's Roger Staubach in 1963 and Nebraska's Mike Rozier in 1983 both were JC guys. Also, Oklahoma's Josh Heupel was second in 2000 behind Chris Weinke.

Jake from Palo Alto writes: What do you think of Stanford's position switching with Delano Howell moving from RB to Safety, Richard Sherman from WR to CB and Owen Marecic getting playing time at LB.

Ted Miller: Time will tell.

Sherman asked for his move, perhaps figuring he's got a better shot to play on Sundays at cornerback. He needs to get healthy first.

Marecic could go both ways at fullback and linebacker. He's a physical guy who's getting a look while Clinton Snyder is sidelined.

Howell strikes me as a likely starter who will provide a much-needed upgrade to the Cardinal's athleticism in the secondary.

But what I like about all of these moves is a coaching staff willing to get creative. Coach Jim Harbaugh and staff are trying to find ways to get their best 22 athletes on the field. Smart.

Brandon from Olympia, Wash., writes: Ted, I like your blog, but c'mon man do you HAVE to mention something negative about the Dawgs every time you bring them up? I swear every good thing you say is a backhanded compliment and you can't even bring up a guy like Daniel Te'o-Nesheim without almost apologizing for putting him on the list of good players. What gives bro? When it comes to 0-12, we fired our lame coach and we're movin' on. Thanks Ted.

Ted Miller: Brandon, first, 0-12 sort of looms over everything. As does 11 wins over the previous four years.

But I hear you.

Per your thoughts on Te'o-Nesheim, a couple of things came into play. First, the Huskies defense was terrible in 2008. So it's hard not to apologize for ranking Te'o-Nesheim ahead of, say, a couple of guys who started for USC last year.

Trust me: Trojans fans are going to gripe about some of their guys who got left off.

Moreover, to be honest, I was surprised at the general opinion of his solid NFL prospects. My guess is more than a few folks went, "Who!?" and I felt a need to say, "Actually, yeah."