Opening the mailbag: OSU, USC & NCAA

A quick, pre-media day mailbag (my Internet connection at Sky Harbor is not terribly reliable, so this is a rush job).

By the way, you can follow me on Twitter, which could come in handy tomorrow. Or any day for the rest of your wonderful life, really.

To the notes.

Andrew from Los Angeles writes: Do you or any of your colleagues plan to speak to the travesty that is the ncaa?One school gets hammered for an assistant coach who "should've known" and the other will get a slap on the wrist for a head coach who knew and lied to cover it up?

Ted Miller: While your account is an oversimplification, it isn't by much.

It's not paranoia when someone is actually out to get you and does that very thing, and USC fans can feel pretty comfortable with the reasonableness of the position that the way the NCAA approached the USC case was unique: The NCAA decided to send a message, no matter the facts of the case. It was going to hammer USC, period.

Then all hell broke loose in college football, with several far more severe high-profile cases, and the NCAA went back to what it was before: Milquetoast.

Not a single objective person in the world could sit the USC and Ohio State cases side-by-side and decide the USC case deserved harsher penalties. Sure, you'll see comments below from Ohio State fans and USC haters spouting half-truths, but if you are familiar with the facts of both cases, they aren't even in the same ballpark.

(One qualification: We still don't know Ohio State's penalties, only that it was spared the dreaded "lack of institutional control" or even the "failure to monitor" charges.)

Think about it this way: In just a few months, the Ohio State case got worse and worse on a near-weekly basis. In four years, the USC-Reggie Bush case remained the USC-Reggie Bush case.

Oh, sure, let's not forget the NCAA was "troubled" by the campus environment at USC -- bringing in the little used bylaw "If the NCAA feels bad, it reserves the right to arbitrarily hammer you."

Bryan Fischer does a nice job of explaining -- in scrupulous detail -- the NCAA's massive failure. And, if you want a shorter version, Jon Wilner highlights some of the forehead-slapping issues here.

Steve from San Diego writes: Ted, first time writer here. Got a very hypothetical but relevant question for you that I need some clarification on. Let's say Stanford runs the table to an undefeated record heading into the Pac-12 championship game. Meanwhile, Arizona State lives up to the hype by going 10-2 to represent the Pac-12 South in the inaugural title game. Stanford then proceeds to beat the Sun Devils to advance to their first BCS National Championship game. This would put the 10-3 Sun Devils squad in the Rose Bowl, right? But hold the phone here- there's also a talented & deserving Oregon Ducks team with a 10-2 record anticipating a BCS invite as well. In a scenario where both teams losses are in-conference (yes, that assumes the Ducks beat LSU and the Sun Devils beat Mizzou.

Ted Miller: If the Pac-12 champion plays for the national championship, the Rose Bowl will have the option of picking another conference team with an at-large invitation, if it meets BCS selection criteria.

You may recall this rule getting in the way of Stanford last year:

For the games of January 2011 through 2014, the first year the Rose Bowl loses a team to the NCG and a team from the non-AQ group is an automatic qualifier, that non-AQ team will play in the Rose Bowl.

But TCU's selection last year means the Rose Bowl has satisfied that rule. So it will have the option -- its oft-stated preference -- of matching the Pac-12 and Big Ten again this go-round, even if it loses one of its conference champs when it plays for the national title.

As for picking between Oregon or Arizona State in your scenario, it's purely at the bowl's discretion, as long as both are in the top 14 of the BCS standings and have at least nine victories. The bowl likely would pick the higher-ranked team, though the head-to-head game on Oct. 15 in Eugene also would weigh heavily.

Amalgam from Reno, Nev., writes: Why does the media keep writing about Oregon running back LaMichael James relationship with Willie Lyles? Oregon wasn't paying Lyles during James recruitment in 2007-08, so the James-Lyles relationship isn't relevant.

Ted Miller: "Amalgam" isn't a real person. I just created the question because many Ducks fans sent me a link to a blog post that included this assertion.

I want to make clear that assertion isn't correct. James' "relationship" with Willie Lyles is relevant in that the NCAA can investigate whatever it wants and it most certainly will examine the nature of Lyles and James' relationship. It doesn't matter that Lyles wasn't getting paid by Oregon at that time.

Doesn't mean the NCAA will find anything. Only that it is relevant because the NCAA is looking into Lyles and Oregon and James has both in common.

By the way, the NCAA -- again -- has not formally sent Oregon an letter of inquiry yet, so we really don't know where -- and on whom -- their primary focus is.