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To the notes:
Kaleb from Afghanistan writes: Ted, I am a beaver faithful and i always listen to Coach Riley's decisions with no questions, but this QB controversy is not what we need before a trip to Wisconsin, i mean even Peyton Manning has a bad game every now and then.
Ted Miller: First of all, thanks for your service. And stay safe.
I hear you. If you had said Ryan Katz's starting job would be at-risk before the Beavers went to Wisconsin in the preseason, I would have been my most smugly dismissive, which is really, really smugly dismissive.
I think this article lays things out pretty well.
1. Yes, Katz is shocked and unhappy that he will share the ball in Madison with redshirt freshman Sean Mannion.
2. But the foundation for coach Mike Riley's decision is simple: competition. Mannion has been playing better than Katz on a consistent basis.
This isn't about Riley scapegoating Katz or being disloyal. This is about him watching practices, noticing a pattern and concluding that it's possible the offense will be better off with Mannion.
Am I surprised by that? Yes. But I haven't watched a bunch of Beavers practices. This quote from Riley, speaking to his beat writers -- who have watched practices -- is telling.
"You guys saw it. You saw what was going on," Riley said.
That reads a bit like an appeal from Riley to his beat reporters to get the message out: This isn't personal. It's a business decision for the sake of the program.
Does this have the potential to blow up? Absolutely. Is it possible Mannion's alluring upside won't actually match Katz's experience when the screws tighten? Absolutely.
But this isn't Riley's first square dance. And just because he's a nice guy doesn't mean he can't make tough decisions.
Katz needs to win back his job at Wisconsin. And if Mannion outplays him, the Beavers might make a permanent switch.
Ken from Berkeley writes: Isn't Lou Holtz correct that a conference with 16 teams is just two 8-team conferences? With 7 division games, do you play a random and unbalanced 2 or 3 teams from the other division or play 4 of the other 8 and one warm-up game against Div. I-AA? Do division games only count towards division champ?
Ted Miller: Yes, a 16-team league will feel less like a conference and more like an alliance. The leading theory of how it would come together for the Pac-16 -- with a West Division old Pac-8 and an East Division Big 12 plus Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State -- would create divisions that were distinctly different in geography and culture -- academic and otherwise.
As to how things would play out with scheduling, I don't know. First you get the teams, then you start that debate, which is what happened when the conference added Utah and Colorado -- recall the geography versus zipper debate, which geography (North-South) won.
It would seem that in a 16-team league, particularly if there is widespread, national consolidation and multiple 16-team leagues appear, that the conference schedule could be expanded. You could play a 10- or 11-game conference schedule -- seven divisional games and three or four cross-over games -- which would make scheduling easier for athletic directors. It's also possible that with a confederation of 16-team leagues, the regular season schedule could be increased to 13 games, though expanding the length of the season was always one of the reasons (excuses?) that playoffs got the kibosh from school presidents.
We don't know how the landscape would change if, say, we ended up with four 16-team leagues. It would seem the distance between the haves and have-nots would grow larger. What that might mean for nonconference scheduling is unclear. There are always unintended and unexpected consequences after major changes in previously stable systems.
And, while we're telling you we have no idea what's next, we might as well add that the BCS system doesn't seem workable with four 16-team leagues. To me, such a dramatic landscape change would almost inevitably lead to a playoff.
Rob from Phoenix writes: So I would like to know how the potential expansion would play out from a divisional standpoint. I cannot see the Arizona schools, Colorado, and Utah going along with expansion if it means that they would have to play away from their alumni bases and, with the exception of Texas, paired with schools that are academically and culturally a very bad fit.
Ted Miller: The Arizona schools, Colorado and Utah are likely the least excited folks about a potential Pac-16. But if Texas and Oklahoma opt to join the Pac-12, and Texas Tech and Oklahoma State come along to make 16, it's 100 percent going to happen, no matter the objections.
Why? Well, for one, it will further enrich the conference. I'm not sure how many more million per team, but it will be a few.
Second, it likely will be a necessity. If the conference expands to 16, it will be because the national landscape is dramatically shifting again and the conference will be making -- forced to make, in fact -- strategic moves that benefit it long-term.
We can all agree Larry Scott is smart, right? He thinks this is the inevitable future. He didn't come to that decision on a whim. He studied a lot of data, talked to a lot of experts and used his Harvard-educated brain to make an informed deduction.
And my feeling is the conference presidents will still say: "In Larry, we trust."
John from Maui writes: Regarding the Oregon vs. LSU game, where LSU fielded a more experienced & bigger team compared to Oregon, which is rebuilding in many of its key positions. The game showed that currently Oregon is not a top-5. However, Oregon may find themselves at year end in a similar situation as UCLA did in 1975 when they lost to Ohio State (under Woody Hayes) early in the season, 41-20. At year end, UCLA won the 1976 Rose Bowl against undefeated and No. 1 ranked Ohio State, 23-10 (which featured 2X Heisman winner Archie Griffin). Great game for Bruin fans! It took a whole season for UCLA to develop into a top-5 team (I believe they finished No. 3). Same could happen to Oregon, they could improve into a top-5 team.
Ted Miller: That is certainly a scenario that would be appealing to the Ducks. And not completely ridiculous.
Of course, UCLA's then-coach Dick Vermeil bolted after that season for the Philadelphia Eagles. So I'm sure there are certain parallels Ducks fans would want to avoid.
Micah from Berkeley writes: A lot has been made of the new conference members, especially Utah, "validating" themselves as quality teams. My question is, what would be both Utah and Colorado's ideal conference records (who they would beat/lose to and by how much) so that the Utes and Buffs look like quality additions to the conference without making the "old" Pac-10 look weak?
Ted Miller: Not sure there is a correct answer to this. Or if it really matters that much, long term.
While Utah and Colorado fans would love to win double-digit games, if one or both did so this fall, it would inspire some derisive talk about the old Pac-10.
And if Utah and/or Colorado were to lose double-digit games, it might make the old Pac-10 look strong, but it would inspire derisive talk about the conference adding a couple of weaklings.
But, really, one season won't tell the story on the addition of Colorado and Utah. Both these programs have won before -- the Utes recently; Colorado in the not-to-distant past -- and will again. If one -- or both -- are giving the Pac-12 a second BCS bowl berth over the next five years, it will be a win for that team and a win for the conference. Shortly, we will all be one big, happy family with no looking back to old affiliations.
Jacob from Vancouver, Wash., writes: What do you think are the chances of Oregon and Maryland opening next season with a neutral site game in Milan, with the winner being declared fabulous for the rest of the season?
Ted Miller: Ladies and gentlemen, Jacob wins note of the week.