Mailbag: Ragings & Rose Bowl scenarios

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To the notes!

Steve from Eugene writes: So Ohio State can't go to a bowl game. Penn State can't go to a bowl game. Is it possible that the Rose Bowl will be stuck with the 3rd place team from the Big 10?

Ted Miller: Maybe. The Rose Bowl picture is decidedly strange.

Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions, but because they are both in the Big Ten Leaders Division, at least one would be canceled out of the picture in any event. It's too bad about Ohio State, because the unbeaten, ninth-ranked Buckeyes and new coach Urban Meyer would be a nice team and story for the Rose Bowl to put opposite a Pac-12 foe.

Because of Ohio State and Penn State are unavailable, you can pencil in Wisconsin for the Big Ten title game, which means the Badgers are in line for a third consecutive Rose Bowl berth, despite their slow start.

The Legends Division is pretty wide open. The Michigan-Nebraska game on Saturday could provide some clarity, but the top teams -- Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern -- have mostly not played each other. Things could get nutty.

Let's just say it now: The Rose Bowl wants Michigan, presently ranked 22nd in the BCS standings, to run the table. If the Wolverines do so, they will rise in the rankings to a respectable level. Further, they are a classic team with an exciting star in QB Denard Robinson, and they haven't played in the Rose Bowl since 2007.

Nebraska might be a nice second choice. Cornhuskers fans travel well, and there would be some newness there, seeing the Cornhuskers' two Rose Bowl berths were in 1941 and the BCS title game against Miami after the 2001 season.

Some of you have wondered about a possible Wisconsin-Oregon State rematch, if Oregon earned a berth in the national title game. Or whether the Rose Bowl might spurn the 11-1 Beavers for USC, even if the Trojans have three losses.

That's a tough one because the Rose Bowl would have no head-to-head game forcing its hand. USC is a big show that drives TV ratings, and it would be QB Matt Barkley's final college game.

But my guess is that if Oregon State were 11-1, losing only to Oregon, it would be the pick. The Beavers would still be ranked in the top 10, and USC would need a lot of things to swing its way for it to be ranked in the top 14 of the BCS standings, a prerequisite to be selected for a BCS bowl game.

And even if USC, at 10-3, was, say, 13th, I think the Pac-12 would push the Rose Bowl to go with an Oregon State team that was, say, seventh.

Matt from Eugene, Ore., writes: The pac-12 Championship game is scheduled for November 30th at 5pm, and Oregon St is scheduled to play Nicholls St on December 1st at 11:30am. What happens if Oregon St wins out and finds themselves in the championship game? Do they play 2 days in a row? can one of the games be rescheduled to compensate? Maybe the biggest question, did Oregon St not believe they had a chance to be in the championship game when they knowingly rescheduled the Nicholls St game for the day after the championship game?

Ted Miller: If Oregon State wins the North Division it will play for the Pac-12 championship on Nov. 30 and there will be no game with Nicholls State, an FCS team.

The Nicholls State blogger then will write about how Oregon State chickened out of its contracted game.

Derek from Manhattan, Kan., writes: Sorry Ted,Your argument still sucks. You're trying to paint K-State into a gutless corner by suggesting that because Oregon cancelled the game with K-State to instead play LSU, K-State is at fault for not rescheduling?Well, I don't know if you've checked KSU's non-conference schedule from the past and into the future but K-State only plays three non-conference games a year. I know, just like Oregon. But in the past two seasons the Wildcats have played Miami, and coming up in 2014, Auburn will come to Manhattan. I can hear your counter-arguments already. But my main point is this. Calling another program and a coach with the record of Snyder cowardly is tactless and unprofessional. Don't you have better things to do with your time than nitpick about the scheduling habits of other teams? What does this achieve? What is your end game?Kansas State is a quality school and a quality program built from ashes without the deep pockets of someone like Phil Knight. Bill Snyder has his methods and trains his players to not only be winners on the football field, but winners in life.For you to spend your time questioning him shows a lack of respect and character that is unprecedented even by ESPN's standards.Please know I wouldn't normally do this but I just don't understand your point. Please enlighten me.

Scott from Manhattan, Kan., writes: The issue with your article is not necessarily your stance on the situation (even though it was reached through a biased interpretation of facts) but instead with the method in which you relay the information. I understand that Oregon is upset with Kansas State for cancelling the game, but the circumstances are understandable and no one could have predicted this situation two years ago. I don't believe that you will actually read and respond to my email, but I at the very least hope you are open minded enough to listen to the other side of the story before you make up your mind.

Ted Miller: Scott sent me a six-part email that probably took a lot of time to write but it is too long to print entirely here. He didn't convince me on many counterpoints with this whole Oregon-State-Kansas State scheduling tempest in a teapot, but he did convince me he was highly intelligent, certainly a brighter bulb that your humble Pac-12 blogger.

Derek also raises an issue that I want to clarify: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

Bill Snyder is one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. He's certainly among the top five in the business today. What he built in the college football nether region of Manhattan, Kan., and then -- perhaps just as impressive -- rebuilt is amazing. I remember talking to former Wildcats defensive coordinator Phil Bennett about him before the 1999 Holiday Bowl, and he lavished praise on Snyder, not just as a coach obsessed with details but as a person who genuinely cared about his staff and players.

When I write that Kansas State "chickened out" of a game with Oregon, I am being intentionally provocative on a single issue. I'm not passing judgment on an institution, coach or football program. Yes, I am willfully stirring things up, though I would hasten to add nothing I wrote qualifies as factually inaccurate (Calling me an idiot over and over again doesn't magically make me wrong. Sorry about that).

Stirring things up is one of the things we do in the business of covering sports. The Pac-12 blog allows me to wear many hats. Some days I'm a straight reporter. Some days a columnist. Some days I write features on players. And some days I'm a provocateur, which I enjoy (Ducks-Huskies, discuss!)

I think this Oregon-Kansas State scheduling thing will prove ultimately meaningless. Odds are one or the other -- or both -- will lose and thereby probably eliminate itself from the national title hunt. And if Oregon and Kansas State win out, I think the Ducks will remain ahead of the Wildcats in the human polls and it will be up to the computers to either reverse their order or not. The computers don't read the Pac-12 blog, though I think we all can agree they would have loved the Madonna and Anderson Silva references.

I do not think pollsters will downgrade Kansas State because of this scheduling issue. Further, if you Kansas State fans want to talk pollsters, you may want to consider my voting patterns for your team.

The genesis of my bit of puffery was this: A Ducks-say/Wildcats-say controversy is timely and I had this itty bitty hunch that taking a side might generate a reaction, particularly if I decided to be obnoxious. I was right about that. I also thought my tone on an issue that falls a wee bit below on the seriousness meter of something like, say, national security would at least amuse a few Kansas State fan. I was -- mostly -- wrong about that.

Further, if you've read the Pac-12 blog often, you know that one of my obsessions is nonconference scheduling. For one, great inter-conference matchups between A-list programs are about the best thing going on college football, other than rivalry games. They certainly reward fans with quality games to watch live or on TV. Second, it gives us a good measuring stick for teams and conferences.

I think teams that go coward with their scheduling need to be needled. Relentlessly. If I do have a problem with Snyder, it's his unabashed dislike of challenging nonconference games, though his attitude about them seems to have changed a little bit since the snafu in 1998.

Further, trash talking this deal with Kansas State forced folks to understand why Oregon's 2012 nonconference schedule is so horrid. The Ducks have a long and impressive history of strong scheduling, and it was unfair they were being maligned on the matter.

Anyway, just wanted you Kansas State fans to know that I read all your mail and hope that one day maybe we can be friends again.

Russell from Topeka, Kan., writes: After reading several of your articles, all I can say to you sir is you are a Moron. You will probably vote for Obama based off of his wonderful track record with the economy and how he has done so much for the U.S.Sir I have served 3 deployments as a combat medic, and I can tell you are a liberal moron who judges people off of intent and not result or even actual actions. Thank you for reminding me why I am ashamed to be an american and for being one of the talking heads that is killing the purity of sport. The only problem with the BCS is media keeps interfering in it.May you have a wonderful weekend full of everything you deserve.

Ted Miller: So, just to be clear.... not a fan, eh?

Name Withheld from an Undisclosed Location: Let me start by saying that I'm not worried at all my name is attached to this email. Let me explain: I just read your K-state fan mail piece. I was at first angered--obviously as a HUGE Duck fan--and then a sense of calm, companied by a gigantic smile enveloped me like a warm blanket. Picture the Grinch. See, more then ten years ago, while I was stationed at Ft. Riley, I went on a mid night mission with two of my buddies from Basic who were from Nebraska. Back then I was down for whatever. Can you guess what we did? Yes, I was one of the three young men that painted that gigantic, white, K S Cornhusker Red When Nebraska came to town. Hell Yeah baby! I hadn't thought about that in years. How often do you get to feel awesome about something twice?

Ted Miller: I'm hoping, with this note, to refocus the ire of Kansas State fans.