Welcome to the mailbag.
To the notes.
JJ from Tumalo, Ore., writes: Ted, good take by Chris Low on Bama today. I asked Chris to explain how the schedule is put together in the SEC. The Tide 'misses' FL, GA and SO CAR. The Tide has a bye week before the A+M and LSU games. Is the SEC ticketing Bama to Pasadena?This year Oregon 'misses' USC and plays UCLA. Is there any rhyme or reason as to how 'misses' are determined in the PAC? Will this 'balance out' over time? Will the CA schools insist upon playing one another year after year? Does a school as talented as Bama need this help? I'd appreciate some detail on how the PAC schedules are arranged.
Ted Miller: Wait one second JJ from Tumalo.
You "asked" Chris Low? Did he make you kneel before him and call him "The All-Knowing & Powerful Mr. Chris Low?" He makes me do that. I get so nervous I typically forget what I was going to ask him. Of course, part of that nervousness is based on those two panthers -- Kramer and Slive -- who operate as his bodyguards. They go everywhere with him. And they always seem grumpy.
There's nothing sinister about SEC or Pac-12 conference scheduling. It just is.
As for the SEC, it's now a 14-team league that insists on playing an eight-game conference schedule. That means if you play six games in your division, you're going to miss five teams in the other division. Some years, as is the case with Alabama in 2013, those misses will be fortuitous. Of course, you also have to get through the conference title game, which often addresses a notable regular season miss, as was the case with the Crimson Tide and Georgia in 2012.
As for Pac-12 misses, it's about two things: 1. The California schools insist on playing each other every year; 2. It's a rotation. You can see that rotation here, all the way through 2017-18.
Yes, it balances out over time, though it's not ever going to be competitively perfect. Utah missed Oregon and Stanford the previous two seasons. Not sure if there's been consecutive years when it was better to miss those two programs in conference history. At present, missing Colorado is a bad thing. That might not be the case five years hence.
Scheduling, in general, is going to be a big deal when college football adopts its four-team playoff in 2014. I suspect there will be a push among the major conferences for some scheduling uniformity. Such as: Everybody should play eight or nine conference games. Period. A lack of ambition with nonconference scheduling also likely will earn a thumbs down from a playoff selection committee, not unlike how the basketball version works now in advance of the NCAA tournament.
JD from Seattle writes: Ted - asked before, perhaps not eloquently enough to get an answer, so I'll paraphrase more succinctly: Oregon - why does the kicking suck and why does nobody write or talk about it?
Ted Miller: Oregon's special teams struggles last year were a bit odd, but fans seem to be most peeved about field goal kicking, which is only a recent issue. Rob Beard was 10-of-13 in 2010 before his career was derailed, mostly by injury issues.
But the past two years, particularly last season, the Ducks haven't been good with field goals. The Ducks were 11th in the conference in field goal percentage (9-of-14; 64.3 percent) in 2011 and were last in 2012 (7-of-14; 50 percent).
Moreover, there were notable misses by Alejandro Maldonado. In 2011, he missed from 37 yards on the final play against USC. Had he made that one, the game would have gone into overtime. In 2012, he missed in overtime from 41 yards against Stanford.
It's important to note neither kick would have guaranteed victory. But it's also valid to point out that had he made both, the Ducks might have played in three consecutive national title games.
I don't think this is some secret that no reporter dares broach. Special teams don't tend to get a lot of media play. Chip Kelly was never particularly fond of field goals in any event. The reason the Ducks field goal kicking hasn't been good of late is because Maldonado, a touted recruit at the position, has struggled. There's a reason the Ducks signed Matt Wogan.
Kicking woes are pretty simple: Either your kicker makes his kicks or he doesn't. The problem for teams is a guy can make his kicks one year and then goes cold the next. It's a fickle position.
Oregon State's Alexis Serna missed three PATs at LSU in 2004 but went on to win the Groza Award in 2005. Arizona State's Thomas Weber was automatic in 2007 while winning the Groza. Not so much thereafter.
Ian from Colorado writes: A really simple and straightforward question: What are you initial thoughts on the Oregon State rebrand?
Ted Miller: I don't have strong feelings one way or the other. So, obviously, I'm not blown away, as I was with Arizona State's changes in 2011.
Oregon State fans might want to check in with Washington fans on this. In 2001, the Huskies worked with Nike and ended up with a logo that many thought looked like a weasel.
Maybe we should check in with Ezra from Corvallis, the Joan Rivers of Beavers fashionistas.
Ezra from Corvallis, Ore., writes: I've been a member of beaver fan all my life and I am insulted by the new logo that was released. It is as if Nike walked up to every member of beaver nation, spit in our face, and then proceeded to charge us millions for the privilege of having them spit in our face. Ever since the unveiling(even from the moment the logo was leaked) the overwhelming majority of fan opinion's has been one of absolute disgust. The only positive comments I've heard about the new logo fall into one of two categories: 1. They don't like it, but for some unknown reason they are hopeful it will attract recruits, or 2. They don't like it, but they hope it will eventually grow on them. Yet, there has been absolutely no reporting on how terrible the logo is, there is barely even any mention of it after acknowledging it exists. It is a topic that is being skimmed around repeatedly. In addition, I feel alienated by the Oregon State athletics department for essentially telling us that they could care less what fans think, the only thing that matters is recruiting. I understand that money is what drives football, but have we really come to a point where teams feel comfortable telling fans directly that they don't care about the opinion of their fan base?
Ted Miller: Just to make sure I understand where you are coming from, Ezra ... you don't like the new logo? Is that what you're telling me?
Maybe it will grow on you.
Gekko Mojo from Memphis writes: Your review of the submissions of other top 25's included some comments you need to get called out on. First, how can you criticize someone for leaving off a Morris award recipient (as if most fans even know what that award is) but you, yourself, leave off a sure-fire 1st round NFL draft pick? Pot calling kettle? Second, how can you justify a bias such as "I don't see a TE ever being top 5" when some TE's, such as ASJ and Colt Lyerla are effectively used as WRs (people who are, apparently, top 5 worthy) or are more critical components to the offensive scheme (e.g. Stanford). What say you?
Ted Miller: Whether fans know what the Morris Award is or not, it doesn't change what it actually is: Opposing players voting on the Pac-12's best offensive and defensive linemen. What the trophy recognizes is a great season by a lineman, so I'm not sure if there is a better way to measure a guy who doesn't pile up statistics. That's how Stanford's David Yankey became the only offensive lineman on the top-25 list.
As for the NFL: It doesn't judge a guy's season. It judges his future potential.
There were a handful of Pac-12 players who will be early-round NFL draft choices who didn't make the list. I'm assuming the first rounder you're noting is Washington CB Desmond Trufant, but California receiver Keenan Allen also is expected to be a first-round draft choice and he didn't make the list either.
Why? Same reason Trufant just missed the cut: He didn't have as much impact as the other 25 guys.
The difference? Trufant had one interception, one sack and one forced fumble.
Ekre-Olomu had four interceptions and six forced fumbles. Poyer, a consensus All-American, had seven interceptions, a forced fumble and two sacks. Reynolds returned three of his six interceptions for touchdowns (and, really, had a fourth return for a TD that was incorrectly disallowed in the Pac-12 title game). And all three played for units that ranked ahead of the Huskies in pass efficiency defense.
Of the four, I believe Trufant is the only first-round NFL draft pick. But he also had the fourth best season of the foursome.
As for tight end, that probably was too sweeping of a statement from me. If we had a dominant run-blocking tight end who also ranked among the Pac-12's top-five in receptions and touchdowns, that might merit top-five consideration.
That said: Can any of you think of a tight end who was among the Pac-12's top-five players for a season?
UCLA's Marcedes Lewis in 2005? Not that year. Too much talent in the conference. Only one I can think of is Cal's Tony Gonzalez in 1996, but he only had 44 receptions that year.