Opening the mailbag: Cal angst and some Washington candidates

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

First, let me give credit to Will from Central Oregon for pointing out the Sagarin schedule ratings that launched my post about Pac-10 scheduling.

Second, this is an interesting piece on the same issue.

To the bag....

Ben from Berkeley, Calif, writes: Another fact you don't mention (but strengthens your argument) is the extra conference game that the Pac 10 plays. This guarantees half the conference an extra loss and hurts their relative strength of schedule when you compare what the Big 12 or SEC do with that extra "weak" (ie, beat up on the Texas Art Institute for Recovering Drug Addicts... ). While I do believe the round robin is the most fair way to determine a champion, it does hurt the conferences teams compared to the other leagues with championship games and/or unbalanced schedules.

Ted Miller: A great point Ben, one that many offered. When the NCAA added the 12th game, only the Pac-10 made it a conference game. All other conferences opted to use it to grab an easy nonconference win. So that automatically means five more losses in the Pac-10, which factors into strength of schedule within the BCS standings. Meanwhile, in other conferences, you get situations like Kansas last year, when the Jayhawks got to claim they played in the rugged Big 12 but they didn't play Texas or Oklahoma. Or what about LSU "winning" the SEC last year without playing Georgia. Or, for a Pac-10 example before the round-robin format was adopted, Oregon not playing USC while the Trojans rolled to consecutive national titles in 2003 and 2004.

Frank from Redding, Calif., writes: Do you think Jeff Tedford will be on the hot seat this year as once again we are failing to meet expectations? Cal has the talent, but seems to be outcoached and outplayed by inferior teams.

Brett from Washington DC, writes: Ted, Why do you think Cal never lives up to its potential? I mean, 2004 looked like the breakout season for the Tedford era, where we would finally compete regularly with U$C, but each subsequent season has been a disappointment in one way or another. Last year obviously being the biggest. Why can't we go from a team that belongs on other teams Upset Alert list to an elite team in the country?

Jay from Berkeley writes: How detrimental do you think Jeff Tedford is to Cal football? He receives so much praise, yet his teams never seem to achieve to the level of their talent... What do you think of his decision to start Nate Longshore over Kevin Riley with Riley coming off of a 42-7 win, and then staying with Longshore after he characteristically caused the offense to sputter in the 2nd half 2 weeks ago against Arizona State? Wasn't his meager performance against Arizona this week predictable?

Ted Miller: Gahhhhhh!

Who stole Berkeley and made it into Clemson?

I just don't get this stuff. "Hot seat" for Tedford? "Never lives up to its potential?" Tedford as "detrimental?"

If you guys keep writing this stuff, I'm going to climb a tree outside your window and refuse to leave. And I'll play sitar music. Endlessly.

Hey, Washington fans, are you listening? Looks like a program wants to commit hari kari -- any interest in this lousy coach Jeff Tedford?

Has Cal had some bad moments with Tedford over the past few years? Yes. Have there been moments when he's opened himself up to fair criticism? Sure. Is his handling of the QB situation debatable? Without a doubt.

He's not perfect. But he's perfect for Cal.

Go to the bathroom. Flush the toilet.

That's my sound effect for the Bears if you run Tedford off.

Richard from Pasco, Wash., writes: Regarding WSU. What is the Pac-10 single season record for points allowed?

Ted Miller: Eastern Michigan surrendered 566 points in 2002 in 12 games. Louisiana-Lafayette yielded 50.3 points per game in 1997 (11-game season). In eight games, the Cougars have given up 385 points -- 48.1 per game. They play 13 games this year. To eclipse the total points mark in 12 games, opponents need to average 45.5 points per game.

Todd from Mission Viejo, Calif., writes: Do you think any Pac-10 team other than USC can finished ranked? If so, would winning out be a prerequisite?

Ted Miller: Any team in the conference with three or fewer losses has a chance to be ranked by season's end. So Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State and California all have a shot.

Alex from Los Angeles writes: Hey Ted, With this past week's advent of the BCS rankings, I think it would be helpful if you shed some light on just what exactly the goal of the BCS is. I could have sworn it was to find the best team in the country (ahem, USC), but the way some SEC fans wander onto this blog (presumably lost) and run their mouths, one would think that it was about... merit? Performance? What sense does that make in a sport where a team only plays +/- 12 games? We couldn't possibly keep touting this idea that we're going to be able to say someone has "earned it" (aka played in the SEC) could we? Thank you for clearing this up.

Ted Miller: Everyone knows goal of the BCS is to make sure the SEC champ is protected from playing USC.


The BCS is our imperfect system.

On the one hand, it's created a lot of debate, which is good for the sports media. On the other, it's created just another unsatisfying way to end a season.

And, in defense of our SEC friends, there is something to this "earning it."

If Texas, Florida, Alabama or Georgia emerge with only one defeat at the end of their conference championship games, they will have earned a spot in the national title game over other one-loss teams, such as (potentially) USC.

But if USC manages to get into the game... hee hee hee... somebody gonna get humbled...

Scott from Pullman, Wash., writes: Ted, Do you have any thoughts on how the State of Washington's two football teams got to this dismal of a position? Also, any ideas how they can get out of this awful slump?

Ted Miller: Yes.


That sums up my overall feeling as a guy who covered both programs in Rose Bowls and Holiday Bowls during my nine years in Seattle.

Washington is in this position because it overreacted in 2002 when the NCAA tried to entrap Rick Neuheisel in a gambling investigation that was over a whole bunch of nothing.

If Neuheisel had remained Washington's coach, Huskies fans would have spent the past few years grousing about going to Sun Bowls and Las Vegas Bowls, not going winless.

Washington State went off track when Mike Price took his ill-fated midlife crisis to Alabama. Bill Doba was a good man and a good defensive coordinator, but his recruiting fell victim to some bad decisions and bad luck. And then he lost control of his team.

I also believe both programs will get off the canvas in the next few years, though the process is sure to have its fits and starts for both.

How will they get out of this slump? Better coaching, better recruiting.

And Huskies fans need to ante up for a massive stadium renovation.

Spencer from Tucson, Ariz., writes: A banged-up USC team visits an Arizona team that is hungry and playing exceptional football at home. A
side from the urban legend of Arizona's mystical homecoming power, is there an upset alert in Tucson this weekend?

Ted Miller: I'm going to check out the Pac-10 blog control room to see if the upset alert light is blinking.

You wait here.

It's blinking!


Ryan from Gilbert, Ariz., writes: I am originally from the Seattle area and have been a life long husky fan. Who do you think is best suited to be the next coach and could turn the program back to the dominate force it was not long ago?

Ted Miller: Mike Riley. He'd be my first choice.

I'd offer him $2.5 million and I'd tell him we'd pay his coordinators $500,000 apiece and double whatever the rest of his assistants make in Corvallis because the Beavers have one righteous coaching staff.

The problem with Riley is he may be one of the few coaches in the nation who isn't driven by money. What a freak!

Then I'd send back-channel feelers to Cal's Jeff Tedford, Missouri's Gary Pinkel, Texas Tech's Mike Leach, Boise State's Chris Petersen, TCU's Gary Patterson and Utah's Kyle Whittingham.

And if that didn't work I'd then notice that many of the best hires in recent years have been top-flight coordinators (Tedford, Bob Stoops, Leach, Whittingham, Petersen, Mark Richt, etc.) and I'd do my homework and go pluck a doozy from somebody.

And then I'd beat the crud out of a leprechaun -- should a few be in Seattle this weekend -- and steal his gold and use it to finance a massive Husky Stadium renovation.

Jake from Honolulu writes: Mr. Miller, please be the voice of reason and explain to me why when all three (3!) ACC teams that were ranked loss and fell out, ANOTHER group of three (3!) became ranked faster than you can spell Willie Tuitama. Shouldn't the Pac10 have at least one more team up there, like Oregon for example? Two losses to two quality teams, and the ONLY team to hang more than 7 on Boise State thus far. Please explain to me what is going on here Mr. Miller.

Ted Miller: You mean exit Wake Forest, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, enter Florida State, Boston College and Georgia Tech?

Well, all three of those are one-loss teams that suffered their only loss to a quality foe. I actually had four ACC teams in the bottom fourth of my vote for the ESPN.com power rankings.

18) Georgia Tech
19) Missouri
20) Boston College
21) Florida State
22) Tulsa
23) Kansas
24) Virginia Tech
25) Ball State

And... knowing this is coming... here's the rest for those who are curious.

1) Texas
2) Alabama
3) Penn State
4) USC
5) Florida
6) Oklahoma
7) Georgia
8) Ohio State
9) Utah
10) Boise State
11) Oklahoma State
12) LSU
13) TCU
14) Texas Tech
15) BYU
16) South Florida
17) Pittsburgh

Francisco from Scottsdale, Ariz., writes: Ted, I am a life long Tucsonan who just moved to Scottsdale, and was able to make it to the Cal-UA game last night. I understand you were at the game in person for the first time at Arizona Stadium last night, What were your thoughts as far as the game atmosphere down in Tucson? As a Wildcat lifer, I always enjoy hearing others opinions with regard to the game atmosphere down in Tucson.

Steve from Tucson, Ariz., writes: 3 Questions 1) Where did you end up eating in Tucson? 2) Are you coming back next week for the game? 3) I don't consider U of A over Cal an upset, we just were playing the way we were capable of. With homecoming this weekend IF Arizona upsets USC where would we expect find ourselves in the rankings?

Ted Miller: First, it wasn't my first trip to Arizona. I was there in 1999 and 2003 for games.

The game experience for me was transformed in a positive way because I stayed in the University Park Marriott, which is right in the middle of everything. Great location. Great service.

Game day was solid. I'm guessing it will be at an absolute frenzy this weekend.

My problem is I headed to the press box three hours before kickoff and started typing and didn't stop typing until 1 a.m.

No tailgating fun for me.

If Arizona upsets USC, the Wildcats would probably fall in somewhere between 18-23.

And I wanted to get to those restaurant recommendations.

First, thanks.

Friday, I walked to Cafe Poca Cosa. Looked really cool.

But they don't serve food at the bar. Grrrr. How dumb is that policy? Hey, business traveler, you're not welcome here!

I may go there Friday night and just get a table because, though I walked out in a huff, the food looked good.

I then wandered over to the downtown El Charro.

Got the Carne Seca Plate. Very good.

The service, however, was lousy. My waitress completely abandoned me. I had planned to watch the Boise State-Hawaii game and have a few cocktails but I couldn't get anyone to take my money.

Still, place is cool. I'd go back.