Mailbag: James and Masoli got off easy?

Another late mailbag. Sorry. Stuff just keeps happening on Fridays.

Jason from Portland writes: Chip Kelly should have kicked both [Jeremiah] Masoli and [LaMichael] James off the team. They are criminals and criminals shouldn't play college football. How can you not see this?

Ted Miller: I received lots of notes like these. This one was just the most coherent and expletive-free.

Why does this feel like I'm being sucked into a sociopolitical debate -- you know one of those where the arguing parties never listen to each other but just scream their positions with self-righteous fervor?

Some folks fall into the "zero-tolerance" camp. I do not. When I listen to the "zero-tolerance" camp's arguments, I remain unconvinced the result benefits anyone. I completely understand what they are saying. I just don't buy it.

I believe Kelly's punishment for James -- a one-game suspension -- fits his transgression. I believe suspending Masoli for the 2010 season, while leaving open the possibility he could return in 2011, is a severe punishment that offers a young man an opportunity to redeem himself.

Jake from Sacramento writes: What do you think the odds are of Masoli transferring from Oregon, red-shirting, and playing somewhere else in 2011?

Ted Miller: Slim.

For one, which FBS program take him for just one year? His pool would be severely limited not only by his legal troubles and the negative attention his arrival would bring, but also by his skills being specific for a spread-option offense.

If Masoli believes he can no longer remain in Eugene, his most likely option is transferring to an FCS program, where he could play immediately.

I hope he doesn't take that route, though. Kelly gave Masoli an great opportunity to earn his way back. I think it would be a mistake for him not to take advantage of it.

Donald from Eugene writes: If the PAC10 does expand but neither usc or ucla make the championship game, wouldn't the attendance be similar to this season's b-ball tournament? In other words, how many fans would come to watch, for example, UW vs UA in the Rose Bowl for the PAC10 championship? This is not the SEC where not only are there way more passionate fans but all the schools and major venues are located in relative proximity to each other. From a pure logistic standpoint, I don't see a "neutral" field championship game being practical.

Ted Miller: Maybe. Maybe not.

Let's take your example, though: Washington vs. Arizona in the Rose Bowl for the Pac-10 title. That's two hungry fan bases that would buy a lot of tickets. (And Seattle folk probably would embrace an excuse to escape to Southern California in December).

Would 91,000 fans buy tickets? Probably not, but I'd bet $1 that close to 71,228 would show up, which is the capacity of the Georgia Dome, where the SEC title game is played.

If an LA team were in the game, it would sell a lot of tickets. If a Bay Area team were in the game, it would do fairly well. Washington and Oregon fans tend to travel well. It's an easy trip from Arizona.

If it were Oregon State vs. Washington State, that might be a hard sell to the locals, but the possibility of a Rose Bowl berth would be alluring enough for Cougars and Beavers fans that the stadium would certainly be more than half-full.

I don't see a Pac-10 title game being a financial flop if the conference office handles it well, such as making sure that there's more going on than just a single game on Saturday.

Your point also perhaps bolsters the argument for NOT splitting up the divisions into a North and South. Putting traditional rivals in opposite divisions would increase the odds for an LA team playing for the championship.

Bruce from Portland writes: So why did the NCAA grant [receiver Darrell] Catchings another year of eligibility when he play two games last year and [quarterback Lyle] Moevao played just ONE PLAY and was not granted another year?

Ted Miller: Two different cases.

Catchings' case was approved by the Pac-10 office and was a textbook medical hardship. He has never taken a redshirt year, he suffered a season-ending injury and didn't play past the third game of the 2009 season.

Moevao was denied by the NCAA because he played five years -- he voluntarily redshirted in 2006 -- and missed only one season beyond his control.

By comparison, USC's Jeff Byers earned a sixth year because he lost two seasons to injury and never took a voluntary redshirt.

Just so you know, Oregon State officials always believed Moevao's case was a huge long shot.

Derrick from Omaha writes: I have asked this before, could you explain Costa's eligibility status? He is listed as a Senior but last year was pretty much his first season.

Ted Miller: 2010 will be Costa's fifth year at Oregon.

He saw action as a true freshman in 2006. He redshirted in 2007 (and blew out his knee in practice). He missed all of 2008 with a knee injury. He saw action in 2009, starting against UCLA.

And, yes, if Costa wanted to petition for a sixth year due to medical hardship, he'd be a long shot because he was voluntarily redshirting in 2007 before he got injured in an October practice.

Clark from Iraq writes: I have a question about your schedules you posted for ASU and Stanford. You have one playing Oregon Oct 1st and one playing Oregon Oct 2. I was wondering which one is right?

Ted Miller: Both!

The schedule posted for Stanford was for 2010. The schedule posted for Arizona State was for 2011.