You can feel the season getting closer, can't you. Wheee!
You can follow me on Twitter. Doing so will dramatically increase the odds of your team going to the Rose Bowl.
To the notes.
Danny from Los Angeles writes: How warm is Jeff Tedford's seat in Berkeley? If this Cal team comes in 7th place, as many seem to predict, is his job still secure? As a Cal alumnus, I am forever grateful for Tedford's tenure, but like many other fans, I can't help but think, "Has Tedford peaked with this program?"
Ted Miller: Déjà vu.
Here's a note from a July 2008 mailbag.
Eric from Turlock writes: Gotta question for you. I am a young Cal fan, but even I can remember the 1-10 days of football mediocrity. Obviously I am very happy with Cal's rebirth under Jeff Tedford. However, I have heard many Cal fans saying that perhaps Tedford isn't the man to take Cal to the next level (i.e. Rose Bowl, BCS). While I disagree, I see that there are some valid points to be made. Do you think that Tedford will be able to take Cal to the "promised land"?
I wrote this:
Eric, go buy a case of yellow post-its. Every time you hear a Cal fan say, "You know, I'm not sure Tedford is the man to take us to the next level," take out a post-it and write this on it: "In Tedford I trust."
You can read the rest here.
As you Cal fans know, the Bears bounced back from a 7-6 2007 to go 9-4 2008. Perhaps the grumbling over last fall's underachievement will fuel another surge.
But if Cal, indeed, does finish seventh in the conference this year -- and that includes, say, six losses -- it probably would then be fair to say Tedford enters the 2011 season with some pressure to do better.
I wouldn't say "hot seat" yet, but at that point, I'd say that Bears fans had a right to be frustrated and to expect more. Tedford is paid a lot of money to win -- his $2.8 million salary ranks second in the Pac-10 behind USC's Lane Kiffin, who reportedly makes about $4 million annually (mailbag item for next week: Kiffin makes $4 million!)
That said: Let me again point something out.
Tedford hasn't posted a losing season. His worst season featured seven wins.
From 1978-2001 -- 24 seasons before Tedford -- Cal won seven or more games four times. That included 10 games once and nine games once. Tedford has won 10 games twice and nine games once in eight years.
And during those 24 pre-Tedford years, Cal won three or fewer games nine times.
Cal fans certainly should be eager for the Bears to "take the next step" under Tedford. But if I were a Cal fan, I'd be suspicious of those nagging "grass-could-be-greener" feelings.
And I think Cal's recruiting will get a positive bump after the renovation of Memorial Stadium, which might not have happened without Tedford's success.
Michael from Phoenix writes: I know that USC cannot go to the Rose Bowl this year or any bowl game for that matter but if the Trojans have the best conference record at the end of the season will they still be named the conference champions?
Ted Miller: No official record will acknowledge USC as the Pac-10 champion, even if the Trojans finish atop the standings. That's part of the sanctions.
But my guess is Trojans fans -- and players and coaches -- would be able to get plenty of mileage out of being the "uncrowned, true champions." Kiffin would probably ante up for rings and T-shirts.
Bryan from Tigard, Ore., writes: I am curious why the Coaches Poll is used as a component in the BCS standings. Whenever I have looked at the voting results from the Coaches Poll they seem very biased. East coast coaches seem to vote east coast schools higher because they know much more about them than west coast programs. The same goes for west coast coaches. Therefore, shouldn't that poll be looked at as an unreliable source for determining BCS standings? I know that any human poll will have its own biases but I see there being the potential for a lot of politics within the coaches poll (for example voting to make your conference look stronger or voting another program down intentionally).
Ted Miller: The AP withdrew its poll from the BCS standings after the 2004 season. The BCS standings now use the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll, which is made up of media members, former players, coaches and administrators.
And your point about the Coaches poll has been made many times. Another issue is that the poll is often consider the "Sports Information Director's" poll because coaches don't have time to study other teams before they vote.
But the poll has been around a long time and it's unlikely it's going anywhere.
Baal from Parts Unknown writes: TED where do get #1 RT-?? Zach [Schlink]. He didn't participate in spring drills--and had 4 surgical procedures in the last 2.5 years. Nobody expected him to contribute. It was more of a hope. This is like your worst reporting ever.
Ted Miller: First of all, I reported him as No. 1 at right guard.
Second, I reported that because that's where he was listed on the depth chart in the media guide.
So, really, your gripe is with Dennis Erickson's and the Arizona State sports information department's reporting on the Sun Devils.
Papa Mitch from Kensington, Calif., writes: You are such a bad influence. I got my plane and game tickets for my son and I to head to Knoxville to see the Ducks crush the Vols because of what you said in the past regarding Neyland Stadium. I figure we need a landmark roadtrip before he gets too grownup. Please give us your best tips for bars and restaurants to hit the night before and the day of the game.
Ted Miller: The place I always recommend is Ye Ole Steak House. It's an institution.
I fired an email to SEC blogger Chris Low, who lives in Knoxville. He added Calhoun's on the River and the Butcher Shop. Sure you can get some good bar recommendations at any of those places (I haven't been there in more than a decade).
Just make sure you get there soon enough to enjoy the tailgate. It's one of the best places in the country to see a game.
You might not want to bring up Lane Kiffin, though.
Michael from Portland writes: With regard to your House of Pain entry for UO, I think the 2000 Civil War loss was the most painful by a mile. To lose to your arch-rival (OSU) to send your most hated enemy (UW) to the Rose Bowl and set the Beavers up with a sweet Fiesta Bowl trip over a not-great Notre Dame team was PAINFUL. And the way UO lost was even worse--I think Joey Harrington turned the ball over 5 times and the Ducks still only lost by 10. I still get verklempt when I just write about it.
Ted Miller: I mostly published Michael's note because I have a new favorite word: verklempt!
But good point. Five picks from Harrington and a lost fumble (the Beavers had just one turnover) didn't help in that 23-13 defeat.
Pain meter: 1. Lose to your state rival, miss out on Rose Bowl; 2. Thereby send your other hated rival to Rose Bowl; 3. Watch both rivals win BCS bowl games while you play in the Holiday Bowl.
Rates pretty high. Of course, that was the best season in NW football history: Three teams finished ranked in the top-7 in the nation.
Robert from Superior, Colo., writes: Hi Ted, looking forward to reading your blog on a regular basis once CU joins the PAC 12. BTW, someone needs to tell Lane Kiffin that CU will not always be bad and that we will remember this. Pretty much assumed by CU fans that this is just pettiness on his part.
Ted Miller: Based on that story, holding up wide receiver Travon Patterson's transfer is pretty petty. I agree.
Brian from Pullman, Wash., writes: Hey Ted, what's on the poster behind you in your videos?
Ted Miller: That's Captain Seattle and his loyal mate Raindrop! Together they "fight for the rights of people no matter how weird they are"! Captain Seattle wields a nasty umbrella, by the way.
My now-wife and I bought the poster at Pike Place Market in 1999 when I was in the process of relocating from Mobile, Ala.
Zen from Portland writes: Ted, pardon my last rant, I was tired, and angry. I just feel like you don't give Oregon State enough credit. You project them 3rd in the Pac-10, which I guess I can see. But when you put them at 3rd you say reasons for concern are first year starter Ryan Katz, what about Oregon? You rank them first, and they are going through the same thing as Oregon State, you then rank 'SC second when they can't even go to a bowl. It's frustrating because you do this every year with Oregon State, I'm not saying they prove you wrong, but playing for a Rose Bowl two years in a row I think you would get the picture by now. This team is really good.
Ted Miller: No worries.
Both Oregon and Oregon State welcome back a lot of starters -- the Ducks 17 position players, the Beavers 15. Both are replacing quarterbacks.
As for quarterback, I think sophomore Ryan Katz has a chance to be very good. But he's never played a meaningful down of college football. Nate Costa is a fifth-year senior who's started a game. Darron Thomas is a redshirt sophomore who played impressively in the fourth quarter against Boise State in 2008. I'd give the Ducks a slight edge there.
Oregon has all five starters back on its offensive line. That unit led the No. 1 rushing attack in the conference and only gave up 13 sacks, which was second fewest in the conference. Oregon State has four of five starters back. That unit led the No. 6 rushing attack in the conference and gave up 29 sacks, which ranked seventh in the conference. Edge Oregon.
On defense, the Ducks are replacing three starters from a unit that ranked fourth in scoring and total defense in the conference. The Beavers are replacing four starters from a crew that ranked sixth in scoring and total defense. Edge Oregon.
When you toss in the fact that the Ducks won the conference by two games last year, it seems fair to rate the Ducks ahead of the Beavers in the preseason. (And the value of preseason rankings in December? Not squat).
As for USC: I ranked the Trojans first (though I'm wavering on that one). I know they can't go to a bowl, but their games still count and they will appear in the standings. They were second in the official Pac-10 media poll behind Oregon and ahead of No. 3 Oregon State.
In fact, just about everyone has the Beavers third. So my take wasn't exactly contrarian.
But I appreciate your not giving up on the Pac-10 blog.
Todd from Anaheim, Calif., writes: I was reading your Mailbag: Does anyone care about USC or Jeremiah Masoli? and when I read Zen from Portland's post, I was taken back a little. That guy seems to genuinely hate you. Do you get a lot of readers that send comments like that?
Ted Miller: Yes.
And the Pac-10 blog appreciates all its readers -- even the angry ones -- who make us a part of their day.