Opening the mailbag: Rodgers' Heisman chances

Happy Friday.

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ESPN_Pac10

Going on vacation for a week, but there will still be action on the blog, including the return of our beloved "Best case-worst case" feature.

To the notes.

Ben from Corvallis, Ore., writes: What do you think would need to happen for [Jacquizz Rodgers] to have a realistic shot at the Heisman? Besides playing well in conference, do they need to go 3-0 in their brutal non-conference play?

Ted Miller: Top Heisman Trophy candidates typically need three things: 1. name recognition; 2. spectacular numbers; 3. a winning team.

Oregon State doesn't need to go 3-0 in its nonconference schedule or be a national title contender for Rodgers to be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. In fact, Rodgers already is a Heisman Trophy candidate. He figures to be on just about every preseason list of candidates.

Rodgers does, however, need to put up big numbers in big games and thereby make the national highlight rotation on a weekly basis. And those numbers probably need to be enough to lead an upset of either TCU or Boise State. But former Stanford RB Toby Gerhart showed last year that a running back from a team outside of national title contention can be in the thick of the Heisman race until the end.

Rodgers rushed for 1,440 yards and had 522 receiving yards with 23 total touchdowns in 2009. It's hard for me to imagine that he won't become a serious candidate if he improves those numbers and the Beavers remain a factor in the Pac-10 race most of the season.

Dave from San Diego writes: This question has been brought up in several blogs but it really affects the PAC because of course USC plays them all. Do you know the answer? Will omitting USC from the rankings hurt the USC opponents' "Strength of Schedule" calculations in the computer rankings? How can the "quality" of the opponent be evaluated if they don't have a rank?

Ted Miller: USC's omission from the coaches' poll should not affect Pac-10 teams in the BCS standings. It would only affect USC's position in the BCS standings, if that were relevant.

There is no longer a specific "strength of schedule" component in the BCS standings. Obviously, the computer rankings incorporate a "strength of schedule" rating in their formulas. And we don't always know those exact formulas (some insist it is proprietary information) but based on what they tell us, the national polls don't play a role in their formulas -- record and opponents' record (and the record of opponents' opponents) does.

In other words, if Oregon is fighting among other one-loss teams for a spot in the BCS title game, and one of the Ducks' major achievements is a win over an 11-1 USC team, that win will get full credit in the BCS formula.

Moreover, the AP polls will continue to rank USC (it has always been considered the more significant poll). So that potential ranking of the Trojans will be available for voters in the Harris and coaches' poll to base an evaluation of what competing against the Trojans would mean.

Evan from Seattle writes: Love the blog, read it religiously. I don't always agree with you though. A couple years ago espn.com did a piece on the most overrated and most underrated college football programs in the country. I think [Washington] was either number 1 or 3 most overrated. But the recent ranking of the best three-headed monster in the pac-10 just reminds me of it. UW number 1? They haven't pulled off a winning season in a VERY long time, yet people are always talking about how good they are in the offseason. Regardless of Katz' experience at QB, the Rodgers bros are the top two players in the conference at their positions. Where's the Oregon State love? Huskies are weak. At best they finish 7-5. They should have been 4-8 (Arizona).

Ted Miller: Read it religiously and yet you misinterpret! Bring out the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!

Our ranking of "Three-headed monsters" was only that: A ranking of QB, RB, WR troikas.

It wasn't a ranking of the Pac-10 pecking order. It didn't account for, say, defense or depth or, heck, a veteran offensive line.

And, just as I don't "get" some Oregon fans' insistence that LaMichael James should be rated higher than Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers -- other than the old "because I said so, you idiot" rationale -- nor do I get how anyone could dispute the supremacy of the Husky threesome of QB Jake Locker, RB Chris Polk and WR Jermaine Kearse.

Will that troika push the Huskies into the top third of the conference? I don't think so. But those are three really, really good players with NFL futures.

Eric from Alexandria, Va., writes: Out of curiosity, about where in the Pac-10's Top 25 list would Jeremiah Masoli have ranked had the last six months not happened?

Ted Miller: Probably No. 1.

Masoli was the top returning player from our 2009 top 30. Here's what I wrote after last season:

4. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon (9): Masoli's value? How about 28 touchdowns, 13 running and 15 passing in 2009? He ranked ninth in the conference with 55.8 yards rushing per game and also passed for 2,147 yards with just six interceptions, which earned him second-team All-Pac-10 honors. But Masoli isn't only about numbers. It's his skill running the Ducks' spread-option, which manifests itself when fans and TV cameras (and opposing defenses) find out that -- for a couple of critical clicks -- they don't know where the ball is. It's his toughness, just ask Oregon State safety Lance Mitchell, whom Masoli ran over on a critical fourth-down play in the Civil War. And it's his unflappability. Masoli can make mistakes and he can seem out of rhythm. But he always seems to come up with clutch plays at crunch time (see his brilliant, six TD effort in the comeback, double-overtime win at Arizona).

I have received a lot of notes from Oregon fans saying Masoli's dismissal is no big loss. I slap my forehead every time, which hurts and leaves a mark. But maybe losing one of the best QBs in the country is a pittance. We shall see.

Evan from Novato, Calif., writes: I was reading the link about conference names and geography on your lunch links and think I have a solution, for one conference at least. After all these conference changes this year it has proven to everyone that college football is all about money and less about the student athletes. Now the Pac 10 will be consisting of 12 teams so of course it needs a name change. Now if the sport is all about money why not sell out and go big. I'm talking real big like naming the new Pac 10 conference the Coors Light 12 Pac. Kinda has a good ring to it doesn't it?. Now in that article it states changing conference names could result in loss of integrity and following. Coors light is a national brand and could afford to put its name on a conference where yes now Colorado joins, where Coors is brewed. Stadiums and arenas have sponsorships from beer companies: Miller Park, Coors field and more. And if the argument is about having alcohol sponsors in college sports well Colorado already plays in the Coors Events Center for basketball. Any possibility we see any corporate sponsors in the new names of these conferences?

Ted Miller: Money talks but the Pac-10 is more of a microbrew conference. But microbrews, by definition, can't afford to buy naming rights.

But this might work.

Jason from Ashland, Ore., writes: Can we please stop talking about Jake Locker until he actually produces a successful, winning season?!

Ted Miller: No, we can't.

But the Pac-10 blog is selling Jake Locker blocking glasses, which will allow you to continue your required reading of the Pac-10 blog but will block out nearly all harmful Jake Locker rays (JLR).

Please send me $4,000 for a pair.