Pac-12 Mailbag: Baylor lessons, preseason polls, more Husky hype

Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.

It's going to be 115 degrees in Scottsdale this weekend. Just thought you'd like to know.

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To the questions!

Christopher writes: I'm really struck by the similarities between the current brouhaha out of Baylor and the scandal-ridden end of Gary Barnett's run at Colorado. I suppose one could argue that Barnett was really fired because of the 70-3 embarrassment in the Big XII title game, but underneath that was the exact same story of the football program valuing its assets more than the voice of a woman claiming she was raped. I haven't done extensive research here, but I figure there are similar scandals living in most major football programs (Penn State and Nebraska both jump to mind). So why is Baylor's response so earth-shattering this time around? What is really going to change in college football as a result of this? What should change?

Ted Miller: What's different with Baylor is the massive systemic failure to treat a significant number of allegations of sexual assault seriously. It wasn't a one-time failure, it was a pattern, suggesting that the unwritten rules at Baylor were to protect the nouveau riche football program at any and all costs.

It's a horrific scandal and the only hope is it will serve as a turning point for how universities handle sexual assault allegations. There should be clear and uniform policies put in place for victims and the accused, and the latter shouldn't get special protection because he is a star football player. There should be due process that is fair to both parties, but football considerations should fall by the wayside when accusations are this serious.

Further, there are the lessons that seemingly need to be learned over and over again but aren't. It's not just the crime itself. It's the coverup. It's the passing of the buck. It's the lack of accountability. It's the buffoonish attempts at crisis management.

It's always better to come clean, thoroughly and objectively investigate and then to provide the public with absolute transparency. Some PR folks deny this, but you'll notice that they get paid generously to create a fog around the truth instead of reveal it.

Jon writes: If a preseason poll is not intended to reflect the ultimate Playoff committee vote then why bother? Both Mark Schlabach of ESPN and Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports have Clemson and Florida State in their respective top four. It is obviously a small sample size but what has the committee done to date to make anyone believe that two schools from the same conference will make the Final Four? Especially, a one-loss at best ACC runner-up?

Ted Miller: Preseason polls don't have anything to do with the College Football Playoff committee, and they shouldn't. They are about ranking teams from the top down and not fretting things like conference affiliation and schedule. Or, you know, games actually providing justifications for rankings. The CFP committee also has the luxury of waiting several weeks into the season until it shows its cards.

Based on what we know now, I suspect that most pundits view Clemson and Florida State as top-five teams. In fact, I'd be skeptical of anyone who doesn't.

As an additional distinction, both play rugged nonconference schedules -- both double-dip on quality SEC matchups -- so if one finishes 13-0 and the other is 11-1, the latter probably will receive serious consideration, particularly if it is being compared to other one-loss teams.

(The ACC's biggest issue right now is how much better the Atlantic is compared to the Coastal Division, but that's an entirely different story).

That said, I suspect the committee will put a premium on winning a conference title. If 11-1 Clemson, as the ACC runner-up, is being compared to, say, 12-1 Stanford or 12-1 Michigan or 11-1 Oklahoma, it will be an uphill battle to displace a Power 5 champion with a second ACC team. If, however, that conference champ has two losses, I'd say Clemson's case would be strong.

Matthew writes: As all the hype is surrounding Washington this offseason, many are expecting the Huskies to have a great season. Some even have them as a darkhorse playoff contender. Let's say that the Huskies go 11-1 in the regular season, but that one loss is to their rival Oregon for a 13th consecutive season. They miss out on the playoff but finish with a No. 7 ranking at the end of the season. Would the season be considered a success for Washington, or would they feel like they fell short of expectations?

Ted Miller: This is our weekly question about Washington's preseason hype. This, by the way, is the most popular topic in the mailbag this summer -- yes, you Oregon fans are chiming in your irritation -- which I like because it's good to see the long dormant Huskies enthusiastic and mobilized.

Oh, the fun we will have at ESPN.com if that Oregon-Washington game in friendly Eugene is of major national consequence. Sigh.

Please, I need a moment.

Washington finishing 12-1 after a bowl win with final No. 7 ranking will be a huge success, without question, even with a loss to Oregon. But, also unquestionably, it would be bittersweet. At this point, I'd guess there are some Huskies fans who would take 8-4 with a win over Oregon over 11-1 with a loss.

There is an interesting precedent for this, by the way. Washington State fans, do you know what's coming?

From 2001 to 2003, Washington State won 30 games and finished ranked in the top 10 all three seasons. It was a glorious run for the Cougars. And yet there was one horrific blotch on it: All three seasons, the Cougs lost the Apple Cup to inferior Washington teams. The Huskies won just 21 games during that span, which included the fall of Rick Neuheisel, but three came over the Cougars. And, golly gosh, that 2002 game was epic.

If you ask Cougs about this time period -- and I have had many, many discussions with Cougs about this time period -- most go with the notion that it was glorious and worth the Apple Cup sacrifice. Then they pause, recall it, and get a little mopey. It's like eating 11 of the freshest and best oysters ever but the 12th makes you sick.

Still, we're talking about the difference between a great and good season. Huskies fans should hope for a great season but also be prepared to be satisfied with a good one -- win over the Ducks or not -- which they haven't had in a while.

Kevin writes: You guys recently started a series based on which RBs will reach 1,000 yards, which WRs will reach 1,000 yards, and which QBs will reach 3,000 yards this coming season. In your mind, which Pac-12 QB will lead the league in passing yards and TDs, be it the same QB or two different QBs?

Ted Miller: Barring injury, Washington State's Luke Falk is going to lead the Pac-12 in passing yards and touchdowns, and it won't even be close.

He led the conference in passing yards per game last year by a wide margin and his 38 TD passes were second to 43 from California's Jared Goff, who you might have heard is a fairly respectable QB. That was eight more TDs than the No. 3 passer, by the way.

I wouldn't be surprised if Falk passed for 4,000 yards and 40 TDs.