Mailbag: Husky roses and playoff questions

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Andrew from Thousand Oaks, Calif., writes: What do you think washington's chances are of making it to the rose bowl in the next 2 years. I really expect the defense to be much improved from last year and the offense to be very efficient so what do you think.

Ted Miller: If you were projecting a "We're back" season for Washington, 2013 might be a good guess.

Start with it being QB Keith Price's senior season. Some Huskies fans chatter about him being a Heisman Torphy candidate this fall. I doubt the Huskies will win enough for that to happen, though an upset win at LSU could change everything. By his senior season, however, he very well could be, particularly with receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins likely joining him as All-American candidates. The defense, after a get-to-know-you season with new coordinator Justin Wilcox, also will have some nice talent hitting its peak, most notably OLB Josh Shirley, DT Danny Shelton and safeties Sean Parker and Shaq Thompson.

The questions? Linebacker and offensive line.

Oregon and Stanford aren't going away, though. In fact, the North looks like it could become patsy-less over the next few seasons. But if the Huskies were to win the division -- finally beating those hated Ducks -- it might be a good year to do so with USC breaking in a new QB in 2013 and looking fairly young across the board.

Am I predicting a Rose Bowl berth in 2013? No. But the Huskies set up nicely. I'm perfectly comfortable setting their over-under for wins at around 10, which projects them back as a top-25 team and Pac-12 contender.

Brett from Claremont, Calif., writes: Do you think it would be worthwhile to have any academics or statisticians on the selection committee for the playoff? Obviously the BCS computer rankings have some serious problems, but that doesn't mean there isn't valuable information in the micro-level data coming out of games. Maybe not have them as voting members, but have some as official advisors or something like that? Or should it only be coaches and administrators that don't have a vested interest?

Ted Miller: I'm sure the selection committee will have just about every poll, metric and statistical measure conceivable available to it. Computer polls, in fact, would be good tools for making distinctions between teams that are difficult to distinguish. And there are certain to be a variety of ways computers are used to analyze schedules.

The good news is computer polls operate best as tools, not as ratings. Just about every computer poll produces a handful of nutty results annually. With a selection committee, if computer polls tells us something silly, such as not rating USC in the top-two in 2003 or 2008, we can simply go, "Well that's ridiculous."

Logan from Denver writes: Hypothetical question here. Say the playoff started this year. Oregon and USC meet in LA on November 3rd. Both are undefeated, USC wins a close game and remains undefeated until they host 1 loss Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship. Oregon comes in and wins a close one. Suppose in one scenario, there are three other clearcut teams that should be in the playoff. Who goes? The conference champion (Oregon) or the team that didn't play an cupcake OOC schedule (USC)? Or does Oregon's road win trump? Bear with me. In the other scenario, both go to the playoff as the #3 and #4 teams, win their semifinal games and have a rubber game in the championship. Great regionally, but would anyone around the country be THAT intrigued?

Ted Miller: Oregon would go because it would be the conference champion, having just beaten USC. And, Logan, that is pretty obvious.

But you do nail me on my own logic. Recall this from my column on the selection committee:

Attention must be paid to strength of schedule, with teams not only boosted for ambitious scheduling but also penalized for playing four directional schools.

This sort of statement needs to be made, if necessary: "It's great that Mississippi State has shocked everyone and won the SEC West. But its nonconference schedule means it can't be a final four team. This will be a hard lesson for the Bulldogs and, by extension, the SEC. But they surely will thank us for it later."

According to me, Oregon should be disqualified because of its weak nonconference schedule. Of course, the Ducks situation is different from teams like Mississippi State, which go to great lengths annually -- and without apology -- to avoid playing tough nonconference competition. Oregon is in a bind because Kansas State backed out of a home-and-home series. Further, the Ducks have a long and strong tradition of tough nonconference scheduling. Their 2012 slate is an anomaly and not something the Ducks sought out.

So, yes, I'm saying intention matters. As odd as it might sound, that should matter to a committee.

That said: If there's a second SEC or Big 12 team with the same record as Oregon, and it also has a major nonconference victory on its résumé, that also should come into play. Ergo, the selection committee's difficult task ahead.

As for unlikely scenario of USC-Oregon III being the national title game, folks would watch. It's the national title game. And if the Ducks and Trojans had dispatched, say, No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Oklahoma to get there, there wouldn't be much debate about their deserving to play a rubber match.

Roger from Carmel, N.Y., writes: Do you think that Marqise Lee or Robert Woods could take Matt Barkley out of the spotlight and potentially win the Heisman over Barkley?

Ted Miller: I don't think so.

The Heisman Trophy almost always goes to a quarterback or running back. Desmond Howard and Tim Brown are the only two receivers to win the award. Of the 11 winners since 2000, nine were QBs.

Lee and Woods will bolster Barkley's Heisman chances, not hinder them.

Craig from Bordentown, N.J., writes: I just read your purgatory article, and I wonder if you are aware of when you became a worthless hole in the world of journalism?I don't like to get really insulting when I write journalists; you have a job to do and you're trying to do it, I get that. Not that you're a journalist mind you, journalism is supposed to be unbiased and present facts - which you gave up on as soon as you hired in at ESPN. In this case of this article though, you're asking for it.YOU WON. The dissenters didn't have a chance. Now you're [complaining] you don't get your prize soon enough?!? ARE YOU KIDDING?!?!?! Jeebus dude, this article is so banal it's actually worrisome that ESPN pays you! Get over yourself please, as soon as possible. You've been guaranteed the trophy for the big game, but are [mad] you still have to play the season. COME ON, what is your damned problem?!?!

Ted Miller: So.... just to be clear. You didn't like my article?