Early departure analysis fuels flood of e-mails

The e-mails, like Tennessee, took time off for most of the season. Their union demanded a new contract (the e-mails, not Tennessee) and, let's face it, in these uncertain economic times, we couldn't meet their demands. So we let them walk.

They have come back, and they are not happy about it. The e-mails burst forth in rage over my analysis of which schools crossed the early-signing deadline looking good and which didn't.

Either I did a poor job of explaining what I measured in the column or reading comprehension is falling to appalling levels. I'll take the blame on this one. All I looked at is whether a team will be better off or worse off based on who it lost. Many of you took my determination that USC will suffer for losing four starters and LenDale White as if I wrote that the Trojans will not be good next season.

No, no, no.

What I said was that the Trojans won't be as good next season as they would have, if those five players stayed. You don't have to be Mel Kiper to figure that out.

That said, why did I say Texas will thrive after losing Vince Young? I'll admit to grading the Longhorns on the curve, but I don't think they will fall off the map the way that many of you do. They have a very good team coming back.

The comparisons many of you made to Oklahoma and its struggles with Rhett Bomar this season are unfounded. The Sooners struggled because the offensive line fell apart during the first game and because Adrian Peterson didn't return to full health until the last couple of games.

Also, my fingers ran out of control on Ohio State. I said the Buckeyes have seven starters returning on defense. No, they have seven starters returning, period. That's why the loss of three All-Big Ten players will leave a bruise.

On other topics, most of you agreed with my column about Marcus Vick's dismissal from the Virginia Tech football team, at least those of you who didn't call me an unsympathetic racist (Hi, Mom!). No, it wasn't Mom. In particular, a shout out to Kevin Panozzo, who says he is from France via California. He went on a diatribe about class (economic, not academic or behavioral), journalism and my drinking habits, which I decided not to run because he went on longer than a BBC documentary. It was inspired, though.

My columns about Vince Young in the Rose Bowl and his decision to leave for the NFL also generated a lot of responses. So here we go. The e-mail column will appear as news and my inbox dictate. Hope you enjoy it.

I generally like your column but I think you laid an egg on your "thriving and surviving teams." UCLA looses its best playmaker, best receiver, three starters from the OL and a highly productive QB. Even if Olson part 2 is terrific, he can't be any better than 31 TDs and 3 interceptions.

They lost their four best defensive players, Havner, London, Page and Cassel and their schedule is brutal. At ND, Utah and road conference games against ASU, Oregon and Cal. This was a 10-2 team that could easily have been 6-6. For them to improve on those numbers is a ridiculous comment.

As for Texas, [Colt] McCoy has never thrown a pass in college. 'Nuff said. I expected more from you. Do your homework next time.

Northwestern gave up nearly 800 yards of total offense to ASU. They ranked near the bottom in every defensive category. To say that UCLA has arrived with Markey and Bell based on the Sun Bowl, is well, ridiculous.

You're a good man who does a good job. Don't discount the Trojans. They have plenty of sophomores and juniors ready to play. Their defense was savaged by injuries last year, something guys like you should have observed. Instead, you ripped the team and belittled the conference. You're from Stanford, and a hater. That's fine, pile on while you can, because when they start playing for keeps, we'll see what SC is all about.

All the best,

Ryan Callerson
New York

I love this letter for the way he signed it. Let's go over it again: I laid an egg. I didn't do my homework. I should know better. I'm a hater. I piled on. And then he signed it, "All the best."

I'd pay to watch this guy break up with someone.

C'mon Ivan,

The last time the Trojans replaced a QB (Carson Palmer), RBs (Justin Fargas and Sultan McCullough), WR (Kareem Kelley), TE (Alex Holmes), and defensive leaders (Jason Leach, DeShaun Hill, Melvin Simmons, Mike Pollard), all they did was start a 30+ game winning streak. The carry over is similar. Matt Leinart had Mike Williams and Keary Colbert to throw to. Now John David Booty has Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith to rely on. Dominique Byrd replaced Alex Holmes, and now Fred Davis, a better athlete, replaces Byrd. They lose Darnell Bing but move Josh Pinkard to his natural spot at safety and the experience continues along with the entire LB corps. The O-line has Sam Baker, Ryan Kalil and Jeff Byers back. Pete has it down right. Recruit what you need for not only next year, but the year after, so there is no drop off. Don't think he doesn't envision a recruit staying 4-5 years. That explains the amount of talent either redshirting or waiting in the wings.


Eric Khoa
Carlsbad, Calif.

Very good points, but I'm going to assume that history is right and 30-plus game winning streaks don't grow on trees.

Bravo for your piece on Marcus Vick. Your thoughts echo those of many Hokies who, like myself, would much rather lose a few games a year than see the reputation of our wonderful university tarnished by athletes who see themselves as being above the rules. What Marcus Vick seems to have forgotten is that there are decisions in life, and those decisions have consequences. He now must deal with them, but it won't be while wearing the orange and maroon of a Hokie uniform.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that Marcus has thrown away his best chance at doing the one thing that he wanted to do the most: step out of his brother's shadow. Sure, some NFL team will use a fourth-round pick on him and let him carry a clipboard, but he will always be Michael Vick's little brother. You don't often hear Eli Manning being referred to as Peyton's little brother, at least not since he joined the New York Giants. That's because Eli has become his own man and stepped out of the shadow cast by his older brother. We can only hope that someday Marcus Vick will do the same.


Joel Richardson
Virginia Tech '98
Hickam AFB, Hawaii

Nice comparison to the Mannings. One huge difference: Eli started three years at Ole Miss. He went into the NFL a lot more prepared than Marcus will.

Nice article on Vick. It is unfortunate that a young man simply can't control himself and risks blowing his opportunity to be successful in life.

I noticed your mention of Vick and his middle finger salute at the West Virginia game. I was at that game and that was but one of three deplorable actions by Vick that day. He tossed the ball into the face of a West Virginia player after an out of bounds play, drawing a retaliatory shove from the WVU player and offsetting personal foul calls.

But the worst incident, in my opinion, was when Vick was run out of bounds in the WVU bench area. As he ran through the mass of players and coaches to get back onto the field, he delivered a forearm to the back of the head of West Virginia [assistant] coach Tony Gibson's head. It wasn't a knockout blow by any means, but it did knock coach Gibson off balance and startled him as he was not even looking at Vick.

Again, it is unfortunate that little Vick has persisted in such actions to the point of forcing Va. Tech to dismiss him from their football team. Hopefully, the light will finally go on for him and he can move on with his life, in football or not, in a civil and respectful manner.

Again, thanks for a solid article!

Frank Offutt
St. Albans, W.Va.

I am surprised by Virginia Tech's decision to dismiss Marcus Vick from the football team. In your column, you mention all of his recent infractions which basically show that he is a very selfish young man. I am surprised because isn't this the institution that behaved in a completely selfish manner during the ACC raid of the Big East conference a couple of years ago? Wasn't Virginia Tech one of the Big East teams originally left out in the cold, as the ACC announced it was stealing Miami, BC, and Syracuse? Wasn't Virginia Tech part of the lawsuit the Big East brought against the ACC? Oh, yeah, until the state government of Virginia got involved and forced the ACC to reconsider which teams to take. When, all of a sudden, the ACC said they would take Virginia Tech along with Miami, Virginia Tech forgot all about the merits of the lawsuit in which they were a plaintiff. "What lawsuit? That lawsuit was no merit!"

My point is, why would an institution that behaves in such an obviously selfish manner when it fits their purposes, at the highest levels of said institution, expect any better behavior from their starting quarterback? Perhaps the football team is held to a higher standard than the university president. I just find this interesting and a little sickening.

Mike Kirlin
Austin, Texas

I feel confident that Marcus never once compared his behavior to his school's, but I hop on any chance that comes along to point out the damage inflicted by the ACC and the three schools that left the Big East. Doesn't change anything, but it makes me feel better!

Bravo, great article. I only wish that some of your insight would run off on your colleague Gene Wojciechowski.

Frank Desmond
Frisco, Texas

If I had a dime for every time someone wrote that to me, I could have turned in my laptop a long time ago. In fairness to Gene, however, he's a few chain links short of a first down, so be kind to him.

No one seems to be willing to point out the fact that Vince Young is even better than his stats lead you to believe. The one thing that I have yet to see mentioned is that even though he was the first player to get 3K yards passing and 1K yards rushing, he did it playing only two full games the entire season (vs. Ohio State [No. 4] and USC [No. 2]). Imagine the numbers if he had played the other 10-15 quarters that he sat on the bench while the second team mopped up. He went 200-200 against the top-ranked team in the country.

Extrapolate that out for those missing quarters against much weaker teams and where is he? I bet there are a bunch of Heisman selectors out there today realizing that they totally "screwed the pooch" in New York back in December.

Greg Read

I've made this point on chats and in a few individual responses to readers: When A-Rod stunk in the playoffs last fall, no one suggested that he shouldn't have won the MVP. I still think Reggie Bush was the right vote for the Heisman, and his record margin of victory shows a national consensus. As I said at the time of the vote, I don't buy the ESPN-influenced-the-vote angle. Most writers I know will turn left the minute that the "GameDay" guys say turn right.


You are the only writer to even mention the Heisman with Vince Young in the same sentence. I still don't see it. The award is for the best PLAYER. Reggie Bush was not the best player but the best of an ensemble. Vince has consistently carried the team on his shoulders with INDIVIDUAL performance. Isn't that what the Heisman means? All Hollywood hype on Bush. Does Archie Griffin ring a bell? No, I do not want the Texans to take Bush. Trade down and get picks and trades. Jimmy Johnson proved that the draft is the way to build a team.

Duane R. Dyckman

I think the Texans have too much invested in David Carr to pick Young. But all I know about the NFL is that I need a new TV before the Super Bowl.


I've always thought you were the best and fairest writer on ESPN. I wish I would have written you to tell you that you were way off in declaring Reggie Bush the best player in the nation. But I didn't. Not that anyone would have listened, but when you hear your colleagues spout off about how some guy is "clearly on another level" from all the other players in the NCAA, I hope you'll take stock and realize how stupid of a statement that is, and how it's absolutely insulting to all the other great players in college football. Maybe you'll see that those stats were amassed against defenses with a median Division I-A rank of 92? That's against five teams ranked lower than 100!

To put this in perspective, the best team USC faced (Arkansas) was only 7 spots better than a team Texas mercifully beat 70-3 (Colorado). In contrast, the median rank of Texas' opponents was 45.5. Wow. Texas played 1/3 of it's schedule against better defensive teams than the best team USC played, who played two teams worse than any team Texas played. And the often heard argument that "USC had a hand in those defensive rankings" is misleading, because they had the same hand in their opponents' statistics that Texas had in theirs. In fact, Texas had more because they trounced Colorado twice, which could mean that Colorado could be ranked even lower in the NCAA stats.

Good to know these Heisman voters do their homework. :(

Some poor Sabermetric-less NFL team is going to get screwed. It will probably be Charlie Casserly, who is just stupid enough to "go with his gut."

Lorin Mueller, PhD
Alexandria, Va.

Oh, fine. Study statistics. Why can't you rant and rave like everyone else? All I know is that NFL personnel guys get these dreamy, teen-love looks in their eyes when they talk about Bush. Love him. Love him, love him, love him. I guess we'll find out.

Vince Young will end up just like Mike Vick -- overrated and unable to do anything in the NFL!

Brad Tittrington

I include Brad's e-mail just to point out that even third-party candidates get one or two percent of the vote.

Love your work. Just a quick thought. Was this maybe the greatest bowl season of all time? Even as a diehard Wolverine fan (don't even get me started on them), the Rutgers-ASU game, the (gut-stabbing) Alamo Bowl, UCLA-Northwestern, and the Cotton Bowl? And then all 4 BCS Bowls. Wow! I am utterly opposed to the BCS, but I must say, this year it was amazing. Every game was incredible, topped off by the Rose Bowl -- one of the greatest games I can ever recall seeing. And people wonder why I prefer college to the NFL??

On a side note, take a look at these results:

'04 Rose Bowl - USC defeats Michigan
'04 National Champs - USC
'05 Rose Bowl - Texas defeats Michigan
'05 National Champs - Texas

I don't know about you, but my money's on Nebraska for the '06 national champs.

Alex Malson
Washington, D.C.

Even when they lose, Michigan fans think the Wolverines are the axis on which the college football world spins.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at ivan.maisel@espn3.com. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel E-mails.