To the notes!
Nick from Washington, D.C., writes: Okay So Marcus Mariota is obviously the man in college football. Heisman front-runner, keys to the Oregon offensive castle, clearly an A-list athlete. As an Oregon fan, I have loved the progression from Harrington, Clemens, Masoli, Thomas, and now Mariota. However, as awesome as watching Oregon's continuous progression has been ... I am terrified of the future. With no heralded spread option QBs committing to Oregon, and no real news of Oregon hunting them down, have we become Running Back U of the Pac-12 and no longer the destination of choice for hardcore quasi-under-the-radar quarterbacks? Is Jake Rodrigues really the next in line? If so, should we be worried?
Run … run! Save yourselves!
Well, Nick -- mind if I call you Chicken Little? -- I would say that, no, you shouldn't be worried.
I recall the panic of 2008: Nate Costa injured! Justin Roper … injured! Who the heck is Jeremiah Masoli?
And then there was the panic of 2010: Masoli gets the boot? Who the heck is Darron Thomas?
And, of course, few saw Mariota coming when he beat out Bryan Bennett, who some fans had been clamoring to replace Thomas.
Now, stop reading and get out of the way of that GIANT ASTEROID!
John from Dublin, Calif., writes: Regarding scheduling: Ted, you do know the fix is simple, don't you? Just pass a rule that to be included in the playoffs (or any major bowl) you cannot play an FCS team that season, and one-third or more of your nonconference games must be played in the opponents home stadium. Schedules will equalize overnight, or at least within a year or two.
Ted Miller: I hear you. I think the folks promoting the laissez-faire attitude that each conference has a right to schedule as it sees fit are either compromised or naive.
I actually don't care if teams play an FCS team any given year. What I do think is reasonable is to demand teams aspire toward comparable schedules across the Big Five conferences: nine conference games plus an A, B, C plan in nonconference scheduling.
That means play the same number of conference games as everyone else, one other team from a Big Five conference and one other team with a discernible pulse. Then, fine, write yourself in a win over a patsy. A lot of FCS teams need those payout games to survive.
You'd think the home-road differences would even out with Big Five conference teams signing home-and-home series, but that probably isn't likely because teams with 100,000-seat stadiums can offer an alluring payout to teams with smaller stadiums for a single-game series. I suspect we're going to see going forward SEC teams offering big checks to teams like Virginia, Purdue and Kansas to come visit, thereby satisfying the demands -- if not the spirit -- of a plan to upgrade nonconference scheduling.
The present system -- schedule however you want! -- is both illogical and unfair, and the SEC is 100 percent gaming the system for one reason: because it believes it can.
It will be interesting to see how things stack up with the selection committee. If the SEC gets penalized -- as it should -- for its clear effort to make its path to the College Football Playoff easier, then you can expect a quick adjustment.
Tim from Salt Lake City writes: I like the idea of having the Pac-12 championship game in Levi's Stadium but it's not really a neutral site game is it? It's pretty much in Stanford's backyard (yeah, sure, Cal's too, but I don't see them as much of a threat to come out of the North). Is this going to be a permanent thing or is the league looking to rotate this around the region through a bid process?
Ted Miller: My understanding is that the Pac-12 championship game would be based in Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara -- it's notable the Pac-12 offices are in the Bay Area -- but nothing is ever set in stone with the conference, considering it's exploring a move from the home-hosted model after just three years.
There are pluses and minuses for keeping a neutral site game in one place. On the plus side, it could establish a new tradition (see the SEC title game in Atlanta) and thereby become logistically easier to operate. One the negative side, it's not a neutral site. Yet Atlanta isn't truly a neutral site, either (Georgia).
My guess is the Pac-12 wouldn't become too fixated on playing the game long term in one stadium if, say, Los Angeles or Phoenix decided to ante up a pile of cash to host the game.
As in most things in college football, this is about revenue -- both present and future. The Pac-12 will follow the money.
Matt from Bellevue, Wash., writes: Teddy ball game. Quick! WSU is killing it right now in recruiting, just got another four-star recruit. This is uncharted territory for the Cougs. I know its early. so give them a little shine before anyone decommits!!!
Ted Miller: Mike Leach and the Cougs are surging, no doubt, with two of five commitments ranked in the ESPN 300. That's a function of folks buying into the future under Leach, as well as shiny new facilities on campus.
The challenge, of course, is getting the letters of intent on signing day. Some of you Cougs might recall that a guy name Bishop Sankey was once a longtime commitment to Washington State.
And, yes, I feel bad for even mentioning that.
Scott from Mound, Minn, writes: You know Ted just when I think you turned a corner you say something ignorant like "any clear-thinking person sees the SEC as the best conference." Maybe it is more of any clear-thinking person realizes that there is no way to really see what conference is the "best." But you work for ESecPN and the SEC is the cash cow so I get why you talking heads would say that. As you so often say Ted, if you repeat a line over and over and shout down other opinions eventually it becomes accepted as truth. Thanks again Ted for demonstrating how biased ESecPN is in their coverage and news reporting. Go back to the South where you belong.
Ted Miller: This is for the Pac-12 blog's SEC friends. See: Pac-12 fans don't like me either.
Scott, I'm not going to even mention the SEC winning seven of the past eight national titles. Or recruiting rankings.
I will only note that the SEC on Thursday led all conferences with 11 first-round picks in the NFL draft, more than twice as many as any other conference.
Of course, that is somewhat disappointing because the SEC had 12 first-round picks last year, when it ended up with 63 draft picks, more than double that of any other conference.
I know the SEC has 14 teams, but the SEC East had more draft picks in 2013 -- 32 -- than any other conference.
Would you describe the NFL business model as being biased toward the SEC?
While the Pac-12 blog often speaks up for Pac-12 causes, it also believes in credibility. This is not a PR instrument. We are not going to be disingenuous or be free and easy with "facts" in order to support a cause.
The Pac-12 blog is that way because it wants folks to know that when it takes a position, it does so because it actually believes said position to be true.
So, Scott, it is simply credible to assert that clear-thinking people out there believe the SEC, in general, is the best college football conference.
Chris from Seattle writes: Ted, as a member of the Husky Faithful, I'm a devout reader of the blog. In my day job, I spend my time helping others visualize and understand their data. ESPN recently released the college athletic revenue/expense data, and I found it hard to make sense of. Given the nature of the debate around money in college athletics, I think it's more important than ever to make sure people really understand the data. In an attempt to fix that, I've created an interactive visualization that allows you to pick your conference and teams and see where the money comes from and where it goes. I also added in Director's Cup performance data, so people can see what the outcome of all this money is.
Ted Miller: That is pretty cool. I'm sure many readers will be fascinated.