- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Happy Friday, the last before the seasons begins! Wheee!
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To the notes!
Gary from LA writes: So true freshman Josh Rosen will be the UCLA starting quarterback. What's your take and how long is his leash?
Ted Miller: For one, no one is surprised that Rosen beat out junior Jerry Neuheisel, a smart, scrappy guy who simply lacks Rosen's considerable physical gifts. If Rosen was able to adapt to the speed of the game during spring and preseason practices -- he was -- and he could consistently demonstrate an understanding of the Bruins offense -- he did -- then he is the right guy to lead an offense loaded with experience and talent.
We still don't know how he will react when the lights go on at the Rose Bowl against Virginia. While few associated with the program believe Rosen will be overwhelmed by the moment, we simply can't know for sure how he will respond after his first major mistake or how he might react late in the fourth quarter when he needs to make plays to win a game.
As for his leash, Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone will tell you it's long, but it's not. It's not for any Pac-12 QB, for that matter. This is a team ready to win, and if Rosen doesn't appear up to making that happen, they'll hand the ball to Neuheisel and ask him to manage the game and be a distributor who protects the football.
I seriously doubt that is going to happen, but if Rosen has six interceptions in the first three games, is completing less than 60 percent of his passes and is losing the locker room, Mora won't have a choice but to sit him down heading into Pac-12 play.
Jess writes: Does USC really move the needle that much? It wasn't long ago there was a video of Gary Pinkel getting a DUI. Steve Spurrier looked/sounded drunk on his coaches show and later answered "I hope not" when asked if he was under the influence during the filming of said show and everyone thought it was funny. Yet Sarkisian dropping a drunken f-bomb in front of boosters (who more than likely had a few drinks themselves) at a pep rally is being covered like he physically assaulted someone. I get that it was a bad look and should never happen again, but is the difference in coverage between Sark and say Gary Pinkel (wouldn't we agree a DUI is way worse than an f-bomb?) simply one is USC and the other Missouri?
Ted Miller: Yes, USC moves the needle, particularly when there's video of its coach acting sloppy as well as plenty of first-hand Twitter reaction. There also was plenty of reaction to Pinkel getting a DUI. It just feels different to you, Jess, because you're paying more attention, though it is fair to say social media is a much bigger player in news going viral than it was in 2011.
And keep in mind Sarkisian isn't facing any significant repercussion other than public embarrassment. He hasn't been suspended, as Pinkel was.
Has there been some piling on? Sure. But Sarkisian is a big boy. He knew the spotlight burns bright at USC and now that spotlight has burned him. Hopefully he's learned a hard lesson.
Derrick from Omaha writes: What do you make of Oregon's defense performing so well against what should be a great offense?
Ted Miller: I think Oregon is going to have a good defense, but I don't think you should pay too much attention to reports coming from closed practices.
We'll get a pretty good measure of Oregon's defense at Michigan State on Sept. 12 when it faces QB Connor Cook and one of the nation's best offensive lines. By the way, we also should get a pretty good idea of the Ducks offense, post-Marcus Mariota, against what should again be an outstanding Spartans defense.
Travis from Brooklyn writes: If the CFB Playoff has basically said that unless you're a Power 5 school, you have no shot at joining the final four then why is Notre Dame the exception? We all know if BYU goes 12-0 they have no shot. My main questions are: 1. Should ND be disqualified from the playoff until they join a conference? 2. Why does the P12 feel it is necessary to cater to ND and handicap the rest of its conference? 3. If USC and Stanford continue to play ND on the last day of the year, should they be the only two teams relegated to the "non-bye" when this short schedule comes up (UCLA-Cal will always be available on the last day with the CA rivalry option)?
Ted Miller: If BYU goes 12-0, it has a shot at the CFP. Its schedule is legit. And Notre Dame is considered a Power 5 school because it's, well, Notre Dame, among the most storied -- if not the most storied -- programs in the nation. It also plays a legit schedule, one that is, in fact, superior to many Power 5 programs.
Should Notre Dame be disqualified until it joins a conference? No.
Why does the Pac-12 play Notre Dame? Well, USC plays Notre Dame because its the greatest intersectional rivalry in the country. Stanford does because it's a marquee national game.
As for No. 3, I don't think USC and Stanford playing Notre Dame puts a scheduling burden on anyone.
Ajay writes: [As a Cal football fan] I have hope ... I'm scared.
Ted Miller: You should have hope. And you should be scared. That's how most fans approach the season, whether their affections lie in South Bend, Tuscaloosa, Austin or Berkeley.
Cal has a good chance to break through this fall, but we also know sometimes optimism goes splat in Berkeley.
Anthony writes: If you had to pick someone other than Oregon or Stanford to win the Pac-12 North, who would you go with? Someone else has to win it eventually right?
Ted Miller: Yep. I'd pick Cal.
That's for you, Ajay.