Posted: Wednesday October 26, 2011 11:17AM ; Updated: Wednesday October 26, 2011 3:42PM
Stewart Mandel

Stanford's BCS title chances; more mail (cont.)

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Replay officials correctly ruled that Keith Nichol scored a touchdown despite the lack of irrefutable evidence to overturn the call on the field.
Replay officials correctly ruled that Keith Nichol scored a touchdown despite the lack of irrefutable evidence to overturn the call on the field.

Watching the Michigan State-Wisconsin game, I thought the last play could have been called either way on the field. I certainly couldn't tell. However, I didn't think there was irrefutable evidence to overturn the call. Thus, in my opinion, if called down at the half-yard line, it should have been down at the half-yard line. Did you see a basis for overturning the call?
-- Dave, Naperville, Ill.

Going by the strict definition of "irrefutable evidence," no, there was not a basis for overturning the call. I've seen plenty of calls that were more clearly incorrect that replay officials declined to overturn. And here's guessing this call would have stood had it taken place in nearly any other part of the game. But officials are human. They knew what was riding on the call. And the fact is, it was the right call. It was close, but I've yet to hear anyone who watched the replay say definitively that Keith Nichol didn't score. I certainly thought he did. Replay official Tom Herbert did the right thing, as officiating guru Mike Pereira reaffirmed the next day.

You continue to downplay Oregon, which, by the way, is just one spot below Stanford in the BCS poll. Stanford will struggle at USC and will be exposed just like last year by the Ducks. Stanford would have been blown out vs. Auburn and LSU. Sorry.
-- David Miller, Calabasas, Calif.

So the Cardinal still have some convincing to do.

It occurs to me that UCLA might be the worst BCS coaching job out there. Is there a higher-profile gig with lower pay (especially for assistants living in Los Angeles) and fewer resources? Oregon and Oklahoma State have left no doubt that a university can win simply by pumping wads of cash into facilities, etc. UCLA seems to be proving the opposite is also true. If they fire Slick Rick, who can they reasonably expect to get to replace him?
-- Robert, Portland

It's far from the worst (would you rather coach football at Duke?), but you make an excellent point that few outside of the West Coast realize. When expressing bewilderment over UCLA's continued struggles people mistakenly refer to the program's "great resources." What resources? Are there oil well in Westwood? UCLA is a beautiful campus with great academics in a talent-rich area, but it simply does not spend money on football. It's a basketball school. It's currently spending $100 million to renovate Pauley Pavilion while paying its football staff (including Rick Neuheisel) a combined $2.9 million -- which is less than Oregon's Chip Kelly makes himself. Its facilities lag behind most of the Pac-12 as well.

UCLA is going to have to spend more to get a top-flight coach, as the going rate for a proven head coach is $2 million-plus. I'd expect the school to make another run at Boise State's Chris Petersen and see if his mindset has changed at all since AD Gene Bleymaier's dismissal. Mike Bellotti continues to send mixed signals about a possible return to coaching. He'd make sense, too. But if you listen to the faithful, not much will change until the school rids itself of AD Dan Guerrero.

Stewart, consider a BCS title game between Stanford and LSU in the Superdome. It would be more than the football game, it would be an epic meeting between the wine and brie set and rabid Cajuns. I predict the cultural aftershock of that meeting would reverberate along the West Coast for a generation, regardless of the game outcome. If the Tigers were to lose, the aftershock of that would reverberate in the SEC for a generation.
-- Carrell Killebrew, Austin, Texas

It would admittedly be quite a contrast, but I don't think we'll ever be able to top the 2008 Georgia-Hawaii Sugar Bowl for cultural mismatches. The night before the game, Bourbon Street was an army of Georgia fans in button-downs, khakis and ratty curved baseball caps (not just the frat boys, mind you; male Georgia alums retain this outfit well into adulthood) mixed with pockets of Warriors fans wearing leis and hula skirts. I'll never forget the crowd watching in awe and bewilderment as the Hawaii players performed their pregame haka dance. Maybe Stanford's players can launch a start-up dotcom at the 50-yard-line.

Stewart, Can you enlighten me as to why Oklahoma State is ranked No. 1 in the computer rankings? Is it based on the schedule played so far? It seems like LSU's nonconference slate of Oregon and West Virginia should have it ranked ahead of OSU.
-- Ben, Golden, Colo.

Besides wins and losses, the BCS computers solely measure the strength of teams' schedules. The BCS doesn't allow margin of victory to be included. At first glance, one would assume LSU's schedule is stronger than Oklahoma State's due to LSU's two notable nonconference games against Oregon and West Virginia. But my guess is the computers are both rewarding the Cowboys for winning four of their seven games on the road (LSU has three road wins and a neutral-site contest among its eight victories) and penalizing the Tigers for playing an FCS foe. Northwestern State is No. 175 in Jeff Sagarin's ELO-CHESS rankings (the version the BCS uses). By comparison, Oklahoma State's lowest-ranked opponent, Arizona, is 91st.

The computers view Stanford so unfavorably (ninth) compared to the voters for largely the same reasons. The Cardinal have played Sagarin's 92nd-toughest schedule, with Washington their lone Top 50 foe to date. All of these numbers will fluctuate wildly the rest of the season as teams play more games and generate new sets of data.

Regarding the Mountain West/Conference USA new name: With a nod to Frank Costanza ........ CONFERENCE RESTOFUS.
-- Chris McCabe, Los Angeles

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. No other entrants need apply.

While realizing you dislike realignment questions during the season, would you please explain the difference between Tier I, Tier II and Tier III television rights and how (or who) determines what games fall into which category? I can imagine the conflict between ESPN and Fox Sports over whether a game qualifies as a Tier I or Tier II game if the teams are average in conference play or how the Longhorn Network determines which game to air at the expense of ABC or Fox Sports.
-- Matthew Ward, Washington D.C.

Believe it or not, I find this question more interesting than "If Boise State joins the Big East..." I know, I'm weird.

Tier I and II entered the public lexicon a few weeks ago with the Big 12 schools' (most notably Texas) agreement to grant those rights to the conference for six years, thus ensuring the schools can't go anywhere because their TV rights wouldn't follow them. Those terms have nothing to do with the importance of specific games or the quality of the teams involved. They refer to a league's national and regional contracts and which priority each network gets.

For instance, the SEC has a primary (Tier I) deal with CBS, which gets first choice of its games most weeks, and a secondary (Tier II) deal with ESPN, both for primetime ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU games and its weekly syndicated SEC Network game (the former JP game). ABC/ESPN currently holds the Big 12's Tier I deal, while its Tier II games belong to FOX, which airs them on FX or Fox Sports Net. Any games not selected by those networks qualify as Tier III, and every league handles them differently. The Big Ten and (soon) the Pac-12 pool those rights for use on their conference networks. The SEC and Big 12 allow the schools to retain those rights. Some repackage them for Pay Per View or local broadcasts. Texas is showing them on the Longhorn Network.

Stewart, after this weekend's upsets I have to beg you to help the people of Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge with your media influence. If there are multiple unbeaten teams at the end of the year please, please don't let Stanford play LSU or 'Bama in the national championship game. We cannot afford angry fans from Indianapolis or Miami descending upon our towns after Andrew Luck gets hurt in his first-ever game against a real defense.
-- Todd, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Ouch (literally). Good thing Luck has another year of eligibility.

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