More Mailbag (cont.)
Can Oregon State make the Rose Bowl even if it gets beaten by Oregon? Don't the Beavers need to be ranked in the top 14 to be eligible to be selected? Is that possible with two losses? I mean, they are not in the SEC.
-- Jeff, Portland
The stars might not align this year for Notre Dame in the national championship. However, with Oregon State and Stanford having Oregon left on their schedules, could the Irish be smelling roses this year for the first time since 1925?
-- Patrick, San Francisco
There's a lot of skepticism out there that the Pac-12 will produce a second eligible team, and you can certainly envision a domino scenario that supports it. Stanford beats Oregon State this week, then loses to Oregon, which beats UCLA in the Pac-12 title game to ensure everybody finishes with three losses. But make no mistake, any team that ends the year 10-2 is going to be in the top 14, no questions asked. There's not as much fluctuation in the BCS standings the later it gets in the season. USC, for example, only fell two spots after last week's Oregon loss. A 10-2 Oregon State team would not plummet for losing to Oregon. And even then, three losses might not be a deal-breaker. At least two three-loss teams have finished in the top 14 in four of the past five years, including 2008 Rose Bowl participant Illinois.
So as of now I'd bet the Pac-12 fills that spot in the Rose Bowl. If not, then yes, absolutely, pack your bags for Pasadena, Irish fans.
Mr. Mandel, how close are the elite programs in college football to the level professional teams are at? Would Alabama beat bottom feeders in the NFL or is the talent gap still too great for all 22-plus starters?
-- Niko, Vancouver, British Columbia
Let me put it to you this way: Not all of Alabama's starters will become NFL players. On the worst team in the NFL, even the last backup was good enough to become an NFL player. So no, the talent gap is not remotely close.
Hypothetical: Miami beats Virginia this Saturday and Duke loses to Georgia Tech, locking up the ACC Coastal title for Miami. You are the Miami administrator tasked with making the decision the following week about whether to self-impose another bowl ban and remove the 'Canes from ACC contention and their first-ever Coastal crown and ACC championship game. Do you?
-- Sean Murrell, Jacksonville, Fla.
That's a toughie. First of all, I'm not a huge fan of the way Miami has handled these decisions, either last year or this year. If you think a voluntary postseason ban is merited, just do it before the year. It still counts whether the team actually becomes eligible or not. As it stands now, the 'Canes are waiting to see whether the players earn a berth, then taking it away from them. That hardly seems fair, especially this year, now that the recent players associated with Nevin Shapiro are gone. Also, I'm not privy to what the NCAA has or has not corroborated in its investigation and whether it's possibly uncovered more potential violations that have yet to be revealed.
However, based on the extent of allegations in the Yahoo! report, I do think the school is looking at a multi-year bowl ban. On the one hand, I can understand why the program might want to put that punishment in the past as soon as possible and lessen the burden on future teams. On the other, Miami has been in the ACC for eight years and has yet to reach the championship game. Do you really want to pass on that opportunity? This is not the same situation as Ohio State AD Gene Smith taking a Gator Bowl bid last year at the expense of this year's 10-0 Ohio State team. Miami has a chance to play in a BCS bowl for the first time in nine years. I say, play.
I know the USC-Oregon game was fun to watch with all the points scored, but has a team ever given up 50 points in a regular-season game and played in the BCS title game?
-- Joel Steiner, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Yes. In 2001, Nebraska lost to Colorado, 62-36, in its regular-season finale. Also, in 2007, LSU gave up 50 points in a loss to Arkansas, though that was in triple overtime. The difference, of course, is that Oregon won the game in question.
If Ohio State wins out, Urban Meyer will be the subject of an interesting piece of trivia. Meyer has won two national championships, and his teams will have gone undefeated twice. How many of the national champions were also undefeated? The answer, of course, is neither. My question is: Has any other coach, at least in the modern (post-1950) era, coached two undefeated teams that did not win at least a share of the national championship?
-- Alex Sarabura, Toronto, Ontario
Meyer's is a unique situation in that it involves three different schools, but he's got nothing on Joe Paterno, who coached four undefeated teams that did not claim a national championship (1968, '69, '73 and '94). Paterno finally won his first title with an 11-1 team (1982), though he did have one undefeated national champ in 1986. Arizona State's Frank Kush had two such teams in 1970 and '75. And more recently, of course, there's Boise State's Chris Petersen (2006 and '09). But the coach who most closely parallels Meyer might be Dan Devine. He had undefeated, unrewarded seasons at Arizona State (1957) and Missouri (1960) and won a national title at Notre Dame (1977) while going 11-1.
What in the world has happened to Jeff Tedford at Cal? I used to defend Tedford, but after finally going out to a game this past Friday, I can no longer do that. How is it that some coaches like Tedford or Gene Chizik at Auburn can go from amazing to awful so quickly? Has the game passed them by? Was their success mostly due to assistant coaches or rare blue-chip athletes that have moved on? Or were we all just suckered into thinking that they were great when they never were?
-- Moneer, Berkeley, Calif.
I wouldn't put Tedford and Chizik in the same category. In his six years as a head coach, Chizik had one truly successful season. Few outside of the Auburn-Opelika metro area were sucked into thinking he was great, and his downfall, while precipitous, is not entirely surprising. Tedford, on the other hand, rescued a program from the ashes (improving Cal from 1-10 to 7-5 his first season) and, while he never won a national championship, he turned the Bears into the Pac-10's most consistent team outside of USC for about a six-year stretch. From 2003-08 the Bears went 32-19 in conference play, which makes their recent downward spiral (9-16 in conference play the past three seasons) all the more puzzling.
Tedford and Chizik do share one commonality: They both signed notable juco transfer quarterbacks -- Aaron Rodgers at Cal, Cam Newton at Auburn -- in their second seasons. For Tedford, Rodgers' development from an unrecruited high school quarterback into a first-round NFL draft pick bolstered his status as a certifiable quarterback guru, but he's never come close to finding and developing another star since. Amazingly, Cal has not had a quarterback rank in the top half of the conference since Nate Longshore in 2006. So that's obviously one big factor. But even more significantly, Tedford has been hurt by staff turnover and some poor hiring decisions along the way. He's had six different offensive coordinators in the past eight years. As a result, the offense has lacked identity. Quarterback Zach Maynard has never developed. And that's why Tedford finds himself on the verge of a possible 3-9 debacle. (Cal closes with Oregon and Oregon State.)
I, for one, am sick of the Oregon Ducks and their "look at me" uniforms and excessive culture headed by Nike. I love the underdog role as opposed to the way they do things in Eugene. They waste money, and in Manhattan, we are resourceful and intelligent. We do more with less. Just one of the many reasons I hope the human voters do the right thing if both teams remain unbeaten.
-- Brad, Manhattan, Kan.
You might not be able to sway the voters, but perhaps you should contact Billingsley and Colley about adding a resourcefulness and intelligence component to their formulas. But be careful what you wish for. In the NCAA's most recent Graduation Success Rate statistics, Oregon had a 64 percent mark, while K-State checked in at 58 percent. Maybe stick to resourcefulness.
You're dead to me, Mandel. You used to be objective about Notre Dame -- now you're a hater. No way Kansas State should be ranked higher and you know it. EVERY week ND plays for the "Super Bowl" against teams who make their college career by beating ND. I'm going to read ESPN from now on.
-- Jason, Cincinnati
I'm sorry to have disappointed you, but just for the record, I have no say in the BCS standings. Perhaps you should contact Massey or Wolfe about getting an "every week is the Super Bowl for Notre Dame" component added to their formulas.