Mailbag: Hundley vs. Mariota

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Jeff from Portland writes: I think it was one of Kevin's chats where someone asked him who the best quarterback in the conference was, and he said it was basically a toss up between Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley. How do you see it heading into next year? Obviously Hundley has all the potential in the world, but he seemed to be a little more inconsistent than Mariota, and it speaks to Marcus' incredible ability than when his legs were taken away his passing got even better. He's faster, more reliable through the air and has an arm that isn't that far behind, if at all, in terms of strength. Given what we saw in 2013, Mariota has to hold the slight edge at this point, right?

Ted Miller: I don't think Kevin thinks it's a toss-up. We just went through the process of ranking the Pac-12's top 25 players and we both agreed that Mariota should rank ahead of Hundley. Mariota's numbers over the past two years have been decisively better than Hundley's.

Now, you could argue that Mariota has had a better supporting cast. And you could point out that Mariota has had a far more experienced offensive line in front of him. I think that would be correct on both counts. Still, I do think Mariota is ahead of Hundley at present.

That said, I think Hundley is pretty much equal to Mariota in terms of pure talent and upside. My expectations is that in 2014 the gap between them will narrow.

The good news is if everything goes to preseason expectations, which it rarely does, we might see them play twice -- once in the regular season and once in the Pac-12 title game. That should help us pick a first-team All-Pac-12 QB, as well as the conference's top Heisman Trophy candidate.

And who might go first in the 2015 NFL draft.

Mark from Chapel Hill, NC writes: Heather Dinich's article on ACC "taking on non-conference powers" -- please defend the honor of the Pac by pointing out that the ACC has 14 teams and plays eight conference games, compared to 12 and nine (with six Pac teams ranked in ESPN's way too early poll, that is hugely important!) so any reasonable evaluation has to adjust for this!

Ted Miller: Oh, I'm not sure I want to talk any trash to Dinich. Not only did her conference win the national title, Dinich is rumored to be a ninja when not relentlessly covering the ACC. At least that's what Chris Low is always telling me.

Well, you are correct. The ACC has 14 teams and plays eight conference games. And, yes, the Pac-12 has 12 teams and plays nine conference games. That, as I have written many times, gives the ACC (and SEC) a built-in advantage over the Pac-12 in that it guarantees the Pac-12 will have six defeats that that ACC can avoid by scheduling a soft nonconference foe. An ACC (or SEC) team can schedule its way to four wins, which means a 2-6 conference record would still make it bowl eligible.

But I think Dinich's point is a valid one: The ACC is ramping up its nonconference scheduling. Take Florida State, the defending national champions. The Seminoles are playing Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Florida next year. Assuming the Gators get over their 2013 face plant, that's a pretty demanding slate (The Citadel is the fourth foe).

Further, the ACC now has a special relationship with Notre Dame, not unlike USC and Stanford. The Fighting Irish will also face North Carolina (Oct. 11),Syracuse (Sept. 27) and Louisville (Nov. 22), which officially joins the ACC's Atlantic Division on July 1.

Of course, the Pac-12 has been scheduling tough nonconference games for years while also playing a nine-game conference schedule. I think that's the future for every AQ conference in our new system with a four-team College Football Playoff. It's just a matter of time until the ACC as well as the SEC are pushed down that road.

Michael from Las Vegas writes: In ESPN "lunch Links" column -- when you click on the UofW site it takes you to the Seattle Times newspaper and they ask you to buy a subscription for approximately $4 a week before you can read the article.

Ted Miller: This is a new trend in the newspaper business. Papers that have long been free on the Internet are now trying to make money on their product.

It's called capitalism. It can be an annoyance -- what once was free now costs money -- but you have a choice to pay for information or look elsewhere for it.

Ben from Washington, D.C., writes: I know WSU isn't as flashy as, say, Utah and Colorado, but Deone Buchanon is kind of a big star. Really appreciate how you included him for those of us WSU fans. Thanks man.

Ted Miller: You're welcome. We try hard to get things correct, such as not calling Washington State safety Deone “Bucannon” an "early entry" seeing that he was a senior this season.

Oh, wait. Were you being sarcastic after not reading the headline of the story where it says "early entry"?

Eddie from Glendale, Ariz., writes: You should write about how well Pac-12 players did with NFL postseason honors.

Ted Miller: OK.

Here are the Pac-12 players when were named NFL All-Pro by the AP.

Offense (first and second team)

FB Marcel Reece (Washington) Oakland

OT Tyron Smith (USC) Dalls

C Ryan Kalil (USC) Carolina

C Alex Mack (California) Cleveland

Defense (first and second team)

DT Jurrell Casey (USC) Tennessee

LB Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State) Cincinnati

CB Richard Sherman (Stanford) Seattle

CB Alterraun Verner (UCLA) Tennessee

S Eric Weddle (Utah) San Diego

S Jairus Byrd (Oregon) Buffalo

S T.J. Ward (Oregon) Cleveland

P Johnny Hekker (Oregon State) St. Louis

And here are the Pac-12 players selected to the Pro Bowl (note: The Pro Bowl is different this year, as it features teams "drafted" by Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders).

Team Rice


QB Alex Smith (Utah) Kansas City

TE Tony Gonzalez (California) Atlanta

OT Tyron Smith (USC) Dallas

OT Jordan Gross (Utah) Carolina

C Ryan Kalil (USC) Carolina


DE Cameron Jordan (California) New Orleans

LB Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State) Cincinnati

CB Alterraun Verner (UCLA) Tennessee

S Jairus Byrd (Oregon) Buffalo

P Johnny Hekker (Oregon State) St. Louis

Team Sanders


QB Andrew Luck (Stanford) Indianapolis

QB Nick Foles (Arizona) Philadelphia

WR DeSean Jackson (Cal) Philadelphia

TE Jordan Cameron (USC) Cleveland

FB Marcel Reece (Washington) Oakland

OG Kyle Long (Oregon) Chicago

C Alex Mack (Cal) Cleveland


LB Terrell Suggs (Arizona State) Baltimore

S Eric Weddle (Utah) Kansas City

S T.J. Ward (Oregon) Cleveland

ST Matthew Slater (UCLA) New England