Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.
To the questions!
Chris from Salt Lake City writes: With the Big 12's recent decision to stand pat at 10 teams, there's already talk that their conference won't last much longer and that we're inevitably headed to four 16-team super conferences -- presumably the ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12. Let's say that is the case and, for the sake of argument, that the SEC nabs Texas and Oklahoma. What four remaining teams would/should the Pac-12 add (or hope to add) to become the Pac-16?
Ted Miller: If the SEC nabbed Texas and Oklahoma, the Pac-12 would have few appealing options. The good news is that pair is more likely to go west than south.
While the Big 12's expansion anticlimax, which really was a bad deal when you consider how many programs put on a dog and pony show only to see their hopes for inclusion at the big boy table dashed, doesn't necessarily mean a future reshuffle is inevitable. There was a lot of smoke there but little fire.
Just about everything in college football is about money, so when the idea of expansion or even a "super-conference" is broached, you have to ask how is it going to provide more revenue for existing members of the Power 5. When you say, "What if the Pac-12 added Program X?" you have to ask whether that would increase the revenue of the existing 12 members.
Very few would.
Texas and Oklahoma -- particularly Texas -- would add eyeballs, markets, big stadiums and traditions that would make the Pac-12 more appealing to its broadcast partners. If the magic number is 16, my off-the-cuff guess is Oklahoma State and Kansas might be the most appealing options, but there might be some out-of-the-box thinking that, say, Houston might offer more long-term potential.
While there seems to be some semblance of stability in college football at this point, the only fact of the past 20 or so years has been change. So when you ask, "What's going to happen next?" my honest answer is I don't really know, but by 2025, I'd guess things will look different than they do today.
Rich from Orange County, California, writes: Straight to the point, why isn't Stanford ranked when Ole Miss is? The Cardinal are 4-2, and lost to a great Washington team and a possibly blooming Washington State team. Meanwhile, Ole Miss is 3-3 and lost to of course Alabama, but also to a disappointing Florida State team and Arkansas (who really hasn't beat anyone notable to be ranked so high). Ole Miss also hasn't really beat anyone (Wofford, Georgia, Memphis) if you consider where Georgia is now. How do SEC teams still get ranked so high when all they have to back up their resume is projections and close losses. I'm not even a Cardinal fan, I just think beating Kansas State, USC, UCLA and Notre Dame still should mean more, despite how much those schools are under-performing.
Ted Miller: Well, Stanford lost its two games by a combined 86-22 count. That would be my first explanation. Ole Miss lost to three ranked teams by a combined 20 points, including a back-and-forth affair with top-ranked Alabama.
Alabama played USC, right? You also might want to check out Memphis' record. Those four wins you list for Stanford include teams with a combined 15 defeats.
Now, this doesn't mean I think Ole Miss should be ranked. Colorado is the unranked Pac-12 team that has the best resume and it is presently the equivalent of 26th.
Here's a guess that the winner of the Stanford-Colorado game will be ranked next week.
Josh from Parker, Arizona, writes: As an Arizona fan, the first half of this season has been disappointing, to say the least. Ted, I know you're all about keeping things positive, so I was wondering if you could you put a positive spin on anything from the first half of the season (anything at all). Or should I just go ahead and start counting down the days to basketball season?
Ted Miller: Yep, everyone calls me Mr. Happy.
Three things: 1. Recruiting is going well -- the Wildcats are presently ranked 19th by ESPN Recruiting; 2. Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates will prove to be a savvy hire; 3. It's difficult for a team that started out the season with a notable talent deficit to win when it has been hit by so many injuries, most notably at QB.
Look around the country, even the Pac-12. Few teams are exempt from downturns, even multiyear ones. This is not me putting a positive spin on things. It's that after two decades covering college football, I know the race to be the first and loudest complainer is a fool's errand among fan bases.
Ben writes: I was wondering how you felt about the Oregon State defense at this point. In consecutive games, they've held high-powered passing attacks well below their averages (OK, this weekend was aided by the weather), and kept Utah to its lowest point total of the year. Yes, the rush defense is still spotty. But did anyone think the Beavers would have a chance to win the game with five minutes left in the fourth?
Ted Miller: Oregon State is playing pretty good defense, no doubt. You shouldn't be surprised, though, as Gary Andersen is well-regarded as a defensive mind.
Most notable: The Beavers are yielding just 5.3 yards per play, which ranks fourth in the Pac-12, ahead of USC, Utah and Stanford.
Colorado is, rightfully, getting a lot of attention for its status as "most improved," but the Beavers aren't too far behind. While a bowl game seems a bit of a stretch, I suspect this team might have perhaps two more Pac-12 wins in it.
"Thomas Jefferson" wrote last week: Did you know that Colorado has six games left to play and that four of those games are at home on Folsom Field? Further, did you know that of the Pac-12 South foes, we still have to play four teams, and we get three of them at home? Just enlightening you to what a huge season this is setting up for CU. If [QB Sefo] Liufau had been healthy, we likely would have beat USC in the Coliseum thanks to winning the takeaway battle, 4 to 1. And if you haven’t noticed yet, CU is the only team to hang 28 points on Michigan, double the points of any other competitor to date. Perhaps CU will fall on its face tonight against the Arizona State, but if they beat ASU like they should, then you have to recognize what a special year this is setting up to be for Colorado.
Ted Miller: Yep, this is setting up to be a special year for Colorado, Mr. President. I would humbly add, however, that Colorado fans celebrating their team's arrival seven games into a 12-game season are perhaps revealing for how long they've been out of contention.
I also think we'll need a ruling on your casting aside your connection to the University of Virginia.
Great job with the Declaration of Independence, by the way.