The state of Oregon football 

February, 26, 2010

Here is this week's mailbag:

From Justine in Ann Arbor, Mich.: How much hotter has the seat gotten for Rich Rodriguez with the NCAA coming down on Michigan? Does this mean this is it for him?

The 20-hour per week rule is abused everywhere. Michigan recently got caught on it and Rodriguez looked a bit rattled. Truth is, if his team comes out this fall and hits big plays, doesn't make too many mistakes and shows it can tackle and not blow coverage assignments, this news will magically fade into the shadows. People will look past it, but he has to win at least eight games this year.

Scholarship hits and probation won't hinder this 2010 team. The pieces are in place. If he doesn't start winning, the potential scholarship hits could be someone else's headache. With or without this news story, Rodriguez was on the clock. He's at Michigan, not Eastern Michigan.

From Seth in NYC: I know that you're an MMA fan so how about a top 10 list for Baddest Man in College Football?

That's a topic I've actually started doing some research on. Obviously, it's hard to get too scientific with something like this, but the criteria I'm using is two-fold: checking backgrounds to see which players have had successful runs as wrestlers or studied martial arts, and speaking to players and coaches about the player in their program who no one wants to mess with and why that is. (I'm also trying to steer clear of the part where that answer is more related to, "Well, I heard he knows some people and um, well you know ...)

This question is timely because the player who I expected to be the No. 1 on that top-10 list (which I plan to run next month sometime) was Oregon State's starting middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi, a guy who was a standout high school wrestler in Honolulu and had also been a kickboxer and competed in a couple of MMA bouts. His father even owns and operates the Hakuilua MMA Training Center in Waianae. But, we'll have to find a new No. 1 -- and more importantly, the Beavers will have to find a new MLB -- because Pa'aluhi, OSU's second-leading tackler and an honorable mention All-Pacific-10 Conference player, left the Oregon State football team to join the military, coach Mike Riley announced Thursday.

"We fully support David's decision," Riley said in a release. "He's a terrific young man with a great future, and all of us in the Beaver football program thank him for his contributions and wish him the best."

According to Paul Buker, Pa'aluhi, who has a wife and child, was wrestling with personal issues and had been thinking about leaving school for some time. Best of luck to him.