Beano hasn't been around for a while, since I think he's probably trying to get all of the Big East fans off his lawn. And his chat from last month never seems to have been added to the archives. Sorry.
As a result, I decided that in Beano's place I would use Stewart Mandel's mailbag from last week since it was more Pac-10 heavy than usual.
At some point, USC's run at the top of the Pac-10 has to end. Who do you see as having the best chance to supplant the Trojans as the class of the best offensive conference in the country?
-- Brian, Park City, Utah
The way I see it, there are four possible contenders. Mandel makes the case for ASU, because of three factors:
- Dennis Erickson
There are potential issues with each of these, however.
1. The first is that your favorite cheerleader just might turn out to be a porn star.
Obviously, this might not be an issue for some of us (I had designs on the Asian head cheerleader back in 2003), but it might be disconcerting for some. Although, then again, it might not.
2. Yeah, it's warm there during the winter, but there's also the fact that HOLY SHIT IT'S 108 DEGREES THERE RIGHT NOW. In fact, over the next ten days, the lowest high for the day is going to be 97.
3. Mandel touched on this too, but honestly, what is Dennis Erickson other than a slightly less seedy version of Bobby Petrino with a better resume? Maybe Erickson doesn't actually flirt with teams every year like Petrino does, and maybe he has better people skills, but he has the same wanderlust. Yes, he's a winner, but there's no way he's staying long enough to bring the program to the top.
So who exactly could take over the Pac-10 once USC begins to decline? As I mentioned, I think there are four candidates, those being UCLA, Cal, ASU, and Oregon. Of those four, which do you think I'm going to choose, especially if a certain group of treesitters ever actually hits the ground?
I'll take the bait on the Pac 10 question. Which coaching storyline is more interesting and why? Notre Dame at Washington on Oct. 25, or UCLA at Washington on Nov. 15?
-- Kirk, Lincoln, Neb.
It's unfortunate that Washington isn't going to Notre Dame, because all hell would break loose, but that's clearly the bigger game. That's going to be one exciting matchup of horrible teams with high-profile coaches.
But honestly, I just hope Jake Locker runs circles around the Irish defense.
Tennessee recently rewarded Phil Fulmer with a hefty raise and contract extension from the University of Tennessee. My question is: Why? Has the Tennessee football program not been in decline the past few years? Has the team not become stagnant? I am not sure why UT would want to reward him for the program going stale and keep him around until 2014.
-- James, Knoxville, Tenn.
That's the cost of doing business, James. Every coach in the SEC is overpaid relative to coaches in the rest of the country, so the hefty raise is understandable. I just don't want to hear Rocky Top ever again in my lifetime.
Do you think Mike Sherman can actually return the Texas A&M Aggies to the upper-echelon that Dennis Franchione was supposed to, or is it kind of a wait-and-see process at this point?
-- Josh, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
You mean the tough, rugged, Aggies? Those big tough hombres who got crushed by our Bears two years ago?
There's plenty of precedent for mediocre/good college coaches succeeding in college, Pete Carroll being the best example. And the man was a good NFL coach, at least in the regular season. I'll also forever love the man for being on the wrong end of this:
I love my hands too.
Oh wait, Mike Sherman and the Aggies, right. Uh, wait and see?
Gee, not too many Pac-10 submissions, huh? Does this really surprise you given the level of coverage the Pac-10 receives from your rag as compared to, say, the mighty, super-fast, invincible SEC? Or the muscular, corn-fed titans of the Big 12? No, we in Pac-10 country are used to being slighted and then watching the media get surprised when Oregon smacks Michigan around, or USC demolishes another SEC team, or Cal whips up Tennessee.
-- Erik, Seattle
Erik, as a Pac-10 fan, STFU. You're not helping the cause.
How much pressure is there on Mike Stoops to take Arizona to a bowl game this season? Do you believe his job is on the line after underachieving the past few years?
-- Scott Hall, Tulsa, Okla.
SCOTT HALL?!?!? This Scott Hall?
While I'm sitting here wondering why the former Razor Ramon has an interest in Arizona Wildcat football, I may as well answer the question. And yes, I'd say his ass is on the line. Just like Tyrone Willingham, I think he has to get to a bowl game to save his job. I mean, the guy's been there for three years now, and he has an OC named Dykes. That's a recipe for success anywhere in America.
Fever: I have noticed recently that of the 13 or so news headlines that appear on SI.com's college football page, at least half of them have the words "suspension," "arrested," "pleads guilty," or "felony" in the story headline. Has player behavior been more of a problem in recent years or is that just what the media tends to focus on?
-- Eric Eichenlaub, Richmond, Va.
Fever, I was hoping you could provide some insight on media coverage of some off-the-field incidents involving college players. How is it that a minor offense like a disorderly conduct, such as the one by South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia, garners much more attention in the news than a major offense such as alleged assault and battery on your girlfriend, as happened with a Clemson player recently?
-- William, St. Matthews, S.C.
I think it's just that the information is much more readily available today. I don't think, for instance, that 50 years ago I would have heard about a police blotter incident down in rural South Dakota or whatever if I didn't compulsively check websites like this one. And I mean, holy shit, if I can find an article written by a woman justifying her incestuous relationship with her brother this easily, I would expect that college football players running afoul of the law would be front page news elsewhere.
Last week, I saw a replay of the 2004 Purdue vs. Wisconsin game, and it got me to thinking about how far Purdue has fallen since that game. Purdue was led that year by Heisman candidate Kyle Orton and entered the game 5-0 and ranked No. 5 in the country, while Wisconsin was No. 10. Unfortunately, the Boilers blew a 10-point lead with under eight minutes to go, and it led to a downward spiral that saw them lose their next three games by a combined seven points and a potential Rose Bowl berth become a Sun Bowl berth. They then missed a bowl in '05. These events have led to the fans turning on Joe Tiller, who is stepping down after this season. Can you remember any other programs that have suffered a similar situation (one traumatizing loss that sends the program into a nosedive)?
-- Tom Beno, Medina, Ohio
Here's the first one that came to mind.
Obviously, that's subject to change, and I hope it does.
Pac-10 graduates are passionate about sports, but (a) we've got so much else going on (and not just in L.A. I'm an Arizona grad, and there's as much to do in Tucson as L.A., except no beach) and (b) we're just plain far more relaxed and laid back than some of you loons in places like Morgantown, Ann Arbor, Columbus, Lincoln or Birmingham that don't have much else to look to but sports!
-- Jake, Hollywood, Calif.
I don't know if I buy the whole "we've got so much else going on" argument. I mean, there's plenty to do in, say, Oxford, Mississippi. Why, there's...there's...wow. That's a lot of churches.
We Pac-10 fans don't need to overhype our teams. When you have to go around telling everyone you are so great, you usually aren't as good as you think (I'm looking at you SEC).
-- Ben Phenix, Austin, Texas (via the Northwest)
You tell them, Ben!