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On Coach O's future at USC, the BCS myth and Big Ten irrelevance

National college football writer Chris Dufresne takes time off each Friday during the season to respond to letters about college football. You can write to him at

November 22, 2013|Chris Dufresne

Did Coach O get himself a head coaching job (Saturday) night?

Vince Muzik

Not unless I missed a big story in my morning paper, but I do think USC interim Coach Ed Orgeron is moving closer to the point of no return. This is the "careful what you wish for" aspect of firing Lane Kiffin in the middle of the season.

What if the interim coach, who isn't really the best long-term choice, goes on a hot streak that includes beating No. 5 Stanford? Well, then you may have a problem.

And if USC defeats Colorado this week, and UCLA next week, well, you might as well start stenciling his parking space: "Head Coach O."

Orgeron has obviously done a great job and is literally plying his players with goodies as he lobbies, almost shamelessly, for the full-time job.

It may just be me, but it seems like USC players are getting cookies every time they say something nice about Coach O in the paper.

Give players enough cookies and they'd lobby for Mrs. Fields.

The danger is that Orgeron isn't really the right choice, but only the sugar-high afterglow following a coach who didn't hand out cookies and seemed more interested in his play chart than his players.

Also, the more Orgeron wins the more likely he will be less likely to stay on at USC in his previous role of defensive line coach/recruiter/cookie man.

If USC wins 10 games it figures Orgeron will become a candidate for other job openings around the country.

It's great for USC that USC is winning, but it does complicate things for Athletic Director Pat Haden in the most important hire he'll make before riding off into the sunset on his white horse.

ABC/ESPN and BCS officials have virtually erased the term "mythical national championships" from the football vernacular. But if only two teams — four next season — out of 123 major college program can qualify … shouldn't this still be called a mythical national championship?

Bill Sheehan

You make a good point, but I can tell you this: USC definitely thinks Louisiana State's title of 2003 was mythical and Auburn thinks USC's title of 2004 was mythical.

Actually, USC's title of 2004 was only "vacated."

Utah went undefeated in 2008 and beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. It might think one-loss Florida's Bowl Championship Series title was mythical. The Gators, after all, lost at home to Mississippi.

The BCS and its in-bed-with network partners have done a great public relations job persuading the public that mythical championships ended in 1998.

When you own the product and control the narrative, you can persuade a public of almost anything. The SEC on CBS proves that every Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

What is with ESPN's obvious anti-Big Ten, anti-Ohio State bias?

Denis Montenaro

The Big Ten Conference's problem is bad football, not ESPN bias. I do think there is a bias against Urban Meyer for a couple of reasons: One, he is probably the second-best coach in America after Nick Saban and people don't like coaches who win all the time.

Two, Meyer has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way at almost every coaching stop. He left Florida in a mess and immediately chapped many in the Big Ten with his aggressive recruiting tactics.

Winning covers up all crimes and misdemeanors. You can be a scoundrel if you go 12-0, but the downfalls also come faster if you lose because the people you ticked off on the way up aren't there to catch you on the way down.

I'm actually thinking of Charlie Weis at Notre Dame as I'm typing this.

What are your BCS bowl projections?

Ted Newhard

I keep my list in a hermetically sealed envelope to be revealed in a nationally televised broadcast, with the Amazing Kreskin at my side, after the official announcement Dec. 8.

For you, I'll make an exception, but only because I don't know you or anyone in your family.

Four undefeated top-five teams might not be good for college football, but BCS bowl officials are drooling over the prospect. This illustrates why the sport is so complicated: because it is rife with conflicted interests.

If Alabama and Florida State end up in the BCS title game, you could have a Rose Bowl featuring disappointed Ohio State against Oregon.

Both schools would be out to prove they belonged in the national title conversation.

The Fiesta Bowl could get disappointed-but-undefeated Baylor against thrilled-to-be undefeated Fresno State.

The Sugar could get Alabama or Auburn against likely AAC champion Central Florida, while the Orange might pit Clemson against Michigan State or Wisconsin.

These projections are precarious because you never know when a top team might get clipped on a last-second Hail Mary pass, or lose its star quarterback to Florida's legal system.

Marcus Mariota enters a game against Arizona … in Tucson … with a bad knee. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Alex Shoemaker

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