This week's Pac 10 Roundtable has been turned into an anarcho-syndicalist effort by California Golden Blogs, inasmuch as it isn't hosted in one spot but is controlled by the vanguard of the elite of each participating blog.
Or, if you don't like the quasi-revolutionary turn, we've moved from mainframe to distributed computing. Or something.
In any case, CBG's answers and links to the other participants can be found here, and my stab at answers can be found after the jump.
(Just in case you needed any further proof that Paragon and I are slightly busy with this tedious "earning a living" business...)
1. USC and OSU win out. OSU wins the Pac10 and goes to the Rose Bowl. USC doesn't win the Pac10, but due to the Big XII and the SEC cannibalizing themselves, manages to get into the National Championship game. Discuss.
Unlikely. One reason the BCS sucks is that it is updated only to correct prior mistakes - from an industrial engineering standpoint, that's a shit approach, but it makes me suspect that a non-conference champion will not get into the championship game - again. (Oooooooooooooklahoma, where the conference loss doesn't keep them out of the MNC! as ROdgers and Hammerstein would have written had they been able to foresee Boob Stoops....) Even if the BCS mechanics aren't intended to stop conference non-champions playing, the human ratings should prevent it from happening.
2. Oregon State is the only team that controls its Pac-10 destiny due in large part to freshman phenom Jacquizz Rodgers, but their next 3 games will be their toughest stretch of conference games. What are their chances of winning out and going to their first Rose Bowl since 1965?
Hard to tell. This past weekend's game between USC and Cal left me impressed with Cal's defense, but they are not the best road team I ever saw. I haven't been paying enough attention to Oregon to see if their defense is up to the task, but stranger things have happened. If USC can't make it, it's hard to begrudge Oregon State the first trip in over 40 years - that's not true at all, actually, I would totally begrudge it, but it *would* be churlish.
3. It's pretty widely accepted as of now that the Pac-10 is having, across the board, its worst season in years. Give us your #1 reason for this sudden downturn in quality.
The logical conclusion of each team's tendencies, perhaps? Washington State and UCLA are rebuilding, Washington is nearing the end of a glide path to FAIL, Arizona remains inconsistent, Arizona State mercurial, Oregon and Cal possessed of significant talent but not quite the right combination of players and coaches, Stanford on a slow building path, Oregon State taking time to warm up before playing tough football with smart coaching, and USC with incredible defense allied with a lot of slightly erratic talent and curious play-calling on offense. It just so happens that all of these tendencies were set to 11 at the same time.
4. Each season can bring significant change to a college football team, whether from graduation or a change in starters. Now that we've seen the majority of the 2008 season, what do you think will be the significant changes for your team to contend with in 2009?
USC often rotates between more experience on offense than defense and vice versa, a trait that is going to bite them in the ass at some point. Next year is supposed to be the offense's time to keep things clear, but it's not something that I am comfortable embracing as a given after the season so far. And there is the possibility of Pete Carroll leaving: the chaos that such a move would generate in recruiting and pursuing the next generation of players would probably do more than the natural year-to-year lifecycle of college football to bring change to SC.
5. Will USC ever suck again? EVER!
Sure - as we pointed out to CBG, you can't beat regression to the mean. The only undefined variable is the cause: general fading out, change in coaches, NCAA sanctions.... okay, maybe not the last one, at the rate things are going. But you never can tell!