Farewell, college football mailbag fans: P.S., Big Ten still doesn't stack up

Farewell, college football mailbag fans: P.S., Big Ten still doesn't stack up
Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer encourages his Buckeye team during warm ups before a game against Illinois on Nov. 14. (Bradley Leeb / Associated Press)

Each week during the college football season, national analyst Chris Dufresne has burned a timeout to answer questions and exchange opinions. This is his final mailbag. He is retiring from the Los Angeles Times in December, but for the next few weeks you can still email him at and reach him at @DufresneLATimes on Twitter.



Re: your latest paean to the Pac-12: Ahem, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 6 Iowa, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 20 Northwestern, No. 21 Wisconsin. I'm just saying.

Preston Gartley

You make a good point in regards to my suggesting the Pac-12 may be the best overall conference in college football.


The Big Ten only plays an eight-game schedule in a 14-team league, while the Pac plays a nine-game schedule in a 12-team league.

Also, by rule, USC and UCLA must cross over to play Stanford and California every year, so they never get that schedule miss.

The latest Sagarin ratings have the Pac-12 significantly superior. The Big Ten West Division, which includes Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin, is rated the weakest power five division other than the Atlantic Division in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Now let's examine strength of schedule:

Pac-12: Utah (19), USC (20), Oregon (23), Stanford (28), Washington State (40), UCLA (50).

Big Ten: Iowa (55), Michigan (56), Michigan State (60), Ohio State (67), Wisconsin (77).

Average SOS for the six top teams in the Pac-12: 26.6. Average for top six Big Ten teams: 59.6.

Other than that, I think you got me.


Just a short, friendly note to let you know how disappointed I was not to see my beloved Toledo Rockets on your latest top 25 football ranking. After pounding Bowling Green by 16 points Tuesday night.


Jeffrey A. Scott

Tell your beloved school to quit playing games on Tuesdays. Neither God nor Bear Bryant intended college football to be played on Tuesdays.

That's my big beef with Toledo and any qualified team from the Mid-American Conference. I had already filed my top 25 ranking for Wednesday's paper when Toledo secured its win over Bowling Green.

That was the perfect team to play, though, considering Tuesday is bowling night for most people in America.

Toledo has already caused me considerable consternation. They were ranked in my top 25 when they lost to Northern Illinois — on a Tuesday.

Los Angeles Times copy editor Mike Davis and I had to scramble my entire top 25. We found a way around it by dumping Toledo from No. 13 to 25 and then moving every other team up one spot.

My guess is that Toledo, which did defeat Arkansas, which did defeat Louisiana State, will be back in next week's top 25.

In fact, I'll let you pick Toledo's position so long as it remains in the realm of reality.

Do not, for instance, suggest Toledo belongs in the playoff.

Please provide a ranking comment, too, which I'll use if it is good.

But please do not wait until Tuesday to email me your response.


What would you consider the biggest college football upset you have covered? You've seen a LOT of surprising outcomes.


It's tough to pick one. I would like to include Stanford's unbelievable 2007 upset of USC at the Coliseum, except I did not cover that game.

The game that keeps coming back is Boise State's upset of Oklahoma in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. It was a fantastic game, a significant upset, topped by Ian Johnson's memorable statue-of-liberty touchdown run to win it. Boise was still struggling for national credibility at the time. That victory allowed Boise to build a national foundation that nearly led to it playing for the 2009 national title.


I've been an avid reader for longer than I can remember. You did the job with integrity, humility, class and decency that increasingly escape the magical game of college football.

From the John Robinson II era, as a USC Trojan Marching Band member, through three deployments to the Middle East, including some painfully dark days in the fall of 2005, Rankman has been an essential part of my life and, at times, my sanity.

God gave you some tremendous gifts and blessings. Thank you for using them to keep something special just that way. Good luck in whatever the future brings you.

Robert C.J. Parry

I have enjoyed our email exchanges. I may clip this one out and stick it in my wallet.


[To] an Oregon Duck transplanted from Portland for more years than I want to admit, you have been nothing but a joy to read. Always writing fairly about other teams and always fair to my Ducks. Exceptional writing and analysis made you as good as I've read in the USA.

Peter Feibleman

I have very much enjoyed watching the rise of the Oregon Ducks as a national power, which literally happened on my watch as the Times' national football columnist.

I remember once telling Oregon president David Frohnmayer (who sadly passed away this year) how hideous-looking his school's uniforms looked in a game that week. They were some horrible, hideous shade of mustard and putrid.

He laughed and said old people hate the uniforms but "the kids love it."

Boy, was he right.

Eugene is a great sports town and Autzen Stadium is one of my favorite sporting venues.

I'll miss my trips there and the hot chocolate in the press box.


Thanks for being a favorite college football read for so many years. A perfect mix of serious coverage/opinions and needed levity.

Thomas Haire

Thanks, though a lot of people just thought I was mixed up.


I always enjoyed your writing .... Congrats on a great run at LAT and best wishes on your next adventure!

John Newman

Thank you and everyone else who has sent kind messages this week. It has been a great run, but I think it's nearly time to sit.