College football mailbag: 'Ringos' just act naturally to bounce Bruins

College football mailbag: 'Ringos' just act naturally to bounce Bruins
Ringo Starr, left, surely must've been proud of Devonae Booker and the Utah Utes on Saturday after their upset victory over UCLA. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images; Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Each week during the college football season, national analyst Chris Dufresne will burn a timeout to answer questions and exchange opinions. You can email him at and reach him on Twitter: @DufresneLATimes

Unbuckling the mailbag:


Where does @DufresneLATimes have Ringo Starr ranked this morning?


On a Salt Lake City radio show a few weeks ago, I compared Utah's entrance to the Pac-12 Conference to Ringo joining the Beatles

What I meant was, Utah had great timing. I wasn't dissing Utah, just mentioning how the school was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

Richard "Ringo" Starkey, also, was no drumming dummy when he left Rory Storm and Hurricanes in the early 1960s to accept an invite from John, Paul and George.

Utah was not part of the original plan that was to expand the conference to 16 schools. After Texas pulled out of the deal, though, the league had to scramble to find a 12th school to pair with Colorado, which had already accepted an invitation.

Utah was an emergency fallback and got the Pac-12 nod just as the league was about to start gushing with television money.

Of course, I heard it from Utah fans last Saturday after the "Ringos" upset UCLA at the Rose Bowl.

Being a sportswriter these days, you know, "it don't come easy."


The pink elephant in the room is the over-exposed SEC and other Southern conferences that play all their bowl games in the South.

There needs to be a playoff system, like the NFL, with home-field advantage to the higher-seeded team.

Daniel Schuetz

Illinois State University

No one wants to go to bowl games in the north during winter. However, that might change if global warming melts the ice caps and turns Ann Arbor, Mich., into beachfront property.

I like your idea of home-field advantage. I thought it was one of Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's best ideas when he adopted it for the Pac-12 title game.

But that all changed when they built a new NFL stadium in Santa Clara and the Pac-12 was offered a lot of money to hold a neutral-site title game there.

The "pink elephant" probably belongs to Alabama. The school developed an elephant mascot in 1930 after a sportswriter witnessed the Crimson Tide stomping Mississippi. A fan after the game yelled, "Hold your horses, the elephants are coming," earning Alabama the nickname "Red Elephants."


When did Alabama last play a nonconference road game? Will they ever play another?

Eric van der Burght

It's hard to knock Alabama's schedule on one front: The Crimson Tide takes on tough opponents. They open with Wisconsin next year at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and play USC in 2016 at the same at site.

However, it is clear that Alabama's general strategy is to not play tough teams in true road games.

Alabama did play at Penn State in 2011 but canceled a home-and-home against Michigan State in 2016 and '17. Alabama cited "uncertainties in the SEC schedule."

When Alabama bowed out from the Michigan State deal in 2013, it was still not decided whether the SEC would move to a nine-game schedule in the coming four-team playoff era.

As it turned out, the SEC decided to stay with eight games.


Live 2,500 miles from the Midwest areas covered by the (old) Big Ten. Don't particularly root for any particular teams there.

Not sure what your recent digs at them are about … Except maybe to remind readers that when it comes to mocking, the Times Sports team can't match the bile Jim Murray would gush toward Rose Bowl time.

Lee Moldaver

Santa Barbara

What you call bile we called genius. At least the Pulitzer board thought so when it awarded Murray its famous prize.

Murray did have his fun with the Big Ten. He once wrote that Los Angeles was formed in part, "by a slow leak in Iowa."

He picked on Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes mostly because Hayes deserved it. "Woody was consistent," Murray wrote. "Graceless in victory and graceless in defeat."

Another favorite: "A lot of people were surprised to hear that Woody Hayes suffered a heart attack last spring, because they didn't think he had one."

And then there was this Murray quip about Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler's struggles in Pasadena: "Well, you have to understand Bo and the Rose Bowl. What the famine was to Job, the plague to Joseph, the Rose Bowl was to Bo."


Help me out here. After checking the most recent polls, Oregon, with one loss, which defeated Michigan State, which also has one loss, is ranked below the Spartans. And the coaches poll ranked 4-1 Oregon above undefeated Arizona after Arizona defeated the Ducks in Eugene.


I know Rankman's poll won't show such ignorance, right?

Joseph Gutierrez

Rankman never shows his ignorance unless pulled over to the curb and asked by a uniformed officer to show it.

Rankman did keep Oregon ahead of Michigan State, but left Oregon ahead of Arizona — for now.

It was just too big of a gap to bridge in one week, to have unranked Arizona jump all the way over my No. 3 after a close decision in Eugene.

The way Oregon is playing, rest assured, it won't be long before Arizona passes the Ducks.


With Mississippi State playing well, are any bulls in danger? Remember what Jackie Sherrill did?

Steve Kelly

Of course, it is one of college football's legendary stories. Sherrill, while coaching at Mississippi State, allowed his team to witness the castration of a steer in advance of the team's big game against the Texas Longhorns.

Sherrill apologized for the incident even though he suggested the bull was going to be castrated anyway, so why not watch?

The FOBs (Friends of Bevo) at Texas were not amused.

Sherrill saw the event as a teachable moment after some of his players told him they didn't know the difference between a bull and a steer.

Also, for what it's worth, Mississippi State defeated Texas.


USC's coverage of that Hail Mary pass by Arizona State was laughable. Does Sark teach that?


Let's just say that the defense of that Hail Mary didn't have a prayer. USC defender Hayes Pullard stood under the pass like he was calling for a fair catch.

I can't imagine that's the way Steve Sarkisian teaches it at USC. If so, I suggest everybody drop his class.


The Oregon-UCLA game is shaping up to be the worst game ever played. Unless sacks and missed tackles are your thing.

Dutch Boyle

You must have missed the Oregon-Oregon State game in 1983. That scoreless tie was so bad it has been dubbed "The toilet bowl."

I think UCLA and Oregon will be as entertaining as watching the Keystone Cops. With neither offensive line being able to block, it figures to look like a flag football game.

I think the Pac-12 should demand the defenses have to count, "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi," before rushing the quarterback.

But there I go talking about SEC teams again.


(David) Shaw is no (Jim) Harbaugh and (Mark) Helfrich ain't Chip Kelly. So went the dominance of the Pac-12 North.

M. Agrippa

I hate writing off an entire division before Oct. 10 because there is still so much season left to play.

But there is no doubt that Oregon appears to have lost some of its edge now that Kelly is in the NFL.

It has been suggested that Oregon's window is closing because all the innovations they chartered and developed are being copied all over the country.

Some would argue that what Oregon is doing is being done better elsewhere by better coaches.

It could be true. I know Oregon has been decimated on the offensive line, but also think Helfrich and staff could have done a better job against Arizona by rolling quarterback Marcus Mariota away from the defensive pressure.

Shaw at Stanford also seems to be falling victim to his defense-wins mantra of winning close game in the fourth quarter.

That theory only works if you win those games. Stanford has lost its last eight games by a total of 33 points.

You can't have the nation's No. 1 defense and give up an uncontested game-winning touchdown pass to Notre Dame.

What was the coverage?

"There was no coverage," Shaw said.