Chat with Graham Watson
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.
Send your questions now and join Watson in The Show at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday!
Graham Watson (1:58 PM)
I'll be right with you guys
Graham Watson (2:00 PM)
Sorry, had to do a CFB Live interview...
Graham Watson (2:00 PM)
Let's get started with the chat
Nick (SLC, UT)
Im a Ute fan and I'm predicting it here first. Utes will go 10-2 with losses to Oregon and TCU. What do you think?
Graham Watson (2:01 PM)
I have them winning nine games, but I don't think 10 would be out of the question. Of course, the Utes have to pick a quarterback. I liked Corbin early, but I'm not sure he's going to be the guy come the fall. My guess is that they redshirt Wynn and play Corbin and Cain.
McKay Papillion Nebraska
Which team in the mountain west has the best running back?
Graham Watson (2:04 PM)
There are a lot of great RBs in the MWC, but I'd probably lean toward Asiata or Unga because both are so versatile. I also like the guy at Wyoming's Darius Terry and of course you can never go wrong with one of the New Mexico guys.
WAC from top to bottom: Better or worse than '08?
Graham Watson (2:05 PM)
Um, I think they'll be about the same. Better on the line. I little thin at WR, but Moore can make anyone look good. Kyle Wilson is one of the best in the country. I think Boise could easily win the WAC. That Oregon game sets the tone for the whole season, though
True or False? Utah's defense will be better this year than last year.
Graham Watson (2:06 PM)
I think the line will be as good if not better, but the secondary won't have the daunting presence of Sean Smith, which was a pretty good weapon. I like the secondary, but I don't think it will be as strong as a year ago. Love Utah's ends, though.
Are there two better receivers in the MWC than David Reed and Aiona Key?
Graham Watson (2:08 PM)
I think Dennis Pitta has to be in there, too. And both Reed and Key have to prove themselves as premier receivers.
Dear, Graham Do you think TCU has the chance of being the next BCS buster? if so who else might be the dark horse?
Graham Watson (2:14 PM)
I think TCU has a great chance of being the BCS buster this year. Their non-conference schedule sets up nicely and they're always a force in the conference. Of course, a lot of that will depend on TCU's defense, which I've heard has come along well in the spring. A not-so-dark horse would be Boise State. Also a good chance to be in the hunt. And if you want the big longshot, I'd say East Carolina could be a team that could make some noise in the fall, though I really like Southern Miss on that side of the conference.
Snake (St. Louis, MO)
Graham- Long time, no talk. Thanks for taking Cloudson's question. He's wondering, after the Chase Daniel Era produced three bowl wins and two division titles, how will the Blaine Gabbert Era compare?
Graham Watson (2:15 PM)
From everything I've heard, Gabbert has really come on in the spring and has a chance to be better than Chase because he has a stronger arm. Now, Gabbert doesn't have the weapons Chase had, at least not yet.
How high a ranking can the Irish get this year top 3 or 5 or somewhere in the top 15?
Graham Watson (2:18 PM)
That's a tough one to answer because voters have been so fickle about the Irish the last couple years. And with a pretty easy schedule, I think the trend is going to continue. Notre Dame would have to blow out a lot of their opponents to get into the Top 5. I think Top 15 is a possibility.
Zach (INDIANAPOLIS, IN)
Graham, In your opinion why does Michael Floyd not receive the praise and respect that is given to Julio Jones and AJ Green. His numbers are better or on par with anything they do and he was as highly touted coming out of college as they were considering they were all 5 stars on Rivals. He's the real deal and a future 1st round draft pick.
Graham Watson (2:20 PM)
Um, I do think he didn't get the buzz he deserved last year, but that's because Golden Tate was the team's premier receiver and the team was just OK last year. I think Floyd will get a lot of praise this year if he has the type of season many expect.
BYU beats Oklahoma. Why?
Graham Watson (2:21 PM)
Hmmm... That would be the upset of the season. I think BYU has the ability to be very good this year, but Oklahoma is really freakin' good. Unless BYU starts whipping out the Statue of Liberty play, I don't think it's going to happen.
What do you think about ECU's chances of winning CUSA again?
Graham Watson (2:23 PM)
I like ECU's chances of winning C-USA again, but I think they're going to get a lot more competition in the East that they did last year. Memphis and Southern Miss will both be better. And in the West, Tulsa, Houstona nd maybe even UTEP will be super tough to beat. ECU returns a lot of guys and will be the favorite, but the road getting there will be super tough.
ST GEORGE UTAH
how widely has utah really opened the door, by doing what they have done twice now, for other "mid-majors" if they were to go undefeated or one loss?? or are we doomed to keep seeing the little guys get hosed until the BCS is done away with?
Graham Watson (2:25 PM)
I think it's important that all of the Mountain West schools show well this year with all that's gone on this offseasonn. It doesn't have to be an undefeated season, but they have to beat the likes of Oregon, Clemson, Florida State and show well against the Oklahoma's. They've got to get out from under the one-hit wonder cloud and show that they are a consistent conference that can compete with any team in the country. And that goes for New Mexico, UNLV and even San Diego State.
Kyle Whittingham(Foothill Dr.)
Am I the best coach in the MWC?
Graham Watson (2:27 PM)
Ha! I think you recruit the best and make a lot out of the talent you have. I think your defensive philosophy might be one of the most genius in the conference and maybe even the country. So yeah, I think you could call yourself the best coach in the MWC.
Larry (Glendale, CA)
Do you think Rice and SMU are a better fit for the Big 12 than Iowa State and Mizzou? Mizzou belongs in the Big Ten and Iowa State has no business being in any BCS Conference. Poaching Rice and SMU will get 2 big markets (Houston and Dallas) for the Big 12 and they both have decent to great stadiums with decent to great alumni. Rice and SMU can be placed in the South Division and make it into an All-Texas Division reminding fans of the heydays of the SWC. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State can be moved to the North Division and Oklahoma can renew their rivalry with Nebraska. What do you think?
Graham Watson (2:29 PM)
Wow, resurrecting the SWC, huh? Hmmm... I don't disagree that Mizzou would be fine in the Big Ten. Iowa State is in a downward spiral, but it's been a good team in the past. I don't think Rice and SMU are the answers. I like TCU and Houston better because I think they consistently recruit better talent and have more comparable styles to the teams in the Big 12.
How much will Austin Collie's loss hurt BYU?
Graham Watson (2:31 PM)
Honestly, I think it makes BYU better. They relied on Collie too much last seaosn. With him gone, it gives guys like Chambers, Ashworth, and Jacobson a chance to show what they can do. Obviously, Pitta will be the premier guy, but the offense will be spread around more.
John (L.A., Ca)
Ute fan here. Who wins the MWC Utah or TCU? I don't include byu in the conversation since I don't see their defense as any better than last year. And does the winner of the MWC get another BCS bid?
Graham Watson (2:37 PM)
I'd throw BYU in there, too. I agree that they're defense is slow, but I think they'll adjust better than a year ago. I think pride got in the way of the gameplan sometimes last year. I like TCU. It's hard not to. I know a lot of people are looking toward their defensive losses, but anyone who watched a TCU game last year saw that they rotated a lot of guys in and out on both sides of the ball. I think the offense is going to be way better. I think Utah is going to be pretty good, too. I'm not sold on the offense yet, mostly because I don't know what kind of QB they're going to use - dual-threat, pocket passer, etc. - and their receivers are kind of unproven. But I like Utah's defensive front and that's at least going to keep them in game. I'm really worried about Utah's kicking game. Those of you that saw practices this year should know what I'm talking about.
How come NM over AZ, UNLV over ASU, Wyoming over Tennessee is somehow lost in the conversation that the MWC has yet to prove itself?
Graham Watson (2:39 PM)
And that's what got the MWC noticed this year. No doubt. But Tennessee was way down. Arizona State ended up being a flop. I think it needs to be consistent. I think those teams need to get those wins more often. Can Wyoming play with Texas? Can New Mexico State throw with Texas Tech? Stuff like that.
Larry Scott (Walnut Creek, CA)
Would Utah and BYU join the Pac-10 if they were courted by the Pac-10?
Graham Watson (2:40 PM)
Oh, absolutely. They'd be fools not to at least consider it. That would be an excellent opportunity.
JL (Warrenton, VA)
Is this the year Gary Patterson leaves TCU for one of the top BCS team openings?
Graham Watson (2:42 PM)
He interviewed at a few places this offseason and nothing really stuck. He makes great money at TCU, they're building him new facilities and he's got a great recruiting backyard. That's a tough place to leave especially if you think the MWC might get an automatic bid in a couple years. If Auburn couldn't sway GP, I think it's going to be tough for a lot of schools to pull him out of Fort Worth.
Saam (Los Angeles, CA)
When is the last day a recruit can sign a "Letter of Intent" with a team?
Graham Watson (2:42 PM)
April 1. After that, it's just scholarship paperwork.
McKay Papillion Nebraska
Right now, how important do you see the tightend position in college football?
Graham Watson (2:44 PM)
This is a good question. I think the tight end position has morphed into a skill position. More and more tight ends are receivers these days. Heck, at BYU, Andrew George was playing fullback. I think tight ends are far more athletic than they've ever been in the past. And now we're seeing the NFL kinda lean in that direction as well.
What do you think the chances of Colin Kaepernick going to the NFL after his junior year?
Graham Watson (2:45 PM)
Not unless he becomes this amazing passer. He's not going to be able to run in the NFL the way he does in the WAC. Even the best dual-threat struggle against NFL speed. But, the kid has a great arm. He just needs to get some touch and accuracy. Once he nails that down, I think he has a shot to make some NFL team happy in 2010.
Richard (Boise, ID)
How would the Utes have fared in last season's national championship against the Gators? I can't see them upsetting a more talented version of themselves.
Graham Watson (2:46 PM)
I agree with this. I think it would have been a fun game to watch, though.
How will houston do this year
Graham Watson (2:47 PM)
I'm a big Case Keenum fan. I think that kid doesn't get enough credit because people discount the offense he's in. But he's a talent. No doubt. I think Houston will be the favorite in C-USA West because it returns so much on offense. The defense is going to have to come along for Houston to really challenge for the C-USA title. With the defensive front gone, that's going to be a challenge.
how will SDSU do this year?
Graham Watson (2:49 PM)
This is going to be a tough year for SDSU. They're learning a complicated defense, they still have no running game and I'm not sure the O-line is much better than it was last year. I think it's going to be a couple years before Hoke gets the right guys to win at SDSU.
Rob (Boise, Id)
Any chance you come to Boise again for the start of the college football season. When Boise State and Oregon tip it off on September 3rd are we going to see an explosion of points on the scoreboard? Why would anyone want to miss that one!
Graham Watson (2:51 PM)
I hope so. I was at the game in Oregon last year and that's when I really took to Kellen Moore. What a poised guy. And he's a really nice kid, too. I think that might be a better game than BYU-OU on that same weekend. I might do both actually.
If ecu beats vt again this year will they finally get some respect?
Graham Watson (2:52 PM)
I thought they got respect last year, but lost some of it with their slide. I think they learned from that experience though and will be better for it this year. This year's ECU team is mentally tougher than last year's.
Martin (Houston, TX)
Has there been talk of Boise State University joining the Mountain West Conference? If so would this enable the MWC get the automatic BCS bid?
Graham Watson (2:55 PM)
This is a popular topic, one that Craig Thompson has deflected a lot. I thought it was interesting that it was Thompson and Gene Bleymaier standing side by side against Congress. I think the MWC wants to earn the bid with the teams it has, but I think adding Boise State and perhaps Fresno State or Nevada might give them more clout.
JL (Warrenton, VA)
If MWC or other conference schools are so anxious to be in the big time BCS picture, is there any chance some schools will split to BCS conferences? Utah or BYU might fit well with either the PAC 10 or Big 12. Fresno or Boise State would fit right in with the PAC 10. TCU with the Big 12. And so on. Will those schools be willing to move up if an opening occurs?
Graham Watson (2:57 PM)
There's been rumors about this kind of thing for years and I wouldn't expect anything to happen until 2011 when the contract changes. Even then, I'm not sure there would be much movement. Some other interesting teams that have been mentioned are Southern Miss and ECU to the Big East. Again, total rumor and speculation, but all of this is out there.
Ian Birmingham, AL
What will it take for UAB to have a good team? Is it coaching staff or recruiting? We have difficulty because we compete against Auburn and Alabama in the recruiting game, but what does UAB need to get the edge?
Graham Watson (2:58 PM)
It needs its full complement of scholarships back. That would be a start. I like the offense this year. I think UAB is going to be much improved this year. Still a little bit away from challenging for the conference title, but definitely on the right track. It just needs its defense to catch up to its offense.
How do you think Gary Anderson will do at Utah State? Utah State looked like they were improving last year and has some talent. 4-6 wins or is that asking for too much?
Graham Watson (3:00 PM)
I think four wins is feasible. I mean, Utah State almost had four wins last year. The offense is going to be more diverse and I think the defense will come along. Brent Guy left that program in great shape and Andersen has a lot with which to work.
Graham Watson (3:00 PM)
OK. Time's up guys. Thanks for all the great questions.