Chat with Graham Watson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's non-BCS blogger Graham Watson will stop by to talk college football.
Graham is working on a week-long package about how the economy is effecting college sports. She kicked things off with Title IX puts schools in conundrum and Programs in precarious position. Today she hits on Schools still building and Are budget cuts making a real difference?
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 at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday!
Graham Watson (2:09 PM)
Hey all. Sorry I'm late. Let's chat.
Mark (Salt Lake City, UT)
I know that nothing has been done so far but what would need to be done to get BSU into the MWC. It is a win-win for the MWC and BSU. Obviously, the only entitiy that suffers is the WAC. What can teh WAC do to prevent it and if nothing, why doesn't BSU get over to the MWC as soon as possible?
Graham Watson (2:12 PM)
It's funny you ask this because I was just speaking to another conference commissioner about the perils of adding teams to conferences and he said that they need to be done in certain number to make sure there are no scheduling snafus and complaints about certain teams not playing other teams, etc. So perhaps if the MWC expands - and I really don't think it will happen any time soon - it will bring on enough teams for a 12-team league. Again, this is all speculation. Right now, there are no public plans to add Boise State to the Mountain West. But if the MWC decided to do that, i think it would add a couple other teams as well and make it on par with a lot of the other BCS conferences.
sean (Prosper, Texas)
If BYU beats Oklahoma this year, do you see them going undefeated?
Graham Watson (2:14 PM)
No, though their chances would be better. :)I think BYU has one of tougher schedules in the country and it's going to be tough to go undefeated even with an OU win. Max Hall hasn't really proven that he can win the big game and until he does that, I don't think anyone's going to call for an undefeated season. It does help that the Cougs get Utah and TCU at home.
Rickey Henderson (Hall of Fame)
Graham Watson, you are great but Rickey is the greatest of all-time
Graham Watson (2:14 PM)
I'm not nearly as fast.
RAY GORDON REID ( THORNTON CO 80229)
QUESTION TO GRAHAM WATSON HI GRAHAM AT 2.15 PM HOW YOU THINK BYU DO VS OKLAHOMA SEPT 5
Graham Watson (2:16 PM)
I think it loses. It would be ridiculous for me to think otherwise. Oklahoma isn't one of those teams - at least it hasn't been - that's gets overconfident and I think BYU is good enough to bring out a stellar game in the Sooners. Plus it's at Texas Stadium in front of what will likely be a pro Oklahoma crowd. The Sooners are still peeved about not winning the national title last year. Beyond just the discrepancy in skill, BYU is going to face a tough mental battle as well.
Dennis (Airville, PA)
Graham: BYU has been making the news regularly with their comitted recruits. How good are they and will this put them in solid contention with the major programs?
Graham Watson (2:18 PM)
BYU has put together a fantastic class so far. I mean, fantastic. And if Jake Heaps continues to help with recruiting, it will be the best class in the history of the program. Now, recruiting isn't an exact science. We all know some kids don't live up to the hype. But I think, in a couple years, BYU has the potential to start making some big national waves.
Jim (Grand Junction, CO)
Which programs will fare best in the difficult financial times?
Graham Watson (2:21 PM)
Well, obviously the SEC is in the best position because of its television contract. Schools that have basketball programs with teams that consistently go deep into the NCAA Tournament also make quite a bit of revenue. So really, it's the same teams that have been making money all along. Just don't see that changing much.
Best chance for an early WAC upset: Nevada in South Bend, LT in Auburn, or Fresno State in Madison?
Graham Watson (2:26 PM)
I like Nevada to beat Notre Dame. I'm not sure what to make of Fresno State yet. It had a lot of injuries last year and a lot of those guys are coming back. Also, it will depend which quarterback Pat Hill goes with. That will ultimately define the offense.
Hi Graham:Thanks for your time today. Did the MWC and WAC really have a choice to not sign the BCS contract? These conference are already at a disadvantage for recruiting. Don't sign, and you get killed here.
Graham Watson (2:27 PM)
Choice? Well, of course they had a choice... But choice is a loose word. There's no way either of those conferences would have been able to field a competitive program without the BCS money and a potential BCS bowl to sell recruits. So a choice... Uh, in the literal sense of the word, yeah, they had a choice.
graham, it looks like cfb fans are out of luck if they want to see a playoff. do you see any way that our congress might do something that republicans and democrats can get behind and blow up the bcs? it doesn't seem like the networks are able to use their financial$ muscle to get cfb fans a playoff.
Graham Watson (2:31 PM)
In my opinion, it's not going to be Congress that ultimately prompts change. It's going to be the big boys of college football. When Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Texas, etc., get hosed by the system and start raising a stink, then the system will change. If it had been the SEC preaching on Capitol Hill and not the Mountain West then we'd be looking at a totally different situation. It's sad, but true.
Graham Watson (2:33 PM)
Ugh, that's a tough one. I really want to see BYU against OU. If they get slaughtered (which I'm not expecting) then FSU. If not, I think it's a close game that BYU should pull out at home. And then I don't know what to think of FSU especially after this offseason? Does the team get motivated to help Bowden get his wins back? Do they play above their heads? I think FSU is going to be better than a lot of people think. But I'm reserving my final judgment until the week leading up to the game.
Graham, don't you think its a little rediculous how this has become a congressional issue. Like the whole steroid witch hunt in baseball, I wish our nation's leaders would spend more time with wordly issues and less with trivial items, when seen in the grand scheme of things, like sports.
Graham Watson (2:34 PM)
Like I said, it needs to be decided among the teams and something dramatic has to happen for this team be a real conversation and not a couple coaches dropping it as fodder in their weekly news conferences.
And what about the best chance for an early C-USA upset: ECU in Morgantown, UTEP vs. Kansas, or Houston in Stillwater?
Graham Watson (2:36 PM)
This is another good question. I like ECU in Morgantown, and honestly, I'm not sure, with all the ECU has returning, that this would be an upset. I'm not really sold on a Pat While-less WVU.
Graham, TCU, BSU, Utah, BYU. Which is the best of the bunch this year?
Graham Watson (2:36 PM)
Best or the one with the best chance of making the BCS?
This may be off topic, but I just want to know exactly where Syracuse stands with Doug Marrone. What are the expectations and how long are they giving him to restore this former Big East powerhouse?
Graham Watson (2:38 PM)
I read something where one of the former players, maybe Dwight Freeney, said he deserves three years to turn the program around. I agree with that. Especially where that program was when Marrone was hired. Forget the ND win, the program was in shambles. So, it's going to take a major effort to make things better. I think they need to give him three or four years to do it. Look at places like Missouri, Kansas, Cincy... Places that gave their coaches time to get their players in place. Time pays off.
How do you think Clemson will fare this year now that they don't have so much pre-season pressure?
Graham Watson (2:40 PM)
I think preseason pressure was part of last year's struggles. I also think injuries played a big role. Clemson has the players to make a strong run and I'd consider them a big sleeper this year.
Shawn Schake (eSellOut.com)
I am friends with a few people on the PITT football team and they told me to watch out for an OLB by the name of Dave Pierce as hes all over the field. I dont remember him being a highly recruited player. How often does a team find a gem in someone who isnt highly recruited or have a scholarship?
Graham Watson (2:42 PM)
That happens quite a bit. Sometimes guys don;t grow into their bodies until later or they don;t realize their potential early because they weren't getting the proper nutrition or training. Heck, look at a school like Troy. It's had draft picks every year for like the past seven or eight years, including a couple first rounders. All those guys were passed on by bigger schools and with the proper, training and coaching they blossomed in to superstars. It happens.
Graham, why exactly do you think Nevada will beat Notre Dame? Is it because Nevada has superior talent in all positions, or just because they've been such a power for so long now. (note sarcasm)
Graham Watson (2:44 PM)
Kind of like how Notre Dame has been so dominant the last couple years and shown up for all their games (note sarcasm). Nevada has a great running game. A great running quarterback that has a rocket for an arm and might have figured out how to use it this summer. Yes, ND is still ND. But that team hasn't shown up a lot in the past couple years and most of those players are still on the field. I think everyone should reserve judgment on Notre Dame until it beats someone of note.
Ahh Graham, good point. OK rephrase, TCU, BSU, Utah, BYU. Who do you think is the better team this year? And which one of those four has the best chance to break through to a BCS bowl?
Graham Watson (2:46 PM)
TCU and Boise State have the best teams in terms of pure talent, speed, skill, etc. Boise State has by far the easier road to the BCS.
Graham, I love ND, but my glasses are not rosey enough to conceal the truth that we just aren't very good. give it to me straight: is it the coach? the players? will we win a championship in my lifetime again?
Graham Watson (2:49 PM)
Honestly, I think it's both and I think they feed off each other. Both the players and coaches are highly emotional entities, which shows on the field. I think everyone knew last year that when JC made a mistake it wasn't going to be the last one of the day. That everyone includes the coaches and the other players on the field and sidelines. ND has all the talent in the world, it just needs to get out of its own way sometimes. Notre Dame was the reason Notre Dame lost games against UNC, Pitt and Syracuse. Those all should have been wins.
Matt (Madison, WI)
Do you think Central Michigan has a chance to finally get that signature non-conference win this year? I think they have a good shot at all of their games from BCS conferences, but it might be a long shot in each game.
Graham Watson (2:51 PM)
I've said all summer that the difference between CMU being a good team and being a team that people are talking about is their defense. The defense was just awful last year. If that get fixed, the offense is there for them to beat Arizona or Michigan State.
Do you think that michigan will at least make it to a bowl game this year?
Graham Watson (2:54 PM)
That's a tough one. It's Michigan. It has talent. And it's going to be a lot better than it was a year ago. But good enough to win enough conference games to get a bowl berth? Not sure. It's good they get Penn State and Ohio State at home. I'm not sure this team has all the pieces in place to run Rich Rod's system year. It might be another year away.
Dennis (Airville, PA)
I liked your chat just fine until you claimed that is was sad but true that a Congressional investigation centered on the MWC was as important as one that the SEC might have engendered. What a load of bull that is. Absolutely ridiculous. That the SEC would have deserved more respect is beyond stating. That's one of the truths that far from sad is very good. The underdog doesn't deserve everything despite what you might think. Very poorly thought out.
Graham Watson (2:58 PM)
Maybe I stated this wrong. The SEC would have had more clout than the MWC. Undeniable. The sad but true part is that it would take something like that to open the discussion of a playoff or an alternative to the current BCS system. Do I think the MWC deserves a spot in the BCS? No, not right now. I, like a lot of people, need more evidence than one good season. Do I think that there should be broader access to the BCS bowls and the national championship. Yes. However, what I was saying is that it's going to take a bigger voice saying something to change the system. Sorry if I didn't convey my point that way earlier.
Graham, Are you going to come to our late november blizzard games in our new stadium? Ill loan you my bomber hat!
Graham Watson (2:59 PM)
I live in Colorado and I still don't do well in the cold. I'd love to see the first game against AFA though. It's a rare day that you get to see the first game in a new stadium.
Is there any chance Michigan can beat OSU?
Graham Watson (3:00 PM)
I wouldn't put money on that. It helps that it's at the end of the season and Michigan should get better as the year progresses, but I think OSU is going to be really good this year with Pryor a year older.
Do you really think that a a true freshmen can step into a QB position at Michigan and produce?
Graham Watson (3:00 PM)
Absolutely. It's happened at other schools in the conference...
Graham, I know you've talked about this before, but as far as QB1 goes at Utah? Who starts game 1 Louks, Cain or Wynn? Do you think they'll use the Utah State game to determine a starter for game 2 or will Whit. have made a decision long before then?
Graham Watson (3:01 PM)
Honestly, I think Louks starts the first game, but in the end it's Cain that ends up being the starter. I think Wynn redshirts. Just my thoughts.
Do you think the non-BCS teams can hold their own against conferences like the ACC and SEC?
Graham Watson (3:02 PM)
It depends which teams we're talking about. Do I think TCU can beat both Virginia and Clemson in their home stadium? Yep. Do I think FIU can beat Florida? I'm not on drugs.
Matt (Dallas Texas)
There is usually a surprise or two from the MWC, a team that sneaks in and does better than expected. Who do you believe that team will be this year?
Graham Watson (3:05 PM)
UNLV. The Rebs showed some flashes last year and I think they'll be better this year.
Graham Watson (3:05 PM)
OK, a couple more and then back to work.
Graham, if Boise State joined the MWC, do you think they'd be included in the BCS auto bids?
Graham Watson (3:07 PM)
You mean automatically? Like if BSU said it was going to the MWC tomorrow would the BCS give the MWC an automatic bid the next day? No. I think that a lot of people - I'm not one of them despite popular belief - think that Boise State gets too much credit considering their conference. So, I think people (BCS people) would want to see how Boise State fared against teams such as Utah, BYU, and TCU on a yearly basis before shelling out an automatic bid. Regardless of whether Boise State is involved, I think the MWC has the right teams in place to make a run at the automatic big for 2014.
Austin (Fort Worth)
Peterson or Patterson, who gets an offer they can't refuse first and moves on to a big money program?For the record I hope they both stick around where they're at for a long time.
Graham Watson (3:10 PM)
Both were offered big money this past season and passed - at least that's the rumor with Petersen and I know for a fact with Patterson. But Patterson makes a grip of money right now (yeah, I called on my high school days and brought back the term "a grip") and has a great recruiting bed and pretty much gets whatever he wants when it comes to facilities, stadium, etc. He would have to find a ridiculous deal (and Auburn apparently wasn't it) to leave. And Petersen is Boise State guy. He loves it there. He can recruit there. And he's been successful there. And looking at some of the coaches that left Boise and where they are now, Petersen is in the best possible position.
Graham do you play that ncaa football video game?
Graham Watson (3:11 PM)
Love it, though I have a Wii now and I don't find it nearly as fun as on PlayStation.
Other than LSU and Georgia, do you see any other team stopping the Gators from a repeat?
Graham Watson (3:12 PM)
In the conference? No. Well, maybe Ole Miss in the championship. Don't sleep on Ole Miss.
Matthew Harris (Bristol Tennessee)
Before the MWC expands shouldn't it make sure it doesn't repeat the errors of its ways when those members were the original WAC? I mean adding teams to get a playoff game is great, but the teams must be suitable to increase interest or the MWC will peel off again into another conference.
Graham Watson (3:14 PM)
I totally agree. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of consistent teams from which to choose. Nevada? Hawaii? Fresno State? I'm not sure any of those teams would really increase the draw of the conference. Adding East Carolina, Tulsa, Houston, maybe Southern Miss, now that would be interesting. That also will never happen because of the travel logistics. Who knows, maybe Utah State will become a power.
Couldn't help but notice your comment on TCU beating Clemson in Death Valley...what's your prediction for the game or is it too early to tell?
Graham Watson (3:14 PM)
Too early for a real prediction, but I've been saying all summer that I thought a TCU win was possible.
colt mccoy was a 3 star
Graham Watson (3:15 PM)
Chase Daniel was a three-star.
Eric C. (Clovis, CA)
Graham, Great article on Title IX. Looking over the comments section, a reader brought up the point that as long as our tax dollars are at work funding scholarships, the gender ratio should stay at 1:1, which means including the FB scholarships in the final numbers. Couple of outstanding questions:1. Don't a lot of college FB programs fund schollies w/ $$$ from boosters?2. And if so, why does that count against their total scholarship allocation for Title IX? (I suspect I know the answer to the second one, but I'm curious what your answer is.)
Graham Watson (3:16 PM)
I don't have enough time to look up the exact numbers for this question, but I think I have them. Would you email this question to me and I'll put it in the mailbag tomorrow.
tp (New Hampshire)
Do you think Tim Brewster is the guy to move Minnesota to the next level or the guy just a bunch of talk? Yeah he turned around the program for one year but a number of his recruits cannot get/stay academically eligible. All he does is talk about the Rose bowl this and that, do you think he really buys it or is he just a salesman?
Graham Watson (3:17 PM)
I think it's too early to tell. I almost always reserve judgment on coaches until they start working with their own recruits and their system is learned. If it's still bad after that, fire away.
Graham Watson (3:18 PM)
OK. I gotta go back to work. Thanks for all the questions. It's been fun. Have a great weekend.