Chat with Graham Watson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com's non-BCS reporter and contributor to the College Football Nation blog Graham Watson will stop by to talk about the 2009 season.
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 Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Graham Watson (1:00 PM)
Hey all. Welcome to the chat. I have my music going. I'm fired up. Let's talk about the bowl season. And no, I'm not going to give you my Fiesta Bowl prediction.
Graham, as much as Turner Gill talks about turning Kansas into a football dynasty, do you think it's really possible? As much as he focused on recruiting, I think most recruits would still go to schools like Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Missouri. Am I right?
Graham Watson (1:01 PM)
I think turning Kansas around might be a tougher proposition than he bargained for. He's not going to have the forgiving fans that he had at Buffalo. And let's be honest, winning in the MAC is not the same as winning in the Big 12. It's not the hire I would have made. I thought there were some better fits out there, but I think he's assembling the right staff around him to make him successful.
Rudy (Lewisville, TX)
Hey Graham! Will you be "Bowling" this weekend? (attending)
Graham Watson (1:02 PM)
I am not bowling until the Fiesta Bowl. Before that, I'm going to hang with my parents, who are way cooler than I am.
David (San Francisco, CA)
Hi Graham, Kyle Whittingham is undefeated in bowl games so far at Utah. What do you think his chances are of continuing that streak against Cal? And if they win, how do you think that sets them up as far as rankings for next year, with a good returning roster, and a schedule that includes home games against Pitt, TCU, and BYU, and road games at Iowa State and Notre Dame?
Graham Watson (1:05 PM)
I like Utah in that game. If they can control Best, I think they have a very good chance of winning. I also like the quarterback Jordan Wynn is becoming. I think he's going to be a superstar. If Utah wins, I think they'll be ranked in the low teens to start the season.
Let's play conference dominos! If the Big 10's newly announced expanision takes a Big East team, who joins the Big East? If they take Missouri, does the Big 12 replace them with T.C.U.?
Graham Watson (1:06 PM)
That's what I was telling Adam Rittenberg yesterday. It seems like the logical move.
Let's talk Kevin Sumlin of Houston...I believe he can get a head coaching job with a big time program and be very successful. What are your thoughts about him? Also, if Minnesota fires Tim Brewster, would that be a good fit for him (there are ties there, Gophers RB coach '93-'96)?????
Graham Watson (1:09 PM)
Sumlin is an offensive coach and we've seen what his offensive mind can do with the right players. He had a young defensive team this season, which I think will be better next season. I think he's a good coach that gets guys to play for him. It's tough for a non-AQ to beat three AQ teams, especially the teams he beat this year.
Hunter (Beaumont Tx)
Any shot that TCU runs the table next year?
Graham Watson (1:11 PM)
I think it's possible, but it also depends who that final nonconference game is against. My money is on Oregon State at Jerry World, and that's a winnable game. Almost the entire offense returns. The defense is going to be iffy without Hughes and Washington, but I think there are really good guys behind them. I think it's possible, but Utah is going to be my favorite in the MWC next year unless something changes.
trojanbrutha (Greenville, AL)
Hey Graham, it looks like TROY is making an effort to shore up the CB position heading into signing day. With Jamie Hampton getting ready to compete for QB again, can TROY stay atop the SBC?
Graham Watson (1:14 PM)
Troy has to be the favorite again although Middle Tennessee doesn't lose much and it will have another year in that offensive system. I wouldn't be surprised to see votes split on those two heading into next year.
Ryan (CDA, Idaho)
Graham will Idaho and BGSU simply be trading touchdowns in the H-bowl? Is Barnes good enough that the Vandals won't be able to shut him down? How do the Vandals get the win?
Graham Watson (1:17 PM)
How many players did the Vandals actually shut down this year? If any number higher than zero enters your mind, well... This game will be a shootout. Lots of offense. A game in the 40s and I think Barnes will have more than 200 yards receiving. He and Sheehan are going to blowout their final game. The good thing for Idaho is that a lot of its players can learn from this experience and use it next year.
Andy (Las Cruces)
Why was Timm Rosenbach let go by New Mexico State? It's a little confusing, since Coach Walker said in a press conference before the season started there that he "was excited" to have Rosenbach on the staff, and it's only been one season!
Graham Watson (1:20 PM)
Yeah, but they went backward offensively. Maybe the chemistry wasn't right. Maybe the players didn't respect him or his playcalling. Sometimes those of us outside the coaches room don't ever get to see the rifts between the coaches. Not every coach (allegedly) punches an assistant to let us know how he feels...
Craig Thompson (the Rockies)
Graham, your take on if the mwc will expand? and if so, will they looking to add noise state?
Graham Watson (1:21 PM)
I don't see the Mountain West expending at this time. And, as I've said many times, expanding isn't necessarily the answer. Contracting and expanding would be more like it. But that likely won't happen.
We already know your prediction for the Fiesta Bowl Graham... If the game is on the line with 30 seconds to go. Would you take Chris Peterson and Kellen Moore against the TCU D, or G pat and Dalton against Boise D? Good Defense, but you could argue TCU hasnt played anyone close to the firepower of BSU's offense. Boise State has the knack for outcoaching teams with "better talent"
Graham Watson (1:24 PM)
Firepower is relevant. Put the Mountain West top three against Boise State conference schedule and all three put up similar numbers. With the game on the line, I'd take TCU because of the defense. Defense wins championships! At least that's the rumor...
JL (Marshall, VA)
Did Nebraska's great defensive performance against Texas cost Colt McCoy the Heisman?
Graham Watson (1:24 PM)
McCoy play poorly against the two good defenses he faced. He cost himself the Heisman.
Kolby (St. George)
You mentioned TCU losing a lot of defense and not too mention their 2 shutdown corners of many years Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders. Do you think they can continue to stay in the top 10 defensively with new starters stepping into their role?
Graham Watson (1:26 PM)
A lot of people thought they lost a lot this year, and look where they are? TCU is starting to get into a reloading mode. Remember, they play a lot of young players. They rotate a lot of guys in. It's east to focus on the starters, but a lot of freshman and sophomores have had significant playing time this year. The cupboard hasn't been bare at TCU in some time.
Dave (Las Vegas, NV)
Let's say TCU leaves the MWC. Do they then go after Boise State?
Graham Watson (1:27 PM)
That's a possibility. Yeah. Because that would make sense, replacing a good team with a good team.
Paul (Dothan, AL)
I've been hearing how the Big 10 wants to expand to 12 teams. How would that affect conference realignment in the Non-AQ conferences?
Graham Watson (1:28 PM)
It just depends who it is. If it's Pitt, then probably East Carolina or Southern Miss would be a favorite to go to the Big East. If it's Missouri, then maybe TCU heads to the Big 12... So yeah, the non-AQs would be affected in some way. With C-USA, it might present an interesting opportunity for a MAC team to move to C-USA and put the MAC back at 12 teams.
Graham, I know you like TCU against my broncos, but let me prove you wrong: Boise is more mature team, Kellen moore is playing beter than anyone in the country, bronco defense is good, and they have the better coach!! They also beat the PAC-10 champions, what has TCU done? My prediction BSU 34-26
Graham Watson (1:29 PM)
I think I heard similar stats from BYU and Utah fans... :)
I asked Chris Low yesterday that if TCU played Florida or Alabama in a bowl game, what the outcome(s) would be. He, of course, responded that Ala and Fla would beat TCU in a BCS bowl game. What would be your predictions Graham?
Graham Watson (1:31 PM)
That's a tough one. I like TCU against any team in the country right now because I don't think there's a team in the country that's playing as well as the Horned Frogs in every facets of the game. Well, maybe Alabama. I think TCU could play with either team and I've give them the win over Florida. Alabama would be a toss-up.
Chris ((Arlington, VA))
With a vast majority of the team graduating, on a scale of 1-10, how badly does Butch Jones want to get out of Mt Pleasant before its too late?
Graham Watson (1:33 PM)
He loses 13 seniors albeit, a lot of key seniors. I think he needs to strike while the iron is hot because if he doesn't land a good gig this year, it will be awhile before he's a hot commodity again. With that said... Marshall is a lateral move (maybe a half step backward) and he should only take that job if he's angling for the West Virginia job down the road.
Matt (Idaho Falls, ID)
so what's your prediction for the pre-season ranking of the fiesta bowl winner?
Graham Watson (1:34 PM)
Since both teams return a lot of key players, I think TCU would start in the top 10 and Boise State might land in the top six.
ConcretePir8 (New Bern NC)
What is your true opinion of the BCS?
Graham Watson (1:35 PM)
I don't really have a strong opinion only because I have yet to see a quality playoff proposal. I will say that watching the App State-Montana game was a lot of fun, knowing that those guys were playing to survive and advance.
So let's assume domino's fall. Would the Big 10 really go after TCU? Wouldn't BYU be the better fit? And if the Big 10 really does expand, does this set off the chain-reaction for the PAC-10, Big East, and MWC?
Graham Watson (1:38 PM)
I have a hard time seeing the Big Ten going after a non-AQ team to use for expansion. It likely will be from another main conference.
Jason (Austin, TX)
If Case Keenum comes back next year, and plays like he did this year, where do you potentially see him in the 2011 draft?
Graham Watson (1:39 PM)
It obviously depends on who else comes out, but probably a top 5 quarterback. He's going to get knocked because of the system he plays in.
Graham Watson (1:41 PM)
By the way... Just received word that the TCU-Oregon State game at Jerry World next year is not a done deal. There are some kinks to be ironed out. So, keep waiting for that one.
Eric (North Carolina)
Do you think that ECU can keep Arkansas out of then End Zone enough to pull off the upset in the Liberty Bowl?
Graham Watson (1:42 PM)
I think the experience of playing Houston will help a lot. Arkansas is a little more of a dual-threat team, which should make for an interesting challenge. i think the game is going to be a lot closer than many expect.
Kellen more was named 1st team all american by cbs and 3rd team by the ap...with him coming back playing for a top 5 team and if he goes off against, oregon state and va tech is he gonig to new york?
Graham Watson (1:44 PM)
If he beats TCU, he'll be the favorite along with Mark Ingram. People (voters) are already talking about that. But if he loses to TCU, that might hang over his head a bit in the early part of next year.
Graham, let's say that a C-USA team runs the table next year (such as UH or ECU). Would that team get to play in a 2011 BCS bowl game?
Graham Watson (1:46 PM)
That depends on the nonconference schedules of those teams, and I apologize that I don't have those in front of me. However, MWC teams have the advantage because not only do they play tough nonconference skeds, they also have to play two ranked teams in conference. C-USA won't be able to beat out an undefeated MWC team, but it might give a WAC team a run for its money with a better noncon schedule.
Graham, what are you hearing out of Cincinnati? Is it Holtz, Jones, another name?
Graham Watson (1:47 PM)
Holtz, Jones and Golden are still the finalists from what I'm hearing. And of course, whoever gets it will start a domino effect, which is awesome during bowl month...
Josh (Laramie, WY)
While Fresno's running back is a major threat on what appears to be a high scoring offense... how is Fresno poised on defense? Is there a potential in this game that Wyoming's offense could actually put up 30+ points to make this more of a shootout than we have seen this past season with Wyoming?
Graham Watson (1:49 PM)
I think this is a tough matchup for Wyoming because the Cowboys are not explosive offensively. Fresno State can score and I'm not sure Wyoming can keep up. I believe in Carta-Samuels, it's his supporting cast that is easily intimidated. FSU QB Colburn also has been playing well. Like I said, a tough draw for Wyoming.
Graham, what are your thoughts on Dennis Pitta not winning the Mackey award? I know his opponents weren't SEC caliber, but shouldn't what he did count? Defenses were keying in on him all season, and he still had those numbers!
Graham Watson (1:50 PM)
I was a little surprised and I honestly believe that the SEC title game is what swayed the voted. Not playing on that weekend hurt him.
I the Texas Tech TCU game next year officially over? Its still posted on both schools websites-that would give TCU non-conference games against Tech, Oregon State (assuming the kinks get worked out), SMU and Baylor.
Graham Watson (1:50 PM)
The Oregon State-TCU game likely will replace TCU-Texas tech, but that's not finalized yet.
Graham Watson (1:51 PM)
By the way... Andy Katz just tweeted this: @ESPNAndyKatz: The Big Ten will put out a statement about exploring expansion at 4 p.m. EST.
adam (salt lake)
Boise State, Utah, BYU, TCU, AIR FORCE, NEVADA, FRESNO State, Houston....If that was a conference would you consider that an AQ quality conference that would be up there with the pac 10?
Graham Watson (1:52 PM)
There are only eight teams... I think you'd need at least one more to make it legit, but yeah, that would be a heck of a conference.
Jason (Austin, TX)
Houston's 2010 Non-con schedule: at UCLA and Texas Tech, Navy and Miss. State at home.
Graham Watson (1:53 PM)
Hmmm... That's a decent schedule. Tech, Navy and Miss St., should be god. Not sure what to expect from UCLA. If Houston sweeps that schedule with Keenum at the helm, they could should up at No. 12 heading into the conference season. But they'd need some help from there.
Josh (winterville, NC)
Graham, ECU plays VT, Navy, UNC, NC State, and probably UH next year.. The following year we play VT, Navy, UNC, and South Carolina.
Graham Watson (1:54 PM)
I like ECU's schedule better than Houston's, but ECU loses 28 seniors. That's hard to recover from in a year especially since those seniors really dominated the playing time.
Ryan (CDA, Idaho)
What coaching moves, if any do you see int the WAC? Does Peterson finally take on a BCS job? Does Akey get stolen away from Idaho? Who replaces Tomey?
Graham Watson (1:57 PM)
I'm not sure Petersen will ever leave there. He's a lot like Patterson in that way. He probably has a "perfect" job somewhere in his mind, but it doesn't look like it's come open yet. Plus, he can win and go to the BCS with Boise State. If it starts getting better noncon schedules, it might be able to compete for a national championship. As for Akey, I think he's going to have to show a pattern of consistency. And no word on the SJSU search yet. Still in the works.
I know this is off topic, but is there any word on how close Jones and Marshall in contract finalizations or are they waiting after the UC interview?
Graham Watson (1:58 PM)
Jones would be ridiculous not to wait for Cincy. Like I said, Marshall is a lateral move at best. If he takes that job, it's only to get closer to West Virginia. So, if you're a Marshall fan, I wouldn't be all that enthused about Jones because the minute he shows success, he'll be gone. But that's just my thinking...
Paul (Dothan, AL)
So, in that case, is Keenum more of a system QB than Colt Brannon was at Hawaii? Is that even a fair comparison? They do run similar offenses...
Graham Watson (2:00 PM)
Eh... I think Keenum is a better QB than Brennan or any of the guys who came out of Tech. He has better vision, he's more versatile. He's actually a little better with ball security. He'll get labeled a system QB, but I think he's more technically sound than that. Maybe like a Chase Daniel only taller and a little better in pressure situation.
Graham Watson (2:01 PM)
OK. I gotta roll. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@ESPN_Others). Thanks again.