Chat with Heather Dinich
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's ACC blogger Heather Dinich stops by talk some college football.
Dinich covered ACC and Big Ten football for five seasons before joining ESPN.com in November 2007. She's an Indiana grad but somehow her favorite day of the week is Saturday.
Send your questions now and join Dinich Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Heather Dinich (2:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Thanks for switching times with me today. Lots of good questions in here, let's get started ...
Your thoughts on how Dabo Swinney did in his first year and how do we look for next year? I think he deserves a lot of credit for winning a bowl game that the players and fans felt we deserved a better game. Spiller's great Clemson career is over but a lot of talent returns next year on offense. Steele will have the defense rebuilt and we get GT and Miami at home!
Heather Dinich (2:01 PM)
Robert -- Swinney and Billy Napier both proved themselves this year. Job well done. The key will be rebuilding some spots on defense, as you pointed out, but I think Clemson fans have reasons for confidence heading into 2010.
Alex (College Park, MD)
Hello Heather,How do you think Maryland will fare against other teams next year, will we have a winning season or is there more disappointment ahead?
Heather Dinich (2:02 PM)
Alex I think the Terps should have a winning record next year. Ralph Friedgen doesn't have much of a choice there. There's a lot of work to be done -- namely up front and at quarterback -- but there is enough talent on the roster to improve.
Greg (Bristol, TN)
Heather, living in the 'Battle Zone' in Bristol, life is getting tough constantly hearing about the mighty SEC. I thought each team won or lost its own game . Anyway, we are playing the Vols not the entire SEC. Go Hokies!
Heather Dinich (2:04 PM)
Fair point, Greg. But the Hokies do have some responsibility to represent, and I think Frank Beamer would even say as much.
Tony C (Atlanta GA)
The sudden instability in Gatorland, how much does that benefit the sudden stability @ FSU and UM?
Heather Dinich (2:05 PM)
This should probably be a separate blog post, but yes, I do think it could work in the favor of both Miami and Florida State. Anytime there is a hint of instability, opposing recruiters will use it.
Carl (Owings, Maryland)
Hi Heather. I've always enjoyed your work. What are your thoughts on Maryland retaining Ralph Friedgen? Do you think HCIW James Franklin is better suited to be a head coach than a coordinator? Thanks.
Heather Dinich (2:06 PM)
Thanks, Carl. I don't think Debbie Yow had much of a choice, and she was in a lose-lose situation. Franklin, much like Dabo Swinney, will have to prove himself. It's not like the offense was getting it done this year, either.
Matt (St Pete Fl)
Heather - with Jimbo Fisher's excellent start (coaching hires and recruiting), on a scale of 1-10 how optimistic are you about the future at FSU?
Heather Dinich (2:08 PM)
I'd say about a 7 or 8. I agree he's got things going in the right direction and is making all the right moves, plus with the offense returning almost entirely in tact, that should add up to an Atlantic Division contender. BUT ... it all has to come together on the field. Those recruits have to pan out. And it has to happen quickly.
James (Ali Base (Iraq))
Heather, if all the Tar Heels juniors come back, and Renner becomes the starter at QB next year, do you believe the Tarheels have a shot at the ACC Title game next year?
Heather Dinich (2:10 PM)
I need to see more from Carolina. I want to give the Heels credit, and I tried to do that leading up to the bowl game. But they need to show more consistency, play smarter and make fewer mistakes. I'm not sure Bryn Renner, in his first season as a starter, would be the answer. I think they could still be a contender with Yates, but they've got to start winning the winnable games.
Kyle (Miami FL)
If miami wins its bowl game in convincing fashion, will you stamp the 2010 canes as being national tittle contenders?
Heather Dinich (2:11 PM)
Considering Miami was so close to being a BCS bowl-bound team this year, I don't see why not. They Canes will have won all of their nonconference games and beat Georgia Tech. Not a bad stepping stone into 2010.
Chris (Herndon Va)
Hey Heather. Out of all the talented running backs in the ACC, who do you think has the most pro-potential?
Heather Dinich (2:13 PM)
I'm going to take the easy answer here and go with what our guys at Scouts Inc. think, and that's C.J. Spiller. He's currently their No. 10 overall player. That being said, I think Ryan Williams, when he's ready, might have the longer career.
Mike (Coral Gables)
HD- How do you think Miami will do next year OOC? They were perfect this year, but have to go to Columbus and Pittsburgh. Do you think Miami's ambitious OOC scheduling will hurt them in the long run (no Wofford, or the Citadel like certain SEC schools)
Heather Dinich (2:15 PM)
Personally, I think it's better to gamble on strong teams that will help your SOS. If the Canes made it through this noncon stretch, they can do it again. Look at VT. That loss to Alabama wasn't what killed them, it was the ACC losses.
Hey Heather.Who do you predict to be the best ACC quarterback in the 2010 season?
Heather Dinich (2:16 PM)
Haven't given it much thought yet to be honest with you, Jay, but on the spot I'd say Christian Ponder.
Nathaniel (Bristol TN/VA)
Heather, which is better and/or more likely for getting questions answered, sending them prior to the chat time, or submitting them live while you grace us with your presence?
Heather Dinich (2:17 PM)
Honestly, I answer them both.
Drew (Ronoake, Virginia)
Do you think Ryan Williams from Virginia Tech has a real shot at a Possible Heisman trophy Next season if he out performs what he has done this season?
Heather Dinich (2:18 PM)
Heck yeah, but he'll have an even better chance if he's getting most of the carries instead of Darren Evans getting two series and Williams getting one. We'll have to see how that works, but the Hokies might want both of those guys on the field instead of a Heisman winner.
HD, Your prediction on the ACC team most likely to win it's bowl game?? I like Miami the best even though I'm a GT fan.
Heather Dinich (2:19 PM)
Oooh, tough question. Most likely ... I agree with you, I think Miami has the best shot of the remaining teams, but I'm still expecting more wins from the ACC.
Heather, looking ahead, do you believe Charlotte as site of the ACC title game will end up being a success? In my opinion, I think being in the center of ACC country, plus being such a large city, the "casual" fan will show up in more numbers than in Tampa.
Heather Dinich (2:20 PM)
I agree, Hokie, unless, of course, FSU and Miami are in it. Then everyone will be wishing it was in Tampa. I do think it's a good move, though.
Should the ACC expand to 14 or 16 teams by adding programs like West Virginia, Syracuse, or others prior to signing a new television contract?
Heather Dinich (2:21 PM)
I have enough trouble keeping up with 12 teams, Parker, you trying to kill me? :) No, it shouldn't expand. It should win with what it has.
When will your prediction come out for the GT/Iowa game? Or did I already miss it? Sure don't want to miss it :-)
Heather Dinich (2:22 PM)
Game predictions have been rolling out the day before the game, Rich ... Georgia Tech fans can't make up their minds if they want me to pick a win or a loss! I've had requests for both.
HD-Any idea why Georiga Tech's recuriting class is so small in numbers?
Heather Dinich (2:22 PM)
I've had several questions about this and haven't had a chance to talk to their recruiting coordinator, but I'll tell you this -- don't panic. That staff knows what it's doing and what it needs.
Chris (Emmitsburg, MD)
We want a loss prediction :)
Heather Dinich (2:23 PM)
Haha, see? There you go ...
Heather, love the blog, Noel D vs Nole D who do you think will win that battle?
Heather Dinich (2:23 PM)
Do you really want that answer, Corey? :)
Heather,in your opinion, which ACC team do you think is least likely to win their bowl game?
Heather Dinich (2:23 PM)
Ask Corey, he probably knows after that last answer ... (FSU)
Mike Crook (South Dakota)
HD, great job on this season's blog. What's your opinion on the one ingredient FSU needs to have in order to send Bobby out with a win as his final game as head coach?
Heather Dinich (2:24 PM)
In keeping with the theme ... defense.
Hey Heather! How do you feel about VT's chances against TN? And of the remaining bowl games, which one is the closest to a must-win for the ACC to gain any respect this season?
Heather Dinich (2:25 PM)
I like the Hokies' chances in that game. They've got SEC talent on their roster and on paper have the edge in a few categories, but Tennessee is on a hot streak, too. As for the must-win? I'd probably go with Georgia Tech. It's the biggest stage, and the ACC's record in BCS bowls is in dire need of a facelift.
James (Ali Base, Iraq)
Heather heres a real question, does FSU have any chance to actually beat WVU?
Heather Dinich (2:28 PM)
Yes, nothing surprises me during bowl season. You can't predict who's the most prepared, the most focused, or who actually wants to win the most. FSU will have to simplify its offense for E.J. Manuel, and take advantage of every mistake WVU makes, while not making its own typical FSU penalites.
John (Aiken, SC)
Heather, great job on the blog. Coastal should have another good battle on it's hand for division winner. How do you see the Atlantic panning out? I've got Clemson and Fla State battling it out.
Heather Dinich (2:29 PM)
Thanks, John. That sounds like a logical start to the 2010 Atlantic Division race, but don't count out Boston College (haven't we learned anything from the Eagles yet?). Shinskie will get better. Promise.
Is 8-5 an overall good first season for Spaz? I can't say I thought they'd be playing a 13th game this year.
Heather Dinich (2:30 PM)
Good? It's remarkable. Amazing. Check the blog later for more on it. Spaz didn't get enough credit this for what he did, and anyone who sits back and thinks about everything they had to overcome will realize it.
Tyler (Seattle WA)
Hey Heather, Do you think Jacory Harris stays all 4 years or leaves After his Junior year. I think he should go all 4 years because he needs to work on a few things like his turnovers and if he tightened that up he would be a really good QNB
Heather Dinich (2:31 PM)
I think he'll stay, but I also think it's too early to be talking about that decision for Jacory. Like you said, he's got some things he needs to work on, but so do the guys around him. Not all of those INTs were his fault.
vthokielover8 (the boards)
HD,you mentioned RW and Spiller competing for an ACC record (I believe for TD's in a year??) Did spiller break this record in his bowl game and, if so, what does Williams have to do to break Spillers record?
Heather Dinich (2:32 PM)
Great question, and one I have to look up the answer to ... hang on while I juggle another question and look it up.
dan (Ft. Meyers)
What round do you think Christian Ponder will be drafted in 2011 NFL Draft Next Year? Thanks.
Heather Dinich (2:32 PM)
If I recall correctly, I believe Jimbo Fisher has said he thinks Ponder is a first-rounder.
Heather, regarding Georgia Tech's small recruiting class: it's small because that's all the scholarships Tech has to offer. We only six scholarship seniors, one guy leaving for medical reasons, and we're six under the 85-scholarship limit. Adds up to thirteen, exactly our number of recruits.
Heather Dinich (2:33 PM)
There you go, thanks, Ashley, for clearing that up. I knew somebody would.
Matt (Staunton, VA)
On the subject of leaving early.....Ryan Williams? Does VT get 4 years from him?
Heather Dinich (2:34 PM)
I would be very surprised, especially if he has a similar or better year next season.
Heather Dinich (2:35 PM)
VThokielover -- here is your answer:On the touchdown by Spiller, he also tied the ACC record for touchdowns scored in a season with 21.He and Don McCauley of North Carolina both have 21 for a season. So it's still up for grabs.
Coastal looks extremely competitive next year, I think that hurts any of those team's chances of actually contending for a Natl Championship... having to go through GT/VT/Miami/UNC plus a couple tough Atlantic opponents. Do you agree that makes it very unlikely for the ACC to make it to the Big Game?
Heather Dinich (2:36 PM)
Yes, and I don't think the ACC gets enough credit for how tough it is to get through the Coastal unscathed. Having said that, I think we're starting to see some separation in that division, starting with GT this year.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Ms. D.: Which ACC coach do you think did the most with the least this season (or would you like to withhold that answer until the bowls are completed)?
Heather Dinich (2:38 PM)
No, and please don't call me that, I look for my mother ... I think that award goes to either David Cutcliffe at Duke or Spaz at BC. The biggest difference is that Cutcliffe had a veteran quarterback to work with.
Kendall (Sumter, SC)
Have you had a chance to speak with Kyle Parker about whether or not he'll return to play football next season? I've heard it all depends on how high he's drafted in baseball. He's shown he has the potential to be a great QB at Clemson, but how dedicated is he?
Heather Dinich (2:39 PM)
I haven't talked to Kyle about it, but I asked Dabo about it before the bowl game, and he made it seem like it wasn't even a topic of conversation between them. He said Kyle will play baseball and do football just like he did last year and really downplayed it. I think he's more dedicated to football than Russell Wilson is at NC State, but if you were offered a money contract, what would you do?
Justin (Washington DC)
In the Orange Bowl, we have a classic offense power vs. a tough defensive. Can the Iowa defensive line and Adam Clayborn keep up with Dwyer and Paul Johnson's triple option attack and give the Hawks a win in this ACC-Big Ten Challenge on the grass?
Heather Dinich (2:42 PM)
FYI -- this was the first question in today. And it's a good one, because not even the coaches know the answer to it. We'll see, but Iowa's defense is suited to stopping this kind of offense because it's got a strong interior defensive line. That being said, it's almost impossible to simulate in practice, and Paul Johnson is excellent at in-game adjustments.
Harry (Shelby, NC)
UNC and LSU open up next year.... What kind of shot does UNC have in winning this game? I personally think everyone comes back and Renner is the QB next year... AND we shock everyone and beat LSU...
Heather Dinich (2:44 PM)
It would be shocking, Harry, but let's see how LSU ends the season against Penn State and how they head into their winter conditioning. Because right now, UNC still has a lot to prove.
Nathaniel (Bristol TN/VA)
With Bud Fosters new deal (An Annuity after 2014) does this act almost like a coach in waiting situation for Virginia Tech? Many fans seem to think Beamer will be very close to retirement in five years.
Heather Dinich (2:46 PM)
I think Beamer is close to retirement, too, but no, I don't think it's like a coach-in-waiting deal. This is much better than that in that it allows both parties to make the decisions that are right for them. If I read it right, Bud isn't going to be penalized if he leaves, only rewarded if he stays.
I know June Jones has a great offense, but do you believe he can build a strong defense that can win against the big boys?
Heather Dinich (2:47 PM)
You snuck that in here, but yes, I think Jones is a great coach and can put it all together.
Michael (Carolina Country )
Do you think Coach Butch Davis is locked in with QB Yates for next year or will he truly let the other QB?s ?Renner?compete for the starting position?
Heather Dinich (2:49 PM)
I think Yates has taken too much heat this season. Can he play better? Yes, but so can the guys around him. Davis needs to play the best quarterback and he will, but I'm not so sure Yates isn't the right guy right now.
Given the way that ACC teams have faired in bowls over the last couple seasons, in BCS bowls historically and in the start of this bowl season, Is there a disparity in between conferences or is there another factor at play that explains our results?
Heather Dinich (2:50 PM)
It is what it is, Bill. Like I said in an earlier blog post today, it's too early to judge the ACC's bowl record based on its start, but it has to win the winnable games, and so far, both BC and UNC are kicking themselves because they were that close.
Heather, why does everyone think that WVU is going to blow out FSU? FSU has the motovation (Bobby Bowden and keeping our winning season streak) and the offense to win. We've make every game a close one, excluding UF.
Heather Dinich (2:53 PM)
I don't think West Virginia is going to win convincingly -- if they win. You're right, the Noles have a lot of intangibles going in their favor. But West Virginia doesn't care that it's Bowden's last game, and Noel Devine and Jarrett Brown will be the difference on the field.
AJ Board (Recently Engaged)
Could you offer any follow up on why you think Russell Wilson might not be as dedicated to football? I know he might not be a huge NFL prospect but he has put up some great numbers so far
Heather Dinich (2:54 PM)
Well, just because he missed so many more practices for baseball. Glennon is going to get all of the reps this spring again. Last year, Parker changed unis BETWEEN games and headed over to the spring game, remember? It just seems like Parker made more of an effor to get to spring ball, and Swinney made him.
Do you think that Wake has stock piled enough talent with red shirts and with the superior coaching staff be able to get back to a bowl in 2010 despite the loss of Skinner?
Heather Dinich (2:56 PM)
Finally, a Wake Forest question! I think they have, and I think their next quarterback might be the next Luke Kuechly of the ACC next year -- you know, the guy who came out of nowhere? And besides, it's not like Wake was so far away from a bowl. They lost an absurd amount of close games.
Heather, you covered Jon Tenuta when he was at GT, with his knowledge of recruiting in the southeast, and Weis out at ND, wouldn't it be a great fit at UF as DC?
Heather Dinich (2:57 PM)
I'll be honest, Ken, I've heard mixed reviews on Tenuta from assistants in the ACC.
Jason Syms (sun valley)
Heather, in your opinion, do you think L. Hankerson is staying or going? He has potential in my opinion, but he still needs to work on his hands so he should stay...
Heather Dinich (2:58 PM)
I think he should stay, too, but for some reason after reading that Miami Herald article in the LL today I think he's going to go.
I think that RW and DE will be just the opposite that you stated, RW (2) and DE (1). RW is just to talented not to be on the field! Any chance that the Orange bowl is similar to last years Chick-fil-A, since Iowa has more time to prepare for GT offense?
Heather Dinich (2:59 PM)
Not if Georiga Tech has anything to do with it. That loss to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl has been driving those guys ALL season. They're going to do everything they can to avoid a repeat of that.
Are you as tired of hearing about how good the SEC is too? Hopefully Clemson's win last night will help a little bit for the ACCs confidence.
Heather Dinich (3:01 PM)
Well, it should, but the thing is, that's a game Clemson was supposed to win -- just like GT was supposed to beat Georgia and Clemson was supposed to beat South Carolina. What the ACC needs to do next is starting being the SEC teams in the upper echelon of the standings.
Heather Dinich (3:01 PM)
Alright guys, my time is up here. Thanks for joining me, and don't forget, Virtual Pressbox at 4 p.m. See you there!hd