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 noon ET!
Heather Dinich (11:58 AM)
Hey guys I'm here. Let's liven up this otherwise dreary Monday, shall we?
Heather, loved your article about the ACC and the next decade. I really think VT and Miami are going to be making noise at the end of the season this year. I love that their going out on the road in OOC games and scheduling big boys. You think the ACC could make the transition and have 2 top 5 teams, if VT smacks down Boise st (which they will) and Miami takes down the Buckeyes and Pitt?
Heather Dinich (12:00 PM)
Thanks, Greg. I think the Hokies have the better chance right now, and that's because they won't have as far to climb. Plus, when you look at what Pryor did in his final game, it looks he took a major step forward that Jacory didn't.
Hey Heather,Tell us what you've heard about Groh at Tech. Is he liking his new situation, is he fitting in, does he think he has the players to make the transition to the 3-4? Anything you could tell us would be great. Thanks!
Heather Dinich (12:01 PM)
So far, so good, Barry, but I think the rest of the defensive staff might have raised an eyebrow at the hire. It will be up to Groh to get everyone to buy into his system so they can effectively teach it to the players. Therein lies the key to everything.
HD - When will the schedule for the fall be released?
Heather Dinich (12:03 PM)
Lol ... you guys are killing me with the schedule question. Maybe this week, maybe not. A lot of it depends on the noncon schools working things out on their end. Loose ends still to be tied up. It dragged out for a while last year, too. I swear I'll post it, though, as soon as it's out.
Steven (Raleigh, NC)
When is signing day exactly?
Heather Dinich (12:03 PM)
Dan (Clemson, SC)
What do you think the chances are that Taj Boyd overtakes Kyle Parker at QB for the Tigers next fall?
Heather Dinich (12:04 PM)
I'd be surprised. Kyle made some significant progress in the second half of the season, and he should only get better this year.
Hey Heather. So Kiper has my Seahawks taking a couple ACC guys with our two 1st round picks. How do you think Derrick Morgan and CJ Spiller will perform at the next level? Thanks.
Heather Dinich (12:05 PM)
Isn't that crazy? I checked with the ACC and it's never happened that the ACC offensive and defensive POYs have gone to the same team. To answer your question, though, I think both of them will have long careers there.
What is the latest recruiting news from the Seminoles?
Heather Dinich (12:07 PM)
The latest thing I saw today was the Noles being the one school left in the running for two top prospects at Hialeah High. Check the lunchtime links for more on that.
Heather,Thoughts on the backup/future qb situation for the Hokies. Will there be some competition between Marcus Davis and JuJu, or does JuJu have the future starting position locked up?
Heather Dinich (12:08 PM)
Oh I don't think anyone has anything locked up there after Tyrod departs. Expect competition.
Is Maryland for real?
Heather Dinich (12:08 PM)
Did we switch to hoops talk? :)
Lou (Orlando, FL)
How much does BC improve next season? Can Shinskie lead them to an Atlantic title?
Heather Dinich (12:09 PM)
I'll be honest, I'm leaning towards making BC a frontrunner to win that division. Everyone talks about Clemson and FSU, and deservedly so, but it's time we stop underestimating the Eagles. Shinskie almost got them there this year, and he looked like a freshman in the process.
It seems GT fans are most excited about landing Justin Parker, please keep us informed on this! Also, I heard GT just landed another RB (Deon Hill).. GT fans aren't very excited about him.. we don't seem to need another ABack, altho maybe one that can catch, your thoughts?
Heather Dinich (12:12 PM)
Georgia Tech's priorities, much like FSU, need to be on defense, from top to bottom. Parker would definitely help, but you're right, Jackets fans should probably be more excited about anyone who isn't another back.
Bosie St Fan (Idaho)
Pretty safe to say the Hokies will get knocked out early by us. When have they ever won a big game?
Heather Dinich (12:14 PM)
Ooh, you hear that VT fans? Them's fightin' words ... I'd say beating a Tennesee team on a hot streak in the Chick-fil-A bowl was pretty big, as was beating a ranked Nebraska team and an Orange Bowl win last year. But you make a good point. Losses to LSU and Bama come to mind ...
Mickey (Chesapeake, VA)
How much time will the ACC give the teams that were supposed to be powerhouses in the Atlantic division (esp Florida St) to start producing before they seriously consider conference realignment? I know there has been some talk about realigning, mostly from fans, but aren't the benefits of spreading the wealth of the coastal division worth giving it a shot? Instead of the coastal division heavyweights beating up on each other throughout the year, realignment would produce conference championships with two teams with better records, higher rankings, higher attendance, and more notoriety for the ACC as a whole, making the switch well worth it. Thoughts?
Heather Dinich (12:15 PM)
I seriously, honestly doubt realignment will happen, and it wouldn't even be considered until after the 2015 season to make sure the scheduling is fair and even under the current system.
Heather? as of right now what two teams do you see playing in the acc championship next year?
Heather Dinich (12:16 PM)
You guys know I'll change my mind on this at least 15 times before I have to make it offical in August, but right now I'm going to say Florida State and Miami. That's right, you heard it here first. Look out, Hokies.
Matt (St Pete FL)
Why does everyone think Miami is so close to "being back" while thinking FSU still has so far to go? Didnt seem to be too much difference between both teams when they played. Only 2 yards and a dropped pass I believe.
Heather Dinich (12:17 PM)
This little thing called defense, Matt ... FSU still has a lot of questions to answer there, especially with a new coordinator coming in, though I think it was a good hire.
Any information on the possibility of Virginia Tech redshirting David Wilson next season?
Heather Dinich (12:18 PM)
Last I checked it will depend in part how Evans looks this spring, and what Wilson wants to do. He didn't want to redshirt last year, though. The staff probably won't decide that with him until after spring ball.
Will (Lake City, Florida)
Heather, if you had to make an early prediction for who would be in the running for ACC Player of the Year the upcoming season, what 3-5 players would you be looking hardest at?
Heather Dinich (12:19 PM)
Right off the bat I think you have to look at Ryan Williams and Christian Ponder. Jacory Harris could be in the mix as well, but Marvin Austin wants to be the next Suh (won't try to spell his first name on the fly, sorry). Could be a UNC defender.
Chris (Middle of No-Where, VA)
With Williams and Evans spliting time in the Hokies backfield next year, what is the likely hood he gets enough carries to convince himself he should leave 2 years early.
Heather Dinich (12:20 PM)
I think pretty good. Ryan is talented enough to impress NFL scouts with whatever carries he does get, and at the end of the day, that will determine his future -- not his number of carries.
Ooops, my bad. Hasn't been much to talk about re: MD football since....2007-ish?
Heather Dinich (12:22 PM)
Haha, no worries, Kerry, that was my point. I think Terps fans should have some faith in the Fridge this year, though. I expect a bowl game outta those guys. Hopefully the Navy game will be as entertaining as it was the last time they played.
Since the creation of the ACC Championship Game, the winner of the GT-VT game has decided the Coastal Division's representative.Do you expect this to continue or do you think UNC or Miami have a chance to crash the Tech monopoly?
Heather Dinich (12:24 PM)
I saw both of your comments in here, and despite my early prediction, I do think that GT and VT start the season as the teams to beat in that division. In the future, though, I think somebody else will emerge, and both UNC and Miami have the chance to do it this year, especially with what both GT and VT will be missing on D.
Figures, your prediction of FSU and Miami in the ACC Championship Game the first year it's not in FL. Do you think that game would be attended about like the past games in FL?
Heather Dinich (12:25 PM)
Yeah, you're right, so goes life in the ACC, eh? But honestly, I think an FSU-Miami matchup in the title game would draw a good crowd wherever that game was played.
What are your thoughts on the VT, Boise St game being played in Fedex Field. Home crowd advantage to the Hokies?
Heather Dinich (12:26 PM)
Well, I'm biased to that location, since it's about 30 miles from where I'm based, but heck yeah it's a home field advantage for VT. Hokie nation travels well, just ask the good people of Atlanta.
So Anthony Allen dont get mentioned in player of the year candiates for the acc?
Heather Dinich (12:27 PM)
I knew somebody was going to bring him up, and I thought of him as soon as I hit the "submit answer" button. Oh yeah, he'll be a candidate. And a 1,000-yard back. I think RW and Ponder could be Heisman candidates, though.
Heather, Did the Jackets land Justin Parker?
Heather Dinich (12:28 PM)
Not according to our recruiting site, which is why that question threw me off a little bit.
Tyrie (Atlanta, GA)
What is your view on Tech's hiring Al Groh? Could this be a "Space Cowboys" kind of union - a couple of gritty, accomplished old timers (Johnson/Groh) making a significant run in the young(er) man's world of College Football?
Heather Dinich (12:30 PM)
Well, that's one way to look at it. I think the hire put two top minds on each side of the ball on the same sideline, and their unique systems will make it extremely difficult for teams to prepare for in a week. IF, of course, the switch to the 3-4 is rather seamless.
Brent Austin (Kentucky)
How many bowl eligible teams will the ACC have next year?I'm guessing 8 maybe 9. GA Tech, VA Tech, Miami, UNC, FSU, Clemson, BC and NC ST and possibly Duke.
Heather Dinich (12:31 PM)
Hmm, I think Duke might be pushing it next year. They've got a lot of questions on the d-line, will have a new but talented starting quarterback, need to get their running game going ... I'll give them nine, and replace Duke with Maryland.
Matty (Washington, DC)
Why are people higher on FSU than BC (see the top 25 polls, etc.)? BC returns a ton of starters (including Herzlich) and FSU has consistently mediocre while BC has consistently been successful. It seems to me this will be another year where the media is lazy, picks FSU for its name, and then will end the year with the "BC surprises again" story we've heard every year since BC joined the ACC.
Heather Dinich (12:32 PM)
See? That's what I was talkin' about ... I'll tell you why folks are higher on FSU, though. Their offense will be blazin' again.
Max (Ocala, Fl)
Hey Heather, my question for you is, Do you think FSU could finish with a top 5 recruiting class?
Heather Dinich (12:34 PM)
Right now our guys at Scouts Inc. have them at No. 9. Since I don't compile that ranking, I'm not sure what it would take to push them up to that spot, but I certainly wouldn't worry about it. If signing day were today, FSU would be in great shape. It can only get better.
John (Coral Gables)
Heather- If Miami shores up their O-Line in time for the start of the season, do you think they will have the best offense in the ACC? And if not who would?
Heather Dinich (12:36 PM)
Hmm. I think Florida State should be the frontrunner there offensively. They return almost everyone, but don't forget about Virginia Tech. TT will be a senior, and RW and Darren Evans together will be tough to stop. I also don't think GT will have a major dropoff in production despite the loss of Dwyer and Thomas.
In your opinion is the Urban Meyer situation in Gainesville hurting or helping FSU and Miami? One would think that it would be helping tremendously, but UF is somehow putting together one of the best recruiting classes to date, despite the supposed iffy coaching situation.
Heather Dinich (12:37 PM)
The only way it's actually hurting them is in the living room conversations right now, where every other recruiter out there is using it against them.
Thought's on the 'Canes recruiting strategy of targeting so called 'diamonds in the rough?' Miami has a history of recruiting athletes and football players primarily, then position players, and it's worked historically to a great degree. Do you put as much stock in the star system as the rest of the world?
Heather Dinich (12:39 PM)
Not even close. I put my stock in the recruiters. All you have to do is look at staffs like Wake Forest and Virginia Tech for proof. And just because a four or five star guy is getting recruited by all the heavyweights doesn't mean he's the right player -- or more importantly person -- for the Canes.
Adam (Tallahassee, FL)
What do you see the odds of Christian Ponder being able to fight for the Hiesman, if the defense can't help him win games?
Heather Dinich (12:39 PM)
Same as this year, Adam. Slim to none, which is unfortunate.
Dexter (Atlanta, GA)
no love for Josh Nesbitt? Why would he not be a Heisman candidate?
Heather Dinich (12:41 PM)
Because the majority of Heisman voters saw him pass nine times in the Orange Bowl and throw one interception and two completions in a loss. He's probably already out of their radar for that alone.
Josh (fredericksburg, va)
Can we all agree to stop saying "this is such a young team" when talking about Miami and FSU... It seems to me like people have been saying that every year for the last half a decade... How long before the teams aren't young anymore?
Heather Dinich (12:42 PM)
Yes, this is the year for that. Guys like Jacory Harris and Sean Spence will be juniors. FSU's offensive line will finally be a veteran group. Time to grow up in the ACC.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Are Coastal teams allotting time to practice facing an option attack more than just the week before playing GT?
Heather Dinich (12:44 PM)
Not just Coastal teams. You'll notice the teams early on GT's schedule dedicate some of their summer camp to it. Clemson did it last year. Miami, too.
HD, will Stephen Hill be able to fill Bey Bey's shoes?
Heather Dinich (12:45 PM)
I don't think he has much of a choice, but I'd be surprised if he puts up similar numbers in the yards per catch category. 25 is tough to beat.
is it BCS or bust time for Randy Shannon?
Heather Dinich (12:47 PM)
I haven't heard any scoop on Randy's contract situation, but the bottom line is he's at Miami, where fans are ready for more than a nine-win season. He'll be in his fourth year, so yes, I'd say the pressure is on to take the next step this year. AD Kirby Hocutt has said repeatedly, though, that RS will be the HC for a long time.
Doug (Charlotte, NC)
Do you think Bud Foster will ever leave the Va Tech program for another DC job?
Heather Dinich (12:48 PM)
No. I talked to him last week when his contract annuity was released. It sounds like he'd only leave for the perfect HC gig at a BCS school.
Mike (Niceville, FL)
How does Paul Johnson recruite given players know that NFL scouts are not high on his offensive strategy. Couldn't a great player hinder his future NFL worth by playing for GT?
Heather Dinich (12:49 PM)
Definitely not, and PJ will be the first to tell you that the guys he's recruiting can be successful in any system. Look at the past two seasons. You think those D-linemen, Dwyer, Thomas, Burnett are all crying over playing for GT?
Heather, even tho VT is losing alot of starters on defense, dont we always reload? From what i could see they were doing alot of rotations in late in the season for younger inexperienced players. Thoughts?
Heather Dinich (12:52 PM)
Yeah, I know, Bud does a great job of getting guys groomed to take over, but they've got to replace three of four up front, and only two DEs have experience. OLB is wide open. They should be ok at CB, Whitley was Chancellor's backup and they like him. It's just a lot of questions for a team that expects to contend for more than the ACCC.
Whats your opnion on the Acc Championship game? Do you see it staying in charlotte for a long time?
Heather Dinich (12:53 PM)
I think we have to wait and see. It wouldn't surprise me if they get some bids from other cities/venues to try after this two-year contract is up, but I know ACC officials think of the state of NC as the "geographical footprint" of the ACC, so odds are that becomes its home in the future.
Heather...why can't the Canes' get to the ACC Championship game? What is going on there? is it coaching, recruiting, what?
Heather Dinich (12:56 PM)
Lots of answers. Randy Shannon had to clean house when he was hired. Recruiting had taken a hit. Then a revolving door at the coordinator positions. Lots of youth and inexperience. All excuses that won't fly this year.
Andrew (Washington DC)
No questions so far about the Hoos - is a 5-7 year next year for London enough to show recruits he's going to build the program Wahoo fans everywhere have delusions of grandeur about?
Heather Dinich (12:57 PM)
That's usually the trend, Andrew, sorry. But yeah, I think that's a fair record to show evidence of progress. I wouldn't expect a turnaround overnight, but I'd consider 5-7 a good first year for London.
Who will be the most important player on offense for the tar heels next season
Heather Dinich (12:58 PM)
T.J. Yates, easily. He is good enough to lead them to the ACCCG, but he's got to get more help around him and make some better decisions.
I agree with Duke considering they lose T. Lewis...but can I pencil them in for a 2011 bowl game?
Heather Dinich (12:59 PM)
It's up to you. I think I will.
Heather Dinich (12:59 PM)
Alright guys, my time is up. Feel free to drop any unanswered questions in the mailbag. I'll get to it tomorrow. Thanks for joining me today.