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 (1:01 PM)
Welcome to the chat. We'll start in just a second.
Graham Watson (1:04 PM)
Ross (Salt Lake City)
I have biased feelings so from your point of view, how does the Mountain West shape up next year? TCU returns a bunch of people offensively, Utah returns a good group of players and BYU has to replace a QB but is OK elsewhere. What are your thoughts?
Graham Watson (1:06 PM)
I like TCU and Utah to be the top teams in the league in 2010. I think BYU will do fine. I'm interested to see who they go with at QB. I have a feeling it will be Heaps, but we won't really know until spring ball. This might be the year for Air Force to sneak into the top 3. I also like Wyoming and San Diego State to be sleepers in the league.
Greg P (Staten Island,NY)
Graham, being a big Boise St fan and living in NYC is the VA Tech/Boise game at FED EX Field the best chance I'm going to have in the near future to see the Broncos play? any other trips to the east coast planned?
Graham Watson (1:08 PM)
Not that I know of, and Gene Bleymaier said he wanted to keep most of his nonconference games in Boise State's recruiting region (which makes sense).
Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)
Should Urban Meyer have been more proactive in helping Tim Tebow ready for the NFL by working with him on a pro-style offense during free time? It seems Tebow did great things for Florida and doesn't really have much for his future in return.
Graham Watson (1:11 PM)
Honestly, I think the goal started out toward doing that, but once the season started going and the possibility of a national championship was out there, I think Tebow went back to his bread and butter. It's costing him now, though. I haven't heard many positive things about his Senior Bowl workouts.
James (Colorado )
Boise St. appears to have declined Nebraska's offer, for the time being. Is this a mistake by Boise?
Graham Watson (1:13 PM)
It depends what else Boise has lined up. Bleymaier keeps saying there are irons in the fire, and they might be more favorable matchups for the Broncos. Also, I don't think he ruled out a future series with the Huskers...
Does Zach Maynrd really have a chance at Clemson or, latest rumor, alabama?
Graham Watson (1:15 PM)
That's hard to say. He only played a year with Buffalo and he looked OK early and struggled late. It's just hard to tell in one year what he might be able to do with new coaches, players, system, etc. He is more of a Clemson style QB than a spread style like Buffalo will run under Quinn.
Chris R (Colorado)
Ms. Watson, enjoy your insights, yet... Wouldn't a renovated MWC "Mountain division" with BYU, Utah, Air Force, Colorado St, Wyoming, and Boise St, and a "Valley division" of New Mexico, TCU, UNLV, Nevada, San Diego St, and Fresno St. has to have enough name power to push for an automatic BCS bid. Your thoughts?
Graham Watson (1:18 PM)
I think the Mountain West already has the strength to move to a BCS conference without all the bells and whistles. Like I've said before, for the MWC to really get a bang for their buck, they'd have to drop some of the worse teams in their league and then add others. But, as it stands, if teams like Wyoming and SDSU starting winning and Colorado State gets back on track, the MWC should have enough attractiveness with the teams it already has.
Mike (Portland, OR)
You say that Wyoming and SDSU are sleepers and that AFA might be third, so does that leaves CSU out in the cold next season?
Graham Watson (1:19 PM)
Not sure what to make of Colorado State. I'm tempering my expectations because I think people got too high on the Rams after their effort two years ago. I think they'll be better this year, but right now - before spring ball - it's hard to see more than five wins.
Matt Hayes from the SportingNews ranks the WAC as the 9th best conf only ahead of the MAC and SunBelt. Top to bottom, isn't the MAC stronger? BTW, he had the MWC #7 behind the Big 12.
Graham Watson (1:22 PM)
The MAC won't be as good this year as it was last year. The good QBs out of the West are gone. There were some major coaching changes. I think the teams that were bad this year will still be bad next year. I think the WAC will be better this year than it was last year. Boise, Fresno, Nevada, Idaho all will be good again. I think SJSU and NMSU will be better. Not great, but better. And I expect good things out of La. Tech.
Who do u think is going to win super bowl
Graham Watson (1:23 PM)
Colts, though I'll be cheering for New Orleans.
I'm a boise state fan and noticed even with there great season and fiesta bowl win, they didnt even get one of the good recruits? Am i missing something? I figured they would get more.
Graham Watson (1:24 PM)
They don't have any room for anyone in this class. I think the Broncos are taking four maybe five guys. I think they got a pretty good athlete. Really, next year's class will be the one to watch.
trojanbrutha (Greenville, AL)
Graham, I'd like to know what you think of the TX vs the Nation game and the potential for it to be viable for prospective NFLers?
Graham Watson (1:26 PM)
Obviously, it's not the Senior Bowl or the Shrine game, but a lot of NFL scouts go and a lot of guys get on NFL radars that maybe weren't initially. It's usually a good way for guys who aren't going to the combine to get individual workouts with teams.
Austin Gage (Blacksburg)
Early prediction for the VT/Boise game? I gotta say I think the Hokies should be favored in a virtual home game, especially now with an offense that puts up points. Thoughts?
Graham Watson (1:27 PM)
I think VT will be favored because it's a home game, but I think Boise State will be the higher ranked team and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Broncos pick VT off. If the Fiesta Bowl taught me anything, it's that with enough time, Boise State can craft two or three plays that can change a game. If they play even with VT most of the game, I like Boise's chances to win. Though, it will be tough with a VT heavy crowd.
Graham, any insight as to what is going on with recruiting at OHIO? Our AD mentioned that we only needed to fill 16 or 17 spots because we have a lot of guys coming back, but so far we only have 8 verbal commits and are near the bottom of both Scout's and Rivals' rankings. Am I jumping the gun or should I be concerned?
Graham Watson (1:29 PM)
They could have more commitments than are being published. That happens all the time especially with schools that aren't getting some of the bigger names. I wouldn't worry. Solich has done a great job there. I don't think that will change.
Dan (Salt Lake)
Graham have you lost it? You have BYU Football as the 8th best team of the decade and Bronco the 7th best coach? What? You have Paul Johnson and Dan Hawkins above Bronco? Graham I'm starting to think you have hard feelings toward the Cougars, or you're just crazy.
Graham Watson (1:32 PM)
Decade means all 10 years. BYU has been really good the last four years. It had one double-digit win season during the other six. BYU has two conference titles and has been to no BCS games. Dan Hawkins had a fantastic record with Boise State won a few conference titles. He put that program on the map. And Navy was a nothing program until Paul Johnson got there. At least BYU had a foundation to build on. Navy was miserable and since Johnson they have dominated the other academies and consistently beaten high-level teams from AQ conferences.
Nick (SLC, Utah)
Way too early prediction: Jordan Wynn = Alex Smith?
Graham Watson (1:33 PM)
Way too early... But in the limited time I saw him play, I think he can be better. Utah just has to get the talent around him.
NorthDuckotaD16 (North Dakota)
Graham, I'd Like to know your thoughts on a non BCS team chances of making it to the national championship game in the next five years and who is the team you would choose?
Graham Watson (1:36 PM)
I think they are good. I think a non-AQ team - if the MWC doesn't become AQ (big if) - could play in the national championship. I like Boise State, TCU and Utah. All have been consistent player in the BCS game and all have the potential to have big seasons in the next few years. Boise really needs a lot of help from its conference, though. The computers hate the WAC and that really hurts Boise regardless of where the voters put them.
Dan, Graham has admired Max Hall and Mendenhall in the past, you just may have not been reading. Having Utah below TCU was a travesty although.
Graham Watson (1:37 PM)
Ha! I could debate that, too. Two BCS years does not make a decade-long program. Utah has had more down years than TCU. TCU has consistently had double-digit win seasons with some pretty big wins mixed in. Hard to ignore that consistency for a couple BCS bowl berths.
Spencer Thurman (Dallas, TX)
What are the chances that an AQ conference invites BSU before the MWC? Do you think that would be a blow to the MWC? It seems they would be a great addition to any conference.
Graham Watson (1:40 PM)
My lean is that neither happens unless it has to. Boise State doesn't fit into the Pac-10 for a variety of reasons, one of which is academics. And they aren't in the Big 12 or Big Ten markets. As for the MWC, I don't see them taking Boise unless that BCS says add Boise and whoever else or else. Right now, it doesn't help the conference's top three teams.
Nick (SLC, Utah)
And to Riley: You know Graham is a TCU homer. Working in Fort-Worth and all. We all know Utah has been a better program over the past decade. 9 Straight Bowl wins.
Graham Watson (1:41 PM)
When did I work in Fort Worth?
Terry (Denver CO)
When is the next opportunity for MWC to be offically considered (voted thumbs up or down) as an AQ conference?
Graham Watson (1:43 PM)
They have two more years on a four year evaluation period that is conducted for all of the FBS. At that time, the BCS will decide to give (or even take away) automatic berths. The kicker to this is that if the MWC gets an automatic berth, the BCS has to add another BCS bowl or the non-AQs will more or less be shut out of the BCS system altogether. That would be a huge blow to Boise State. That's kinda why I see the BCS adding the Cotton Bowl as a BCS bowl.
Graham, I knew you reply with that... why the emphasis on 10 win seasons (why not 9 or 11, just a convenient number?)... I choose to place more emphasis on bowl wins and wins against BCS teams.. both with which Utah has the most of. Having 2 BCS bowl wins, being the first buster, and beating programs like USC, Cal, Oregon, Alabama, Pitt, Ga Tech, etc etc etc.. should put us ahead of TCU and likely BSU
Graham Watson (1:46 PM)
You make a good point. We're going to have to agree to disagree because I believe that consistency over the course of a decade, not just in bowl games, but throughout the season, should be rewarded. And TCU isn't just about wins, it's had the nation's No. 1 defense four times this decade, more than any other team (VT had it twice). That's pretty amazing for a non-AQ. But, like I said, you make a good point. Trust me, I weighed all of this when picking that list.
Dialpine (Scobey, MT)
If Boise loses just 1 game this year, think they will still receive respect? Or, do you think they still have to play undefeated to get any kind of respect?
Graham Watson (1:46 PM)
It depends on which game they lose, I guess.
Graham, thanks for helping make work more bearable. Idaho goes to Lincoln next season, do they have a prayer of beating the huskers?
Graham Watson (1:47 PM)
Um, no. But I do think they'll put points on Nebraska and that that game will be fun to watch.
Steve (Norfolk VA)
Graham, is your namesakes (UM-Brandon Graham) stock going to rise after his apparent senior bowl practice performance.
Graham Watson (1:49 PM)
He's a long lost cousin... I think his stock was already pretty high to begin with. Not sure, according to the needs of the teams picking, that he'll move up too much more. But a good senior bowl and combine have been known to boost draft stock and force teams to take a guy they might not have looked at originally.
graham, what's more important...getting the mwc an auto bid to a bcs game or the mwc teaming up with other conferences like the sec to implement a cfb playoff...it would appear that conferences like the mwc & wac would do more for cfb if they pushed for a cfb playoff.
Graham Watson (1:53 PM)
That's a good question... And I'm not sure how to answer it. I don't know that a playoff would be any better for the non-AQs than what's already happening right now. They'd still have to get to the top of the national standings, which would likely mean going undefeated. That's why it would be good for the MWC to be selfish and want an auto bid. I guess it also depends on what type of playoff system we're talking about, too.
Terry (Denver CO)
Hypothetical (hey, I can dream too): Boise repents, plays a super-tough OOC to offset their super-weak WAC schedule in most years. Wouldn't losing close games against national powers do more long-term to elevate their street cred than going undefeated playing against air?
Graham Watson (1:55 PM)
Yes and no. I think Boise already has street cred, but to really push the program forward, the Broncos have to start playing big name teams consistently and beating them. They haven't really done that on a consistent basis. That, I think, is the next evolution for Boise State.So Terry, are you the Boise State fan I always see at DIA going to games?
Graham, if they just keep adding BCS bowls, is there even any prestige to them? When there were 4, it was huge to get to one. If they increase to 6, that allows a whopping 12 teams to get in.
Graham Watson (1:57 PM)
I think to be fair to the non-AQs they have to if they add another automatic qualifier because if they don't then that will eliminate an at-large spot and will create all sorts of chaos with the AQs. It would be a tough situation.
idaho to put points on nebraska? really? i guess Neb does lose suh, but i if pelini has that defense any sort of prepared (as he should) i would be seeing a shut out. it's the neb offense that may need help....
Graham Watson (1:59 PM)
Don't get it twisted... I think Nebraska might get out to a good lead, soften and allow Idaho to put some points up. Idaho has a really good offense and a lot of those players are coming back. The Vandals defense, on the other hand, is just miserable.
big m (st. louis)
hey graham watson, u covered the big 12 for my home town, but i was just wonderin who do u have as the potential best team in the big 12 next year and do texas a&m have a good chance to be big 12 champs next year.
Graham Watson (2:01 PM)
It will be the usual suspects... Texas and OU. I think Texas will be a lot better than people think especially after Gilbert showed a little of what he could do in the NC. I think the Big 12 champ will be one of those schools. I think A&M will need a couple years to get its defense the way DeRuyter wants it. In the North, I like Nebraska to repeat.
Why is it that no one pays attention to how terrible the MWC is outside of TCU/Utah/BYU? Air Force hasn't beaten a BCS conference team in Calhoun's tenure and hasn't won against the top 3 MWC teams since September 2007...and it only gets worse from there as you go down the ranks. People seem to forget the reevaluation of auto-bids includes a top-to-bottom look at rankings. The sheer failure of the bottom 4 or 5 teams will keep the MWC sitting on the sidelines.
Graham Watson (2:02 PM)
I couldn't agree more. That's why the next couple years are more important for the bottom of the MWC than the top.
Graham Watson (2:03 PM)
All right, I have to get back to work. Thanks for the chat guys. There were some great questions today. As always, you can get me on Twitter @ESPN_Others.