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 11 a.m. ET!
Graham Watson (11:01 AM)
Hey guys. We'll start in just a sec.
Graham Watson (11:02 AM)
OK. Thanks for joining the chat. Let's begin.
Do you have a preseason top 5? Also do you see this being another season ending in a big 12 vs sec matchup? If so, who would represent each conference?
Graham Watson (11:03 AM)
I like Alabama, Ohio State, Boise State, Oregon and Texas as my preseason top 5. I'm not sure Texas will be able to go undefeated to get to the NC, but I think the Longhorns are going to be much better than many expected. Look for Bama in the title game again and I don't see Ohio State meeting much resistance in the Big Ten.
Joe (Dallas, TX)
Any shot at BSU or TCU running the table next season? If so who is the better candidate?
Graham Watson (11:05 AM)
I think both teams have a shot. I would say TCU has an easier shot because it has an easier nonconference schedule, but both have proven that they have the mettle to do it. I don't think this will be the year where a non-AQ is left out of the BCS.
You always hear the argument that the Non Aqs couldn't play an SEC Big 12 Big Ten Pac 10 Schedule and go undefeated. Do these people realize that none of these teams get 5* recruits and rarely are in the top rankings as far as recruiting goes. It shows how good their coaching is.
Graham Watson (11:06 AM)
That's something Gary Patterson pointed out at the Fiesta Bowl one day. Sure, if Boise State, TCU, Utah, whoever were in one of the Big Six conferences they would get those types of recruits. I think it speak volumes that they're able to beat those teams without those higher level guys.
How well did Koa Misi do in the senior bowl? Where you do you see him being in the draft?
Graham Watson (11:07 AM)
He did pretty well, actually. He still has to have a good combine to move up in the draft pool. I think his a mid-to-late round draft pick, but that can all change with a good showing in Indianapolis.
Scott (Vallejo (CA))
Have you seen Notre Dame's schedule next year? It has to be their weakest schedule in decades. What are your thoughts on ND playing for the National Title next year?
Graham Watson (11:08 AM)
Similar to the past couple years, voters aren't going to move Notre Dame up in the polls for beating bad teams. ND doesn't yet have the respect of the voters and will need to earn that over time. I don't see them playing for an NC anytime soon.
What do you think of East Carolina's chances this year considering the new coaching staff and loss of 28 seniors? Will our recruits/underclassman step up?
Graham Watson (11:10 AM)
I have a hard time seeing a conference title repeat, especially with so much talent returning on some of the other teams. The nonconference season is going to be tough as well. I see ECU finishing third in the East behind Southern Miss and UCF.
Banks (New Orleans504)
Can lsu really move foward with les miles and jefferson at qb???
Graham Watson (11:12 AM)
I don't think Les Miles is the problem as much as finding a QB that can really lead the offense. I never felt like the QB ever really led that team, and I didn't think he was that good to begin with. I think they need to find a guy with better accuracy and one who can lead a 2-minute drill.
wade (clarksville, TN)
How well will Tenn do this year with their new coach ( Dooley)?
Graham Watson (11:13 AM)
The one thing about Dooley is that he gets guys to play for him regardless of the talent level or how bad they're outmanned. He returns some talent at Tenn, so I think he'll be fine. I don't think they'll win the SEC or anything like that, but I do think he'll get the Vols to play hard every game.
Watching the senior bowl it seemed Kyle Wilson didn't hurt his draft status in the game. During practice he obviously stood out. Do you think mike Iupati hurt his draft status?
Graham Watson (11:15 AM)
Iupati is the No. 1 OG in the draft. That was the case going into the Senor Bowl and that's the case coming out. If anything, Iupati might have bumped himself into the first round with his strong week.
Based on verbals to date, who are your Top nonAQ recruiting classes?
Graham Watson (11:16 AM)
BYU, TCU, Utah, Houston, Fresno, Southern Miss, Hawaii, Colorado State, UCF, Toledo
Dave (Las Vegas)
What do you think Wyoming odds are for going bowling again next year?
Graham Watson (11:18 AM)
I think they're pretty good considering the team already knows what it's takes to get to one, there's more commitment to Christensen's system and there's better talent with the recruits he's bringing in. Not to mention, Austyn Carta-Samuels returning as the catalyst for the entire squad.
How is TCUs recruiting class look?
Graham Watson (11:19 AM)
Very good. It managed to grab a lot of high-level recruits from some of the AQ schools and Utah, which really boosted their class.
Marshall question??What kind of season will the team have with all the new recruits and coaching staff?
Graham Watson (11:20 AM)
I think the loss of Darius Marshall and Cody Slate hurt. If the Herd wants to be a credible threat it needs to find a new quarterback. The defense should be fine. I think Marshall will be middle of the road like it was this year unless they get a dynamic QB in the mix.
brett (los angeles)
what are the chance that usc plays for the nc ?
Graham Watson (11:20 AM)
This year? Slim to none.
Jeff (Ruston, La.)
Who are a couple of your non-AQ dark horses for 2010?
Graham Watson (11:22 AM)
Hmmmm... I like Hawaii in the WAC, SMU in C-USA, San Diego State in the MWC, NIU in the MAC and no darkhorse in the Sun Belt.
What do you think of the job Ruffin McNeal has done for recruitng at ECU? He got in there extremely late in the game.
Graham Watson (11:24 AM)
I think exactly what you said... He got in there late and is having a tough time building the type of class he should. It doesn't help that he's recruiting against Doc Holliday for some of the same kids. I just think this is going to be a transitional year for ECU.
Did Zane Beadles make up for his shaky Senior Bowl practice with a solid Senior Bowl? I thought he outplayed Iupati.
Graham Watson (11:25 AM)
Eh... He had a better Senior Bowl than I expected after hearing about his struggles in practices, but I don't think he helped his draft stock too much. Still a mid-round guy to me. But, like everyone else, he can help himself at the NFL Combine and during Utah's combine day.
So what do you make about the Pitt to the Big-10 Rumors and who are the mid majors that stand to gain if the B10 goes to 12, 14 or 16 teams?
Graham Watson (11:27 AM)
The rumor was bogus and the Big Ten isn't going to 16 teams. I still think Missouri is the top target at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Pitt to help out Penn State, but I still feel Mizzou is the choice.
Graham, not to knock on the non-AQs, but the "Big Six" conferences are more than just football groupings. As much as I'd love to see Boise State join the Pac-10 because then we would see if they could actually hang with USC and Oregon, Boise State doesn't have the academic standards to join. Also, what about Boise State's other sports programs? This is something to keep in mind when discussing conference realignment...
Graham Watson (11:29 AM)
All true. I think that's why when you look at realignment as it pertains to the Pac-10, teams such as Utah and Colorado get thrown out because not only do the academic standards match up, but so does the quality of play.
How much do you expect BYU to fall off this year? They lose quite a bit on both sides of the ball. Is there any chance of competing for a conference title?
Graham Watson (11:30 AM)
I don't think BYU competes for a conference title this year. I think TCU should be the frontrunner with Utah close behind. I think BYU could grab the No. 3 spot, but they'll have some resistance from AFA. And don't forget about SDSU, which could be a force if it can find a running game.
Jason (Columbia, MO)
How would Mizzou do in the Big 10? Would we be competing for a title each year, rather than a chance to get killed by Texas or OU?
Graham Watson (11:32 AM)
Yes. I think Mizzou's style of play would do well in the Big Ten. It's fast, high scoring... A lot different from what we're seeing in the Big Ten right now. I think that's kind of the draw to Mizzou. It makes the conference look different, more exciting, and perhaps lessens some of the criticism about how boring the football and basketball can be in that conference. Plus, Mizzou has a natural rival in Illinois.
Jim Crozier (Boise, Idaho)
Graham, perhaps you should point Chris from DC to the current Director's Cup standings? BSU is a very respectable 44th in the current standings. They're well above a great many teams from the AQ conferences.
Graham Watson (11:33 AM)
True, it is respectable. But he's right about the academic standards.
If Utah lands Fehoko, Hemuili and Cullen does that push Utah past TCU's class?
Graham Watson (11:34 AM)
It would make it close. Hemili is the big name on that list. Honestly, I'll be surprised if the Utes get him. They need to land all three to get past TCU.
hey graham do you think that texas to the big 10 would make sense, been reading articles about that possibility and to me it makes perfect sense for both, and if texas did what would it mean on academics, and athletics to add a school like texas to the big 10
Graham Watson (11:36 AM)
Texas is too far south for the Big Ten. It would present the same problem that having Penn State in the conference does except about 500 miles further. Texas wouldn't have a travel partner, which would be a pain for the Olympic sports. I would be floored if Texas was invited to the Big Ten.
LetsGoRockets (Toledo, OH)
Really, NIU as a darkhorse for winning the MAC ? What about Toledo ?
Graham Watson (11:38 AM)
You know, I thought Toledo would be a lot better than it was last year. However, the fact that they played a lot of young guys will help. To me, NIU is going to be the top team on that side of the conference. NIU doesn't lose much from 2009 and was a bowl team. Toledo should have been better in 2009, so I'll be interested to see whether the team can rally and live up to its potential in 2010.
but texas adds something to the table that missouri doesnt a new bigger market, and its academics are far superior to anyone else they want to add, also they can help out with a great baseball team, swimming and diving teams, and track teams that can boast as the best or one of the best in the country plus the whole state of texas being added in the market has to be something the big ten wants.
Graham Watson (11:41 AM)
USC also adds a whole other market to the Big Ten, but I don't think they're going to add the Trojans. Texas is too far from the epicenter of the Big Ten. Besides, why would Texas want to leave the Big 12? It has a better reputation in football, basketball and a lot of the Olympic sports. Plus, it's easy to sell recruits on the rivalries with A&M and Oklahoma. That move doesn't make any sense for either party.
Are there any freshman impact players in Utah's recruiting class? With the losses at WR, guys like Kenneth Scott and Terell Reese seem like they could be immediate contributors.
Graham Watson (11:44 AM)
I don't think you know until you get a guy on campus and have him working in the system.One of the big fallacies in recruiting is the ratings system. Just because a guy can light up his high school ranks doesn't mean he's going to have the same success in the FBS. So, until I see some of these kids play in the college system, it's hard to say whether they'll be contributors.
Jeff (Ruston, La.)
Which new head coach among the non-AQs do you think will have the best year in 2010?
Graham Watson (11:47 AM)
That's a good question... A tough question... I think Sonny Dykes inherits some decent talent at La. Tech and I think Bobby Hauck might be able to make UNLV respectable. I think Holliday could get Marshall to six wins. Honestly, and I know this sounds totally crazy, I think Wilie Taggart might have the biggest turnaround, which is easy to say since WKU didn't win any games last year.
with jordan hicks and jeffcoat commiting to texas how good do you think that defense will be, and will texas finally get a ground game going next year
Graham Watson (11:48 AM)
Texas almost always has a good defense, but you hit the nail on the head with the ground game. If they can't pose a credible rushing threat in a conference with some decent defenses, I think it's going to put a lot of pressure on the young quarterback.
Peter (Evansville, IN)
Do you have a take on Mendenhall's pulling Kona Schwenke's scholarship for taking a recruiting trip to Notre Dame and Washington?
Graham Watson (11:50 AM)
I don't fault Mendenhall for doing that. He already has a good class and I can understand his desire to have kids that really want to be there. Coachesw do it all the time. I think BYU fans should appreciate the fact that BYU's class is good enough for it to be picky.
BSU has a ton of depth coming into this year.. How do you think their defense is going to look! any stand out guys?
Graham Watson (11:51 AM)
Boise State's defense is going to look a lot like it did this year because it's virtually the same group of guys. I do think it will get off to a faster start this year than it dd last year. It played well against Oregon, but then trailed off a bit. I don't see that happening this year.
Do you see Andy Dalton playing in the NFL after this season? What kind of year would he need to have?
Graham Watson (11:52 AM)
He has to show that he can read defenses better than he did this past season and that he can make some NFL throws. He didn't make a lot of NFL throws last year because he wasn't asked to. I think the offense he plays in will hurt him with NFL scouts.
Hey Graham, quick question about conference realignment. Everyone keeps mentioning that Boise State doesn't have the academic standards or other quality sports teams to be a good fit in the PAC-10. But why would BSU have to go to the PAC-10 in every sport? BSU already competes in the PAC-10 in wrestling, so why couldn't they just go as a football team? I don't understand why it's all or nothing.
Graham Watson (11:55 AM)
Wrestling is unique because not a lot of schools wrestle anymore. So there's a lot of mixing in that sport, gymnastics, water polo, men's volleyball, stuff like that. However, I think if BSU goes to the Pac-10, it will have to offer up - at least - football and basketball as well as some other Olympic sports. BSU has some major catching up to do to compete in the Pac-10 in a lot of other sports. I just don't think the Pac-10 wants a Big East-type situation if it expands.
How's this for a scenario. Mizzu goes to big-10, colorado state goes to big-12 and Boise joins MWC. and MWC gets auto bid by upgrading from colorado state to Boise. Do you think MWC chances of auto bid completely die if TCU goes to the B-12?
Graham Watson (11:57 AM)
I think it's more likely that TCU goes to the Big 12 than Colorado State. The thing to watch though is the Pac-10. It wouldn't not surprise me one bit if Colorado got a serious look by the Pac-10. If that happened, I think the Big 12 also would look at Conference USA. Maybe bring back Houston and make it a SWC party.
mark (Boise )
Where do you rank kellen moore on your heisman "winner " list
Graham Watson (11:58 AM)
Right now, he's got to be near the top, but Ingram will be the frontrunner.
In the possible realignment shuffle, which non-AQ teams do you see possibly getting picked up by AQ conferences? My guesses would be MAC and C-USA teams to the Big East to increase its football presence.
Graham Watson (11:59 AM)
Currently, there's not a MAC team worth adding to the Big East in either of the top two sports. If Memphis can start making strides in football, I think talk of the Tigers to the Big East heats up.
Way too early prediction...are we going to see an undefeated Utah take on an undefeated TCU in SLC with mass hype and fun to be had by all?
Graham Watson (12:00 PM)
Utah's nonconference schedule is pretty tough this year. If they go undefeated through that, I think they surpass TCU in the national rankings. I'm just not sure that's going to happen...
Graham Watson (12:01 PM)
All right. Back to work for me. Join Pat Forde for a chat later on this afternoon. As always, you can find me on Twitter @ESPN_Others. Enjoy the LOST premiere tonight.