Chat with Graham Watson
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 Thursday at 3 p.m. ET!
Graham Watson (2:59 PM)
I'm doing an interview... I'll get on the chat as soon as I'm done.
Graham Watson (3:14 PM)
Sorry... still talking... almost done.
Graham Watson (3:19 PM)
OK. Sorry. Back. I was talking to Mike Locksley. Let's start the chat.
DD (Los Angeles)
What are your thoughts on the Aztecs for this upcoming season and how they did in recruiting.
Graham Watson (3:22 PM)
I've said since the end of the season that I thought San Diego State could be a sleeper. The key is finding a running game, which SDSU hasn't had in some time. They have like nine running backs to choose from, so this shouldn't be a huge problem. The Aztecs have to find some balance to help out Ryan Lindley.
Garrett (Cascade, ID)
Why wouldn't the MWC be all over adding Boise State? It would add new rivalries, another top quality team to the equation and propel them towards AQ status. Not to mention they'd be a great fit regionally.
Graham Watson (3:24 PM)
It might be if they lose a member to expansion. However, I'm getting the feeling that both sides are being cautious while the expansion of the Big Ten and Pac-10 plays out. Boise would have no reason to go to the MWC if it lost two of the top teams in Utah, BYU or TCU...
Jay (Greenville NC)
Graham, how do you think East Carolina will do this year with new head coach Ruffin McNeil?
Graham Watson (3:27 PM)
I think it's going to be tough early especially losing so many players (29, I think). I am interested to see what Lincoln Riley does with the offense. I think ECU will be one of the more entertaining teams to watch.
Graham, I think the Bobcat Nation is pretty pleased with this year's recruiting class but both Rivals and Scout disagree...who's right?
Graham Watson (3:29 PM)
Ohio and Temple are going to be neck-and-neck in the MAC this year. Both teams return a lot and had great recruiting. What I like about Ohio though is that its quarterbacking prospects are a little better than Temple. The Bobcats will have to find a consistent running game, but I think they'll be a team to beat this year.
hayden (logan, utah)
BSU wins out, NC time?
Graham Watson (3:30 PM)
I think that's going to depend on a few things: Where they start the season; what teams are ahead of them; what the teams ahead of them do; and how good the WAC is. The computer rankings have not been kind to the WAC the past few years, so Boise State really needs its conference to pick it up and help them with that aspect of the BCS standings especially if there's an undefeated MWC team lurking.
hayden (logan, utah)
shouldnt the MWC replace the big east in 'bcs' conferences?
Graham Watson (3:31 PM)
I don't think the Big East is going to be replaced. If anything, the BCS will just add a seventh conference and another BCS game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
Kevin (Rhode Island)
What kind of an impact does Aundre (sp?) Dean have for TCU next year?
Graham Watson (3:32 PM)
Well, he's going to be a safety, so I'm guessing he probably won't start unless he shows pretty well in spring and camp. I think he will be in the rotation that TCU uses in its secondary, though.
Thanks for stopping by to chat with us. What can we expect out of air force this next season? Should we be concerned about the defense since The dc left?
Graham Watson (3:34 PM)
I don't think so. Wallerstedt was the co-DC last year, so unless he just wants to put his stamp on the defense, it should look the same. They lost some key guys, but they have a lot of talent returning. I think AFA is going to be pretty goof next season. At least eight wins is probable. I'll be interested to see if this is the year they challenge the Big Three in that conference.
If Utah was offered membership to the future Pac-12, wouldn't they jump on that chance?
Graham Watson (3:35 PM)
Absolutely. More money, more exposure, better recruiting... There's no reason why Utah should stay in the MWC if it's offered a shot at the Pac-10.
David (Boise ID)
Graham, the momentum in building for Boise to play for a national title and it would be hard to argue if the Broncos go undefeated and theres only one other undefeated I mean think of it this way the Broncos will have since the 2008 season have quality wins over Oregon, TCU, Oregon State and Virginia Tech. Possibly 3 BCS champions. I know its a stretch but if the Broncos go undefeated this year do you think they should play for a national title?
Graham Watson (3:37 PM)
I think Boise State will get the support of the voters. I think they've earned that respect over the years. It's really going to be the teams above and below and the computers. Look how Cincy jumped Boise and TCU this year... Not sure Cincy was better than either of those teams, but they played more ranked teams ad had a better computer ranking.
Larry (Glendale, CA)
Do you think it is better for the Pac-10 to go after Rice and SMU rather than Utah and Colorado? Rice offers the Houston market and SMU offers the Dallas market. Both institutions have potential to grow in their athletic programs and offer the Pac-10 a pipeline to recruit in Texas. Rice is also widely known as a prestigious academic institution while SMU has the strong and rich alumni.
Graham Watson (3:39 PM)
Yeah, but Rice isn't consistent in any sport other than baseball and SMU just had its first bowl season since 1984. Neither one of those teams seem like attractive prospects. Besides, the Denver market would be a good get reginally for the Pac-10. Not sure Salt Lake is big enough, but I think with the LA market carrying everything, you can bite the bullet on that.
Why would a MTN West school get a bid before Boise State? Does 13-1 mean anything(record against MWC schools) The Broncos are far more talented than any school in the MWC.
Graham Watson (3:43 PM)
Eh, the top MWC teams (with the exception of TCU) have good noncon schedule and then each likely will play two ranked teams in conference. TCU and Boise sharing a common opponent will be interesting. If both teams beat OSU, then I think that makes OSU less of a quality win and Boise State needs that to be a quality win becuase that is probably going to be their last tough opponent. TCU will still have Utah and BYU to carry the schedule. Again, I don't know what the rankings will be. The WAC could be great this year and Nevada and Fresno State could be ranked by the time Boise plays them. It's just tough to speculate that far down the road.
The addition of TCU clearly helped the MWC take a step forward in their quest for AQ consideration. With just Utah making BCS games every few years they weren't getting far... Now, if they added Boise State it would be almost impossible to deny the MWC AQ status with 4 consistent top 25 teams, who win BCS games and regularly beat upper echelon BCS teams. Shouldn't the MWC make a move now, especially with the prospect of losing Utah to the pac10... They should invite Boise State while the iron is hot.
Graham Watson (3:45 PM)
But see it from Boise's perspective... What is Utah AND TCU leave the conference? Well, the AQ bid is gone and Boise State is stuck. The timing really stinks on these announcements. There's a lot of speculation and Boise could make a terrible move if it goes to a MWC that's without TCU and Utah. Honestly, the MWC would only be slightly better than the WAC with a worse television contract.
What are the chances that the PAC 10 and Big 10 do not expand?
Graham Watson (3:46 PM)
Slim. I think both will. And I honestly think the reverberation through college football will be felt in every conference. There will be a lot of changes, not just the ones we're discussing here.
Do you think the PA-10 feels any pressure to raid the MWC in order to keep it from earning an automatic BCS bid (and, generally, to maintain its position as the premier western conference)? Will this play any part in their expansion plans?
Graham Watson (3:49 PM)
Make no mistake, this whole thing is about money. Maybe limiting BCS money is a subset of it, but I think the Big Ten and Pac-10 are looking to make the best deals to give their conferences the most money. That means expanding their TV markets and contracts while keeping their current members happy. Better teams mean more exposure for the conference. Utah-USC would draw national exposure, etc...
Pretty good pickup in Boise State taking away Cal's DC without even having to give him the same position. Sounds like Justin Wilcox leaving won't be such a big deal. Your take?
Graham Watson (3:50 PM)
I agree, though I'll be interested to see how the whole thing works. Kwiatkowski is the DC, but you know Gregory is going to have some input. You just don't want any sort of internal power struggle there.
Paul (San Diego)
Could you explain how the ends in the 3-3-5 played by San Diego State differ from the ends in the 3-4 played by the Chargers? For the Chargers they want ends to eat up blockers to free the linebackers, but the ends at SDSU are looked at for speed. How does the scheme work?
Graham Watson (3:53 PM)
San Diego State is a blitzing defense that utilizes speed more than size. The ends in conjunction with the linebackers and the hybrid positions - Warrior and Aztec - create different looks to confuse the defense. So there's a lot of switching to not only get after the quarterback, but also close the gaps in the line if the read is a run. The thing I like about that defense is that (if you have the right personnel) a quarterback could see one thing, look down to get the snap and see a totally different scheme when he looked back up.
Any early reports out of UNLV? How is the staff coming together? What about their recruiting class? Are we going to see any major schematical changes?
Graham Watson (3:55 PM)
I talked to Bobby Hauck this morning and he said that he's going to tailor his system to the players they have. Eventually, they want to become a power running team, and we might see some of that this year, but right now it's just about putting a team on the field that can win games. The one thing he did emphasize is that UNLV might look basic at times this spring as they get to know the personnel. So, if you're looking for a dramatic turnaround, I don't think that will happen in 2010.
Hi Graham: Aaron Roderick on 1280 The Zone actually says that Utah has been contacted by the PAC-10 (http://1280thezone.com/images/uploads/audio/2-12-10-Aaron-Roderick.mp3).But he also says as a coach, he really likes the MWC. I am a season ticket holder in three sports (at Utah), and I'm not sure I want the Utes to leave the conference either. Five years ago, heck ya. Two years ago, I would have given my first born. But today... I like what the MWC is growing into.Wouldn't a MWC-12 with BSU, Houston, and Fresno be a strong enough conference regionally to 1) get AQ status and 2) grow respectably financially?
Graham Watson (3:59 PM)
Well, the money is from national exposure with games on ESPN, etc. The Big Ten has been able to do OK with its own network, but it still has a deal with ESPN. Now, if the MWC becomes an AQ conference then maybe there can be something worked out where it plays on ESPN on Saturday, but I don't know that. And what happens (just throwing this out there) if the MWC doesn't get a BCS bid this year or next? Is its resume going to be strong enough to be an AQ school? And this isn't just about sports, it's about academics and the way a school like Utah is perceived as a member of a nationally respected academic institution in the Pac-10. That's one of the things Colorado folks brought up this week is that the academic side wants to be linked with the Pac-10 more than the Big 12.
Do you see any MWC schools going back to the WAC if the MWC loses some combination of Utah/TCE/BYU? Wouldn't the ESPN contract make the WAC attractive?
Graham Watson (4:01 PM)
That's actually a good question. I don't know. I think the WAC might try to lure some of those teams back and keep Boise State. Wouldn't that be something if the conferences shifted in national importance after this? I'm telling you, there are going to be a lot of moves associated with expansion. Some we're probably not even thinking about.
Troy (Seattle, WA)
Graham, to go back to your prediction on both the Big 10 and Pac 10 expanding, is it likely that the Big 12 will lose 2 teams? Missouri and Colorado?
Graham Watson (4:02 PM)
I think losing Colorado is strong. Just listening to the CU AD talk this week, he seems to think it could be done by the summer. Mizzou? I think it's a toss up.
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
Any chance that the Sun Belt enters any of these expansion talks in either gaining or losing teams?
Graham Watson (4:03 PM)
Maybe if Conference USA loses a team to the Big East to replace Pitt.
Graham Watson (4:04 PM)
OK. I have some more interviews to finish. Thanks for stopping by everyone. I think I'll have a couple chats next week as well. At the very least, I'll be around Tuesday. Thanks.