Chat with Chris Low
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's SEC blogger Chris Low will stop by to talk some college football.
Low joined ESPN.com in 2007 after 10 years with The (Nashville) Tennessean covering the University of Tennessee and SEC. The Rock Hill, S.C., native lives with his wife in Knoxville and has three sons.
Send your questions now and join Low Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Low (1:03 PM)
Hello all. Hope everyone got the kind of signing class you were hoping for and it's ranked way up there nationally, although I'm not sure why there is such a fascination with where classes are ranked on signing day.
Boyd (Nashville) [via mobile]
Chris, what's your opinion of James Franklin's first class?
Chris Low (1:09 PM)
I was impressed that the Commodores were able to get several players away from other schools such as QB Lafonte Thourogood from Virginia Tech, TE Dillon van der Wall from Arizona State and DL Barron Dixon from Mississippi State. Overall, it seems to be a very athletic class as well with guys capable of playing on both sides of the ball.
Will Clowney sign with Bama or is it looking like he is going to stay in is home state?
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
At this point, it would take a last-minute change of heart for it not to be South Carolina.
Why does everyone have such little faith in Auburn, I know we lost a ton of atlent... But look at our last two recruiting classes
Chris Low (1:12 PM)
I don't think the Tigers are going to disappear. I just don't see them returning to the national picture next season losing players like Newton, Fairley and four senior starters on their defensive line. Their schedule is harder, too, with the trip to Clemson and Florida replacing Kentucky.
Do my Boise St. Broncos beat the Bulldogs and go on to a BCS Bowl?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
Should be a great game. Put it this way: If Mark Richt doesn't win that game, especially with it being in Atlanta, the howling in Athens will be deafening. He's never faced a more important opener.
Ross dothan alabama [via mobile]
what are alabamas chances of goin all the way this year?
Chris Low (1:18 PM)
They would be one of my top four choices nationally along with Oklahoma, LSU and Oregon.
How do you think UGA will fare this season?
Chris Low (1:22 PM)
Trick question, right? I felt like the Dogs would do a lot better this past season than they did, and their talent level says there's no way they should have finished with a losing record. So I'll start more cautiously with the Dogs this season, although I think they have a chance to be the surprise team in the league if they can win that opener against Boise State. Aaron Murray will be even better his second time around in the league, and getting Crowell was huge. That defense needs to take a big step in Year No. 2 in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense. All in all, anything less than nine wins would be a huge disappointment for the Dogs and probably would lead to the end of Richt's tenure there.
Chhhrrrriis, Who is our starting QB next season? McCarron or Sims. I hope it is Sims!
Chris Low (1:23 PM)
I disagree. I think it's McCarron, although having those two battling it out this spring is a great scenario to have. I know Saban is eager to see who who rises to the occasion. Both are exceptional talents.
What will it take for Arkansas to be considered a perennial power in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
Doing what they did this season a couple years in a row, and I think getting to the SEC championship game is important, too. The West is a beast right now, so it's truly survival of the fittest. But I like what the Hogs have returning, think they will be at least as good, if not better, on defense and think Tyler Wilson will be just fine at QB. I can definitely see nine-plus wins again in 2011. Knile Davis coupled with a receiving corps that includes a healthy Greg Childs is scary.
Any comments on who will be LSU starting QB this season ?
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
That's going to be another fierce battle this spring. As I've said, if Jordan Jefferson is made of the right stuff, he'll elevate his performance with Zach Mettenberger pushing him. Mettenberger has a huge arm and is really a hard worker. The Georgia coaches hated to lose him after he got into trouble off the field. With a brand new offensive coordinator (Kragthorpe), I think you're going to see a wide-open competition. Clearly, Jefferson has to play better than he did for much of last season to regain the job.
What are your thoughts on why Mallett is falling on the NFL draft boards? Seems to me that kid has an arm that half of the QBs in the NFL would like to have. Couldn't a professional coach/coordinator do wonders with him?
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
There's still a lot of time left before the draft. You will see players move up and down different draft boards, and different teams will see prospects differently. Mallett's footwork is a concern, and as well as he played those last five games of the regular season, pro scouts also remember those two picks in the second half against Alabama and the late pick in the Sugar Bowl. When it's all said and done, I still think Mallett goes somewhere in the first round, and at worst, early in the second round.
Does Ealey transfer paving the way for Crowell?
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
It's not a given that Ealey will transfer, although I'd say he may have one foot out the door. It's up to him. But over and above what Ealey decides to do, I believe Crowell will be the centerpiece of that running game next season, And more imporantly, I think Mark Richt feels the same way.
David (Tupelo, MS)
Chris, everyone is fired up once again in Oxford for such a great recruiting class, but we've been doing this for the past 3 years and this past year was no reflection on Nutt's coaching/recruiting job. What can we attribute that too, and what record does Houston Nutt need this year to keep his job for next year? Thanks as always
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
Actually, I thought the Rebels recruited better this year, certainly in-state, than they had the last couple of years. I cut Nutt some slack for this season because he won nine games and back-to-back Cotton Bowls his first two years there. Let's see how much they improve this season. The defense was the problem this past season, and injuries were a big part of that. Go back to Tyrone Nix's defenses in 2008 and 2009, and they were outstanding. But you're right. Nutt needs a big bounce-back season in 2011. They have to make it to a bowl game, and he'd also be well-served to beat Mississippi State and not let that drought grow to three straight years.
Chris, Everything I see tells me that Arkansas is going to be better next year than they were this year... yet all the talk is around Alabama and LSU. Ark should have won the Alabama game, but the running game wasn't found yet, and they owned LSU.... What gives?
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
As I stated earlier, I think the Hogs will be right there again in the Western Division race. Gotta win those close games, though, to get over the hump.
Matt (Wake Forest, NC)
Chris, what is your deadline for when we might hear something about the Cam Newton case? Is there a time frame in which you might think, "since we haven't heard anything by now, we probably won't"?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
I don't think there really is a deadline. Basically, the investigation is still open. But you have to wonder if the NCAA hasn't found anything to this point, will they find anything at all?
being from Rock Hill, do you know why it seems like the Gamecocks get every major recruit out of that area?
Chris Low (1:44 PM)
Ellis Johnson has done an excellent job in recruiting that area. He has good ties in that area and has established relationships with the right people. I think recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer deserves credit as well. Ever since he took over the Gamecocks' recruiting, they've done a much better job of keeping the top players in the state at home -- Gilmore, Lattimore, Holloman, Jeffery, Dukes, Shell and it looks like Clowney.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Does Mark Richt have to win nine games in order to save his job with all the off field issues surrounding the Georgia program? Ealey being the latest in a long line of player drama. Has he lost control of the program?
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
I wouldn't put a number on it. I said earlier that anything less than nine wins would be a huge disappointment. But there are other variables as well. Does he beat Florida. Do the Dogs make a run at the SEC championship game? Do they improve throughout the season? Do the problems off the field decline? No doubt, Richt needs a good season and needs to re-establish to the people who count at Georgia that he's the guy to get that program back to regularly contending for SEC championships.
Larry (Austin, TX)
Chris, I know Auburn has been recruiting well over the past couple of years, but history shows that veteran O-lines are the hardest thing to replace on a consistent basis. Why do you still have them ranked so high after losing some much O-line talent, not to mention Cam Newton and Nick Fairley?
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
I don't have them ranked that high. They were No. 7 in my early 2011 SEC power rankings for the very reasons you state. They lose all those veteran offensive linemen, not to mention the best player in the country last year and the best interior defensive linemen in the country. Those are big voids to fill no matter how well you have recruited. But I do think the last two classes will keep the Tigers very competitive and that they will still have a good season in 2011, just not a championship-contending season.
dan (huntsville,al) [via mobile]
Why did miss state have such a weak recruiting class? Also, the big name decommits?
Chris Low (1:52 PM)
There are several theories. A lot of the Mississippi State people believe the Cam Newton stuff was used against them and that rival recruiters were pounding away on prospects and telling them that the Bulldogs might be facing some NCAA penalties of their own. Can you imagine that? Negative recruiting in the SEC?
Larry (Austin, TX)
Who are your darkhorse picks for the east and west this year? I know it's early, but I miss football already..Thanks!
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
Hey, I do, too. In the West, let's go with Arkansas. And in the East, how about Georgia. For clarification, my early favorites are Alabama in the West and South Carolina in the East.
What is your take on Auburn spending $170,000 in attorney's fees to defend itself in the Cam Newton case?
Chris Low (1:56 PM)
Off the cuff, I'd say it was money well spent. Newton didn't miss any games. Auburn isn't under any NCAA investigation, and the Tigers just went 14-0 and won their first national championship since 1957.
Nate (New York)
Chris, I really missed a lot of this last season and a lot of recruiting... I am a huge Alabama fan and watched only a few games this season unfortunately due to moving from Texas to New York and getting ready for a upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Can you fill me in a bit on Alabama from your Point of View as to what they can accomplish in 2011-2012 season?
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
First of all, thank you for your service. My family will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. My take on Alabama next season is that the Tide will be the team to beat in the SEC. I think you'll see that hunger return again, especially after losing three games and never putting together a complete game last season. The secondary will be more experienced. I think Hightower will be healthier on that knee, and Courtney Upshaw is poised for an All-SEC season at Jack linebacker. They should be outstanding on defense. Losing Julio is a blow, no doubt. But Maze and Hanks aren't bad. Richardson wasn't 100 percent for much of last season. So getting him back healthy will be key. They need to find a left tackle. JUCO transfer Aaron Douglas is one to watch there, and AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims will battle for the QB job. Both are immensely talented. It's probably going to come down to that LSU game in Tuscaloosa in November.
james (dallas) [via mobile]
Any info on how good of a job Dooley is doing at UT?
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
He's stacked two very solid recruiting classes on top of each other, which he desperately needed to do. The Vols were way down in numbers, experience and depth when he got there. Offensively, it's an impressive nucleus returning with Bray, the offensive line and Hunter and Rogers at receiver. There's no way to tell of Janzen Jackson will be back, as he's going through some personal issues. He's their best defensive player. It might be one of those years next season where Tennessee has to outscore a lot of people. I think 2012 is the season Tennessee has a real shot to compete for the East title.
Your thoughts on UF prez comments on the over signing by other schools in the SEC?
Chris Low (2:08 PM)
I agree with him in those circumstances where schools squeeze out kids at the last minute to bring in somebody else. Now, if a school is up front with a kid from the beginning and tells him they are going to bring him in later, that's a different story. But pushing a kid's enrollment back late in the process and leaving him scrambling just because you got a commmitment from a player you think is better is dead wrong.
Has Florida ever been such an unknown as next year? I do not know what to expect from the Gators.
Chris Low (2:11 PM)
Me either. Give me some guidance. You've got to believe there's good talent on that roster. I don't put a lot of stock in recruiting rankings, but going three or four years in a row with a top 5 class nationally ought to produce some pretty good players. I thought the Gators lost their edge last season, and it's up to Muschamp to see to it that they get it back. Obviously, quarterback is a big issue. Will Brantley respond under Weis, and can they find some guys to make more plays down the field? Defensively, I would expect younger guys like Powell, Floyd, Elam, etc. to really make their mark next season. It's going to be interesting, for sure. I do believe the East will pretty much be wide open again.
Donnell (New Orleans)
Chris, how big will the LSU/Bama game be next year. Will it decide the West and who has the advantage to you as of right now!
Chris Low (2:13 PM)
Yes, I do believe that game will decide the West, and when hasn't it been a game that's gone down to the final few possessions? I give Alabama the edge because the Tide will be at home.
Chris Low (2:14 PM)
That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by, and we'll do it again next week.