Chat with Sam Khan
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, SEC reporter Sam Khan Jr. stops by to chat about college football.
Khan joined ESPN.com in 2012 after nearly seven years with the Houston Chronicle, covering the University of Houston, college sports and high school sports. Khan lives in Houston with his wife.
Send your questions now and join Khan Monday at noon ET!
Sam Khan Jr. (12:02 PM)
Hey everyone! Hope you guys are having a great holiday season so far. I'm in the driver's seat pinch-hitting for Edward today. Hopefully I don't run us into a tree. Fire away with your questions and let's talk some SEC football for the next hour.
Jordan (South Florida)
How much of a break out year will current freshman Kelvin Taylor have next year?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:04 PM)
Based on what we saw when his workload increased in the second half of the season, I think Taylor's sophomore campaign looks promising. I don't see why he can't break the 1,000-yard mark and be the team's leading rusher if he's getting close to 20 carries per game like he did against Georgia or South Carolina. For all the offensive struggles Florida had this year, he was certainly one of the bright spots. How they distribute carries to the other backs obviously plays into it as well, but I think Taylor showed why he's worthy of getting his fair share.
I would love to see a SEC vs. PAC 12 weekend. Just imagine the TV ratings. They could do 6 home games for each conference, and do it say the 3rd week of the season. Do you feel that something this big could ever be done in the NCAA?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:07 PM)
Doing something like basketball does (with the ACC/Big Ten challenge), I think is a terrific idea, especially with those two conferences. Could it ever be done? I doubt it. The way football scheduling is done and as far in advance as teams schedule, I think the logistics make it difficult. That doesn't take into account the fact that you'd have to get 12 teams on the same page to do it, and not everyone has the same philosophies on scheduling. If the SEC goes to a 9-game conference schedule, it'll be hard to force a team to pick up another power five conference team on its non-conference slate if it doesn't want to. I love the idea, but I think it'd be difficult to pull off.
In the state of Alabama, will the Crimson Tide have some lean years while Auburn starts to have a real good run the next few years?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:10 PM)
I think Auburn is set up for a good run here in the short-term (especially with how many key guys return next year) but I don't foresee Alabama taking a step back. The reason is the level Alabama recruits means they can plug and play great talent when their seniors or draft-eligible underclassmen move on. Replacing A.J. McCarron might be a challenge, and perhaps there's an adjustment period there in the short-term, but overall, I think the Tide are still title contenders annually in the years to come.
Eli (Destin, FL)
Is there any new news on Florida and there offensive coordinator position? Have heard talks of a Gator plane in NC.
Sam Khan Jr. (12:13 PM)
Yeah that seems to be the word. There are reports out there that Will Muschamp is meeting Kurt Roper, the current OC at Duke. That's an interesting name. Obviously he has had a strong season (he was one of the five finalists for the Broyles Award) and he helped that program set some offensive records last year. He knows the league because he has worked at Tennessee and Ole Miss (where he worked under current Duke HC David Cutcliffe) and Kentucky.
Merry Christmas Sam! In a game that Bama should win handily, who do you see having a bigger day? Yeldon and the ground game or Cooper and co. through the air?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:16 PM)
Merry Christmas to you too Katie. I think the ground game will have the bigger day for Alabama after seeing Oklahoma State run for 200 yards against the Sooners in Bedlam (even though Oklahoma won). Baylor ran for quite a bit against OU too earlier this year and I imagine Bama will try to pound it as much as they can.
Hey Sam! Hopefully you'll get to be in ATL for Mr. Football's last game. With regards to recruiting, Auburn arguably signed the best JUCO class last week. Do you see these guys coming in and making an immediate impact next season?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:20 PM)
Auburn cleaned up on the junior college circuit. I don't know that any could come in and have the kind of impact Nick Marshall did this year. I've heard so many good things about the talent level of the receiver, D'haquille Williams, but Auburn has some talented receivers already on the roster that will be back. So I'm not sure how much room there will be for him to get in there. Derrick Moncrief, the LB/safety from Prattville, is intriguing.
With all the praise going towards Gus Malzahn this year, has anyone pointed out that burning Jeremy Johnsons red shirt so he could start against a FCS team? Johnson is a better QB than Marshall and now will only get 2 years to start.
Sam Khan Jr. (12:24 PM)
Paul, obviously with the kind of magical run Auburn has had, there hasn't been much criticism of Malzahn or the Tigers in general. The Johnson situation is an interesting one, but who's to say you can't redshirt him next year if they want to and Marshall stays healthy? Things can change so fast with quarterbacks. What if Marshall gets hurt next year? It may only be an FCS team, but it will benefit Johnson to have some game experience under his belt if he has to be pressed into duty.
Sam, with the recent report that Kurt Roper is in Gainesville taking a meeting with Coach Muschamp, do you believe he'd be a good hire for Florida as OC? He's done some good things turning Duke around, just wondering how his approach would translate to the SEC.
Sam Khan Jr. (12:26 PM)
I think he'd be a nice fit. Since he has been a part of three SEC programs as an assistant so I think he'll have a keen understanding on what it takes to succeed in the league. He seems to have had success in several places, so that's always a good sign.
Rich (Ann Arbor)
Who wins FSU or Auburn?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:28 PM)
I'm picking Auburn. Everything has bounced their way, it seems, so it's hard to pick against the Tigers, even as talented as FSU is up and down the roster. It should be a fun game though.
Do you think Auburn will have success running the ball against FSU and if you do why? War Eagle!
Sam Khan Jr. (12:30 PM)
Yes, because Auburn has had success running the ball against just about everyone they've played (except Mississippi State, if I recall correctly). If you can run for almost 300 against Alabama, I feel like you can have success running against anybody.
Brad (Enterprise, AL)
I have watched some of games of FSU this year. Are FSU linebackers faster than those of Bama? If so, Do you think that will give Auburn any problems?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:34 PM)
I haven't watched FSU as closely as I watched Alabama this year so it's hard to compare, but FSU's defense as a whole seems pretty fast to me and yeah, that will cause issues for most teams. While I expect Auburn to have offensive success, I don't expect them to simply run over FSU because that defense is talented and fast. It's one of the reasons FSU blew so many teams out.
Leon (Atlanta, GA)
Happy Holidays Sam! I have some A&M questions for you.1) Do you think Claiborne's suspension will go into next year (i.e. off-season activities and/or games next season) or too early to tell?2) Do you think A
Sam Khan Jr. (12:35 PM)
Happy Holidays to you too Leon. I don't think Claiborne's suspension will go into next year. It'll probably just be the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and that's it. As for your second question, you got victimized by the double ampersand glitch. Send it again and I'll try to get to it.
Do the Aggies flip any of the Texas commits?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:37 PM)
Honestly, I don't think Texas will have a ton of defectors in the class but I do think the Aggies have a shot to flip one, perhaps someone like ESPN 300 LB Otaro Alaka. When he made his final decision, the Aggies were one of his finalists, and I know the coaching staff has kept in contact with him throughout the season because they still like him a lot.
Two part question: 1) I think Auburn is in the top 15-20 programs in CFB, do you agree? 2) Can it get into the top 10 if Malzahn can follow up this year with a few more top 10 finishes?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:42 PM)
I think they are definitely one of the top 20 programs currently. Getting to two title games in a short span of time isn't done by just anyone. They seem to be up-and-down, but overall, they recruit well and every few years they seem to be in the mix. If they start finishing in the top 10 annually, then yeah, they deserve to be thought of as such. Malzahn's certainly off to a great start in that regard.
Leon (Atlanta, GA)
I actually thought glitch was on my end ... don't feel so bad now. My other 2 quick Aggie questions - 1) Do Aggies finish with top 5 class and 2) Any chance Mike Evans comes back next year?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:45 PM)
No worries Leon. I'll say yes to the first one, I think they finish around 4 or 5. As for Mike Evans, I don't think he'll be back. He says he's currently undecided, but if he's going to be a first-round pick (which it certainly seems that way) I think he's going to decide to leave.
Matthew (Florence, SC)
How does losing WR D. Byrd for the bowl game hurt South Carolina against Wisconsin?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:51 PM)
It hurts because Byrd is the Gamecocks' fastest guy. You lose that home-run speed and chance to score at any time when a guy like him goes down. That allows you to stretch a defense but I'm sure the Gamecocks will be able to adjust.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will the level of success next year be a determining factor in how much longer Spurrier coaches in Columbia?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:54 PM)
Spurrier is 68, but he seems younger than that. Considering what he's done since being in Columbia, I'm guessing he'll be around as long as he wants, unless for some reason things take a downturn.
UGA has a shot at the SEC and national title next year with Gurley potentially winning the Hesiman?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:58 PM)
I think this year's craziness in the SEC East taught us to never rule anything out. Gurley will certainly be a Heisman candidate. Out of the SEC, obviously, I think Auburn comes before anybody else in an SEC and national title contention discussion for 2014 considering how much they have back. And Bama will be around. How good will Mizzou be with Maty Mauk being the guy for the full season? There's a long way to go and a lot to figure out.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
I didn't mean to imply that he'd be fired, but that he might step down.
Sam Khan Jr. (1:00 PM)
I didn't think so (thought you could have also meant would Spurrier entertain another job, which at 68, I don't think he would). I think if they aren't as good as he expects and he can't see a potential SEC title run in the mix in the next year or two, it could be a possibility. But I look at Spurrier and think the guy could coach forever. I'm not sure if others get the same impression. But once you're in your 70s, it's obviously a question worth asking. I think he'll be around for at least a couple more years.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Who replaces Johnny Football next year for the Aggies? And do you think will the young defensive line will make significant strides next season?
Sam Khan Jr. (1:03 PM)
I think Kenny Hill is the most likely player to start next season for Texas A&M. He played some as a true freshman this year and I know the staff likes his skill set. Matt Joeckel will probably still be around and a big-time recruit, Kyle Allen, will enroll in January, so he'll be in the mix. But I think on opening night, it's Hill taking the snaps. As for the defensive line, I do think they'll be better next year. A lot of this year was just figuring things out. The growing pains will yield better results, I think.
Sam Khan Jr. (1:05 PM)
Alright gang, that will do it for today. Thanks for all your questions and apologies if I didn't get to yours. Hope you and your families all have a Merry Christmas and a great holiday season. Take care.