Chat with Heather Dinich
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's ACC reporter Heather Dinich stops by talk some college football.
Dinich covered ACC and Big Ten football for five seasons before joining ESPN.com in November 2007. She's an Indiana grad but somehow her favorite day of the week is Saturday.
Send your questions now and join Dinich Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
You can't hear it, but I have Christmas music playing in the background ... Happy holidays to you. Let's get started ...
Hi Heather,Do you think Clemson's advantage over OSU's secondary is being overstated?
Heather Dinich (1:01 PM)
No, because it's the biggest advantage Clemson has, so it's going to be magnified a bit. It's also going to be a big part of the matchup.
Max (Dayton, Ohio)
Hi Heather, what are your top 3 ACC storylines heading into the offseason / next season?
Heather Dinich (1:02 PM)
Good question, I'll give you a few off the top of my head: 1. Quarterbacks. More than half the league will have new ones. 2. How does Louisville fit into the title game mix? 3. What will FSU look like after the draft?
Max (Dayton, Ohio)
Happy Holidays, Heather! Louisville has had O-Line problems this season, but if they can protect Bridgewater, will the Cards' offense burn the Canes' defense on Saturday?
Heather Dinich (1:03 PM)
There's definitely that possibility, Max, but I talked to Miami's OC last week and we both think Stephen Morris will play pretty well, too. To me the two keys in that game are Morris on third downs (he hasn't been very good at all), and Miami's secondary vs. Bridgewater/WRs.
John (Military Bowl)
When Edsall was hired by Maryland. Wallace Loh said the football program would be going from "Good to Great". It took Edsall 3 years to get back to the same bowl game that Ralph went to, the year he was fired. If you were Loh and had any money, would you be looking for a new AD and HC?
Heather Dinich (1:04 PM)
Not right now, no, not with the pending move to the Big Ten and the financial mess with the ACC. This season bought Edsall some time I think, but I get what you're saying.
The Texas job search seems quiet, seems to me that the longer it goes like this the more and more likely that their top target is Jimbo Fisher?..thoughts??
Heather Dinich (1:05 PM)
I am certainly not ruling out Jimbo Fisher. Some have asked if Texas would wait that long (until after the NC) to make a hire. Well, it would if they got a wink. I know everyone is talking about Fisher's contract extension, but has he actually signed it?
Sean (Dunk City)
Heather, Do you see the ACC making moves to close the gap between themselves and the SEC. e.g. better coaching, upgraded facilities. Logistically they should be the #2 conference. Adding Louisville helps. Are there any TV deals in the future that will add that extra $$$ needed to do so?
Heather Dinich (1:06 PM)
I think the ACC could make a HUGE move on Jan. 6 by beating the SEC. That's the way to close the gap, but yeah, there are some great coaches in the league now and Louisville will help, you are right. The ACC is still researching the possibility of its own channel, so stay tuned on that one.
John (Charleston, SC)
Hey Heather! I just want to know your thoughts on the Quarterback situation next year for Miami. I'm really interested in how Kevin Olsen is doing, have you seen anything from any of the underclassmen that have really stood out to you, or do you feel like Ryan Williams will get the nod seeing as how he will be a senior and the only one with true starting experience?
Heather Dinich (1:07 PM)
Hey John I asked James Coley about that last week, it's certainly a wide-open competition, but he likes what he's seen from those guys. I didn't get any indication from him at all that there is a true frontrunner.
Gordon Elliott (Orlando, Fl)
What do you think is the top objective that FSU must execute to win this game. Thanx
Heather Dinich (1:08 PM)
Stop the run. Stop the run. And stop the run.
Jon (Atlanta / GA)
Hey Heather. First of all Merry Christmas. With the ACC having the most teams in bowl games. What does that say about the ACC? Getting better?
Heather Dinich (1:09 PM)
Merry Christmas to you too. I wish this rain was snow. Anyway, no, not getting better - getting bigger. With 14 teams there are bound to be more bowl-eligible ones, at least you'd hope. As to whether or not it's better? The final bowl record will tell us that. Won't do much good to have 11 bowl eligible teams if they finish 1-10.
HD, what would a bowl win do for momentum heading into the off season for Larry Fedora's Tar Heels?
Heather Dinich (1:10 PM)
I think it would be a huge boost, and have a lot of people thinking about the Tar Heels as leaders in the Coastal race heading into next year. No reason they can't be.
Matt (Seabrook Island, SC)
HD-What school could possibly give Jimbo the platform for success - schedule, included - that FSU does? Jimbo and Urban Meyer are both on easy street, and they know it...neither are going anywhere.
Heather Dinich (1:11 PM)
Two factors to consider: 1. Money. Texas has a ton. 2. A school that tells you: We will do anything you need to accommodate your personal life. Jimbo has his family and son to worry about, too. Can Texas enhance that situation? I don't know, but it's worth asking/considering.
Doug (Erie, PA)
Do you think the idea of the Syracuse AD about redoing schedules haas possibilities?
Heather Dinich (1:13 PM)
I'm sure they'll discuss it at their winter meetings, but all of the ACC folks I've talked to haven't indicated it's changing anytime in the near future, but maybe they come to a different sort of compromise. I HIGHLY doubt they'd go to 9 games with Notre Dame joining, but maybe there is another solution to appease everyone.
Clemson's Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris is one of the nation's highest paid assistant coaches. What schools, if any, are looking at him as a potential head coach?
Heather Dinich (1:14 PM)
I talked to Morris last week, too, and asked him if anyone has called. He said no, but several assistants I've talked to this offseason have mentioned how there just aren't as many openings out there this year.
Jeff (Tampa, FL )
Heard there was a Gator plane sighting in North Carolina recently. Which Tobacco Road school would suffer the most if both lost their offensive coordinators?
Heather Dinich (1:16 PM)
Kurt Roper does a terrific job at Duke, but Cutcliffe is an offensive guy, he'd make a good hire if he had to.
jander75 (the ACCylum)
HD, What are your thoughts on the Hokie Qb situation next year? It looks like Leal's job to loose with Bucky switching to TE and Beamer not usually starting true freshmen. But then the wildly different skills sets of the two incoming freshmen leave lots of question marks....
Heather Dinich (1:18 PM)
It's one big question mark, along with the rest of the ACC. We're not going to know anything until next season starts, as hard as that is for Virginia Tech fans to accept. You just never know until a guy really gets into the season as the starter for the first time, but I'm with you in that Leal seems like the guy to start with.
Chuck (Columbia, Missouri)
Will we ever see a real honest to goodness playoff system? No stupid formulas, committees and behind the scenes "lobbying" to make sure the SEC has at least one team in the national championship game?
Heather Dinich (1:19 PM)
I'm willing to give the committee the benefit of the doubt, Chuck. Let's see how next year goes first.
If the ACC penalty holds up, good or bad decision for the terps to join the BIG?
Heather Dinich (1:20 PM)
Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, it's a decision I'll never understand. Sure, there's money to be made in the Big Ten, but the ACC is hardly broke.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
So based on your response, is the Tar Heel offense in trouble?
Heather Dinich (1:21 PM)
No, I don't think so, in large part because they've got so much young talent and Marquise Williams has some experience now at QB. Plus, much like Cutcliffe, Fedora is an offensive guy who I assume will try to stick with the same philosophies.
Bill Law (Macon GA)
Heather what do you think about Auburn going more to the pass in the SC game. Everyone is looking at the run, d you think Malzahn may throw more?
Heather Dinich (1:22 PM)
Only if FSU makes them. I don't know that they're that GOOD in the passing game. Clearly the running game is their strength. If they get behind, and start to throw it in third-and-long situations they can get themselves into trouble.
Matt (Seabrook Island, SC)
HD-Best two RBs in the nation on display in BC/'Zona game, can't wait, what type of chance do you give the Eagles?
Heather Dinich (1:24 PM)
Yeah, that should be a good one. I talked to Ryan Day about it, and he thinks they match up pretty well against them. I'm not sure who I'm picking in that game yet, but of course BC has a chance. They're well-coached and will be prepared.
With how Auburn has performed this year offensively. Do you think VT fans should be concerned with hiring their OC and OL coach from last years dreadful team? Or just too soon for worry?
Heather Dinich (1:26 PM)
I think it's too soon to worry, too early to judge and criticize.
Heather... Happy Holidays! It sounds a lot like the HC at PSU is setting himself up for a run at the NFL.... Do you think PSU wil make a play for Golden and if so what are the chances he goes?
Heather Dinich (1:28 PM)
Back you ... I haven't been paying too much attention to Happy Valley, but when Penn State made its last hire, it did not seem to be an issue with Golden. Maybe the timing would be a factor, but with the NCAA investigation finally over, if Golden hasn't run yet, why would he now?
Sandy (Viera, Florida)
Can FSU stop Tre Mason?
Heather Dinich (1:30 PM)
I'm expecting a decent performance from Mason. I don't think they'll shut him down, but they can slow him down a bit. To me that's FSU's biggest vulnerability on defense.
randy (south georgia)
Fsu will hurt the tigers with the pass and run
Heather Dinich (1:31 PM)
Yes, I think they are much more balanced and would agree with this.
William (High Point, NC)
HD, What do you think Duke's has to do to beat Texas A&M?
Heather Dinich (1:33 PM)
I think it's all going to come down to their defense, and they have to win the turnover battle. If the D can get a turnover or two, help the offense out by creating a short field, that gives them their best chance. But I think it's a long shot.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Will Jameis Winston handle the nerves better early on than he did in the ACCCG? if not, and the Tigers get out ahead early, could things snowball on the Noles? They haven't really been tested in three months.
Heather Dinich (1:35 PM)
I don't see anything snowballing in that game. I expect both teams to be jittery and a little rusty/sloppy early, but then to settle down in the second half. I think it will be a really close game.
Tim (St. Pete, FL)
HD, assuming Fisher leaves FSU for Texas, would Jeremy Pruitt be the front runner for HC? Or would they go after a bigger name?
Heather Dinich (1:36 PM)
Good grief you guys are already hypothetically replacing Jimbo?? I'm not going there ...
Jon (Cary, NC)
Heather, what do you see as the best case for the Duke-Texas A&M game? Can Boone/Crowder along with a solid line and stable of running backs (minus Jela Duncan, unfortunately) go tit for tat with Johnny Manziel?
Heather Dinich (1:37 PM)
No, I don't think so, Jon. To me the best-case scenario is what I said before ... Duke hangs in and gets some help from its defense.
What are the chances that a Coastal Division team enters the mix for Nat Champ in the next 5 years? And who (other than the "U") might emerge from the pack?
Heather Dinich (1:38 PM)
I'm not seeing it, Dave -- not with how strong the Atlantic has gotten and how average the Coastal has looked. That side of the league has some catching-up to do, and I really need to see what the rising group of quarterbacks looks like first.
Heather, thoughts on the the match up between FSU's O-Line and Auburn's D-Line? I think the game rests with who wins this battle. The O-line has done a good job protecting Jameis but not many teams have faced a D-line that cycles 10+ players ensuring that they are fresh for all 4 quarters.
Heather Dinich (1:39 PM)
I think it's the flip matchup, Trey. Several coordinators throughout the ACC have told me off the record that this will be the best offensive line FSU will have faced.
So Heather you don't think that Miami can compete for a NC in the next five years?? Are you CRAZY??
Heather Dinich (1:40 PM)
The question was "other than the U" right?
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
How motivated do you think Pittsburgh is going to be in the Little Caesars.com Bowl? Note: I'm hoping for a Bowling Green win but do hope that Pitt is "vested" in the matchup so it's more of a true gauge to see if BGSU can compete with a BCS conf squad....they gave Miss State all they could handle earlier in the year.
Heather Dinich (1:41 PM)
I talked to their OC, Joe Rudolph, last week and he said practices were going well. I think they'll be pretty motivated, especially since last time I checked they were the underdog by three points.
Bowl picks soon? Odds makers have only 2 ACC teams favored.... FSU and UNC???? over a 9-3 Cincinatti team???
Heather Dinich (1:42 PM)
Ha .. yeah they're coming on Thursday, so don't go into a Christmas slumber on me. I think I'll have more than two ACC teams winning.
With an ACC record of teams going to bowls this year, do you think the conference will have another positive bowl record?
Heather Dinich (1:43 PM)
I'm going with 6-5. Or somewhere around there.
Jon (Los Angeles)
Hey Heather, PAC12 guy coming at you. Been watching a lot of VT games in prep for UCLA-VT matchup. Dline seems to get good penetration but that could be negated with quick passes and routes. What do you think is the important matchup for this game? Merry Christmas!
Heather Dinich (1:45 PM)
You nailed it, Jon -- to me it's VT's experienced D-line against UCLA's young and sometimes inconsistent offensive line. Hundley could be a Heisman hopeful next year. If the Hokies can get to him, it will be a key in the game. Even if they do, though, I just don't think VT has enough offense to keep up with the Bruins.
Trey (Richmond, VA)
Heather, Happy Holiday. Is there hope for a turn around in Raleigh, the wolfpack is the laughing stock of the ACC.
Heather Dinich (1:46 PM)
Yeah, I talked to Doeren recently and he was very encouraged. He was out on the recruiting trail when I spoke with him, and he mentioned a lot of positives, the biggest being their new QB next year, Jacoby Brissett. Also spoke with OC Matt Canada last week, and he agreed. The key is getting the QB position rolling again -- and staying healthy.
question will FSU balance defense would be the best that AU has faced all season one that can cover the run and pass and do you think FSU defense can play in space well
Heather Dinich (1:47 PM)
OH heck yeah they can play in space well. That's one of the things that makes them so good. They can change up schemes mid-game on you. Those guys are high football IQ AND are elite athletes.
Tim (St. Pete, FL)
Are FSU's DB's talented enough to play 8 in the box and play man to man with a free safety? Key to holding the Coach's Trophy
Heather Dinich (1:51 PM)
Of course they are. The teams that CAN run against FSU and force them to do that are the ones that have the best chance of winning, though, obviously. FSU is so deep that they can rotate guys in and stay fresh. Teams that can run on first and second down hold the key to beating FSU's D. I had an interesting conversation last week with BC OC Ryan Day about the success they had against FSU.
Mike C (Tallahassee,Fl)
Is FSU the best defense Auburn has faced? If not then who? and don't say bama, thats just a lie
Heather Dinich (1:54 PM)
Nobody except Boston College has scored more than two touchdowns against FSU all season. The Noles get my vote for No. 1 D Auburn will have faced.
The reason Fridge was fired was because the team had no underclassmen, and Fridge never developed a quarterback in 10 years.
Heather Dinich (1:56 PM)
Aaand we're back to the Fridge ... the QB position turned into an issue, you're right, but Kevin Anderson said he hired Edsall to make Maryland a top 25 team consistently. I don't know, none of it made sense to me. Fire the ACC's COY for the Big East COY? Move to the Big Ten? I'd explain it to you but I can't.
If Beamer had a time machine, do you think he should/would go back and change his mind regarding Logan being a QB? I'll never forget his one handed catch from Tyrod in the endzone a few years ago against Wake. Could've been a beast at TE.
Heather Dinich (1:58 PM)
Ha ... I don't think so, I really don't. Everyone within that program I've talked to scoffs at the notion Logan isn't a QB -- including Scot Loeffler. The fans are the ones caught up in the TE stuff.
jander75 (the ACCylum)
Can we stop talking about the traitor turtles and focus on the actual ACC teams? Oh and happy holidays too...
Heather Dinich (2:00 PM)
On that note ... Merry Christmas to all of you ... turtles, too. :) Thanks for joining me this week. Have a great holiday!hd