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)
Hellooo everybody. I'm here. Are you here? Let's go ...
Christina (New Jersey)
Now that you've reviewed the schedules, where do you see potential losses for Louisville? FSU of course, but which other teams could trip up the Cards this fall?
Heather Dinich (1:01 PM)
I don't think they're going to have an easy time with a lot of these games, Christina, starting with their opener against a Miami team looking for redemption. If I had to pick one game, though, I'd go with the road trip to Clemson. Death Valley not exactly a warm welcome into the ACC.
It seems as if many teams are rebuilding this year. What team on FSU's schedule do you expect to challenge FSU next season? I cannot think of anyone on FSU's schedule that cannot be beaten by FSU.
Heather Dinich (1:03 PM)
Everyone is beatable, Michael, even the Noles. They're AT Louisville on a Thursday night, which could be tricky, and they're AT rival Miami. I think their toughest games, though, will be the opener against Ok State and home vs. Notre Dame.
Jon (Atlanta / GA)
Hey HD, hope you had a great weekend. Do you see GT improving next year? From the outside, it looks like Paul Johnson has made the football program rather mediocre. 6-7 win season is not what we (GT fans) want. Please tell me that things will get better?
Heather Dinich (1:04 PM)
I did, thanks, back at ya. They should open 3-0 heading into that game against Virginia Tech. Until the Hokies settle into their offense, I have no idea which way to lean in that game, and GT has its own questions at QB to answer. I think it will be another average season given the schedule, but Paul Johnson is at his best when the pressure is the most, and I think this is the most pressure he's faced since he was hired there.
DukeSean (Dallas, TX)
Many people are picking UNC to win the Coastal division next year, but breakout team Duke holds a 2-game win streak against them. With a high-profile Thursday night matchup at Wallace Wade next season, who do you see hoisting the Victory Bell, and why?
Heather Dinich (1:06 PM)
That's the game to watch in the Coastal Division (can't believe I just wrote that, but it's true). The standard rule is, "when in doubt, go with the home team," and it's going to be hard to go against Duke in that one. They've got a lot of talent returning, but my early prediction is UNC gets it done by making more plays on ST and winning the TO battle.
Colby Lanham (Clemson, SC)
Thoughts on the 3-way QB battle in Clemson between Cole Stoudt, Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson?
Heather Dinich (1:07 PM)
Didn't you already get that question answered in this week's mailbag? http://espn.go.com/blog/acc/post/_/id/66669/friday-mailblog-127
yehonala04 (St Augustine)
Old ACCylum here HD ; Glad you have a defending National Champion to cover in 2014. Will the $ec ever return to Doak? Its only been since 1990 since another team than Florida(who have no choice ) has visited. Ask Aschoff and Low what they are so afraid of ? 7 schools within 450 miles,84,000 seats and none of them even inquire ? Sad really that such a ratings bonanza goes undiscovered.
Heather Dinich (1:08 PM)
Whaddup stranger. ... Has it really been that long?? Good lord, I gotta look into that. No doubt will raise the question to my SEC buddies :)
William (Thomasville )
Could we possibly see another 3 headed back field for FSU this year, with Karlos Williams, Ryan Greene, Dalvin Cook/MarioPender?
Heather Dinich (1:09 PM)
Yeah I think so. I think Cook really is good enough to be a true No. 2 behind Williams or Green, and they've got different strengths, just like the previous crew.
Did Golden's team quit on him down the stretch after Duke went out?
Heather Dinich (1:09 PM)
No, I don't think it was that. I think it was a matter of Duke Johnson simply being that valuable to the team. Remarkable.
Heather, in your opinion would it be wise for Beamer to start either Durkin or Ford as freshman at QB or go with the senior in Mark Leal?
Heather Dinich (1:11 PM)
I don't see how you can ask a TRUE freshman to come in and take over the offense when you've got a much more experienced option on the roster.
Helton (Providence, RI)
What do you make of Duke vs. UNC getting a prime time spot on the schedule? A sign that the two programs are on a major upswing?
Heather Dinich (1:12 PM)
Well, I'm not involved in the TV and scheduling side of things, but yeah, that's what it indicates to me, and like I mentioned before ... that is "The" game in the Coastal this year.
Hi Heather! How are ya, girl?! I'm a big FSU fan and am really looking forward to Spring Football starting. Do you think there will be a big drop off in FSU's D with the loss of Pruitt? Or will the Noles continue to be dominating? Thanks!!! :*
Heather Dinich (1:14 PM)
Ashley I don't see much of a drop-off. Kelly is still what Jimbo was looking for when he hired Pruitt, a lot of similarities in their backgrounds as far as coaching tree, and philosophy. I think it was a smart move and the defense will be fine.
HD, which of the teams that finished 3-6 (Cuse, BC, WF, NCSt) in the Atlantic do you see winning a division title first? I feel like BC is trending upward the fastest. And yes, I neglected to include UofL on purpose
Heather Dinich (1:15 PM)
My vote goes to NC State. I think the Pack will make the biggest turnaround this fall. Can't get much worse, right?
It is strange, but I feel FSU is actually even further ahead of the rest of the ACC than this past year. Returning almost the entire O-Line, Greene at WR, and half the defense and a Heisman QB puts FSU in a much stronger position than last year. Why can't the ACC ever get it's act together and FSU and the league is strong at the same time?
Heather Dinich (1:18 PM)
Ha, great question. If there hadn't been so much turnover at the quarterback position throughout the entire league, I'd have more confidence in its ability to build off of last year.
Jon (Atlanta / GA)
Who is your dark horse team for next year that may surprise some folks?
Heather Dinich (1:19 PM)
I don't mind sticking with NC State. I think they'll be better at QB with Brissett there, and when I spoke with Dave Doeren this offseason he was pretty encouraged things will be better. They could be 3-1 to start, but will take a step back after back-to-back games against FSU/Clem.
dg (Washington DC)
HD - What Assistant Coaching move was the most significant this winter?
Heather Dinich (1:20 PM)
Hmm. Off the top of my head Duke's OC comes first -- that and the fact that Miami did NOT make a change at DC.
Do you see any team besides FSU having enough talent and favorable schedule to making a case for top 15 or even 10 top rankings?
Heather Dinich (1:23 PM)
That's tough, given all of the personnel questions so many teams have, so let's start with what we know: Louisville should be a preseason top 25 with favorable schedule to move up. If - IF - they beat Miami, they can go 5-0, maybe even 6-0 to start. The road trips to Cuse and Clemson will halt that streak, but they could be a deceivingly good team early.
Justin (Ocala, Florida)
Do you think the new grant of rights will allow the ACC to start paying the amounts it takes to keep coaches from jumping to other conferences? It currently seems that they are not hiring on the quality that the PAC12 and SEC are.
Heather Dinich (1:27 PM)
Oh they've hired quality, but like you mention it's keeping them that's been the problem. Clemson has fared well in that department. Others have not. Justin, I'd have to double check with the ACC's money men on this, but I think the real money would come from a TV channel like the SEC and Big Ten networks, not from the actual "grant of rights," which essentially is an agreement, not a check.
What's the general feeling amongst Maryland people you've talked to (fans, media, etc) about their move to the B1G Ten? Like it? Don't like it? Unsure?
Heather Dinich (1:28 PM)
I live it Maryland, so it actually comes up a lot, even with neighbors and stuff. Most I talk to are still trying to make sense of it, and lament the change for hoops.
Marc (Montvale, NJ)
What does Mike London have to do (in terms of wins) this season to keep his job? Or, is he to far in the hole now to dig himself out?
Heather Dinich (1:30 PM)
I think Virginia's schedule this year has doomed Mike London. Let me say this: I really like the guy. He is one of the good guys in the business. But he's not being helped by his administration. Look at last year's schedule. Look at this year: UCLA, Louisville, AT BYU ... all in the first four weeks?
Sal Lizard (Danny's pool table)
Did Logan Thomas separate himself during Senior Bowl week? At least compared to the other ACC Qbs on the roster?
Heather Dinich (1:30 PM)
He threw less picks than Stephen Morris, does that count?
FSU just had some monster recruits visit this weekend, yet none of them have come out and committed. Do you think that means the weekend was a failure, or do you think they are holding out until National Signing Day?
Heather Dinich (1:31 PM)
I think that it's just a typical day at the recruiting office.
Andrew (Blacksburg) [via mobile]
What do you think about the new offensive line coach at VT? Do you expect and improvement in consistency next season or a step backward?
Heather Dinich (1:34 PM)
Thought it was a great hire. Searels has a great reputation as a coach and as a recruiter, and he's got a proven track record. Lord knows VT's ground game needs a boost, and he's a good shot to give it to them.
Josh (Honolulu, HI)
Is there any team in the SEC you don't think Florida State will be better than this coming year?
Heather Dinich (1:35 PM)
I plan on having FSU as No. 1 in my preseason top 25, so ... no.
David (Annapolis )
Since Natl Signing Day is just a few days away, who will rank 2-6 in the ACC behind FSU in recruiting? (I'm taking that the Seminoles will take the #1 ranking for granted. You can correct me if I'm wrong.)
Heather Dinich (1:37 PM)
As of right now, our guys have Miami, Clemson, Virginia, Virginia Tech, UNC and NCSU in that order behind the Noles.
Which former Florida QB fares better this season? Brissett at NCSt or Murphy at BC?
Heather Dinich (1:38 PM)
Ha, I wish AA could chime in here, because she talked to Addazio about Murphy I talked to Doeren about Brissett. I'm going with Jacoby, just because when I spoke with Doeren he was raving about him.
Sal Lizard (Roaming the aisles)
Right now who do you see taking the Coastal next year? Is there a clear favorite or still the same mashup as last year?
Heather Dinich (1:39 PM)
Mashup. I think Duke and UNC are the favorites and will be chosen as such at media days in July, but as we all know... that doesn't carry much weight in the ACC.
Andrew (Odessa, FL)
There's been a lot of talk recently about scrapping the divisions (if the NCAA allows it). What do you think the chances of that happening might be?
Heather Dinich (1:40 PM)
I don't think it will happen, but that's a pure guess. The reason I don't think it will happen is because does the ACC really want FSU and Clemson playing each other in the ACCCG when a national title is on the line? Especially if they're already playing during the regular season?
HD, If the QB place is tight, between Leal and either Ford/Durkin and maybe the name people arent talking as much about Motley. You go with the younger guy... in that case, we aren't starting over 2 years in a row. If recent play is any indication, Leal is going to get a serious run for his money from all the young guys.
Heather Dinich (1:41 PM)
I don't doubt the competition, but I also don't think the bowl game was a fair performance to judge him on. That was a tough situation to come into against a top 25 team.
Michael (San Diego)
Hey Heather, how are you doing? After watching the bowl games do you think that the ACC did better or worse than last year and does it help recruiting given the fact that Clemson and Florida State won BCS Bowl games and the SEC went 0-2 in BCS bowl games?
Heather Dinich (1:42 PM)
I think the answer has to be better ... not only 2-0, but a national championship on top. I know the ACC didn't have a winning bowl record overall, but good grief. 2-0 in BCS bowls in a year in which the SEC went 0-2? ACC fans had two big reasons to cheer.
Hey HD, love your work! Just wondering if you think Miami may have something of a clean slate, with the NCAA investigation behind them for a full season and all. I can't make sense of this team. They were astoundingly bad against L'vle, worse than fsu as far as how they played. (They looked alright the first half against that other team, to me.) I can't believe D'oh-nofrio's still there. What do I make of this team?
Heather Dinich (1:43 PM)
Thanks. I'd tell you if I could, but that performance against Louisville was simply inexcusable, and the defense never really got better. They do have a clean slate with the NCAA stuff behind them, but until they find an answer at QB and get better on defense, they're not contenders.
I am glad that you and FSU fans do not think Clemson will be a challenge next year. Yes the quick strike offense may not be as effective but the offense will be strong and with a bye week before FSU this year (had physical game week before last year), Clemson will be more prepaired. And mister QB is risking injury playing baseball. Next season is still a long ways off. Lets dont crown them yet.
Heather Dinich (1:45 PM)
I like your enthusiasm Robert, but if Clemson got smoked -- AT HOME -- by FSU WITH Boyd and Watkins, why on earth should anyone give them credit to win in Tally? Just four weeks into the season with a new QB?
Sal Lizard (knocked to the floor)
You've always wanted to go to the national champtionship and FSU finally pulled through.... Was it all you hoped it could be?
Heather Dinich (1:46 PM)
Sal, it was better than I expected. The game turned out to be instant-classic good, the Rose Bowl venue is where every national title should be played, and well, it was just all-around fun.
Todd (Port St. Lucie)
What do you think of Wake's new coaching hire and how soon do you thing the Deacs can become more competitive in the Atlantic division?
Heather Dinich (1:47 PM)
Good hire, but Wake fans must find some patience. It's a major project there.
Richard (My Mom's Basement)
Which ACC team has the toughest schedule?
Heather Dinich (1:49 PM)
At some point, we'll rank the schedules from most difficult to the easiest, so I reserve the right to change this answer, but ... when it came out last week I remember thinking, "What did GT do to deserve this?" ... play the entire Coastal in a row ... but Duke also had a pretty tough ACC lineup, too.
Heather Dinich (1:50 PM)
OH and Syracuse! That was the other big one ... they really have a tough lineup.
Michael (San Diego)
The million dollar question is can FSU repeat?
Heather Dinich (1:51 PM)
I wouldn't pick them No. 1 this preseason if I didn't think they could. They do have a tougher sked this year than last season, but I look at it, and, like many of you, don't see a team on there that's better.
Andrew (Blacksburg) [via mobile]
Does BC continue their rise back to relevancy this year? Or do they get taken more seriously and finish about the same?
Heather Dinich (1:53 PM)
I think they finish about the same, if not take a step back. With a new QB, a new-look running game, and early games against Pitt and USC, it's going to be tough.
Frankie MacD (Look Out Louisiana!)
HD, Does a new AD at VT mean anything different for the football program and or coaching loyalties if a return to top 10 stature remains illusive?
Heather Dinich (1:55 PM)
It could. You never know, some ADs like to put their stamp on a program with a "signature hire," but if you ask me, that might come in hoops first.
If you were a head coach and had to pick a OC and DC from the ACC, who are you're top two choices?
Heather Dinich (1:56 PM)
Right now it would have to be Bud Foster at VT and Chad Morris at Clemson. Anyone out there object?
Andrew (Odessa, FL)
Do you know when the Maryland lawsuit is supposed to be settled? Or if not, what's supposed to happen next?
Heather Dinich (1:57 PM)
Nope, no timeline from anyone I've spoken with involved in it, Andrew, sorry. What happens next? At some point this has to actually go to trial. Who knows, Maryland might officially be in the Big Ten before it's over.
Hey HD....my belief is that my beloved 'Canes have unacheived since the early days of Randy Shannon. This includes all of his supposedly highly touted recruiting classes (just think about the interception machines that Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris have been!!). I am alone in thinking that since all (or most) of Shannons unacheiving players are gone (or going), that there's an actual chance to rebuild?
Heather Dinich (1:58 PM)
No, you're not alone, and Al Golden and his staff have done a terrific job of recruiting, especially considering that his previous classes have been brought in under the cloud of the NCAA investigation. To me, it's more about developing the talent and getting the guys to understand what it takes to win consistently than it is about recruiting at this point.
Tracy (Greenville, SC)
How many of the talented group of incoming WRs will Dabo Swinney need to step up in order for the Tigers to be effective on offense next season?
Heather Dinich (2:00 PM)
Well, they lost their two leading receivers, so it's no secret they'll need at least three to fill in for Sammy Watkins alone. :) There is still talent on the roster, Peake comes to mind first, but they've got to prove to be dependable options for a new QB.
Heather Dinich (2:01 PM)
Ok guys, my time here is up! Thanks so much for joining me, good questions this week. See you next Monday and you can catch AA here at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.