Chat with Graham Watson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com's non-BCS reporter and contributor to the College Football Nation blog Graham Watson will stop by to talk about the 2009 season.
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 Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Graham Watson (1:16 PM)
Hey guys. Sorry I'm late. I got caught up on the Mountain West Conference call. Let's begin.
Mike Locksley (Albuquerque Municipal Court)
Should I be updating my resume?
Graham Watson (1:17 PM)
You were who I was listening to on the conference call. You're owning up to your mistakes and saying that it's been put behind the program. You have the support of you AD and you just said... "Bottom line is I have to find ways to win ballgames." Indeed...
BIG CAT (OH)
Who has a better shot at the heisman, clausen or keenum?
Graham Watson (1:19 PM)
That's a good question, one that I think will become clearer as the season moves on. Both have looked good this year and both have won big games. Clausen will get a lot more opportunities to show what he can do on national television, but if Keenum can keep his team undefeated, I think he's going to have an edge.
Josh (Laramie, WY)
Considering the struggles the Wyoming offense had in their first 3 games, and how overall competent they looked against a resurgent UNLV, do you think that Wyoming has a good chance of being in the middle of the MWC pack by the end of this year? How do you think they look coming into next year with so many potent offensive players from BYU being gone?
Graham Watson (1:22 PM)
I thought Wyoming looked very good last week and UNLV coach Mike Sanford said Carta-Samuels looked like Jake Plumber (I believe he meant the one from ASU). Can they beat BYU? Honestly, no. This team isn;t there yet. But I think it's better than its preseason prediction and could win four, maybe five games this season.
loque (Shelley, ID)
I understand the SOS/resume argument between non-BCS teams Boise State, TCU, and Houston. But has anyone thought to consider quality of play? If the same case was made between SEC schools, we should see Alabama ahead of Florida all season.
Graham Watson (1:24 PM)
I get the quality of play and Boise State is blowing out its opponents. However, I think people are wondering if they could have done the same thing on the road against Clemson or Oklahoma State. Or beaten Texas tech or whoever. It's not Boise State's fault that it's conference is weak, but it's nonconference schedule could have been stronger and they'll rectify that next year.
Hi Graham,My question is in regards to the Sunbelt: How do you see teams responding to conference play taking into consideration that most of the teams are much improved from last year. I ultimately see a possibility of a 3 way tie come November.
Graham Watson (1:25 PM)
Honestly, I think the Troy-Middle Tennessee game will produce the SBC winner. I underestimated Middle Tennessee this season. It's played really well and I honestly think no that it's the team to beat. Yes, Troy is the favorite, but the Battle of the Palladium will tell us a lot.
Graham Watson (1:26 PM)
Random update... Dave Christensen didn't make the MWC conference call because he's in the hospital with kidney stones. Ouch...
John (Moscow, ID)
How bout them Vandals?! Should I go out and buy my humanitarian bowl tickets yet?
Graham Watson (1:28 PM)
Ha! I'd wait a couple games. This game against a good Colorado State team should be interesting, but I really like the way Idaho is playing right now. They're very confident and that starts from the head coach.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Houston......contender or pretender?
Graham Watson (1:29 PM)
Contender, but I don't know that it will go undefeated. It has a pretty brutal schedule. The Cougars can beat anyone on their slate, but man, it's a tough one. Regardless, it's one of the best teams in the country.
Colin Kaepernick (Reno)
What is my problem?Why I am not living up to the expectations placed upon me?Could it be I never should have received so much hype?HELP!
Graham Watson (1:31 PM)
Your coach doesn't even know! I honestly think that Notre Dame performance is still weighing on you and you haven't quite recovered. You also haven;t had a lot of help from your receivers. But the key has been turnovers. Man, so many in the red zone. It's hard to get into a rhythm with that.
Utah losses in a close one to Oregon and falls off the face of the earth. Oregon blasts Cal and Cal is still ranked higher? When will there be consequences for irrational thought?
Graham Watson (1:33 PM)
I think the rankings are pretty haphazard right now and the voters would tell you that. There's been so much turnover early this season that it's tough to say who belongs where. I though Utah might pop back into the Top 25 this week, so I don't know why that didn't happen.
RAY GORDONREID ( AUGUSTA GEORGIA 39301)
QUESTION TO GRAHAMWATSON AT 1.50PM HI GRAHAM WHO WINS BIG EAST CINCINNATI OR SOUTH FLORIDA
Graham Watson (1:34 PM)
Cincinnati. I'm a big Tony Pike fan. He's got a great arm and nice touch. I just think over the long run the Bearcats will be more consistent.
TCU, Boise, Houston...all 12-0 or 13-0, who gets ranked higher (or should be ranked higher) at the end of the year? I know, its a long season, but its fun to speculate.
Graham Watson (1:36 PM)
I've heard mixed things on this and since I'm not a voter, I don't really have a say. But I think TCU might end up ranked the highest because it still has a ranked team on its schedule. But really, it's not up to the voters totally. I'm going to be interested in what the computers say when the BCS comes out in a few weeks.
Bradford (Boise, ID)
Is U of I really the 2nd best team in the WAC right now!? I can't decide if this is good or bad. Oh wait, I think I just threw up a little.
Graham Watson (1:37 PM)
According to the standings they are. I don't know, They've played well, so I think they;re up there. I think Hawaii deserves to be up there as well. I'm eager to see how they fare against La. Tech. But I don't think anyone thought Idaho would be 3-1 at this point... And they played well in that loss to Washington.
Bronco Mendenhall (Provo, UT)
Can I ever get my offense to take care of the ball? I have a good qb in Max hall, but his 8TD's to 8INT ratio has me concerned...
Graham Watson (1:39 PM)
It should have you concerned. That's not good especially for a veteran like Hall. I honestly haven't been impressed by BYU the past couple weeks. If Colorado State doesn't get into that 21-0 hole, I think that game could go either way. You even admitted today that you -- again -- weren't prepared for some of the routes Colorado State ran on offense. That also should concern you.
what do you think of the iowa hawkeyes? Impressed?
Graham Watson (1:41 PM)
More impressed now than I was at the start of the season. I wouldn't have picked this team to be 4-0. And they should be 5-0 after this weekend. Can't wait for Michigan in a couple weeks.
Travis (Los Angeles)
UCLA is at Stanford this weekend. How big is this game for UCLA, and who wins?
Graham Watson (1:43 PM)
You really only have to send this question once...This is a huge game for UCLA especially since they haven't really beaten a quality opponent even though the Tennessee win was OK. I like Stanford because they're playing really well and the game is at home.
Pat Hill (Fresno CA)
So im 1-3 i think were the best 1-3 team in the nation, but the natives are getting really restless, should i start looking for a new jig now or come back for a lame duck season next year?
Graham Watson (1:46 PM)
Can I boo this question? I feel bad for Pat Hill because I think he has a great team and has had some terrible luck both with schedule and mistakes during games. This team is very close to being 3-1 (Boise State would still be a loss). I don't think he deserves to be fired and I don't think this team is going to continue losing. I mentioned Idaho and Hawaii as the second-best team in the WAC, but honestly, Fresno State could blow those teams out of the water if they continue playing the way they have been. I worry about confidence after the losses, but man, no one could say Fresno State is a bad team. Pat Hill has this team moving in the right direction.
Jim Crozier (Boise, Idaho)
Why is everyone assuming that TCU would have a better resume if both them and Boise State went undefeated? Last I checked, Virginia was awful and had even lost to William and Mary FCS school. Clemson hasn't beaten anyone worth mentioning. Utah lost to BSU's signature win (Oregon) and BYU got hammered by bipolar Florida State. Where's the signature win for TCU this year?
Graham Watson (1:47 PM)
While I agree with your comments, the MWC carries more weight than the WAC and that's what voters will see. However, Boise State has a huge advantage of starting higher than every other undefeated team. It will be tough to reconcile jumping them.
What has to happen before the MWC gets some decent bowl tie-ins? They just re-uped with the Poinsettia Bowl and its meager $750K payout.
Graham Watson (1:48 PM)
It needs to become an AQ conference...
Trevor (Boise, ID)
Who do you think has the best chance of winning the MAC at this point?
Graham Watson (1:49 PM)
Central Michigan is playing the best of any MAC team at this point and they seem to get better each week. I don't see a team in in either division that beat them.
Hey Graham! After such a great performance last week, where do you rank Dwight Dasher among Non-AQ offensive players?
Graham Watson (1:51 PM)
He's up there, no doubt. Unfortunately for him, he plays in the Sun Belt and it's going to be hard for him to gain much credibility against those defenses. Now, I respect the Belt, but most people don;t and the conference really hasn't done itself many favors by getting blown out by AQ teams. The Maryland and K-State wins are nice, but those are two pretty terrible teams. Anyway, the best way Dasher can get in the spotlight is by being consistent. That's what Rusty Smith did a couple years ago and the win over Minnesota didn't hurt.
Ryan Mathews (Indy Via-Fresno State)
So when does the combine start???
Graham Watson (1:52 PM)
I had you No. 5 on my Heisman list this week. Good luck.
Why are you so anti-Notre Dame? You have never once said a positive thing about them. If you honestly believe Keenum playing for Houston has a better chance at the Heisman than someon who plays every game on national TV I have to question any analysis you provide.
Graham Watson (1:55 PM)
Yawn... Any time anyone says anything critical of Notre Dame they automatically hate them. That's ridiculous. I give props to Clausen for playing through pain. He made a great read at the end of that Purdue game. But man, the talent Notre Dame has, they should be blowing some of these teams out of the water. Clausen has been great. I've never said a bad word about Clausen this year. But that doesn't mean there aren't other quarterback who have also played well this year. And really, someone will have to club Colt McCoy to pry the Heisman from his hands.
Jason (NM )
If BYU, Boise, TCU, and Houston all have one loss at the end of the season. Who is the better one loss team? And if so will any get a a BCS bid?
Graham Watson (1:57 PM)
If they have one loss, it doesn't matter because they won't be competing for the same bowls. None of those teams will get a BCS bid, which is why I'm with Chris Petersen on the rankings talk. Once one of these teams loses, it doesn't really matter where they're ranked. All the hype fades (see BYU and Utah). I think enjoy the rankings week-by-week because nothing is promised. That's what really stinks about the way non-AQ schools are treated.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Graham, McCoy is leading by default, other than Texas Tech, they haven't played anyone yet.
Graham Watson (1:58 PM)
True and it's way early. You can look year-to-year and find that the Heisman is usually won in the final weeks of the season. Still, it's McCoy's to lose.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Graham, what's keeping San Jose St. from becoming a program like Fresno St? California has a ton of talent, yet SJS seems to continually missing out on all of it.
Graham Watson (2:00 PM)
It's SJSU's offense and I think it will be better in time with Malley calling the plays. They need to find a stud QB. That's it. They could have had Austyn Cart-Samuels. Wyoming stole him from SJSU's backyard. Same with Carr or Colburn... That's what's preventing SJSU from moving forward, that star offensive player.
Austin (Provo, UT)
Graham, you don't think an 11-1 BYU team with wins over Oklahoma and TCU -- both in the top ten -- finds its way into a BCS game? I think they've got a shot even if Boise State wins out.
Graham Watson (2:03 PM)
I don't know... The shine has come off BYU and we saw that this week with them dropping in the rankings despite there being plenty of room to move up. That Florida State loss is going to haunt them because it's hard to think FSU is going to be good enough to make that a quality loss. And I said this earlier, I have not been impressed by BYU the last couple weeks. Too many mistakes by Hall and the defense is not the defense we saw against Oklahoma. I would love to see BYU against Oklahoma now... Even with Landry Jones at QB. I wonder if the outcome would be different?
Eric (Fort Worth)
What is your favorite thing about covering the whole non-bcs?
Graham Watson (2:05 PM)
I love the stories. Not a lot of people know a lot about the players and teams in the conferences I cover. It gives those deserving teams/guys a chance to be recognized on a national stage. That's one of the reasons I took this beat instead of the Big Ten, which I was originally hired for.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Is this the best Boise St. team you've ever seen?
Graham Watson (2:06 PM)
I think that's hard to say. It looks like a lot of the other Boise State teams of the past. And that;s the thing about Boise State and why it's so good. It's consistency. All the teams look good because they consistently play at a high level. That's pretty amazing and a tribute to the coaches.
Graham, this season we have heard talk of Case Keenum and Max Hall for Heisman candidates. I have just found it interesting that nobody mentions Kellen Moore or even Titus Young of Boise. Kellen is a machine at quarterback and Titus has to be one of the most explosive players in college football. Thought i would get your thoughts.
Graham Watson (2:09 PM)
I know you're going to hate me when I say this... It's the schedule. That's the difference. And Moore didn't play that well against Fresno State, probably the best opponent they Broncos have played this year. Yeah, I know Oregon is ranked, but we should all agree that the Oregon team that played Cal is not even close to the Oregon team that showed up in Boise. As for Titus, I think he'll be a strong Biletnikoff candidate, but I don't think he's the best player in the nation.
What do you think about Tulsa so far? Do they have a chance to beat Boise st and Houston this year?
Graham Watson (2:11 PM)
Tulsa is a mystery to me. I thought they had a chance to be a really great team until they sucked it up against Oklahoma. That was brutal. So, I don't know what to expect from them against Boise State. If they get hammered by Boise State, which is totally possible, I don't give them a chance against Houston.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Graham, I rather enjoy your analysis. Do you think it's time for Fresno St. to slow down on their aggressive scheduling? I rather enjoy it, however it tends to hurt them record-wise.
Graham Watson (2:12 PM)
Yeah, I do. Maybe schedule one of those big name teams just to get this program back on its feet.
RobertDewayne (Jonesboro, AR)
Cmon' Graham. What do you think about the young quarterback at Mizzou? Will he be ready for Texas? (Notice how I skipped the other 2 games prior)
Graham Watson (2:15 PM)
All right, one Mizzou question... I think Blaine Gabbert has exceeded expectations. What he brings to Mizzou is the ability to scramble and find the open receiver on the run. That keeps defenses honest and allows some of the big-play receivers like Alexander, Kemp and Perry to find those big holes. Gabbert is fun to watch and has me optimistic about Mizzou's future. Now, can he win the Big 12 North? I think Mizzou finishes second to Nebraska.
John (Logan, UT)
True or False? The WAC has gotten stronger and the MWC has gotten weaker this year. (I do realize that the MWC is still stronger though)
Graham Watson (2:17 PM)
Hmmm... That's an interesting question. By no means would I say that the WAC has surpassed the MWC. That's ridiculous. However, the bottom teams in the WAC look stronger this year than the bottom teams in the MWC. So, looking at that, yes. However, I'd take the top three in the MWC over the top three in the WAC. Boise State remains the strongest of the group overall. Not sure if that answered your question...
Graham Watson (2:20 PM)
OK. I'm out. Check you guys next week. Thanks for chatting.