Chat with Mark Schlabach
In anticipation of college football's top awards being Thursday night (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET) at The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards at Disney's BoardWalk at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla, Schlabach projected the winners.
Schlabach joined ESPN.com in July 2006 as a college football and basketball columnist. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Mark spent nine years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering Georgia and the SEC, as well as the NFL and NASCAR. Before joining ESPN, Schlabach spent two years at the Washington Post covering college football and basketball, and boxing.
Send your questions now and join Schlabach in The Show at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday!
Mark Schlabach (3:05 PM)
Hope everybody is doing well. Another week before the bowl games begin, so let's talk awards, BCS, whatever is on your mind. Here we go...
Ethan Buchanan Michigan [via mobile]
Do you believe my Notre Dame Fighting Irish will end the bowl losing streak at Hawaii Also what to expect next year with anther top ten class and even a lighter schedule?
Mark Schlabach (3:07 PM)
I think it's a potentially difficult trip. Notre Dame has to take the game seriously. Can't enjoy too much time on the beach. Hawaii is better than a lot of people think. McMackin has done a great job in his first season. The Warriors started slowly, but led Cincinnati in the last game. Irish have to get better playing that schedule next year. I just don't know if Clausen will ever get it, though. He still makes too many bad decisions.
I think it hurts Florida for Mullen to stay and "serve two masters". If a coach would spend every second of his time preparing for the BCS title game, why would you want a coach who would no longer be able to prepare at that intensity level?
Mark Schlabach (3:08 PM)
Other guys have done it and had mixed results. Mark Richt struggled doing it when he went from FSU to Georgia. FSU scored only two points against a very good OU defense. Pelini did a good job going from LSU to Nebraska last year. I think it helps that Urban Meyer is an offense guy, too, and can run the offense.
Chad (Hoboken, NJ)
Mark, a two-parter: who is your coach of the year, and do you you think Jonathan Dwyer has a shot at the Heisman next year?
Mark Schlabach (3:10 PM)
My national coach of the year would probably be Nick Saban from Alabama. He had the Tide ranked No. 1 for much of the season, which is way ahead of schedule. Frank Beamer, Paul Johnson, Joe Paterno, Brian Kelly would also be on the list. Dwyer is a very good running back and very underrated player. He'll play in the NFL for a very long time. Tech's offense will only get better with time.
Paul (Montgomery, AL)
Will the Alabama/Utah game be a debacle or will Utah keep it respectable?
Mark Schlabach (3:10 PM)
I don't think Utah will be Hawaii of last year. The Utes play defense. Brian Johnson is a very good quarterback. Utah is very battle-tested: beat Michigan, BYU, Oregon State, TCU. Alabama won't blow them off the field.
daniel (denver, co)
please explain to me how you have Tim Tebow projected to win the Maxwell award as the nations best all around player over Colt McCoy. McCoy has more rushing yards, more passing yards, and more total td's IN ONE LESS GAME! going into this season, Florida was expected to compete for a national title. they have unlimited weapons on offense and defense. Texas was projected to win 8 games, maybe 9. but McCoy has carried that team higher than anyone ever would've expected. besides, I don't even think Tebow is the best player on his own offense
Mark Schlabach (3:12 PM)
I think the guy has done more for his team than any other player in the country. When they lost to Ole Miss, he vowed he'd work harder than anyone else in the country. He carried the Gators on his back emotionally and physically down the stretch. He took a pounding all year. I think the guy is the best player in the country. He threw only two interceptions all season and played nine top-30 defenses.
Mark, do you see any way J. Gresham does not get the mackey award? Is that given out tonight too?
Mark Schlabach (3:12 PM)
Not sure if that award is part of the show, but Gresham should be a winner. Coffman from Missouri is very good, too, but Gresham is a freak.
Mark - To say that you don't know if Clausen will ever get it is a bit ridiculous. Do you think Matt Stafford will ever get it? He is a junior and still making stupid mistakes, yet many say he is the #1 pick in the draft. Once Clausen has a running game, I would be willing to bet that he is a totaly different player. I don't think people understand how much was placed on him this year. On that note, do you think ND will ever have a running game?
Mark Schlabach (3:14 PM)
Running game would definitely help him. I must have watched his brothers play for too long. They never seemed to get it late in their careers. The kid has talent, no question, and they're better at wide receiver. Maybe he gets better quickly, but I expected more from him and Charlie Weis at this point.
Nathan (Santa Cruz CA)
Bradford has done the same as Tebow in leading his team down the stretch to the CCG & NCG. Bradford just didn't publicly vow to do so like Tebow did. Why is that so much more important to everyone than statistics
Mark Schlabach (3:17 PM)
Statistics don't mean as much when one guy has played eight or nine top-30 defenses and the other player has played two top-30 defenses. You don't think Tebow would put up huge numbers against Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State, etc?
Preseason top 5?
Mark Schlabach (3:17 PM)
Way too early.
Mark, I know you're from SEC country, so I want to get your honest opinion. Do you think the SEC has had a down year?
Mark Schlabach (3:18 PM)
Outside of Florida and Alabama, very down year for the SEC. Georgia and LSU weren't nearly as good as they were supposed to be, Tennessee and Auburn were huge disappointments. Kentucky, Vandy, South Carolina were mediocre at best, and Ole Miss was better. Not a good year by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, the league still has a chance to win its third straight national title.
Max (Waco, TX)
What are your thoughts on Graham Harrell getting overlooked for a heisman invite? Also, what do you think Mike Leach will do coach out the final two years of his contract or sign the new deal?
Mark Schlabach (3:20 PM)
It would have been nice for him to be in New York as a senior, but unless he finishes in the top three, I'm sure they didn't want to embarrass him. What if they sent him up there and he finished fifth? They determine who they're inviting based on early voting results. I guess the numbers weren't good. I was told Leach was going to sign his contract early this week, but that hasn't happened, for whatever reason.
No imagination Mark: have some fun and give us a top 5.
Mark Schlabach (3:21 PM)
A lot will be determined on which players come back. What if Tebow goes? What if Bradford goes? What if Moreno and Stafford come back? What if Crabtree comes back? Too many variables right now.
Josh (Norman, OK)
I will say this about Tebow vs Big XII and Bradford vs SEC. I will give Tebow the nod against the teams you listed from the Big XII earlier, but I also believe Bradford & Co could put just as bad of damage on the teams Florida and Tebow is siphoning "Dominance" off of. Defenses look great in the SEC when the mediocre offenses trade off pick 6's this year.
Mark Schlabach (3:23 PM)
They're both great players. I saw Bradford play in the Big 12 title game. They don't throw the ball down the field much, and it's a lot of quick, intermediate passes. He gets great protection and has very good weapons around him. So does Tebow, with Harvin, Rainey, Demps, etc. I just think Tebow was more important to Florida. Take him off the Gators roster, and they're probably not playing for the SEC title. I think Oklahoma could get by with DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown and win eight-nine games. I'm taking nothing away from Bradford. He deserves all the accolades, too. I just think Tebow has done more to deserve the Heisman.
Tim Berkeley Ca
Who you got in the Emerald Bowl Cal or Miami. And how much of a factor is it that this is essentially a home game for Cal?
Mark Schlabach (3:24 PM)
I think it should be a close game, and, yes, playing in San Fran will help the Bears. Miami's defense struggled late, so Best might have a big day.
Steve West Grove, Pa [via mobile]
what do you think about the future of wvu football? Will they have the same success as they did under Rich Rod?
Mark Schlabach (3:24 PM)
Well, they didn't fall off the map. I know they were hoping for bigger things in Pat White's senior season, but they'll remain competitive in the Big East race under Bill Stewart.
Matthew Stafford (Athens, GA)
I have all the tools NFL scouts are drooling over. But with inconsistency at times and an underachieving college career, Am I ready for the NFL?
Mark Schlabach (3:25 PM)
If they say he's a top five pick, there's no way I'd go back.
Brett Tallahassee Fl
Does Bobby Bowden have another ACC championship in him?
Mark Schlabach (3:26 PM)
I think they'll have a chance next year. Jimbo Fisher is really high on Christian Ponder, and the offensive line will continue to get better.
Are you surprised that Miss St named a new head coach before Auburn did?
Mark Schlabach (3:27 PM)
No, I don't think Auburn had a plan in place before Tuberville left (and I still don't believe he quit, either). Mississippi State wanted an offensive guy and focused on Mullen pretty quickly. Auburn has a ways to go in its search, and I still think they'll go after a couple of big names.
Mike (Beverly, Ma)
Yeah, Tebow is real great. I can put 50% of the fullbacks in the NCAA under center have them take 1yd plunges and complete 13 passes a game. BIG DEAL.
Mark Schlabach (3:31 PM)
Come on, that's moronic. Do you really think Matt Suhey or Tom Rathman could throw only two interceptions in 268 pass attempts?
Steve (Tulsa, OK)
You obviously don't get to watch the Sooners play very often. Bradford didnt throw down the field very much in the Big XII title game, because Missoure took that away from him. But he has made a living off of throwing down the field all year,
Mark Schlabach (3:32 PM)
I saw him a bunch. He hit Gresham down the middle a lot, and got the ball to Iglesias down the field quite a bit. I don't think down-field passing is Texas' strength or Oklahoma's strength. I think they're better throwing underneath. That's what I was saying.
Rob, San Antonio
I agree with Mike (Beverly, Ma). Tebow ain't all that. I could complete 13 passes a game and I'm 5'7". Stafford or McCoy should win...and McCoy beats Stafford....hmmmm.
Mark Schlabach (3:33 PM)
You don't get it.
Bertke St. Louis, MO
Mark, it seems like you hate the Sooners for some reason. Why so?
Mark Schlabach (3:34 PM)
I don't hate Oklahoma. I have a ton of respect for what Bob Stoops has done. I just think Tebow should win the Heisman. And I thought Texas should have won the Big 12 South because of its head-to-head results. That doesn't make me a hater. Only a realist....
What is the status on Charlie Strong? Any thoughts on anyone (college / NFL) courting him?
Mark Schlabach (3:35 PM)
I've heard rumors, but nothing substantial. Someone should hire him based on what he's done.
If Bradford and Tebow go pro, will Colt McCoy be the favorite for next year's Heisman?
Mark Schlabach (3:36 PM)
Depends on who else comes back. Shady McCoy from Pitt, Beanie Wells from Ohio State (if he comes back), Percy Harvin (if he comes back), Tebow (if he comes back). Again, too early.
Just because Tebow is "God's gift to sports writers" is the only reason he wins the Heisman this year, again. Both McCoy and Bradford have way better numbers
Mark Schlabach (3:37 PM)
Again, numbers aren't everything. It's about being the best and most valuable player on your team. I think it's Tebow. He played tougher defenses and won games.
Mark Schlabach (3:38 PM)
Sure, why not have all three in BCS bowls? But Texas Tech played two FCS opponents and got crushed by Oklahoma.
You say you don't hate Oklahoma and that you're a realist. You also say that because of it's "head-to-head" victory, Texas should have won the Big 12 South. In my own honest opinion, a realist would realize that there was a three-way tie for the Big XII South and it didn't come down to the head-to-head game. It came down to strength of schedule and a "realist" should realize that.
Mark Schlabach (3:39 PM)
Keep it real, Matt. Nothing more objective in that tie-breaker than head-to-head results.
It's Draft Day you are in the Chicago Bears War Room. They have never had a good QB, Do you take Tebow or Todd Beockman?
Mark Schlabach (3:39 PM)
I'd take Tebow and line him up in front of Forte.
If people are going to discount Bradford and McCoy because of the perceived lack of defense in the Big XII, shouldn't a similar standard apply to the SEC defenses? Most offenses I saw in the SEC were inept (a certain Auburn-MSU game comes to mind, Tennesee etc). Good offenses can make defenses look worse than they are, just like awful offenses can make defenses look better than they are.
Mark Schlabach (3:41 PM)
We've had that argument all season. It can be argued both ways. There were some bad offenses in the SEC, no question. There were some bad defenses in the Big 12, without question.
Rob, San Antonio
Does OSU keep it close with Texas in the Fiesta Bowl? and... I meant Bradford, not Stafford... sorry. Watching ESPN and they were taking about NFL prospect Stafford at the time... my bad
Mark Schlabach (3:42 PM)
No problem. I actually think Ohio State can keep it close. Pryor will have more practices under his belt. He's mobile. Ohio State's defense has played well. Less pressure on the Buckeyes. They have a lot of pride left to play for.
Everyone loves to make fun of VT's offense. I just wanted to point out that VT's offense had it's best day against an above average Big 12 defense, Nebraska, at Lincoln. Particularly, Tyrod Taylor threw for more yards than any other game this year, including Western Kentucky. Doesn't that say something about the defenses in the Big 12?
Mark Schlabach (3:43 PM)
I was actually at that game in Lincoln and couldn't believe how badly Nebraska's defense defended Taylor. Pelini still has a long way to go on that side of the ball. Nebraska will get better.
If the SEC was so down this year, why was the SEC a championship semifinal? Why did Florida get the benefit of the doubt that USC and Penn State didn't? It isn't like USC and PSU weren't blowing out their inferior opponents too. And, only 1 of the 1 loss BCS teams won a road game (at night to boot) against a team that finished in the top 10. Care to guess who that was?
Mark Schlabach (3:46 PM)
Penn State at Ohio State?
Darryl (Oakland, CA)
Mark, Have you seen USC play this year? Honestly? You mentioned that the running game was J Mcknight and that's about it. Have you honestly seen them play? Be honest now! I'm asking this because if you ask any trojan fan, or even the coach, they'd tell you that Stafon Johnson is the #1 RB, he's been really good this year.
Mark Schlabach (3:48 PM)
No, they have two or three good running backs, but nobody that blows me away. Sanchez has had his struggles at quarterback, too. I watched the first half of the UCLA game last week (and I know the Bruins are still pretty good on defense, although they weren't when I saw them play at BYU) and USC's offense looked inept. I know it was a rivalry game. USC's best wideout is the Arkansas transfer. They just don't look as explosive as they did under Norm Chow. Just my opinion.
Do you believe Dan Mullen is the right coach for Miss State (short and long term)?
Mark Schlabach (3:49 PM)
I think he'll do a good job. It's not an easy job. He'll definitely make them better than they've been on offense. They've been pretty good on defense.
Matt (Omaha, NE)
What are the chances of big 12 running the table this bowl season? Who has the biggest challenges?
Mark Schlabach (3:53 PM)
I think Ole Miss plays Texas Tech very tough. Ole Miss' defensive front can cause problems, and the Rebels are pretty underrated on offense, too. As I said earlier, I think Ohio State will put up a good fight against Texas, and Oregon and Oklahoma State will be a shootout. Clemson is capable of exploiting Nebraska's defense in the Gator. Florida can beat Oklahoma in the big one, too. I don't think the Big 12 goes unbeaten.
Mark, i bet you wont answer a question from 2 Matts in a row... Why is Shonn Greene the Doak Walker Award winner? You obviously dont Knowshon
Mark Schlabach (3:56 PM)
I know Knowshon. Greene was probably the most underrated player in the country and carried his team. Moreno might be the third-best player on his team -- behind Stafford and A.J. Green. Moreno is a great, great player, don't get me wrong, but Greene was Iowa's best player on offense and really carried them.
Mark Schlabach (4:00 PM)
Folks, sorry, gotta run. Losing my signal on the laptop. Have a great weekend. Talk to you soon.