Chat with Heather Dinich
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 in The Show at noon ET on Monday!
Heather Dinich (12:00 PM)
Hey everyone. Merry Christmas and let's get started.
Joey C. (NY)
What's one thing VT has to do to beat Cincy?
Heather Dinich (12:01 PM)
Pressure their quarterback(s).
T.C. (Richmond, VA)
Heather, just a warning--be ready to hear some whining from the VT fans..you kinda-sorta picked them to lose during your ACC/Big East challenge. Anyway, our conference needs a powerhouse, a team who can consistently finish in the top 10. Which team will that be, and how far away are we?
Heather Dinich (12:03 PM)
Ha ... sorta kinda, but I haven't done the official prediction for that game yet. You're right, though, and I think any number of teams have that chance ... Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida State and North Carolina among them. I'd say the league is pretty darn close, considering GT is currently No. 14 in the BCS Standings.
Bradford (Boise, ID)
Heather, who do you have in the Poinsettia Bowl tomorrow? Will you be watching?
Heather Dinich (12:06 PM)
Absolutely I'll be watching. It should be one of the better games of the season. Boise State's offense vs. TCU's defense. I'm going with the latter.
Evan (Jupiter, Fl)
Heather, do you think that the VT-Alabama game will have a similar effect as the Clemson version next season?
Heather Dinich (12:07 PM)
No, I don't, because I don't think expections will be as high for VT as they were for Clemson going into that game, nor will they be as low for Alabama.
John (Greenville, SC)
With 10 teams playing for bowls, the ACC really has a chance to show that it's better than most people seem to think. How do you think we're going to do? Or better yet, do you think the league will get more respect with an impressive showing?
Heather Dinich (12:08 PM)
I haven't made picks for all the games yet, but I think the ACC has a good shot at coming out on top or breaking even. The key is winning the Orange Bowl, and the Hokies' took a significant hit with the news they might be down three starters.
UNC has a VERY good class coming next year. Put them with Butch and what he's already done with the program and I see the team to beat in the ACC. Am I over-confident?
Heather Dinich (12:09 PM)
Definitely not, but they're not going to be the only team to beat. Randy Shannon is bringing in another talented group as well, so is Paul Johnson, and Dabo Swinney is getting things back on track. The entire league should be better next year.
"and I think any number of teams have that chance ... Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida State and North Carolina among them." Virginia Tech has dominated the ACC since joining. Why don't they make the grade...especially over UNC?
Heather Dinich (12:10 PM)
I think they would fall in the "any number of teams," no?
Joe (New York)
Does Georgia Tech have staying power? Or will ACC team figure out how to stop that wacky triple option offense over the next couple years?
Heather Dinich (12:12 PM)
This isn't the NFL ... the same players aren't facing this year in and year out. Every coach in the ACC knows how to defend it, but every year he's got to teach it to new players, and every year, some will get it and some won't. So yeah, GT has staying power.
Alex (Dallas, TX)
What is the deal with Marve? Is he ever going to grow up?
Heather Dinich (12:13 PM)
He didn't even miss the last class. He was 15 minutes late and had that verified. I spoke with his dad this week and they're clearly frustrated about the second suspension, but they're taking the high road on it.
Jonathan (Rockville, MD)
Will Maryland ever realistically compete for the league title? I mean, will the Terps ever actually become consistent?
Heather Dinich (12:14 PM)
Well, the DID compete for the league title this season. They just blew it. Consistency starts up top, and the staff has played musical chairs almost every year.
HD, So which is it? A conference needs one strong top 10 team (ACC pre-expansion where FSU ruled the league) - OR - A top-to-bottom competitive conference (current ACC). ESPN can't seem to come to a logical decision on which is better as they've historically bashed the ACC either way.
Heather Dinich (12:16 PM)
I can't speak for anyone else at ESPN. but personally, I think the best conferences are the ones that have one or two teams pushing for a top 10 BCS ranking, plus some competitive teams in the middle, and a few storied programs.
James (Rehoboth Beach,DE)
HD, love your blog! I can never get on here! Anyway, thoughts on Marve possibly transfering out of Miami?
Heather Dinich (12:17 PM)
Ha ... you're on! Thanks for reading the blog. This second suspension didn't sit well with his family, but they're trying not to be a distraction to the bowl game. It's possible, but I haven't heard anything for sure yet.
HD, even though ticket sales through the schools have been kind of low for the Orange Bowl, do you think it will still be pretty close to a sell out at the stadium considering all the websites that have em for like $10?
Heather Dinich (12:18 PM)
Ah, that is a great question. I was there last year and the atmosphere was awesome. I don't think it will be a sell-out, no, but I think it will be a better crowd that the school sales might indicate.
I still don't get how Oklahoma is playing for a National Championship when Texas BEAT them on a NEUTRAL field. If Texas Tech beat Texas yet Texas is ranked higher than Texas Tech, I don't see why Oklahoma is higher than Texas when Texas clearly beat them. This just dose not make sense to me, what about you?
Heather Dinich (12:19 PM)
I agree, but I have since accepted it, my friend, and you probably should, too.
Have you heard any rumors about defensive coaching changes at FSU (i.e. Mickey Andrews retiring, Amato being out) and if so, does Jimbo or Bobby pick the successor?
Heather Dinich (12:21 PM)
No, I have not, and last time I spoke with Mickey he gave me the impression he and Bobby would go out together. Now, do I see staff changes happening when Jimbo takes over? Absolutely.
To piggyback off of Horace's question..What about a top to bottom competitive conference with a stellar out of conference record (as well as bowl games)? The ACC has done well in picking off our out of conference opponents this year. With an 80% win percentage in bowl games this year, will the ACC get some love?
Heather Dinich (12:23 PM)
Agreed, but you've got to beat the Florida's and Alabamas along with the Kent States and William & Marys in order for that OOC schedule to mean anything. No doubt the ACC would get some love if it won eight of its bowl games.
What do you think will be the higest scoring bowl game this season? Possibly, the national championship game?
Heather Dinich (12:25 PM)
You would think, considering the offenses that are in it, but I really think Sam Bradford won't have his usual day at the office against this Florida defense.
Do you think Lsu will upset georgia tech in the peach bowl?
Heather Dinich (12:26 PM)
First of all, it's interesting how quickly the landscape has changed that that would be an upset. But no, I do not. I think it will be close, but I think Georgia Tech has what it takes to win that game -- namely Paul Johnson.
Aaron (Lufkin, Tx)
I live in Big 12 country and people are really down on the ACC, even though it was really competitive this year. Why do you think it was so competitive this year?
Heather Dinich (12:27 PM)
Several reasons. One, tons of youth. Not sure if people realize how young the ACC is. Second, new quarterbacks everywhere. Third, still new coaches in the league, everyone is trying to figure each other out.
Heather Dinich (12:28 PM)
Fourth ... struggling offensive lines all over the place.
Joey C. (NY)
What ACC junior or senior is the best NFL draft prospect?
Heather Dinich (12:29 PM)
I think you have to go with Wake Forest senior linebacker Aaron Curry. He was ALL over the place against Navy.
Lewis: (Washington, DC)
Heather, you're from the Washington DC area, and covered Maryland, why has the press given him a free pass? They haven't talked about Friedgen's recruiting and inconsistency.
Heather Dinich (12:30 PM)
Ha ... right. Ask Ralph and rec. coord. Dave Sollazzo how they felt about my Maryland recruiting stories. My question to those calling for Friedgen's job is this ... who could Debbie Yow realistically hire to do better given what he has to work with?
What do you think about contract renegotiating one year into a 7 year deal? I mean if this happens what is the point of a contract?
Heather Dinich (12:31 PM)
I don't know, but I told my editors I'd like to renegotiate mine for a PJ deal, and that I'd have his people contact their people.
HD, WVU is coming to town on Saturday. I've heard some crazy things about their fans. Should I stay away from this game in case things get ugly and they start throwing things?
Heather Dinich (12:32 PM)
Haha ... no, West Virginia fans are fun and they know how to tailgate. They certainly were the life of Maryland's parking lots, then again ...
John: (roanoke, va)
Why do you pick against virginia tech at every opportunity? First the acc championship game, now the OB...
Heather Dinich (12:33 PM)
I only pick against teams when I think they are going to lose.
What returning running back are you looking forward to watchin in the Acc?
Heather Dinich (12:36 PM)
Ah, that's tough. The names that jump to my head quickly for next year are Montel Harris at BC, Jermaine Thomas at FSU, both Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston at UNC and Darren Evans at VT.
Curt B-Town In
Heather, I'm having a beer and sandwhich at Nicks and was wondering what you thought about Notre Dame and Hawaii?
Heather Dinich (12:37 PM)
As in, Nicks on Kirwood? I think Notre Dame is going to have a tough time in this game. Hawaii just gave Cincy all it could handle and is itching to beat a marquee program like Notre Dame. It's a distracting place to play (I covered the Maui Invite for hoops once), let alone work.
Brad (Atlanta, GA)
Heather you forgot about ACC Player of the year Jonathon Dwyer in your list of returning running backs!
Heather Dinich (12:38 PM)
Shoot! I did! But we already know what he can do, and GT will have MUCH more depth at that position next year.
What do you mean, "given what the Fridge has to work with? The Maryland area has tons of talent to recruit.
Heather Dinich (12:39 PM)
Sure it does, but when it comes to getting them, it can't beat Penn State or Virginia Tech's atmosphere on game day or their facilities.
Whitney McMillan (Atlanta, GA)
Do you think being a running back in Paul Johnson's offense will hurt the draft stock of Jonathan Dwyer?
Heather Dinich (12:40 PM)
Definitely not. A good back will succeed in any offense, and Dwyer can do that.
James (Rehoboth Beach,DE)
HD, I think Miami's POSSIBLE future with Jacory Harris could be bright, do you agree?
Heather Dinich (12:42 PM)
I don't know that we've seen enough of Harris in the right situations to figure that out. He was outstanding off the bench in the Duke game, and has proven he can win, but he has also looked cold and uncomfortable in the formula Randy Shannon has used him in this season. Like when he came in against Virginia Tech.
Brandon Phoenix, AZ
Am I right in saying it's good for the ACC and business that Miami & FSU are back in being in the national title race? Look at those ticket sales for the ACC Championship game and Orange Bowl and tell me I'm wrong......
Heather Dinich (12:44 PM)
Well, last I checked, FSU and Miami AREN'T back in the national title race, let alone the ACCCG. No doubt ticket sales would have skyrocketed, though, had those teams been playing in Tampa. Heck, I saw fans walking around Raymond James wearing Miami jerseys anyway.
I've heard rumors that Coach Paterno doesn't actually do much coaching these days. He is more of just a figure head with really awesome assistants. What are your thoughts on this?
Heather Dinich (12:46 PM)
It's not a rumor. He's 80-something, wasn't his birthday just a day or two ago? He just had a hip replacement. He's not going to go out there and demonstrate drills or walk around like he used to. He does have more-than-capable assistants, which is why they're in the Rose Bowl, but it's ridiculous.
I'm tired of hearing about this ticket stuff. Put the ACCCG in Providence and tell me how many FSU and Miami fans are there. Moving it to Charlotte is a smart move, its just coming a couple years late.
Heather Dinich (12:47 PM)
Fair enough. I flew to Providence this year for the BC game, though, and was quite pleased with the number of Dunkin Donuts. You can't find ONE in Tallahassee ...
Nicholas (Christiansburg, VA)
What are your thoughts on the Hokies "disabled" players? In my opinion, Worilds WILL play. Considering against Miami he had a dislocated shoulder and played through that! Do you think that Warren and Marshman will be able to play??
Heather Dinich (12:48 PM)
But that's the whole point! He's been playing injured for waaay too long! How did Mike Goforth let him play through that? I don't understand. Marshman is ineligible, which is also ridiculous considering he already graduated and had six - SIX! - credits to pass.
What is ridiculous? That he is still in the head coaching position?
Heather Dinich (12:49 PM)
That he is still head coach, the whole thing ...
Ok i can't see South Carolina stopping Shonn Greene and the Hawks offense. I see Iowa winning convincingly what are your thoughts on the Outback Bowl?
Heather Dinich (12:51 PM)
If Shonn Greene doesn't do it, it doesn't get done. I thought South Carolina's defense was pretty good until they played Clemson. Now I'm not convinced.
How come is it ridiculous for Paterno, but not for Bowden? At least PSU is winning...
Heather Dinich (12:52 PM)
Because Bowden still does all of the booster luncheons, still makes appearances, is on the sideline and is still coaching.
Heather Dinich (12:52 PM)
However, when I was there for FSU's summer camp, Bowden sat in the stands and watched.
Elton: (College Park, MD)
Heather: I'll give you a few good choices who Debbie Yow could hire and would do a better job in recruiting: Turner Gill and Brian Kelly. I'm sure you agree, right?
Heather Dinich (12:56 PM)
Sure, they are two very good coaches who did outstanding jobs this season, but my point is they all would have the same things Ralph has to recruit ... If you're 17 and being recruited by Penn State, Virginia Tech and Maryland, would you rather play for teams that are going to the OB and Rose Bowl and have at LEAST 80,000 fans at their games, or play for a team coming off the Humanitarian Bowl appearance that plays in Byrd Stadium?
Brett (Rockville MD)
The question is, would Brian Kelly really leave Cincinnati for Maryland? That doesn't seem to be much of the "step up" he would be looking for within the next year or two
Heather Dinich (12:56 PM)
Exactly, another point. You've got to GET those coaches, too.
Hi Heather....saw that 3 other 'Canes are suspended for the bowl game. Are things starting unravel again at the U?
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
No, only one of them got any significant time, but without knowing what the violations were, it's hard to tell if Randy is simply laying down the law, or if there is more to it. Tight end Richard Gordon played in all 12 games, so he was the most significant suspension, but I think he only had three catches.
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
Alright guys my time is up. Thanks for joining and Merry Christmas.