Chat with Graham Watson
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 in The Show at 2:30 p.m. ET on Thursday!
Graham Watson (2:26 PM)
Happy Thursday everyone! I'm a little early, but I thought we'd start chatting it up.
In your opinion, where will Kwame Geathers end up?
Graham Watson (2:27 PM)
This is tough. The fact that he's visiting Tennessee this week with another top recruit probably doesn't bode well for the other teams on his list. My money is on Tennessee.
Case Keenum led the nation in total offense this season. Do you think he is going to put up similar numbers this season?
Graham Watson (2:28 PM)
I think he'll definitely have the opportunity to do that especially since his only receiving loss was Hafner. He does lose a couple guys on the offensive line, which could be a problem, but I think Houston might be one of the sleeper teams in the conference next year.
D. Schwab (Raleigh, NC)
Is there a better receiving duo in the country going into the 2009 season than Notre Dame's MICHAEL FLOYD & GOLDEN TATE? If so, who?
Graham Watson (2:30 PM)
I think Michael Floyd and Golden Tate are one of the best receiving duos in the country, but they played a lot of corner last year, too. The Irish' success will hinge on Jimmy Clausen and whether he can stay consistent all season.
What is the latest on Luke Lippincott?
Graham Watson (2:31 PM)
Lippincott has been cleared by the WAC and now Nevada is waiting on word from the NCAA. I will be nice to have him back and allow Kaepernick to concentrate on his throwing.
Tim: (Greenville, NC)
Does ECU have a chance at beating WVU and VT this season?
Graham Watson (2:32 PM)
ECU returns a ton of talent and a lot of the same players that beat those teams a year ago. I think beating VT in Greenville is a strong possibility. I'm not sure what to think of West Virginia without Pat White, but if the ECU defense can play as well as it did a year ago, that should be a good game.
Daniel Kittrell(Greenville NC)
What do you think ECU's non-conference record will end up being this year? With all of the returning players I think that it is going to be very interesting.
Graham Watson (2:34 PM)
I said they would be 2-2 last year and I'm going to predict the same for this year. I think they can beat Appy State and VT, but traveling to WVU and UNC is going to be tough. If they steal one of those games, it will probably be WVU.
Did Monte Ta'o just single handedly save Weis' job with his commit?
Graham Watson (2:36 PM)
Well, not exactly, especially since Te'o's only going to be around for a year before he goes on his two-year mission. Weis could be gone by the time he gets back. For Weis to save his job, I think ND has to break into the top 15 and have a chance to sneak into the top 8 for a BCS bowl. ND has the talent to do it.
How does a coach who has never coached a single game call out a 2 time national champion coach as a cheater, when he has already been informed that he committed violations maintain any credibility at all?
Graham Watson (2:37 PM)
I think people chalk it up to inexperience and the cockiness of being in the NFL. He's just trying to assert his presence and impress people. All that will calm down once Tennessee starts playing some actual games and they get popped in the mouth.
Danny (Dallas, TX)
What do you think of Toma following Teo out to South Bend?
Graham Watson (2:39 PM)
I don't think it's surprising. They're best friends. I think a lot of people - even Te'o to an extent - though Te'o was going to USC. So Toma signing with UCLA would have been no big deal. But South Bend was a different story. These two are from the same town, they both travel all the way across the island to attend the same high school, so why not keep extending their experience to college?
What's the inside scoop on SMU dismissing 9 players from the team? That's a high number...we talking dirty UA's or what?
Graham Watson (2:40 PM)
While I do think these kids were probably doing some things they probably shouldn't have been doing, I also think this is an easy way to make room for kids that fit June Jones' system. None of these guys were big names or were even major contributors.
Graham, have you heard any names being dropped for the next DL coach at ND? Romeo Crennell's name seems to be the leader of the rumor list.
Graham Watson (2:42 PM)
Yeah, Romeo seems to be the frontrunner, especially now that Stripling, who was also mentioned for the position, has a deal with Central Michigan. I'd be surprised to see Crennel take that job, though. Seems like a major step down, but then again, what's a step down from not coaching at all?
Danny (Dallas, TX)
What is your prediction for Notre Dame's record next year? If Jimmy keeps his Hula Bowl performance going and the recieving corps of Tate, Floyd, Walker and Evans toss in 3 5 star stud backs (Wood, Gray, Allen)...thoughts?
Graham Watson (2:44 PM)
Shoot, if Jimmy plays all season like he did in the Hula Bowl, Notre Dame will play in a BCS game. However, not all the teams Notre Dame is going to play are going to be Hawaii. The schedule is a little tough this year.
D. Schwab (Raleigh, NC)
On paper, including the return of Darrin Walls & Gary Gray on defense, I really do not see a team more veteran or talented than Notre Dame going into 2009...Is that a fair assessment?
Graham Watson (2:45 PM)
I haven't studied the depth charts of all 120 teams, but I'm sure that Notre Dame will have a lot of juniors and seniors especially since it went so young in 2007. It's just a matter of what these guys have learned during the past two years that will make them a better team.
Diesel (Knight, TX)
What is your prediction for the Notre Dame vs USC game next year?
Graham Watson (2:47 PM)
It's hard to say right now... in February... But I think USC still wins that game, even in South Bend. But like I said, it's February.
Darrell (Orlando, FL)
If the Mountain West continues to dominate, does this put pressure on mediocre BCS conferences to pick up new teams and add more football only teams. Will we see a realigned Big East in the next few years?
Graham Watson (2:49 PM)
I wouldn't be surprised if the Big East added more teams, but not because of pressure from the Mountain West. The MWC can get an automatic bid without knocking one of the other conferences out. There was a lot of chatter last year about the Big East expanding down the road and possibly including teams such as East Carolina and Southern Miss, which would make it a better football conference.
Is David Bailiff one of the most underrated coaches in the country?
Graham Watson (2:49 PM)
I'll answer that after the 2009 season when he needs to make up for the 58 percent of his scoring that was lost.
James (Harrisonburg, VA)
If East Carolina goes undefeated will a CUSA team have enough to see a BCS game. A lot of people think the best a CUSA team will ever get is the Liberty Bowl.
Graham Watson (2:51 PM)
I think C-USA teams still need to go undefeated. In fact, I think all non-automatic qualifying schools need to go undefeated unless they loss to one of the top 3 teams in the country. Like, had TCU finished with just a loss to Oklahoma, I think they would have had a strong chance to play in the BCS.
Big D (Mansfield, TX)
Quick: Playoff or BCS?
Graham Watson (2:52 PM)
BCS, but I think it needs to be a tier system like the English Premier League where conference are relegated if their teams don't meet a certain win total or something. Now that would make college football interesting and money would still be made.
Anthony (Toledo, OH)
Do you think Urban Meyer will ever coach at Notre Dame?
Graham Watson (2:53 PM)
Yes, yes I do. While I think the ND team is better, I'm not sure how much better the coaching will be.
Dee (Las Vegas, NV)
Watching any college hoops this year, Graham? I saw Mizzou had a great game against Kansas the other night. Also, feel free to give props to the #17 Utah State Aggies whenever you want. Go Aggies!
Graham Watson (2:54 PM)
Yeah, I see pretty much every Missouri game and I keep up with a lot of Big 12 hoops. However, I have been watching Mountain West and WAC hoops, too. Utah State is pretty fierce. They could be the Western Kentucky of the tournament.
Rivera (Arlington, TX)
Clausen in the 3rd position for Heisman?
Graham Watson (2:55 PM)
Right now? Like, today? No. The nation still doesn't think very highly of Notre Dame. And Jimmy's been too inconsistent each of the past two years. Beating Hawaii does not a Heisman winner make.
Will Louisiana Tech be competitive this season?
Graham Watson (2:57 PM)
It should be since it returns almost every starter from last year and plays in a pretty subpar conference. Boise State is the class of that league, but after that it any team's game.
Do you feel Southern Miss can win the East in CUSA this year?
Graham Watson (2:58 PM)
Yes I do. I think the light went on at Southern Miss and the Golden Eagles finished as hot as any team in the country. That's going to carry over to next year especially with so many players returning. They need to get better on defense, but offensively Southern Miss is as good as any team in the country.
James (Denver, CO)
If 90% of the people in the US are against the BCS and in favor of a playoff, why can't change happen?
Graham Watson (3:00 PM)
Because that 90 percent doesn't give millions of dollars to schools, conferences, the NCAA, sponsors, etc. It's all about money and no matter the public outcry, college football is going to try and make as much money from its product as it can. No different than any other business.
Darrell (Orlando, FL)
Which coaches are on the hot seat this year?
Graham Watson (3:01 PM)
That's a pretty broad question... Off the top of my head I'd say Charlie Weis, Todd Dodge, Dan Hawkins, George O'Leary, uh, maybe Kragthorpe at Louisville, too.
Hunter (Arlington, DC)
So what is your opinion on whether ECU deserves to have BCS contention.
Graham Watson (3:03 PM)
Well, ECU is unique because it plays such a tough non-conference schedule. I think it could possibly - possibly - lose one of those games and still be in the mix, but they're always going to have to contend with MWC and a certain WAC team that is either going to be undefeated or have just one loss.
8 being the number... over/under for Notre Dame victories?
Graham Watson (3:04 PM)
Nice job on the name... I like them to go over, but again, I like them for seven wins this year, but I didn't think they'd lose to Syracuse or play San Diego State so close. I just don't know what to expect from the Irish. I don't think anyone does.
Daniel Kittrell(Greenville NC)
Do you think ECU will win the conference championship again this year??
Graham Watson (3:05 PM)
I think it will be up there, but I think it's going to have some tough competition with Southern Miss and maybe even UCF.
I understand not having Utah in the top 5 for next years power rankings due to loss of talent, but their D is going to be solid and they are without question better than 5-10 on your list. I know the loss of Johnson, Smith and Kruger are big ones but they have good talent remaining.
Graham Watson (3:11 PM)
I was waiting for this question, Surprised it took this long.... Utah last six of its seven top offensive weapons - Johnson, Casteel, Brown, Godfrey, Sakoda, and Mack. Asiata is still there, which is good and Corbin Loucks has had plenty of playing time. But how many games did Sakoda win for this team? That's the guy few are mentioning when talking about missed talent. The defense did lose it two biggest playmakers. I know there's depth, but Smith was on ever name receiver the Utes faced last year. That's important. Utah has always had a strong defense, but I'm not sure that's going to be enough in a league where a lot of teams have great offenses and are going to score. And then look at the schedule? They have to play at Oregon, TCU and BYU. Not easy. Louisville is a crapshoot at home. I think a lot of folks thought those were my preseason rankings. They're not. They're the ranking looking ahead to the spring. Utah will probably be in my preseason rankings, but they'll be low. I picked Utah to be in contention for the BCS a year ago. Just can't provide the same optimism now. But I understand where Utah fans are coming from with their frustration.
Dee (Las Vegas, NV)
If Gary Andersen gets Utah State to a bowl game next year, will he win WAC coach of the year? Also, since you basically said the WAC is wide open (except for Boise), how many games do you see USU winning next year?
Graham Watson (3:13 PM)
Gary Andersen inherited a lot of talent at USU, so winning there shouldn't be as difficult as it was when Guy took over, However, I think a bowl game is optimistic for this season. I think there are four, maybe five, wins on their schedule. It doesn't help that they have to play at BYU and Utah.
A lot of focus in CUSA is the East, I love it as a Knight fan. However do you think Houston has a chance to break top 25 this season?
Graham Watson (3:16 PM)
I think that's going to be tough with a ridiculous non-conference schedule. They play at Oklahoma State, at Mississippi State and host Texas Tech. I also think their fourth game will be against TCU. But if they can come out 2-2 during the non-conference, which is doable and win their first three or four conference games, they should at least be at the bottom of the rankings.
Bob (Florence, SC)
In 2008, which most hindered ND from rushing and "pounding the football" as Weis desired to do -- poor offensive coaching or lack of player execution? Will ND's rushing attack improve in 2009?
Graham Watson (3:18 PM)
That's tough because I think it was both. Poor player execution is a product of poor coaching. How many times did Sam Young (sorry to call ya out buddy) look soft against the pass rush? The whole line was soft at times and then other times they looked awesome. I think the addition of a new RB coach and a new OL coach will greatly help the Irish running game for 2009.
Irene Gray (Robbins, TX)
How much of a factor was the huge buy out clause in Weis's contract a reason for him not being let go?
Graham Watson (3:20 PM)
I'm sure that was a little bit of a factor, but if they really wanted to fire him they would have found the money. I was told by Jack Swarbrick that none of the players ever expressed a desire to have a new coach. Now whether that's true or whether that's fear that talk could back to Weis, I don't know. But it seemed like the players wanted at least one more year.
Graham Watson (3:21 PM)
OK. Well, back to work for me. Hope everyone has a nice weekend,