Chat with Heather Dinich
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's ACC blogger 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 noon ET!
Heather Dinich (12:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here, let's get this started ...
Do you think the ACC will have two preseason top-10 teams, or maybe even two top-5 teams in VT and GT provided that all of GTs players return?
Heather Dinich (12:01 PM)
I think it could have two, yes, but I don't think all of the Jackets will be back. I think Morgan will be the first to go.
Hi Heather, How do you personally think the ACC ranks in the BCS conferences? From what I gather, it seems most ACC fans think we're a fair #3 (some say #2). But, many in the media still project us as #6 (which can't be right!!!). Previous years don't help our case, but this isn't an ACC of years past. Thanks and I think you generate a lot of interesting debate which is a good thing.
Heather Dinich (12:02 PM)
Thanks, Rich. I think the Pac-10 is really pushing the SEC this year, and the Pac-10 has been the most competitive conference race this year. I don't think the ACC has been as bad some folks might think. It has five ranked teams right now, but the Big East isn't a pushover, either. I'd say somewhere around fourth.
Justin (Clemson, SC)
Heather, How do you think Clemson and Georgia Tech will handle their rivalry games this weekend with the ACC championship looming the following weekend?
Heather Dinich (12:03 PM)
From what I gather having listened to PJ's teleconference last night and been at Clemson on Saturday, they're not looking ahead. I think both of them will be the better teams on Saturday.
Brandon (Columbia, SC)
Do you think CJ's less than stellar day versus Virginia hurt him in the Heisman race? Ingram, Tebow, and McCoy didn't exactly wow me against horrible teams either.
Heather Dinich (12:04 PM)
I don't think it's as much what he didn't do, as it is the growing momentum for Gearhart. I think he and Ingram are the fan favorites right now.
Brandon (Columbia, SC)
Do you think Terry Don Phillips regrets putting all those incentives in Dabo's contract? I'm assuming by those incentives, he never thought we'd be getting this far. Go Tigers!
Heather Dinich (12:06 PM)
Ha, I almost asked him that after the game on Saturday but decided against it. No, I don't think he does. They did it right -- dishing out the money for assistants like Steele and then rewarding Dabo when the mission was accomplished.
With Champs Sports Bowl having the #4 choice in ACC, do you feel they will pick FSU or Miami? Which typically travels better?
Heather Dinich (12:07 PM)
Actually, I think UNC's recent surge might make the Heels tough for the Champs to pass up. FSU was there last year, so if they wanted a Florida team, I'd say they went with Miami.
Heather:Why does everyone say VT is having a "down year" on defense. We are ranked 15th in the nation!
Heather Dinich (12:08 PM)
Compared to the standards Foster has set, that is a down year ... VT has finished in the top seven in total defense in each of the past five years.
Fan Favorite for Heisman - what kind of response was this?Book this now - the Heisman will be either Tebow, McCoy or Ingram. I am going with McCoy right now if he has two big games against A&M and Nebraska.
Heather Dinich (12:10 PM)
I think McCoy is definitely worthy, but I don't think Tebow is even the best QB in the SEC this year. I just think anyone who has paid attention has to be wowed with what Gerhart and Ingram have done this season. To me, it should be based on the here and now.
Ryan (Clemson, SC)
Heather, has the Chick-fil-a Bowl already announced that it will choose VT over Clemson if Clemson loses the ACCCG? If so, then why this early?
Heather Dinich (12:11 PM)
No, no, they haven't announced anything. In fact, they're very undecided, especially from the SEC standpoint.
Will you vote for Robert Quinn as DPOY in the ACC? Or will Cody grimm get the honor...who by the way has had a great year and I credit you for that All Acc pick...he is still behind sturdivant though...
Heather Dinich (12:11 PM)
Thanks. I haven't made up my mind on that yet. Don't forget about Derrick Morgan. DeAndre McDaniel. These guys are making that a real tough choice this year.
Heather, is it ok for me to question the UNC offense now that the Defense has scored as many TD's as the Offense has in the last 2 weeks (and Deunta Williams last INT was essentially a TD--down at the 6 inch line, which would make it 5-3 in favor of the D)
Heather Dinich (12:12 PM)
Marc, it might just be as simple as UNC's offense isn't very good this year. They're rebuilding at wide receiver, T.J. Yates is an average quarterback, and they lost their leading rusher on top of a gazillion other injuries. It is what it is.
Did you see UGA choke their game away? They really lost a ton of momentum that they would've had going into this weekend's game at Tech. I know it's a rivalry game, but what are your thoughts on the GT/UGA game?
Heather Dinich (12:13 PM)
I think Georgia's defense has struggled for about two seasons to stop anyone and I don't see that changing this weekend. Their confidence is low, they're making a lot of mistakes and penalties ... they're doing things GT isn't, and it's cost them.
After seeing Ryan Williams knock an NC State player out and drag one to the endzone this weekend, I'm starting to think he is a harder runner than anyone in the ACC... Is that a fare assumption?
Heather Dinich (12:14 PM)
That was an awesome play, and one I'm sure we'll still be talking about next year. Poor Earl Wolff. I think Jonathan Dwyer is a very powerful runner, though, though, and don't mess with Anthony Allen. I think he has a blackbelt. (Seriously).
Will this be the best ACC Championship Game yet?
Heather Dinich (12:15 PM)
I think it has a great chance to be, I really do. Anyone who thinks they really know who's going to win it is fooling themselves. It's anyone's game.
Troan (Columbia, SC)
Heather, how good do you think Kyle Parker will be in the years to come? He seems to have all the tools (minus height) of an elite level qb.
Heather Dinich (12:16 PM)
I think he can be one of the best QBs in the ACC. He's improved so much this year, and you could even see in his game on Saturday how calm he looked out there.
GT fan here, but gonna play a little what if's with your Clemson over GT pick. Say that does happen, and Cincy beats Pitt. Does GT still have a shot at a BCS at large bid. I think they are better than Iowa.
Heather Dinich (12:17 PM)
If that happens, I do think the Jackets have a shot at an at-large bid, but honestly, it's really hard to figure out what the bowls would want to do. A lot of them don't even know right now.
Mike (College Park)
Will Raplh Freidgen still be coach of Maryland in 2010
Heather Dinich (12:18 PM)
My guess is yes, but that he will make some staff changes. The only one that would really help, though, IMHO, is a new recruiting coordinator. That should've been done long ago.
George P. Burdell (Atlanta)
Hey Heather, whats the good word?
Heather Dinich (12:19 PM)
For you? That PJ doesn't seem to think his guys will be overconfident heading into this Georgia game.
John (Charleston, SC)
Heather, Which ACC rivalry game do you see being the most compelling this weekend?
Heather Dinich (12:20 PM)
That's a good question. I've been more focused on the noncon rivalry games, but I think Virginia Tech at Virginia might be more interesting than people might think. The Cavs haven't quit, and they found some plays that worked offensively against Clemson in the first half.
Why would the Chick-Fil-A Bowl want to bring VT to Atlanta for a 3rd time this year? Do the fans travel THAT well?
Heather Dinich (12:21 PM)
Yeah, they do, actually. And let's face it, the second time was at Georgia Tech, where a lot of local VT alumni probably didn't have to travel far to get to.
Heather, when a GT fan asks "What's the good word?" the response is "To HELL with GEORGIA!!!"
Heather Dinich (12:21 PM)
Haha ... I figured one of you would take care of that, since I'm an unbiased reporter. :)
What's the over/under on the number of sacks Garcia takes this weekend against Clemson (USC is 109th in sacks allowed)
Heather Dinich (12:23 PM)
Oh, yikes, South Carolina's offense has really struggled this year. It wouldn't surprise me if they get four. I think they're allowing three a game?
Jeremy (Raleigh, NC)
Do you think he talent level at Miami will be so over the top that despite Shannon's inability to manage the clock that the U will be back to national prominence in the foreseeable future?
Heather Dinich (12:23 PM)
Well, they weren't too far away from it in the first half of the season, were they? I don't see why not. Like you said, it's not for a lack of talent.
Hey Heather, I know this is a longshot, but couldn't Va Tech technically still get a BCS at large bid if Oklahoma State (at Oklahoma) and Boise State (Nevada) both lose this coming weekend?
Heather Dinich (12:25 PM)
It is a longshot, and I don't see it happening, but technically, as long as a team is ranked within the top 14 of the BCS standings, it's eligible for a BCS bowl.
with spiller not 100% will clemson have to rely more on ford in the acccg
Heather Dinich (12:25 PM)
Spiller hasn't been 100 percent all year, but I think Clemson showed against Virginia that they've got more than him to turn to anyway.
Mike (Melbourne, FL)
From the quotes I've heard, I definitely agree that Derrick Morgan is likely gone to the NFL. Any early word on how Morgan Burnett, Demaryius Thomas and Jon Dwyer are leaning? How good will GT be next year if we loose all 4 of them?
Heather Dinich (12:26 PM)
It's going to depend on where they're slated to be taken in the draft, and I'd bet they're being pressured by some folks to get out before that rookie salary cap takes place. I talked to PJ about it a bit last night, though he didn't reveal anything on it, but check the blog later today for his philosophy on it. And GT will be hurting without all those guys next year.
Just want ot remind Shawn that being confident in a win is a mistake for a Clemson fan.
Heather Dinich (12:27 PM)
Good reminder, Mike, though I think the Tigers have managed to keep Clemson fans a little more content this year.
so the ncsu/unc game does not interest you? pretty big rvalry game too
Heather Dinich (12:28 PM)
Oh it is, I agree, I just don't see NC State's offense being able to get the edge against the Heels. They couldn't do it against Virginia Tech's defense.
What would have to happen for Clemson to pull an upset in the ACC Championship? Aside from Spiller having a career day, I just don't think Clemson has the tools to combat a Georgia Tech team that is much improved from their previous meeting.
Heather Dinich (12:29 PM)
Well, first Clemson has to get off to a faster, better start than it did during the regular season. The best thing Clemson has going for it is its defense, plus the familiarity of having gone against that offense earlier this year. They'll be better at it the second time around. But GT is also better at executing it now.
How bout FSU's jerseys on Saturday? Thoughts? Comments?
Heather Dinich (12:30 PM)
They looked like Minnesota, at least they did on TV. Not a huge fan, can't lie.
Heather, Pull out another helmet sticker for Cody Grimm, his game against NCST was one for the record books.. literally. The stat line in case you didn't see it.. 8 tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, forced three fumbles, recovered a fumble and had a quarterback hurry. Grimm forced a fumble on three of NC State's first four plays from scrimmage, tying an NCAA record for forced fumbles in a game. If that's not worthy of a helmet sticker what is?
Heather Dinich (12:31 PM)
Thanks, Tim, I only get five, but he was very deserving no doubt. I got caught up in that Ryan Williams run, though.
Walter (Boone, NC)
Who is the best pro prospect to come out of the ACC at the end of this season?
Heather Dinich (12:33 PM)
It might be Derrick Morgan. C.J. Spiller has a shot, though, too. I'd say one of those two.
Arthur (Lewes, DE)
Heather, even though I am happy to see UNC finally back in the polls, I think the voters are under-ranking the heels versus the teams in front of them. #23 in the AP poll seems low to me, especially with teams like Utah, Cal, Ole Miss, BYU and Oregon State in front of them. personally, #20 or #19 would be more fair, and do you think UNC doesn't get enough credit because they win with a stellar defense and mediocre offense instead of a stellar offense and mediocre defense?
Heather Dinich (12:34 PM)
I think UNC is still working its way up because unlike most of those other teams, the Tar Heels are just catching folks' attention again. But yeah, I do think lingering doubts about their offense has something to do with it, too.
Mitch (Rapid City, SD)
Heather, Why was VT such a big let down this season?
Heather Dinich (12:35 PM)
I think in part because Georgia Tech was the better team this year, and also because North Carolina showed up to play that day. Also, maybe because the expectations got too high too fast after that Orange Bowl win. Still a young team. VT is playing great football right now. The future is bright.
Who will UVA's new coach be?
Heather Dinich (12:36 PM)
I don't know, but I really like Al Golden for that job. After the Tony Bennett hire, Virginia is kind of impossible to predict.
Which ACC team do you predict will have the most dominating performance this weekend?
Heather Dinich (12:37 PM)
I think Georgia Tech has the best shot at that, based on the matchup.
Jimson (Lumberton, NJ)
What do you think will happen to Bobby Bowden at the end of the season?
Heather Dinich (12:38 PM)
Well, we all know he wants to come back. I'm not sure an ugly win against a bad Maryland team and bowl eligiblity will be enough to quiet his doubters, though. There are a lot of folks in high places ready for a change.
ACC defensive coordinators have not fared very well in their 2nd matchup with Paul Johnson this season. Why would Kevin Steele be any different?
Heather Dinich (12:40 PM)
Because he's great at making adjustments, like he did in the second half against Virginia, and because he's got the talent on defense to do it. And because he's seeing the offense twice in the same season. That counts.
Pedro (Chestnut Hill, MA)
Heather, BC is out of the ACC Championship race for the first time in three years. What do you think we;ll ave to do to get back into it next year, and do you think we'll be able to execute?
Heather Dinich (12:40 PM)
Hey Pedro. I think it starts at quarterback for BC. Spaz said it yesterday -- Shinskie's not a freshman anymore. Not this far into the season. They've got to cut down on the turnovers. Defensively, BC is still solid.
Tiger4Life (Greenville, SC)
how happy was swoffie & the ACC when Clemson clinched? they might actually sell some tickets this year. finally we have a good matchup
Heather Dinich (12:41 PM)
He was happy. He was there to give Clemson the Atlantic division trophy after the game. I've got a video up on the blog now on Swofford's take.
What will it take for FSU to upset the Gators on Saturday? UF has not been convincing against the SEC.
Heather Dinich (12:43 PM)
A miracle? Seriously, FSU's defense is not good. They've got a rookie quarterback vs. Tim Tebow. They're on the road. It just doesn't add up to an upset. I know Florida hasn't been dominant this year, but there's a reason they're in the running for the NC and FSU isn't.
Randall (chapel hill, nc)
Heather, Why do you have UNC ranked lower in your power rankings then 2 of the teams they just beat?
Heather Dinich (12:44 PM)
Because I keep my ACC power rankings the same way I have my top 25, and considering I just put UNC in the top 25 last week (I think it was last week), I can't have them just jump everyone else who has been there all season.
There are division trophies in the ACC? When did that happen?
Heather Dinich (12:45 PM)
Yeah, I've never seen one. Maybe it's not a trophy. Maybe he just gave a little presentation. But I know he was there to give something or say something to Clemson after they won.
Ryan (Hampton VA)
Where will VT's back field rank next year ? RW, DE, JO
Heather Dinich (12:46 PM)
Yeah, and don't forget about David Wilson. I think it should be the best, especially if some folks at GT leave early.
it was a trophy which he presented to clemson and then said there was a bigger trophy up for grabs in the championship game
Heather Dinich (12:47 PM)
Well, there you go, thanks, Ty.
Will you be at Fed Ex field next year as VT opens the season against Boise St?
Heather Dinich (12:48 PM)
I would love to go to that game, and I don't live far from FedEx, so that would be great, but we don't plan a week ahead for which game I'm covering, let alone a whole season.
You just mentioned Shinskie for BC. Do you see a good future for him, him leading BC effectively? Or do you think BC needs to find another answer at quarterback?
Heather Dinich (12:49 PM)
Well, unless they bring in a freshman who can unseat everyone, I don't think they have another answer. Shinskie has proven at times he's more than capable of it. That last scoring drive at Virginia comes to mind. He just has to be more consistent. I think he can do it.
Who do you like better Darren Evans of Ryan Williams?
Heather Dinich (12:50 PM)
That's like asking me if I like a porterhouse steak or prime rib. Really, they're both outstanding. I'd take either one if I were a coach.
james (charleston, SC)
HD, after a year of campus visits, give us the skinny on stadium rankings. what are your top 3
Heather Dinich (12:52 PM)
Two years of campus visits ... I'd say Clemson and Virginia Tech are the top two, and usually it would be Florida State, but they've had too many empty seats this year. When I was at the NC State/South Carolina game I was impressed.
With Christian Ponder in the game at QB do you think FSU's chance at an upset would have been much greater, or only slightly better?
Heather Dinich (12:54 PM)
Only slightly better, unless Ponder decides he wants to start tackling again. :)
What position do you see CPJ having the hardest time recruiting?
Heather Dinich (12:54 PM)
You would think it would be wide receiver for obvious reasons, but I think Bey-Bey has helped in that area. He's one of the best in the country.
other than the return of nate irving, is there any reason for nc state fans to be optimistic about next season?
Heather Dinich (12:56 PM)
Depends on if Russell Wilson returns, or if he decides to play baseball. I think having everyone healthy and older and more experienced will help. I don't think Mike Archer is the problem.
Where would you rank Virginia's secondary in the ACC with teams such as Clemson, VT, Miami? With two very talented and very big corners in Cook and Dowling I feel it is at least top 2 in the ACC.
Heather Dinich (12:57 PM)
John I think you're right in that those guys are underrated. They've been overshadowed by the ineptitude on offense, but I still don't think they're better than Clemson or VT.
guinness (New York)
All season, we've seen significant contributions from different members of UNC's defense. It seems that every game has a one player make at least 3 or 4 game-changing plays and it's a different player every week. Who's your pick for DPOY for the Heels?
Heather Dinich (12:58 PM)
Tough call, but I think I'd say Quinn.
Steve (Coral Gables)
A lot of people were thinking that Miami could go to the Gator Bowl to face Notre Dame in an old-school Catholics vs. Convicts game. If the Irish complete the disappointment and finish 6-6 with an invite to a lesser bowl, do the Canes still have a shot at a Gator Bowl bid?
Heather Dinich (12:59 PM)
Yeah, I think they do, if GT wins the ACCCG. But I would think they'd fall to Champs with Virginia Tech and Clemson being up for grabs.
How hot is the seat of Tom O'Brien?
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
Lukewarm, at the hottest. He's a proven coach, and I think the admin. realizes the circumstances that have made things unusually difficult. I think he deserves some more time. Now, if next year is similar? Then it gets quite toasty.
Heather Dinich (1:01 PM)
Alright guys, I gotta get back to the blogosphere. Thanks for joining me and Happy Thanksgiving! Have a great holiday.