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 chat college football. Watson recently took a look at the top 10 non-BCS players and moments of the decade.
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 11 a.m. ET!
Graham Watson (11:07 AM)
Hey, sorry I'm late. Let's chat.
I have seen a handful of EARLY pre-season top 25 lists and Utah gets no love! what gives? I would assume they should at least start out in the top 20-25.
Graham Watson (11:08 AM)
Yeah, I think they are going to start in the Top 25 as well. There are a few unknowns on defense, but I think Utah is going to be very good in 2010.
How hard was it to choose between Dan LeFevour and Colt Brennan for your top player of the decade?
Graham Watson (11:10 AM)
Pretty difficult. Both players had stellar careers. I think because Dan ended up breaking a couple of Colt's records, he got the nod. But yeah, it was a tough choice.
With BYU loosing Hall, do they drop to 4th best, or 5th best team in the MWC next year?
Graham Watson (11:11 AM)
Probably No. 4 behind TCU, Utah and Air Force. Since both of their quarterbacks are fairly untested, it's hard to put them any higher than that. However, the Cougars do return a lot of good offensive players, which should make the transition a little easier.
Adam (Shreveport, La)
Graham, always interesting to get your take on the non-AQ side of football. Is Boise really a NC contendor? They played two ranked teams this season and only six ranked teams over the last four years (as opposed to the 2006 Gators who played six ranked teams that season alone). How can they be viewed as NC contendors and potential preseason #1 when their SOS never peaks above 90?
Graham Watson (11:14 AM)
I think their SOS is higher than that... But it's consistency. Boise State is a model of it. I do think the Broncos need to step up their game a little bit and start playing big names on a consistent basis. That will allow them to shake off the stigma of being a team that's good based on their schedule and allow them to really have a chance at an NC. I still think the WAC schedule hurts when it comes to really being an elite team.
John (Baton Rouge, LA)
Who do you think will get the Louisiana Tech job?
Graham Watson (11:15 AM)
I don't really know. I've heard some names thrown around, but I really like Rick Minter or Major Applewhite. I think both guys would be tremendous there and could really keep that program moving in the right direction.
How come none of the big schools really tried to get the coach from UConn to leave? He has done amazing things at a basketball school.
Graham Watson (11:16 AM)
They did, but this was a tough year for UConn off the field. It would have been hard for Edsall to leave the Huskies just a couple months after one of the players was murdered. It was a tough situation and him staying was the right move for the young men there.
Did you just put the top three moments into a hat and pick them out one at a time? I'd those were by far the top moments, but there's no way I could have ranked them.
Graham Watson (11:16 AM)
Wait, did you agree or not agree with them?
Pete (my town)
Boise goes undefeated next year. Do they play for the National Champ?
Graham Watson (11:19 AM)
I don't think so. I think the WAC schedule is still going to weigh them down. I mean unless the WAC miraculously has a stellar year. Then, yes. But if it's the WAC that Boise State has played in since 2001, then probably not.
DanMennella (Islip, NY)
Graham, I think ECU is shooting relatively low in its search for a new head coach. Isn't it an attractive enough job to lure someone with a little more name-brand cache than, say, Stockstill?
Graham Watson (11:21 AM)
Stockstill was a great choice, actually, and he had ties to the school. Anyone who can turn Middle into a 10-win team with a new OC and new QB has got to be a good coach... It's not always about a flashy name. Sometimes it's just the right guy. I'd like to see Greg Hudson reconsider his move to Florida State. ECU isn't exactly a power just yet. It's been good the past two seasons. Before that, it was spotty. Plus, they lose 28 seniors. It's a rebuilding project.
Oh, I definitely agreed with you on the moments. Just saying it would have been hard for me to rank them, because they were all good moments. I would have been putting them in a hat and pulling them out, because they are so close. I guess I was curious as to how you went about ranking them yourself.
Graham Watson (11:23 AM)
Personal preference. I knew the breaking into the BCS would be the top moments, from there it was really what I felt like really changed the game for the better. It got more difficult around like No. 7. It's 10 moments taken from five conferences and the Independents. It's a lot of info and I probably forgot something. So, really it was just what I felt really stuck out this decade.
Greg in Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
With Stockstill declining, I've seen BGSU's Clawson on ECU's short list, have you heard anything more?
Graham Watson (11:25 AM)
Just rumor. I've got some calls in to some folks. If I hear anything during the chat I'll pop it on here. If I hear back later, I usually put stuff like that on Twitter (@ESPN_Others).
BSU should start somewhere in the top 10 next year, right? Does that mean next year could be the best possibility of getting a non-BCS into the title game?
Graham Watson (11:26 AM)
I think Boise State will start in the top 5. However, I think the SOS is going to hurt them next year when it comes to playing for a national championship provided there are other undefeated teams in the mix (and Boise State is undefeated). There are a lot of things that would have to happen for the Broncos to be in the NC.
Will anyone from the MAC be a BCS buster? As of late, it seems that the only non-AQ teams to play in the BCS are from the WAC (Boise State and Hawaii) or the MWC (TCU and Utah). What will it take to get the other non-AQ conferences into a BCS game?
Graham Watson (11:29 AM)
I don't see that happening like in the next couple of years just thinking about the rosters off the top of my head. I think Central had a really good chance this year. However, the MAC is considered a pretty weak conference and for a team to get some credibility, it would have to establish a pattern of winning over a stretch of seasons. It would also have to beat some pretty good nonconference competition.
Graham, why is Utah beating Alabama only #8 on your list of top ten moments for the non-AQ... didn't that win make a bigger statement than any of the others?
Graham Watson (11:32 AM)
Did it? It didn't change the system or really the perception of the non-AQs that much (See two non-AQs playing each other in the BCS this year). It created a lot of controversy, but you'll always have that faction of people that claim that because Alabama was missing so and so and because the Tide wasn't playing for a national championship... So, I don't think it changed anymore than what the Boise State-Oklahoma game changed. The non-AQs are still fighting the same battle and still have to go undefeated to get an automatic bid.
Now that Stockstill has decided to remove his name from the ECU coaching search were do you think they will turn to next?
Graham Watson (11:36 AM)
Um, I've heard Al Golden (who I don't think will leave), Dave Clawson and Rod Broadway as possible candidates, but I think ECU realy thought Stockstill was the guy. Heck, he rescheduled a call with me this weekend, so I thought he was the guy. So, I think they're kinda starting from scratch now.
Well, I'm assuming that the MWC is considered the strongest non-AQ. I'm also assuming that the WAC is considered the second strongest (only because of Boise State). How would you rate the other 3 non-AQ conferences, and who would have the best chance from those other 3 conferences to be the next Boise State?
Graham Watson (11:39 AM)
This is a good question...MWC, WAC, C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt... And this is usually how the money is distributed to the conferences as well with the Sun Belt getting the lowest share... As for who could be the next Boise State... That's a tough one because Boise State is such a dominant team and so well respected nationally. I don't think any of those schools could reach that level on a consistent basis.
Is USF that big a step up from ECU considering what Holtz has done with that program?
Graham Watson (11:40 AM)
I think it was the right move for him. He loses 28 seniors from ECU and would really have to start again. USF is a good job and he can win there. He can play in a BCS game there.
Boise State is to college football what Gonzaga is to college basketball?
Graham Watson (11:41 AM)
I'd agree with that.
Alex (Fort Worth)
Rumors stirring around Cowtown that Bumpas has been meeting with Tenn about the DC job there. What are chances he leaves TCU for the position?
Graham Watson (11:43 AM)
From what I've heard (and this is a reliable source), Bumpas isn't leaving the program. TCU is a tight staff. In fact, they're working on spring football as I type this...
CU is a NON - BCS team right? I mean they're horrible.
Graham Watson (11:43 AM)
I think that's what Hawkins thought...
Are you surprised that BSU has apparently turned down Nebraska's offer for a 2 in Lincoln one in Boise for 2015-2017? Would you think the Broncos would be looking for schools of that prestige to play? Your thoughts...Thanks
Graham Watson (11:46 AM)
Yeah, from what I heard, that Nebraska offer came in even before the stories about Boise State not being able to find an opponent started surfacing. I don't know the details of the contract. I know Boise didn't want to play a 2-for-1. They were looking for a home-and-home or a $1 million guarantee. Playing in Lincoln is a tall order especially since a lot of people believe this Nebraska team is on its way back to prominence. I said all along that Boise State isn't just going to play anyone. It has to be a team that would give them a chance to really shine and I'm not sure Nebraska would be that team.
Geoff g. (Lewisville, TX)
Who is the best pro prospect: Andy Dalton, Kellen Moore, or Case Keenum?
Graham Watson (11:48 AM)
Out of those three? Kellen Moore. He has the most poise of the group and that's a tough quality to teach. However, I think Keenum could be a good pro if he lands with the right team. For me, the jusy is still out on Dalton after watching him against Boise State.
Graham fair enough about the Alabama win, however, with that win didn't it set up the push to try and get TCU in the National Championship game?
Graham Watson (11:50 AM)
Eh... Yes and no. I think TCU set itself up for the NC, but look where the Frogs ended up in the final BCS. Cincy jumped them at the end. TV people might have wanted it, I might have wanted to see it, but the people who matter, the voters, didn't think TCU was as good as Cincy. And just think if Cincy had been in the NC. That would have been a disaster.
Geoff g. (Lewisville, TX)
Kellen Moore didn't exactly "light it up" in the Fiesta Bowl either Graham.
Graham Watson (11:50 AM)
Totally agree. The best pass thrown was by the punter. Maybe he has an NFL future.
Hell Hound (Happy Valley)
What factors did you look at placing Brennin and LeFevor over Alex Smith in your top ten?
Graham Watson (11:53 AM)
The career as a whole, I think. All three were fantastic, but Alex Smith had some pretty great talent around him. Whittingham has always maintained that that 2004 team was the most talented team he's been around at Utah (not the hardest working, the most talented). Colt had a couple guys (Bess, Grice-Mullins), but LeFevour was doing his work with a bunch of unknowns. That's what made him stand out to me.
greg (bristol, tn)
I have not seen to this point about boise playing VT. Doesn't that seem like a good oc game to most?
Graham Watson (11:55 AM)
It is a good game. It's good that Boise State is willing to travel. I think it's a little iffy that they won't play the game on Labor Day because they don't like the turnaround time to their next game. However, a lot of schools have to deal with that. I'd like to see some adversity on the Boise State schedule and how they deal with it. I think it would go a long way with voters.
Geoff g. (Lewisville, TX)
Is San Diego State or Air Force ready to crack the top 3? And how about Wyoming with Austin Carta-Samuels?
Graham Watson (11:58 AM)
I think Air Force - if it doesn't lose DeRuyter - could be there. SDSU will be the sleeper this year. It could surpass BYU, but I wouldn't count on it. It will be a bowl team in 2010 (mark it down). As for Carta-Samuels, I think he'll be a force in this league once he gets some steady guys around him. Maybe not this year, but when he's a junior.
Hell Hound (Happy Valley)
Who in your opinion is the best non-BCS team (single year) of the BCS era? (I qualify because of the BYU natty champ team in 84)
Graham Watson (12:00 PM)
Tough question (and one I'll be blogging about soon)... It would be between the 2004 Utah team and the 2006 Boise State team. I'd lean toward Utah because it played a tough schedule that year... Then teams like 2003 Miami-Ohio, 2008 Utah, 2001 Toledo, 2002 Marshall, 2009 Boise State would all fall in line somewhere behind those first two.
Graham Watson (12:00 PM)
I'm going to go like 10 more minutes since I was late...
Graham, as a Utah fan, I'm a little tired of Boise riding our coattails and claiming all the non-BCS love... doesn't everyone remember we did it in 04 first, and we convincingly beat Alabama. Why are they the Gonzaga? Why are they the first team that comes out of people's mouths when non-BCS is brought up? We had better teams both years.
Graham Watson (12:02 PM)
I don't think that's true. I think Utah gets a lot of love for what it's done. I think Boise State gets praise because of how consistent it's been since it's joined the FBS.
Why is it Boise's fault that the WAC is so bad? You're making them guilty by association. They're 68-4 in the WAC since joining the conference... that tells me Boise is a BCS-quality team that just happens to be stuck in the WAC.
Graham Watson (12:04 PM)
I'm not making them anything. I've said many times that they can't help who they play. I do kinda get on Boise about the noncon schedule because they can control that and this year's was pretty weak. Boise needs to schedule a tough noncon sked to overcome the bad WAC. And they really haven't done that. One tough team and four cupcakes is not a good noncon schedule. That's just how it is. I don't make the rules.
C. One (Spur, Texas)
Speaking of DeRuyter, what do you think the odds are that he leaves the AFA for Texas A&M?
Graham Watson (12:05 PM)
I don't know. It's been out there for a long time. Not sure why there hasn't been an announcement one way or the other. I'd like to think he's staying because of the time from the alleged offer to now, but I really don't know.
Assuming no undefeated non-BCSers, is this the year that we could see a 1 loss team get to a BCS game? Like if Utah's only loss is @ND ...
Graham Watson (12:06 PM)
I think now, yes because a lot of the top non-AQ teams have really good nonconference schedules.
off the top of your head, which non-AQ team has the toughest out of conf schedule next year
Graham Watson (12:07 PM)
Off the top of my head I think it's either TCU or Houston... I'm leaning toward Houston with three AQ games.
Any Chance, Leach, Levitt, or bowden to ECU?
Graham Watson (12:09 PM)
Both Leach and Leavitt carry too much baggage right now. Hard to see them get head coaching jobs this year. Bowden would be an interesting choice... provided you mean Tommy and not Bobby.
ks (salt lake)
Could the lack of aggressive ooc scheduling by BSU be a factor as to why the MWC has not invited them into the conference?
Graham Watson (12:12 PM)
No. That's a university presidents deal and they think about a lot more than football. You also have to take into consideration other sports, academics, travel, the logistics of scheduling with 10 teams in a league. And really, whether it even matters if Boise State is in the conference or not from an automatic bid standpoint because inviting them means that you are adding an extra loss to someone schedule. It will be harder for an MWC team to go undefeated. I only see the MWC inviting Boise State if the BCS powers that be say that that is the only way the MWC gets an automatic bid. And even if they invite them this summer, Boise State has to give the WAC a year notice to leave (I believe).
Graham Watson (12:13 PM)
OK. I've got to get back to work. Thanks for stopping by and any other questions you can find me on Twitter @ESPN_Others
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