Chat with Chris Low
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's SEC blogger Chris Low will stop by to talk some college football.
Low joined ESPN.com in 2007 after 10 years with The (Nashville) Tennessean covering the University of Tennessee and SEC. The Rock Hill, S.C., native lives with his wife in Knoxville and has three sons.
Send your questions now and join Low Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:01 PM)
We've got Chris!
Chris Low (1:03 PM)
We're approaching the second season, which is recruiting. And it looks like Florida is the run away winner in the SEC.
Chris - Do you think that Auburn closes strong after a great start to the recruiting 2010 year? Will they finish in the top 3?
Chris Low (1:04 PM)
I would say they're a solid top 5 class right now. If they can land a marquee defensive lineman in particular, and if they get RB Marcus Lattimore, then I would say they can make a strong claim for a top 3 class.
Wes (nashville, tn)
what is the likelyhood of lattimore or seastrunk choosing auburn?
Chris Low (1:05 PM)
I think Lattimore is the more likely. He has indicated on a couple of different occasions that Auburn was in the lead. But getting him out of South Carolina away from the Gamecocks could still be a chore.
Zach (Naples, FL)
How loaded is this Florida recruiting class and which guys do you think will make an immediate impact as a freshman?
Chris Low (1:06 PM)
Honestly, on paper, I don't see any weaknesses. They just added a QB for insurance. There is speed everywhere. They have several big, physical safety types who may be able to play safety or any number of positions. I'm never one to judge recruiting class on signing day, but it sure looks the part.
Chris, Who do you think will take Javier Arenas spot at kick and punt returns at Alabama?
Chris Low (1:09 PM)
Well the first guy I would put back at kick returns is Trent Richardson. And I think he gets his chance next season. For punts, Julio Jones will get some time back there. And Dre Kirkpatrick is another explosive athlete that they will try to get his hands on the ball.
Christian (Valdosta, GA)
Who made the better Defensive Coordinator hire, UGA or UF?
Chris Low (1:11 PM)
I would go with Georgia right now, simply because Grantham has previous experience in the NFL as a DC. And I like the fact that he's worked under both Nick Saban and Beamer. But I do think George Edwards was an excellent hire by Urban Meyer.
How frustrated are LSU fans will Les Miles, and do you think his leash is getting shorter?
Chris Low (1:12 PM)
I think it's gotten a lot shorter. Now, I'm not ready to say that Les goes into this season on the proverbial hot seat, but if they have another four or five loss season, then I think he's squarely on the hot seat in 2011.
With the terrible TN coaching hire and the chaos at UGA, is Florida set to own the East for at least the next decade?
Chris Low (1:13 PM)
I actually believe the East, next season, will be as wide open as its been a while. I still believe Florida is the favorites, but the Gators have lost so many good players that it will take a while, at least a year or so until these younger players step up into key roles. That said, I don't see anybody in the East right now who's ready to jump up and challenge the Gators long term.
Chris, How do you think Dereck Dooley has done his first 2 weeks on the job as Tennessee head coach?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
It's difficult to assess at this point. He had a nice pickup at WR in Justin Harner soon after getting the job. To me, the most important thing for Dooley now is to make sure he finishes up his staff and gets the guys that fits and the guys he wants, in particular, the right DC. Tennessee has swung and missed on a few guys. Now, I think they'll probably wait until after signing day to get their DC.
Bruce (Columbus, GA)
Chris: If the Big 10 expands and takes a Big 12 team, most likely Missouri from all the talk, would Arkansas seriously consider an invitation from the Big 12? Thanks.
Chris Low (1:16 PM)
First of all, with the money that the SEC is generating now with the TV contracts, the exposure the league has, Arkansas would be foolish to get out of the SEC. And I don't see why they would want to. As for how expansion might impact the SEC, one of the things that sticks out to me is if the Big Ten expands and goes to a championship game, that levels the playing field somewhat to the SEC, who plays a championship game every year.
elvis (atlanta, Georgia)
Why is UGA considered down after one season of 8 wins (though some bad losses) Some people are in for a surprise.
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
First of all, Georgia is the only team in the country that has won at least 8 games the last 13 seasons. So, the Bulldogs have been as consistent as anybody. That said, Georgia last season did not have the kind of year anybody in Athens would expect. We'll see how they rebound with a new defensive coordinator and a new starter at QB.
Paul (Sacramento, CA)
Mr. Low, How and Why is Florida pulling high profile recruits out of California?
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
That's a great question and I think the fact that Meyer has been able to do this is what's taken Florida's program to another level. They're not only getting the great players in Florida, they're going to Virginia, California, South Carolina, all over the country and picking great players. I think that tells you a little something about the draw of Florida's program, how much exposure the Gators have receiver under Meyer, and, honestly, how the Gators are seen nation wide as one of the hip programs.
Will I ever take time off this spring?
Chris Low (1:20 PM)
I'll say this Urban, if you continue to recruit like you have been, I would never take any time off. Seriously, no, I don't think he'll take substantial time off, nor do I think a guy like Urban Meyer who's as driven as he is and as successful as he is never fully intended to take some time off.
Who do you see as the surprise team, if any, this fall?
Chris Low (1:22 PM)
I'll go with Arkansas in the West. I like the Hogs as the team who has the best chance to challenge Alabama in the West. And I think it's now or never for South Carolina in the East. If the Head Ball Coach doesn't make a run next year with how wide open that division is going to be, then I'm not sure they'll ever make a run.
Who is the best QB in the SEC right now?
Chris Low (1:23 PM)
Ryan Mallet by a long shot. He made a very smart decision in coming back. I believe during his second run through the SEC, having another spring to go through Bobby Petrino's system, he'll be one of the top passing QBs in the country next year and will end up being a first round pick.
What will it take for Tennessee to get back to where they were in 97-98?
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
About three really strong recruiting classes in a row. I don't believe this is shaping up to be one of those type of classes. While I think this will be a solid class, I don't think it will be one of the top five classes in the SEC and as the Vols showed in the 90s, if they're going to be a national contender, they have to consistently have one of the top two or three classes in the SEC.
How was it that Nick Saban was able to turn Bama around in one year basically?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
He had back-to-back classes that were ranked one or two in the country. That was the first reason. The second reason is that he inherited a really strong nucleus of top OL like Andre Smith, Mike Johnson, Antoine Calwell. Thirdly, Saban's as good a coach and as good a developer of players and teams as there is in college football.
Mitch (Kathleen, GA)
Does Bama have a decent shot for any of the top undeclared recruits?
Chris Low (1:27 PM)
Yes. Any time Nick Saban's recruiting they have a chance. Although, they've wrapped up most of their big names already.
Give me 1 shocking upset you can see happening next season. Miss St over Alabama type variety.
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
I'll go with Kentucky ending its 25-game losing streak to Tennessee and beating the Vols next season. And I'll with Georgia beating Florida in Jacksonville.
JT (Atlanta, GA)
Do you think that Mike Hamilton (AD at Tennessee) is on the hot seat with this hire Dooley?
Chris Low (1:30 PM)
Yes, I do. I'm not predicting that his ouster is iminent, but I do believe with where this program is right now, based on the way Lane Kiffin came in here for 14 months and napalmed the place that the guy who hired Kiffin bares some responsibility and Hamilton is the guy who hired him. There are several prominent Tennessee boosters who are not comfortable with the direction of the program right now. Ultimately, he has no prayer to survive if Dooley can't get it done. But in fairness, Dooley's going to need 4-5 years that he can prove he can get it done.
Why is Urban not being destroyed over his "change of heart" regarding how he was putting family first, then the next day deciding to come back, with his family being among the last to know? I guess we figured out where his family fits in his list of priorities.
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
The way I look at that is he has to answer to his family on that one. I think everybody around Meyer from the people he works for, his family, his players hope that his health is good enough that he can make it through another season. But I'm at a loss like everyone else why he announces he's retiring then comes back he's coming back and says he's taking a leave and now says he's essentially not taking any time off. But coaches of his stature don't easily walk away and that's what you're seeing right now. He just can't pry himself away from it.
How many wins do you see Auburn escaping with next year?
Chris Low (1:35 PM)
I'll go with an over/under of 8. Getting juco QB Cameron Newton was a big get for the Tigers. But before I'm ready to say Auburn can compete for the West title, I have to see for myself that they're better on the defensive side of the ball.
Will the recruiting class at florida get even better on Feb. 3?
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
We're getting a bit greedy aren't we? The Gators already have, at last count, 9 of the top 33 players in America. But I guess when you're on a roll like they are, you can always get better.
Explain the difference between Charlie Strong's immediate success and Brian Kelly's lack thereof. Is recruiting for Notre Dame really that difficult?
Chris Low (1:37 PM)
No, I don't think recruiting at Notre Dame is difficult. There are some challenges at Notre Dame, in particular admission standards, which coaches are always going to battle there. But Notre Dame has such a national brand and tradition and exposure, you should always be able to recruit there at a high level.
Whats Tennessee record next December?
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
With so many questions on the offensive line, coupled with a first year starter at QB and a brand new staff for the second straight year, I think the Vols are looking at a non-winning season. Possibly 6-6 or even worse.
Can John Brantley handle the pressure of an SEC quarterback, where does he rank as far as QB goes in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
I wouldn't put Brantley on my top 3-4 QBs in the SEC. We just haven't seen him in meaningful situations. But everyone that's seen him throw the football will tell you that he has star potential written all over him. The Gators will tweak their offense around what he does best, which is throw the football.
What is your take on Lache Seastrunk's recruitment? It seems to be very odd.
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
He is a guy that Auburn is recruiting. Early on, I would have thought Auburn was in great shape to land him, but as we get closer to signing day, I give them a better chance to get Lattimore.
Mike (Chicago, IL)
Who are your top 2-3 SEC players that could be in the Heisman race?
Chris Low (1:43 PM)
Outside the reigning Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram, I would go with Ryan Mallet in Arkansas, AJ Green at Georgia. My dark, dark horse would be Randall Cobb at Kentucky. To me, Cobb is one of the most versatile players in the country.
How do you see the Wildcats doing next year?
Chris Low (1:45 PM)
I think a lot of that depends on how Morgan Newton develops at QB. Their passing game this season was extremely limited. Also, defensively, how some of the younger guys step up. They've lost the last two years a lot of quality defensive players, which was a reason they were able to make a move under Rich Brooks. Getting back to a bowl game for Kentucky, any bowl game, would be quite an accomplishment.
John (South Bend)
What are the chances Brian Kelly steals some of UF's recruits like Meyer does to the irish all the time. I mean if FSU can do it, why can't the Irish?
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
I think there's always a chance, but, again, this is not a new phenomenon. Florida has recruited the last few years like this under Meyer. It's so established that I would think most of the guys committed to Florida at this point are locked in. But as we've all seen as far as recruiting, there is no such thing as a sure thing until the letter of intent is signed.
Hey Chris- This coming fall Alabama plays Penn State, at Duke, and at Arkansas before hosting the Gators. A schedule I would predict could bang the Tide up a bit. Any chance the Gators pull the upset? Whats your take on the game!?
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
Yes. Sure. First of all, I don't think Alabama is going to go undefeated next year. If they did, it would be a third straight regular season they've gone unscathed. Right now, to me, the Florida game and the game at Arkansas will be their two toughest tests.
Memphis Rob (Memphis, TN)
Has there been an instance that you can recall where a QB that won a national title was benched the next year? If Greg McElroy struggles to start the season, do you see any circumstance in which Saban pulls him for the young gun AJ McCarron?
Chris Low (1:50 PM)
Nick Saban like McCarron a lot and has since he first got on campus. That's obvious by the fact that Alabama was prepared to play McCarron in the national championship game if something had happened to McElroy. But McElroy would really have to struggle over a period of time next season before Saban would pull him. Keep in mind, as a starting quarterback, for whatever this is worth, McElroy has never lost a football game in high school or college. That counts for something.
Kool-aid Razorback Fan (The Rock)
Chris, can the Hogs beat Bama and win the west next year? Maybe more?
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
If they're going to win the West, they're going to have to beat Alabama. The title clearly goes through the Crimson Tide. But they get them at home. Mallet will have seen that defense from last season. The telltale variable will be if Arkansas improves enough on defense to beat Alabama. They played Alabama well this season, but gave up the big play to Trent Richardson, which sort of broke that game open. I like the Hogs' chances to be one of the better 3-4 teams in the league, but I haven't seen enough of them defensively to take down Alabama.
tell me a little something about the front 7 situation for the gators next year. thanks chris.
Chris Low (1:55 PM)
Omar Hunter will be a big key in the middle at DT. One of the other keys will be how quickly Jelani Jenkins can step in at LB and be the kind of difference maker Brandon Spikes was. The Gators have plenty of talent in their front seven defensively. It's just that a lot of guys haven't played key roles, because they've been behind the likes of Dunlap, Cunningham and Spikes.
Kyle (Kansas City)
Chris, you've said before that Florida is still the team to beat in the East and, also, that is a wide open race. How many wins do you see the Gators getting and which matchup will decide the Eastern winner?
Chris Low (1:56 PM)
I'll go with the Gators going 10-2 next season with both of those losses being in the conference. But that should still be good enough for the Gators to win the East, because I think everyone in the East next year has two losses.
One of the items mentioned in one of the forecasts for the next decade had to do with other conferences expanding. Do you ever see the SEC expanding to 14-16 teams to form a true super conference.
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
Not any time soon, because I don't see where the SEC would go. Possibly Miami and Florida State. But getting those teams away from the ACC probably isn't realistic. If I were the SEC and I could have any other two teams I wanted from a football perspective, those are the two teams I would try and get.
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
I appreciate all of the questions. I always look forward to the chats.