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 talk about the 2009 season.
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 2 p.m. ET!
Graham Watson (2:01 PM)
Welcome to the chat. Let's get started.
Stuart (Pasadena, Texas)
If TCU leaves the MWC who do you think would pick them up?
Graham Watson (2:03 PM)
Well, TCU isn't just going to leave the Mountain West. If it leaves, it will be because a conference has invited it to join. My guess is that the Big 12 invites TCU if it loses a team.
Andy Dalton (TCU)
You have to admit I played amazing when I sported a Mohawk last year... Should I rock the rooster look for next season?
Graham Watson (2:04 PM)
Pretty sure you had to sport the mohawk because you lost a bet. But I liked it. Wouldn't mind seeing it again.
How will Hawaii do next season in 2010?
Graham Watson (2:05 PM)
I think Hawaii will be better than it was in 2009. Things started to click late in the year and with some key players coming back, notably on defense, I think Hawaii should be bowl bound this year.
James (Pirate Nation)
Who will be the strongest team from C-USA east this year? As much as I would love it to be the Pirates, I think we'll be rebuilding BIG TIME!
Graham Watson (2:06 PM)
Yeah, i don't think ECU is going to have the horses to pull off the three-peat. Houston and Southern Miss are going to be the favorites, but I wouldn't be shocked if SMU took the conference this year.
chad (los angeles)
So when do you think the 2011 ESPNU 150 rankings will come out?
Graham Watson (2:06 PM)
I think they come out after the summer when all the camps are done and our guys have really gotten a chance to see the recruits live or on film.
Thomas (West Virginia)
how do you see Marshall going this year with a new head coach and all? GO HERD!!!
Graham Watson (2:08 PM)
I actually like the recruiting class Marshall put together and I think it will be better than even I expected. Obviously, they need to find some diversity on offense. I'm not in love with their quarterback play and think they need a player there if they want to move forward. I'll be interested to see who becomes the premier receiver with Slate gone.
jimmy (miami, FL)
Now that the Sun Belt has two bowl tie-ins, who do you foresee as the two teams receiving those bowl bids next season and do you foresee a third team from the Belt becoming bowl eligible and receiving a bowl bid?
Graham Watson (2:10 PM)
Troy and Middle will be the top two teams in the conference again. I liked Middle to win it, but losing both of their coordinators got me to back off that. As for a third bid... not sure. I like Louisiana-Monroe and think the Warhawks could be OK. I'm really interested to see what North Texas can do this year. I don't think they'll be bowl eligible, but I like them for four or five wins.
Do you expect Utah to better or worse than in 2009?
Graham Watson (2:13 PM)
Better. Jordan Wynn earned some valuable experience last year and while the defense lost some key guys, I think those holes can be filled. They had a great recruiting class and a coupe juco guys that will really be able to step in and help right away. I think Utah will be contending for the MWC title.
With the return of Wide III, Shakerin, and possibly Asiata, should the Utes rely more on the ground this year during their non-conference game openers (vs. Pitt and ND especially)? Or is Wynn ready to spread it out completely against those defenses?
Graham Watson (2:14 PM)
I think the offense can be pretty diverse. Wynn can throw and like I said, the experience from last year will help him in 2010. The running game will be interesting. I don't know that Utah will use all three. I'm curious, if Asiata gets his year, who ends up the starter. I'd guess Asiata, but that's not exactly fair to Wide, who had a great 2009.
Darril (New Hampshire)
When would the MWC have to invite Boise into the conference in order to have the Broncos' wins/rankings to count in the BCS formula for the next round of possible inclusion? I thought it was this year? If so, does it appear that the possibility for Boise to get an invite is pretty much a dead horse?
Graham Watson (2:16 PM)
I believe Boise would have to give the WAC a year notice to leave. So if Boise were invited this year, they wouldn't be able to compete until 2011, which would make their number count for just one year of the evaluation period. Hope that makes sense.
Cougar fans have a lot of hope in Jake Heaps. Yet it seems a lot of talk outside of Provo, say Heaps (and the rest of the incoming quarterbacks of 2010) is not that good. What is your thoughts on Heaps and his potential?
Graham Watson (2:19 PM)
I think Heaps wasn't the No. 7 QB in the country for nothing. Now, how quickly he can pick up BYU's system and the speed of the game will be another matter. I think he has great potential, but we'll know more as he competes against older players this spring.
Hey Graham, Don't you think that overall Houston would be the best addition to the Big 12 rather than TCU! Houston has a better overall program in a Larger market! TCU besides football doesn't bring much and doesn't even have a large stadium worthy of being apart of the Big 12 Landscape.
Graham Watson (2:22 PM)
TCU has the DFW metroplex. That's a pretty large market. I think TCU is in the process of renovating its stadium and I think that includes a new press box and more seating. Also, Houston gets little love in the city. There are so many other things to do that the university tends to get lost in the shuffle. Yeah, there's a core faction of fans, but I'm not sure the TV market would matter especially with A&M an hour down the road.
scott (Lincoln, NE)
Thanks for your time...Was wondering what ND would do if the BCS or a Playoff system says you have to be in a conference to go the championship...Which Division do you think they could end up if the Big 10 already expands without them.
Graham Watson (2:23 PM)
If the Big Ten expands without Notre Dame, the next logical move (if your scenario were to come to pass) would be the Big East.
I would imagine that Asiata and Wide would split time like Mack and Asiata did the year before.. similar situation. Asiata got hurt, Mack stepped up, Asiata returned next year they both played.
Graham Watson (2:24 PM)
OK, so what happens to Shaky? There's no right answer to this and it's a problem coaches across the country would love to have. It's just too bad that one of these young men will lose some significant playing time.
Scott (Dayton, OH)
Graham, with all of this expansion talk, and the possibility of the MWC being gutted, do you have an opinion on Air Force becoming an independent. Coach Calhoun had briefly mentioned exploring this route early in his tenure, more from a scheduling standpoint, but now it seems it might be worth looking at again.
Graham Watson (2:26 PM)
This is an interesting idea and one that I hadn't really thought about. AFA has always been able to see the conference championship and BCS bowl angle in its recruiting. I think they could survive just fine as an indy and play better competition. It probably could still secure games against BYU, Utah, and TCU in the nonconference season if it wanted. I agree that it might be worth looking at again.
who do you think wins at Fedex Field on Labor Day Weekend? Tech or Boise? and dont let my location sway your answer
Graham Watson (2:29 PM)
I don't know who wins. I mean, these teams haven't even been through spring ball. Guys could break legs or arms or just quit the team. I will say that moving the game up to the beginning if the season plays in Boise's favor more than VTs. Boise State isn't replacing much and should be in midseason form by the season opener. VT will be ironing some things out on defense and such. I think VT will be very good, but I'd like them more if this game was in October.
carter (baton rouge)
do you see any non-BCS schools with BCS caliber join the SEC?
Graham Watson (2:29 PM)
Not in that region of the country, no. Well, maybe Southern Miss, but not for another couple recruiting classes.
Andy Dalton (TCU)
I might have been forced to get the Mohawk but I wouldn't call it a lost bet.... I had to win 10 games for that haircut!
Graham Watson (2:30 PM)
Very true. It was a bet I'm sure you'd gladly lose again.
Michael (Boise, ID)
What are the realistic chances that the PAC-10 conference expansion includes Boise State?
Graham Watson (2:30 PM)
Wouldn't adding TCU be redundant though in regards to TV markets as well? UT, OU and TT own the DFW television market and TCU has been unable to breach an annual 75% capacity on their stadium for consecutive years. If the big 12 loses some one, other than UT, they might be better served to go out of the state of Texas. If they lose UT, they are going to have much more serious revenue problems and no single team could correct them.
Graham Watson (2:32 PM)
I don't disagree with this. I think TCU does have to show that it can draw better and a better conference might help that. However, within the Big 12 region, I'm not sure where the conference will turn. And if Colorado leaves, then it becomes really interesting. Perhaps it expands South/East and tries to include Arkansas? That wouldn't surprise me at all.
In the long run, do you think the strategy where not-as-talented non-BCS schools go to powerhouse BCS schools to get beat up for a paycheck helps out the less talented school? Does using that strategy long-term add anything?
Graham Watson (2:35 PM)
Money for struggling athletic departments. The Sun Belt is a good example. It played a bunch of bodybag games in the conference's infancy, but now we're starting to see teams come to the Sun Belt. ULL hosted K-State last year and will host Okie State this year. The programs take that money, save it, use it wisely and then can afford to schedule more home games. And I think the occasional upset does wonders for your program's psyche and recruiting.
Michael (Boise, ID)
Are the Montana Grizzlies a legit player in FBS expansion talks?
Graham Watson (2:37 PM)
I've actually had some conversations about them. There were talks a couple years back about adding them to the WAC, but according to my source, Montana could make it work financially. Now that was a couple years ago, who knows what the situation might be like now. Though, they're a hard sell without Bobby Hauck. I wouldn't be surprised to see those football schools from the Big West get looks should the WAC or MWC try to expand.
Jo (Blue turf)
Graham, How do you think boise states defense will do now that the DC went to the vols. Ive never heard anything about this new hire for bsu.
Graham Watson (2:39 PM)
I think it will be fine. Pete Kwiatkowski helped ease Wilcox into the defense coordinator position. So, I don't think there will be much of a drop off from the 2009 defense.
The Shaky package is really the Asiata package. Shaky will move back to receiver full time, won't he?
Graham Watson (2:41 PM)
I would think that would be the case, but Whittingham can get creative with him. He can be more of an H-back. Again, this is all speculation until the NCAA rules on Asiata. It's a great problem to have and will only help the team from an athlete standpoint.
JD (New Orleans)
How do you view Bob Toledo and the Tulane Green Wave this next season? Has he turned it around? Will there be more than the Saints to celebrate next Mardi Gras? :)
Graham Watson (2:43 PM)
eh... You know, I thought the Wave could turn it around last year and was disappointed. I'd like to think that there's more commitment from the payers in the program. Guys are staying over the summer and doing their workout and building camaraderie. But they need to find some athletes, especially with Williams gone.
How do you see Rice doing this year?
Graham Watson (2:44 PM)
I think this will be another rebuilding year. I think it will be better than last year, but not by much.
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
Who has the best chance to unseat Boise St in the WAC next year?
Graham Watson (2:45 PM)
The best chance? Probably Fresno State or Nevada, but I doubt either will happen.
There has been a lot of talk lately in Hawaii in their desire for UH to join the PAC-10. Is this possible? UH matches up with the PAC-10 in terms academics in that it is a research school. The sports programs are pretty good and highly underrated. The market is also underrated because I think there would be a huge increase in interest here if UH joined the PAC-10 from an already loyal fanbase. What are your thoughts on this?
Graham Watson (2:47 PM)
I think travel would be the biggest hangup. I agree with your assessment of their sports programs. And they recruit the same areas as many of the Pac-10 schools. I do think the recruiting and television might be a draw, but I still think travel for teams in the Pacific Northwest might be an issue.
While talking about the smaller schools moving up...Do you think App St will be moving up into a conference like C-USA? I've heard that with the 4 ACC and 1 C-USA team already in the state, the chances of that are highly unlikely
Graham Watson (2:48 PM)
I don't know that I see that happening either, but honestly I don't know a lot about Appy State outside of its football team. I'm not sure that it would be compatible on all levels with Conference USA.
Chris (Fullerton, CA)
Why would any of the MWC schools consider leaving for Pac-10 or Big 12 when they are about to become an AQ conference? It would just create more competition and more travel expenses for them.
Graham Watson (2:49 PM)
There's no guarantee that the MWC will be an AQ conference. Also, there's more money in the Big Ten and Pac-10 just because of the television contract.
How will my bulls do next year? OOC is managable...UConn is tough but we should beat the other teams there. How will we do in a tougher MAC without Maynard.
Graham Watson (2:52 PM)
Buffalo is a mystery to me because most of their quarterbacks have little to know experience, they lose their top two receivers (playmakers) and they're trying to learn a spread system. I'm not real confident that all of these things are going to fall into place by September.
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
Houston for BCS crasher this year?
Graham Watson (2:53 PM)
The Cougars certainly have the schedule to do it, I just don't know whether they learned anything mentally from last year. Also, the defense has to get 100 times better if they want to get into the BCS. Oh, and there are teams such as Boise State and the top of the MWC that will all be tough to knock off.
greg (hattiesburg MS)
I am just wandering with all the confernces moves that are fixin to happen have you heard anything that will support the many many rumors that Southern Miss is heading to the Big East?
Graham Watson (2:57 PM)
I think Southern Miss could be a possibility in the Big East, especially with South Florida already in that area. I've wondered why there hasn't been a lot of talk about Big East expansion if all of the other AQ conference are making a push for 12 teams and a conference championship game.
How cool are the Olympics? I say really cool.
Graham Watson (2:57 PM)
I enjoyed the curling. Ready for hockey.
What time frame would you give Larry Porter to get Memphis football back up and running?
Graham Watson (2:58 PM)
I think Memphis might make some strides this year. Porter had a great recruiting class and I think he has the right gameplan to turn that program around. I'd say two years for Memphis to really start challenge for the East title. They need to find consistent quarterbacking.
Graham Watson (2:59 PM)
All right. I'm out. Thanks for stopping by. I'll be chatting again on Thursday.
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