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 started.
What's up with Randy Shannon's extension? Are they trying to leave the door open to fire him if they start out the season poorly?
Heather Dinich (12:01 PM)
No news yet, and no, I don't get that sense. Seems more like haggling over contractual details than it does leaving an "out" in case of a poor season.
Parker (Orlando, FL)
HD --- Do you think that the ACC will be proactive or reactive on conference realignment?
Heather Dinich (12:01 PM)
I would say reactive. I don't see conference officials making any sort of a move unless they have to. They like things the way they are.
Matthew (Arlington, VA)
Every year but one, FSU has been picked first in the Atlantic, the media has said this year is different, and FSU has inevitably flopped. Meanwhile, BC has never finished lower than second in the Atlantic despite consistently being picked towards the bottom. How many years does this need to happen before people will stop overrating FSU and underrating BC?
Heather Dinich (12:02 PM)
At least one more ...
Heather, will consistency at both coordinator positions help Miami to win the coastal and get to a BCS bowl this year? The team is stacked and besides tight end and linebacker, most positions are set for the fall.
Heather Dinich (12:03 PM)
Yes, it should, Cole. That's something that has been lacking recently and Miami will finally have two straight seasons under the same coordinators. Look at a program like Virginia Tech or Wake Forest to see how beneficial staff stability can be.
Julian (Washington, DC)
Hey Heather. As a displaced U alum, I've been concerned with what I see from Whipple. Do you see any problems of in-game adjustments with him? He seems to get stuck calling the same plays when they're not working, reminiscent of that "bubble screen" we kept failing to run in the UVA thumping at the OB a few years back. Stuck in a rut?
Heather Dinich (12:04 PM)
You know what they say, Julian, it's not the Xs and the Os, it's the Jimmy's and the Joe's. Whipple is one coordinator I'm pretty sure can scheme with the best of them. He's a very knowledgable guy who is well-respected.
Jayce Hill (Tallahassee)
What are your thoughts on FSU beating UF this season? Yes? No? Absolutely?
Heather Dinich (12:05 PM)
I'd go so far as to say the chances are "better than last year." Expectations are still soaring as usual, despite the start of the post-Tebow era.
Heather, do you think that the ACC will be serious about expansion? What do you think of adding West Virginia and Syracuse for football (14 team conference) and Villanova and Georgetown for basketball (16 team conference).
Heather Dinich (12:08 PM)
Syracuse? I'd rather see Rutgers. Does it have to be a Big East team? What about East Carolina? As for hoops, with the way the perception is now, it would probably only help the conference to add a few Big East teams.
HD, last year your picks for saturday wern't the best around the conferences. I know its the unpredictable ACC but do you think you'll have better predictions this year?
Heather Dinich (12:10 PM)
! Ahem, my winning percentage was at least better than almost half of the teams in the league! Of course, it's a new season and my goal is to reach championship level and go undefeated, as usual. I predict, though, that this will be another impossible year for predictions in the ACC.
HD, Kyle Parker is hitting the cover off the ball this year. Is there any doubt he takes the money coming his way from MLB? If he leaves, does Tajh Boyd have what it takes to keep Clemson in the ACC Atlantic mix?
Heather Dinich (12:12 PM)
You're right, he is, and I heard he had another great series recently against the Terps. But yes, there's a lot of doubt. I'm not sure Parker has the defensive skills to match his slugging percentage and how that might affect his status. As for Boyd, nobody will know the answer to that until he has to play on Saturdays.
HD, while VT has the reputation of "choking" in mid to late season gamesk, why is everyone picking them to loose in November. Typically, VT has been picking it up the last 4 or 5 games of the season and with the leadership of Tyrod and the talented backfield, I don't see VT faultering late this season. Give the Hokies some credit, they didn't bring home the ACC last year, but it always seems to be the Hokies' title to lose...
Heather Dinich (12:14 PM)
I'm not sure it has as much to do with a lack of confidence in VT as it does a vote of confidence in the Hokies' November opponents at that point.
Randy (State College, PA)
Hi Heather, and first congrats on the munchkin...But secondly, how long until defenses in the Coastal Division consistently have a good game plan in place to handle the triple option? Navy has the benefit of not playing all of the same teams each year, so I don't know if comparing the Jackets to Navy works that well...
Heather Dinich (12:15 PM)
Thanks Randy ... shouldn't you be worried about the Nits? As for defenses in the Coastal, I say watch the Iowa game tape. It's not a question of knowing what to do against that offense, it's a matter of having the players' disciplined enough to do it. Iowa had that.
Ethan (Reading, PA)
Christian Ponder's chances at winning the Heisman? Good? Bad? Or does it all rest on the improvement of the defense which would hopefully produce more wins?
Heather Dinich (12:17 PM)
D. It's a combination of the defense playing better AND Florida State winning the ACC title, if not at least playing for it. Plus it depends on what the other candidates are doing. The more FSU wins, though, the more likely his name is to be mentioned. Even Bobby Bowden acknowledged that last year.
A. Parker (Charlotte, NC)
Heather, any word on what Kevin Steele (Clemson) is douing to prevent the thrashing of our defense by spread offense/QB draws that ripped us during the TCU, USC, and both GT games this past year? Oh and anything on how the OL there is doing?
Heather Dinich (12:20 PM)
I haven't talked to Steele lately, but defense is one area Clemson fans shouldn't be too concerned about this year. Plenty of talent there, and it should be the strength of the team. As for the OL, it's time for it to reach its peak, which means it should at least be decent with four starters back.
HD, when VT pulls off the big win over Boise, if they are able to continue without a blemish on their resume, what do you think the chances are for Ryan Williams to win the Heisman, assuming he has another record breaking year?
Heather Dinich (12:21 PM)
That's also assuming he isn't splitting the carries with Darren Evans, and I'm not sure how Billy Hite is going to keep Evans off the field. But yeah, if Williams has another record-setting season and the Hokies are in the hunt for the NC, there's no reason why RW shouldn't be a top name for the Heisman.
Christian (Chapel Hill)
Could any ACC team, this year, rise to the top of the conference and be the dominate force needed to be the legitimize the conference in the BCS era?
Heather Dinich (12:24 PM)
I don't see anyone in the ACC emerging as a "dominant force" because there is too much parity, especially in the Coastal Division. Eventually we should see some more separation.
In response to the question by Taylor.. If not WV or Syracuse why not East Carolina? Good location and a good Football program
Heather Dinich (12:25 PM)
My thoughts exactly. They're on half the schedules anyway ...
Nick (Fort Myers)
if you had to put together a fantasy team together only using acc teams and only the postions on each team what would your team look like?
Heather Dinich (12:25 PM)
Sounds like a great blog post eventually, thanks.
Some fans were talking about how FSU shouldn't do that good because of the new cordinators and the learning curve and they may not know each other that well. I don't think the learning curve will affect the offense or special teams for FSU, but the defense is a question mark, and from what I've read the coaching staff is getting along very well and is clicking. Your thoughts?
Heather Dinich (12:27 PM)
I'm not sure what "that" is in your question, but I can tell you that I've heard nothing but good things about the job Mark Stoops did this spring. I think he'll be a good fit there and the defense will improve. It has to.
If Maryland was told it would have no problem joining the Big10, would they jump ship? How well would they do in the Big10?
Heather Dinich (12:27 PM)
I doubt it. Have you looked at the series record of Maryland vs. Penn State? The Terps need to be able to win more than two games in the ACC before they start taking on the likes of Ohio State.
Drew (Johns Creek, GA)
HD - With all the talk of the returning O-line and Ponder, where do you rank the FSU's running game? Do you think Jimbo will rely on the run or Ponder's arm?
Heather Dinich (12:30 PM)
Ah, that's what makes Florida State one of the favorites this year. They're good enough offensively that they don't have to rely too heavily on one or the other. FSU's running game could be right up there with Virginia Tech and Miami. At least their depth should be. Following the spring, the Noles had literally half a dozen players who all had their moments.
How is any team deeper at RB than VT - last week there was an article saying Miami was, then you have Barnhart saying Beamer will be Red Shirting a RB that would start on any other team in the ACC. Did you see Tony Gregory in the spring game?
Heather Dinich (12:31 PM)
What separates VT's backfield right now is that they Hokies have TWO 1,000-yard rushers AND depth behind them, not to mention an experienced quarterback who can run. That's tough to beat.
Heather, I've noticed Jacory's numbers are very close to Christian Ponder and Colt McCoy's sophmore year. Do you see him making the jump that they made in his junior year? Also, will he start running the ball like his freshman year now that there's experience at backup?
Heather Dinich (12:34 PM)
If Miami is going to make a jump this year, I think Jacory has to make one, too. But in all fairness, his offensive line needs to protect him better and his receivers need to hustle and help him out. A.J. Highsmith isn't exactly the most experienced backup, so Harris' health will remain a concern.
Tom T. (ACC Land)
Hi Heather,Ever since your article last week about Coach Coley and his "Tweets" I have been watching the FSU coaching staffs on Twitter. For the most part these coaches seem to be trying to develop some excitement for the revamped program -- I think this could be a GREAT tool on the recruiting trail (Coley tweeted this morning, or was it last night, 'that he was back on the recruiting trail but he would not say where') have they caught the other programs sleeping with this ploy and is it working? -- By the way, how is little Bowden Dinich doing?
Heather Dinich (12:36 PM)
FSU definitely isn't the only program out there with its coaches Tweeting. Consider it the norm now. And as for the litle guy, I tried, but the Bowden name gave me copyright issues, sorry ...
What upsets will Duke have to make that you think is possible in order to make a bowl game?
Heather Dinich (12:37 PM)
I don't think Duke has to upset anyone to make it to a bowl, the Blue Devils just have to win the winnable games -- Maryland, Elon, Wake Forest, Army, Navy and Virginia.
Heather, you forgot to mention that any team who wants to shut down GT like Iowa did also needs Adrian Clayborn and all the other studs on that Iowa defense.
Heather Dinich (12:38 PM)
Well, yeah, it helps to have some players ... but you're telling me Clemson doesn't have some studs on defense?
David G (Daytona Beach)
FSU vs UM strength of schedule. Who has the tougher schedule? FSU claims BYU as one of their top matches but then again...BYU...really? They aren't even in any top 25 way too early pre season poll and didn't they just graduate their QB?
Heather Dinich (12:39 PM)
Miami ... FSU has BYU at home, while Miami has to travel to Ohio State and Pitt back-to-back. I think there's a bye week in there, but still ...
What is the key game this season the ACC needs to win to get the respect they have been lacking over the past several years?
Heather Dinich (12:40 PM)
The Virginia Tech-Boise State game is the one that could give the conference a huge national boost and make the Hokies a real contender.
First off, I would to thank you for giving me a nice little study break from Finals with the chat today. Its nice to have you back. In my opinion, Tyrod has better options available this year in Williams, Evans, Coale, Boykin, Roberts than GT's Nesbitt; however, Nesbitt still gets Heisman talks even though his two best options in Thomas and Dwyer are gone. Why is this?
Heather Dinich (12:42 PM)
No problem, thanks and good luck on finals. I'm not convinced Nesbitt is in the Heisman conversation as much as you might think. A lot of sportswriters aren't convinced. But Georgia Tech will get credit because Anthony Allen should make a seamless transition to B-back, and Stephen Hill can be another elite receiver and they should have more options in the passing game this year.
Will the acc ever consider realigning the divisions. The coastal is far more superior.
Heather Dinich (12:42 PM)
It is -- right now -- but no.
Hi Heather, You seem to get tired of answering questions about why people underrate BC. Wouldnt it be easier to just recognize that they are a talented team than answering the questions every chat? Or is the ACC's need for FSU to finally be good again just that strong?
Heather Dinich (12:44 PM)
There were plenty of reasons to doubt BC last year, plenty. Their schedule this fall is one of the easier ones and should help keep them in the Atlantic race again. Having said that, though, the league needs FSU to be good again. Period.
Christian (Chapel Hill)
While I'm glad that UNC has a talented QB behind TJ Yates, I don't think people are giving Yates enough credit. Before he was hurt against VT he was leading the ACC in passing efficiency. With Greg Little looking to be Nick-esque this season, can you see Yates returning to form?
Heather Dinich (12:46 PM)
I agree with you. Give Yates more credit. His offensive line should also be better, and that should help him, too. I predict Yates will be a good enough quarterback for the Heels to win games this year and he'll cut down on his turnovers.
Michael (Carolina Country)
Do you think Renner quit Baseball due to pressure from the football coaching staff or does he think he has a shot at starting this year?
Heather Dinich (12:47 PM)
No, I don't think he was under pressure. UNC fans feel free to correct me on this, but I don't think Renner was having a Kyle Parker-type baseball season. I'm not sure he was even starting. I know Russell Wilson wasn't at NC State ...
Miami vs. Ohio State? Whats the final? Who will play better at QB?
Heather Dinich (12:49 PM)
Early prediction is Ohio State with Pryor picking up where he left off in the Rose Bowl. http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/sports/stories/2010/05/09/pieces-in-place-for-wide-open-offense.html?sid=101
Some people are questioning CPJ as far as his recruiting ability and how the team will do once Gailey's players are gone. I know CPJ filled his positions well with this year's class. I just think he has some amazing ability to coach players up- what say you?
Heather Dinich (12:50 PM)
If he can win at Navy, he'll win big at Georgia Tech.
Felipe (The Burg)
One of VT's strengths has always been coaching stability. But more over the recent years, teams are trying to steal Bud Foster. What are your thoughts on Foster being VT head coach? Will he be around long enough until Beamer retires?
Heather Dinich (12:51 PM)
I'd be really surprised if Foster weren't around when Beamer retired. I think he'd be the people's choice for that job, a good fit and deserving of it.
Long break between the end of spring ball and summer practice. What do you do to create story ideas...hope someone gets arrested?
Heather Dinich (12:52 PM)
No, that usually happens on its own. I check the mailbag for ideas, I've already got a few from doing this chat, and I think up some stuff when I go for runs and steal ideas from the other bloggers. Don't worry, we'll get ya through it.
Paul (Sacramento, CA)
Heather, How can you even compare Clemson with USC? That's a little nuts.
Heather Dinich (12:54 PM)
Yeah, it wasn't easy. I tried ...
Jeremy (Charleston, SC)
Hello Heather, I really enjoy the blog. With all the returning quality depth Clemson has on D this year, do you see any reason we should lost to GT again this year?
Heather Dinich (12:54 PM)
Not at home, no. Unless, of course, you've got a new quarterback ...
Heather, if dave shinskie doesn't improve this year will he be benched?
Heather Dinich (12:55 PM)
Yepper ... wide open competition and there are other guys waiting their turn.
I am a Miami fan but dont forget that FSU plays @oklahoma this year.
Heather Dinich (12:56 PM)
And Miami was able to beat Oklahoma last year, right? But yeah, that is a tough trip ...
Why does every VT fan just think that VT is going to beat Boise? Boise is going to be a nightmare for VT!! Too many weapons for VT to handle!! BSU 31- VT 20
Heather Dinich (12:57 PM)
Oooh, Cory's fired up today. I agree, though, that game is definitely not a gimme. That's why Boise will start the season ranked higher.
Hayden (Logan, Utah)
does BSU deserve a #2 preseason ranking?
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
Well, they finished undefeated last year and return all but one player from that team. If they beat Virginia Tech, they should be able to do it again. So I'd say, yeah, they deserve it.
Vickie (Burke, VA)
In response to Cory - VT fans don't "think" that they can handle Boise, we HOPE that we can handle them, and that this is the year to be serious NC contenders! Either way, we're looking forward to a great game!
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
Well there's a diplomatic Hokie for ya ...
Heather Dinich (1:01 PM)
Alright guys, my time is up. I'll do a mailblog tomorrow so feel free to drop questions in there if I didn't get to them today. Thanks for joining me. See you in the blogosphere.