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!
Chris Low (1:01 PM)
Greetings to everyone. Glad to be back. College football's in the air.
Chris, long-term does the SEC look to grab a greater TV market by looking at Rutgers and/or Maryland? It just seems like the NY/Philly/DC markets are up for grabs and some conference is going to take advantage.
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
I do think the SEC would like to broaden its horizons into other markets, which is why you saw the SEC go after Texas A&M and Oklahoma. That said, I just don't see a school from the northeast such as Rutgers being a fit in the SEC. I do, however, believe the SEC would have serious interest in Virginia Tech, but I'm not sure the Hokies are ready to leave the ACC.
Where is the love for Marcel Dareus on your list... surely he is in the top 5??
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
Marcell who? Nah, you'll just have to keep checking the countdown later this week. I will say this: I lobbied to have 30 players in our countdown because picking only 25 in the SEC is impossible. There were seven to eight players that I hated to leave off, guys who are outstanding players, but there's only so many spots.
Chris (Myrtle Beach, SC)
Hey Chris! Whats the deal with Stephen Garcia? Is he still not willing to put in the extra effort to be a good QB or does the Ole Ball Coach understand that different players need different "motivation"? On a side note, will the gamecock fans see a lot of Connor Shaw this season?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
Chris, do me a favor and go play Caledonia this summer since you're in Myrtle Beach. Love that course. As for Garcia, the Head Ball Coach just isn't sold on him having the kind of commitment and work ethic that he wants from his quarterback. The true test will be in August when everybody reports for the start of practice. We'll see then how closely Garcia has followed the plan Spurrier laid out for him this summer. I do believe Spurrier has gone a little overboard with his public berating of Garcia. Then again, I've never known Spurrier not to say exactly what's on his mind. That's a big part of what makes him who he is. Ultimately, I think you'll see both Garcia and Shaw play this year at quarterback.
Will (Metairie, LA)
Bigger issue facing LSU's defense, losing so much production at the LB position (Coleman, Riley, Cutrera), or youth up front?(Downs, Montgomery, Davenport, etc)
Chris Low (1:15 PM)
I think the holes to fill at linebacker are a bigger issue. The LSU coaches like some of the younger/less experienced guys up front and they also like some of the guys in this signing class and their ability to help right away.
Michael (Oxford, Ms)
Chris, I'm a misplaced Gator here in Oxford. I do enjoy your work and love how you seem to never been able to please any of us. My question is kind of two-fold. Who do you see as the most likely West representative in the SEC CG this year if its NOT BAMA, and what is the liklihood of BAMA and Florida playing twice this year (and, if so, who wins???).Thanks, Mike
Chris Low (1:21 PM)
What do you mean ... not please you guys? SEC fans? They're always satisfied, always think they're getting their due and never bicker among themselves. Nah, that's just part of the deal. It's what makes the SEC the envy of all the other conferences, the passion among the fans. If Alabama doesn't win the West (and I think the Tide will), I'll go with Arkansas as the division winner and Auburn as my second choice. In the end, I do think we'll see a third straight Alabama-Florida matchup in the SEC championship game, and I refuse to pick against Alabama again until the Tide lose.
Ryan C. (Knoxville, TN)
Chris, how do you like Tennessee's chances against Oregon this fall? For that matter, how do you expect the SEC to fare against its early season, non-pushover, non-conference opponents (Bama/PSU, LSU/UNC, UF/USF)?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
With the way Oregon keeps losing players, I like the Vols' chances a little better each day. It's never easy to come all the way across the country to play a football game. Cal got hammered in 2006 in Knoxville, and Tennessee has lost each of its last two trips to the West Coast. UCLA was able to pull it off last season, but got an assist from Lane Kiffin going into brain lock down in the red zone. The Vols will win at least one game next season (and probably lose one) that nobody sees coming. I'd say Oregon is as good a candidate as any. I also see the SEC winning all three of the games you mention, although the hardest one to call is the LSU-North Carolina game.
billy (very hot atlanta)
Why is Justin Houston not in your top 25. Looking at who is left I know he will not make your list. He should be around the 15-20 spot. Whats up? Did you forget about him? You should do a top 25 offense and top 25 defense. To many playmakers in the SEC for just 25.
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
Billy, I was just through Atlanta, and you're right. It's beyond hot there. As I stated previously, I had to leave off some really good players, although I'm not confirming that Houston did or didn't make it. It's just so subjective. My top 25 may be completely different than your top 25 and the next guy's top 25. Either way, it makes for great debate. I may take your suggestion and do something on the top offensive players and the top defensive players before we get into the season.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the Best & The Worst College Football Team from the SEC?
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
Best = AlabamaWorst = Vanderbilt
What will be the most-improved unit in the SEC? I vote OLB/DE for UGA because of the new scheme takes advantage of their strengths as pass rushers. Second place Sc's running attack maybe.
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
The one problem I see for Georgia's outside linebackers is depth. Coach Grantham told me during spring ball that a lot of it would depend on how well guys developed. You know Houston should be perfect in that role. It hurt to lose Robinson, and the Bulldogs moved Gamble over there from inside linebacker. Cornelius Washington is somebody else to keep an eye on. The big change is that it sounds like Grantham is going to be more aggressive and more diverse in the way he goes after the quarterback in his 3-4 scheme.
DGlock (New York)
Chris, HUGE Gator fan here in New York. What is the biggest challenge for Florida, other than the crowd and stadium, that the Gators face going into Tuscaloosa Oct 2nd to face Bama?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
Protecting Brantley and not allowing him to get hit and rattled early the way Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was last year in Tuscaloosa. The good news for the Gators, though, along those lines is that they return a veteran and talented offensive line.
ROBERT (NEW ORLEANS)
WHY IS EVERYONE SO NEGATIVE REGARDING JORDAN JEFFERSON? HIS STATS WERE ABOVE AVERAGE AND HE HAS GREAT SKILLS.
Chris Low (1:42 PM)
I think a big part of it is that he didn't have a great spring, something even the LSU coaches conceded. They wanted to see him run away with that job, but Jarrett Lee outplayed him much of the time.
Thomas (Bham, AL)
Hey Chris, Nick Saban has been kinda all over the place in defining whether or not he thinks a bye-week is an advantage. What do you think? And how much does it hurt Bama to play after 6 byes?
Chris Low (1:45 PM)
The thing that Saban dislikes the most about the setup this coming season is that Alabama will have a short week to prepare for Auburn (it's a Friday game) and Auburn will be coming off a bye week. Otherwise, I've seen teams get well during bye weeks and play their best game. Think about how well Auburn played last season in the Alabama game after coming off the bye. I've also seen teams get on a roll, have a bye week and never get back on that same roll again. The best thing a bye week does is allow your players to get healthy, especially those guys in the trenches.
Who has the toughest overall schedule in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:52 PM)
I'd say LSU. The Tigers face North Carolina to open the season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and then get West Virginia at home three weeks later. In conference play, they have to play at Florida, at Auburn and at LSU. They also face Alabama at home. Mississippi State has the toughest road schedule, having to play at Alabama, Florida and LSU in 2010 as well as having to play at Houston in a nonconference game.
David (Auburn, AL)
Chris, little bit of a broad question across the entire conference. Which team do you think could have the biggest surprise season this year, and who would you pick? Maybe a prediction for their final record and bowl appearance?
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
Georgia, especially if the Bulldogs get steady play from redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray. My prediction for the Bulldogs is 10-3, which includes winning their bowl game.
Fill in the blank: - At the end of the year - __________ will become a household name. (like Ingram was last year).
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
I'll give you one from the East and one from the West.In the East I'll go with John Brantley at Florida.In the West, I'll go with Pernell McPhee at Mississippi State.My special bonus pick is Orson Charles at Georgia.
Chris, I know you're an SEC guy, but just wanted an opinion from a pro: do you think the NC game would have turned out the same had Colt not gotten hurt? I know it's water under the bridge, but just wanted a pros opinion on it. txs
Chris Low (1:59 PM)
Sure, I think Texas could have won that game had McCoy not gotten hurt. Much to the Longhorns' credit, they stayed right there within striking distance while their No. 2 guy sort of found himself. You figure McCoy would have made a few plays and their plan would have been different, too. So, yes, it would have made a big difference. I still think Alabama was too strong defensively and would have pulled it out.
Well Low, if your picks are as solid this year as they were last year I'm going to make some money this year. What was Heather thinking? ACC over the SEC!
Chris Low (2:00 PM)
She's been watching too much basketball.
Taylor (Dallas, TX)
Chris, is Arkansas your Dark Horse candidate for this upcoming season and if so do you think they will underachieve like Ole Miss did last year?
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
Arkansas and Georgia would be my top two. And while Ole Miss was never really a factor in the West race last season, the Rebels did win nine games. The game that killed them was that South Carolina loss in September. But when McCluster went to running back full time, they were a different team. It will be interesting to see how the Hogs handle the expectations. They took their toll on the Rebels last season, although Ole Miss was rated much higher than Arkansas will be to start the season.
Terrance (Baton Rouge)
Bigger all purpose year: Randall Cobb, Russell Shepard, or Andre Debose?
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
Mr. Randall Cobb, but Shepard is the real deal, too. They just have to commit to getting him the ball.
is there any truth to the rumor Kiffin called up and balled out a couple of his former assistants at UT over recruiting USC players?
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
Hard to imagine Lane doing something like that. After all, he nor his assistants ever took any liberties like that when they were at Tennessee. Played it straight down the middle.
Chris Low (2:06 PM)
Hey, great to be back and thanks for all the questions. Pretty soon, we'll have some real practices to talk about. And remember that SEC Media Days is July 21-23.