Chat with Bruce Feldman
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, college football Insider Bruce Feldman stops by to chat about the college gridiron.
Feldman is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. He joined ESPN in July 1994 as a writer for ESPNET (now ESPN.com) and in May 1998 came to ESPN The Magazine. He spent much of the past two years in the South working on his book, "Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting."
Send your questions now and join Feldman Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Bruce (2:03 PM)
Greetings from LA. Thanks for stopping by. Am glad to be home after three weeks on the road.. so excited for the season about to start... let's go.
Thomas (Nashville, TN)
Being a Tennessee fan, it's hard to find something to smile about these days. However, I've heard from several sources our O-Line will be much better than advertised. Not sure if this would solve many problems of the offense, but if they do play very well this year, how would that impact us this year and years to come?Read Meat Market by the way; great stuff!
Bruce (2:08 PM)
Thanks.. I know the UT staff is really high on a couple of the freshmen OL: Jawuan James and James Stone. But there's just no experience and developing that cohesion so fast is going to be very hard. My hunch is this is a 5-7 team, but it could be worse because they are so thin at DT and that's a really bad place to be empty in the SEC.
Bruce (2:09 PM)
As far as how the young O-line translates to the future for UT, it's a good sign obviously, especially with some promising rookie WRs. Another key will be Tyler Bray's development at QB.
Nick (Bay Area via SL, UT)
no one mentioning Utah v. Pitt as a game to watch?
Bruce (2:10 PM)
I think it's a intriguing match-up. Pitt has two great offensive players in Dion Lewis and Jon Baldwin, but I think Utah is underrated. Not ready to call a winner in this one just yet.
Do you UW has a realistic shot to go to Pasadena this year?
Bruce (2:12 PM)
They're a darkhorse. Jake Locker's a great talent and I really liked RB Chris Polk, but the O-line's not BCS/top15 worthy at this point and neither is the D-line. I think they're more like a 7-5 caliber team at this point, especially with a road game to BYU and Neb in the non conference.
Why are certain teams ranked so high in the pre-season polls when they only return 10 or less starters? Were these teams so good last year that their backups would have won a lot of games? I wonder what the average number of returning starters there are on a National Championship team? I'm pretty sure no one has ever won a NC with 10 new starters on defense.
Bruce (2:14 PM)
The returning starters line for Alabama is misleading. Marcel Dareus has played a lot and was the impact defensive player in the national title game. LB Dont'a Hightower has started a bunch of games but missed most of last season with injury. NG Josh Chapman also has played a lot in the past. It's not like they don't have experience. also some of this poll support is a reflection of the respect for Nick Saban as a defensive coach.
Bruce (2:14 PM)
Thanks Paul from Chandler, AZ.. I really appreciate the kind words.
If USC had been allowed in the Coach's Poll, where do you think they would have been placed?
Bruce (2:15 PM)
Somewhere between 11-15. They have a returning QB, talent on both lines and get their toughest opponents in LA.
Justin (Austin, Tx)
Is Jerrod Johnson really all that great? He had one breakout game against UT and then got pummeled in the Georgia game. Why are people so high on him? I'd be more scared of Oklahoma QB Landry
Bruce (2:17 PM)
Because he has great skill talent around him, he's huge, athletic and did have a 30-8 TD-INT mark. He's also very bright and has managed two very different offensive systems. He needs to win some big games, but the D needs to hold up its end.
Bruce, many fellow UMich alumns are of the opinon that Coach Rod needs 8-9 (or even 10) wins to make it to season 4. My question: is there really a difference between 9 and, say, 7 wins in regards to keeping/not keeping him?
Bruce (2:18 PM)
I think there is a big difference between, say 9-4 (with the bowl win) and 7-6 without because of the way their schedule is back loaded, it would feel like the team doesn't go into the 2010 off season with momentum.
Im a Big Notre Dame fan, and after the loss of Clausen and Tate to the draft, people have said that this year is a rebuilding year. What is youre take on the Irish this year
Bruce (2:20 PM)
Read my blog today. I say they win at least nine this year. I'll have a lot more on ND later next week. In addition to the ESPN Mag story going online, I'll also have a blog about why I think Brian Kelly is the ideal guy in South Bend.
Will we get to see the crimson tide play the gators twice this year?
Bruce (2:20 PM)
Yes, I think so.
Where does michigan state lb Greg Jones rank among the country's best at the position
Bruce (2:22 PM)
He's very productive. In terms of ILB's, he's not the talent that Hightower from Bama is, but right now he's played more football and probably has done enough to merit the top spot.
Jim Crozier (Boise, Idaho)
Hey Bruce. Thanks for chatting. Can you tell me the reasoning behind ranking BSU so low in your preseason rankings? They were a top-5 team last year and have 21 out of 22 starters returning this year with more experience, one of which is a Heisman trophy contending QB.
Bruce (2:24 PM)
Thanks Jim for joining.. My reasoning on Boise is this: I think Va. Tech will win the opener. It's basically a home game for the Hokies and Boise is breaking in a new DC. Losing that game with the rest of the schedule Boise has would pretty much guarantee them a finish outside of the top five. Anyone picking them in the top five is saying they expect Boise to beat Tech. I don't, but can't wait to watch that game.
Skyler Miller (Orange CA)
Is this finally the year Notre Dame beats USC?
Bruce (2:25 PM)
Probably not, but next year in South Bend might be.
Will the "no tackling" rule at SC practices hurt them and how many points do you see them putting up opening night @ Hawaii?
Bruce (2:27 PM)
Great question... I think that's a big risk for a team only to have live tackling in two preseason scrimmages because of depth/injury worries. Tough to get players ready without that tempo and physical nature during the week. Against UH? 42?
John (Lewiston, ID)
How about this for a bold prediction: Boise State starts the year 0-3?
Bruce (2:28 PM)
Wow. Apparently, Andre Ware's not the only one intrigued by Wyoming.
Scott (Austin, TX)
If you had to pick one team outside of the Top 15 to surprise everyone this year, who would it be?
Bruce (2:31 PM)
Maybe FSU, although when they booted Jarmon Fortson I cooled on them some. Also maybe GT is a darkhorse. Curious to see how big of an impact Al Groh makes on the D there. He had his struggles as a head coach but is a very respected defensive mind.
Darryl (Oakland, CA)
I read your blog and while I agree with you that Notre Dame's TE is exceptional, I don't see Michael Floyd being in the same category. In addition I'm hard pressed to see what you're saying about the ND defense. Nine wins seems like at least 2 too many. How do you think Notre Dame's defense will improve that much when they're lacking CBs, safties and Dlinemen?
Bruce (2:34 PM)
Disagree with you on Michael Floyd. He's a great WR. He's in the class of AJ Green, DeAndre Brown, Baldwin and Julio Jones. The corners have more experience. I'm not saying they'll be great on D, but they'll be better and overall the team will be more focused because of the leadership and presence at the top.
Feldman - Does Kirk Cousins have a shot to be first team All Big Ten? He's the highest ranked NFL prospect (for B10 QBs) according to Mel Kiper.
Bruce (2:35 PM)
Yes, he does. I was so impressed by Cousins when I was around him for a week last month out here at the Elite 11 camp. He's accurate, smooth, very mature and a great leader.
Isn't the entire point of preseason rankings to rank them based on how good you THINK they are and then let the season play out? How can you dock BSU for a game they haven't played yet? Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Bruce (2:37 PM)
Preseason polls are/should be almost meaningless. If it was based on how good they were last year, just run the poll from the end of 2009 season. I gauge things but how good I think a team will be, but know that it'll change rapidly after the first month. It should be a fluid situation.
Craig (Lafayette, LA)
Where does Jaquizz Rodgers fall in your lineup of the nations top RBs?
Bruce (2:38 PM)
He's the first name that comes to mind when I think of top RBs this season.
Agree with you on Michael Floyd. If he says healthy he'll put up numbers bigger than Tate. What people forget is how Kelly is preparing and coaching. Would you say it's fair that we simply don't know what we'll see out of the Irish other than that it's going to be vastly improved -- on both sides of the ball? Cincy killed quarterbacks last year. People kind of forget that, don't you think?
Bruce (2:39 PM)
And that Cincy D under Bobby Diaco had to be almost completely overhauled in terms of new starters from 2008.
Brandon (Charlotte, NC)
Bruce,You buying the rumors out there that UNC only loses Austin for 1 game and Little for no games?
Bruce (2:41 PM)
Not really sure what to make of rumors I've heard on both sides of that deal. Depending on whether DL coach John Blake is implicated this could turn into a huge mess for UNC. We'll see.
Antonio (Oxnard, CA)
How do you think the Cal Bears will do this season?
Bruce (2:43 PM)
I think they'll start out fast because of a soft non-conference sked (at least by Pac-10 standards) and then begin to struggle. I expect 7-5 or 6-6. Not sold on the QB play at all there.
Zach (Macon, GA)
hey bruce, give me one big name coach you expect to be fired after this season?
Bruce (2:44 PM)
Bruce (2:44 PM)
Bruce (2:44 PM)
Bruce (2:44 PM)
Is this a ND chat, who cares about the Irish? Second, if Miami's O-line can come together and protect Jacory, how good can the Canes be this year? I believe they get by Ohio State but end up losing 2 games this year.
Bruce (2:47 PM)
That is the biggest question for Miami. They're huge up front and much more athletic than they have been on the O-line in very long time, but they're not that experienced. The key for Miami after that will be staying focused/maturity. They're as talented as anyone at WR, DL and DB, but can they make a big jump? Not sure. I think they still stumble at least once.
How do you see Florida finishing in the SEC this year ? Best and worse case senario's ?
Bruce (2:50 PM)
I think they win the SEC East and lose to Bama in the title game.. Best case: they upset Bama in the SEC title game on the second go around and win the Sugar Bowl and finish #2 in the country. Worst case scenario is that John Brantley gets hurt and they're really suspect behind him and they go 8-4 and lose to FSU by two TDs.
Brad (Atlanta, GA)
Which service academy has the best record at the end of the year?
Bruce (2:51 PM)
I'll say Navy. They just missed my top 25.
Scott (Rocky Mount, NC)
Is Tom O'Brien facing job security issues at NC State?
Bruce (2:51 PM)
Yeah, I think he needs to get them to a bowl. They've been underwhelming, and if UNC has a big year, it won't help.
Trent (Blacksburg, VA)
Who gets more carries and yards this year, Ryan Williams or Darren Evans?
Bruce (2:52 PM)
I'll go with Ryan Williams.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Hottest Coaching seat in each major conference?
Bruce (2:54 PM)
Big 12: Hawkins; Pac-10: Erickson; Big 10: Zook; ACC: O'Brien; SEC: Miles. Big East: ?? Coach Stew but I don't think it's hot.
Josh (Fredericksburg, VA)
BruceI agree with you that preseason rankings should be really fluid, but they actually are really important to a team's season. I feel like penalizing a team for a tough record, and picking where you think they will end up in preseason rankings almost hurts the team twice for that record (once for having it, then again for losing the game). Now, being a Hokie, I really hope we beat Boise, but it seems unfair to base your rankings upon predicted outcomes of future games, and not just how good you believe said teams are.
Bruce (2:56 PM)
But my rankings and the rankings of the ESPN top 25 pollsters are not part of the BCS formula. It's up to the coaches and the Harris voters to be savvy enough to base their polls off the action that has happened not what people in the summer suspected MIGHT happen.
Rick (Long Island, NY)
Bruce, admittedly novice CFB fan here, usually more of a pro guy, but am I wrong in thinking all the talk about teams losing X number of scholarships over Y amount of years is overrated? So your fourth string OG isn't a scholarship player, big deal? How big does your roster have to be anyway...not everyone can play...
Bruce (2:58 PM)
It makes a big difference because no matter how great of a recruiting class you might have, there are going to be a handful of misfires (guys who fail out, get injured, transfer, just don't develop, etc.).. Every program has some O-linemen who simply can't play. Those roster spots are key if they're forced into action. Same deal with LBs or DBs.
How come everyone ranks UC so low? Butch Jones had Central Mich. in the top 25 last year, something Brian Kelly couldn't do there. Also Collaros was in for 4 games and provide himself, the receivers should be just as good, and the Defense is slightly older and returning more than 1 starter like they did last year.
Bruce (2:59 PM)
Good point. I think they'll be superb on offense for the reasons oyu listed. The D I'm skeptical of, but they should be very close to Pitt for the tops of the Big East. Curious to see how they do against OU.
If Boise ends up beating Tech, do you have a bet with any of your colleagues like shaving your head if Boise wins?
Bruce (3:01 PM)
No, why the heck would I do that? If I'm wrong, I'll hear plenty about it from my readers and that's fine. That's part of the deal.
Bruce, lots of sniffing around by the NCAA this season. Tenn, WVU, UNC, etc. Seems a bit more than usual. Do you think social media like twitter and facebook, and players using said media outlets, is contributing to the increase?Or do I just think there are more investagations this off season?
Bruce (3:02 PM)
It's contributing some because players are more accesible and information seeps out more now.
Roy (Columbia, MO)
How does Mizzou end up this year?
Bruce (3:04 PM)
I think they'll be the #2 in the Big 12 North. Very impressed by Blaine Gabbert. They'll score a lot of points and in Aldon Smith they have a great young DL and what should be a decent secondary. They should open 5-0 before going to A&M. 9-3 maybe since they don't face UT.
Robb Akey (The Palouse)
Watch the Vandals this season... you're gonna love it!
Bruce (3:04 PM)
Bruce, how do you think Mike London will do at UVA?
Bruce (3:05 PM)
Not sure. Heard he's recruiting well. I'll say this: the guy has a fantastic backstory about how he got into coaching.
When did college football become a 12 month sport like pro football? Blogs, the internet, 24 hour news cycles can only be part of the equation. When can college kids be kids?
Bruce (3:05 PM)
bigger sleeper bruce, dwight dasher or ricky dobbs?
Bruce (3:06 PM)
More people know Dobbs, but Dasher's team could win 12 this year.... Still, because Dobbs has some name recognition and people would love the story of the Navy QB he'll get at least a little Heisman love.
can BC finally get over the dreaded BCS hump this year,bruce? or am I dreaming?
Bruce (3:07 PM)
They have some great players at TB, on the Oline and at LB. If the QB was solid, they'd be a top 15 team I think. But I'm not sold on the QB play being quite good enough.
ryan (cape cod)
Do you think its fair by LSU fans to put Les Miles on the hot seat this year?
Bruce (3:08 PM)
Probably not, but stuff like this is never fair.
Bruce (3:08 PM)
Three more questions...
Do you agree since Saban has left the LSU program it has fell off somerwhat?
Bruce (3:10 PM)
Well, they did win a national title since then. People can't take that away from Miles.
Beau (State College, PA)
With all the recent buzz about frosh QB Robert Bolden, any chance JoePa names him starter???
Bruce (3:14 PM)
I think it's a longshot, but I will say this I was very impressed when I saw him last summer here at Elite 11. He's very talented. Also, my old pal Dave Revsine was right in pointing out that whoever gets thrown out there won't have much seasoning.
Bruce (3:15 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions. If I didn't get to yours, send it to me via Twitter at BFeldmanESPN. Have a great weekend.