Chat with Chris Low
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Low (1:04 PM)
Good Thursday to everyone. I'm sorry about having to skip out on last week's chat at the last minute. That was about the time the news was breaking about Steve Kragthorpe giving up his offensive coordinator duties at LSU. We sure wish Steve and his family the best. They've been through quite a lot in the last year or so.
Chris,Your boys are threatening to shake up the landscape. If TAMU goes to SEC, where is the SEC's next team coming from? Who are you hearing?
Chris Low (1:06 PM)
Oklahoma is the other team the SEC was wooing last year, so the Sooners make a lot of sense. Talk about a tough league if those two teams come aboard. The other team I've said would make a lot of sense in the SEC is Virginia Tech, although I'm not sure the Hokies would want to move.
Chase (Red Stick)
Hey Chris. I've been looking and following closely the "TAMU to the SEC?" talk, what was once rumors a year ago seem to be almost strong documented talks. Any chance of them coming to SEC(West) by next year if so how would they fair?
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
Yes, I think there's a better than 50 percent chance that Texas A&M will be playing in the SEC in the 2012 season.
What did ESPN's All-Access with the Gators teach you about the team (talent/chemistry/confidence)? The campus/facilities? And the new coaching staff? And what does it all mean for the future of the program?
Chris Low (1:13 PM)
The first thing is that Will Muschamp's energy and his passion, not to mention his intensity, have created a new atmosphere there. There were obvious chemistry problems last season and somewhat of a sense of entitlement because the Gators had won so much. That's gone now. This is a blue-collar program, and that's the way Muschamp wants it. There's plenty of talent to win right now, but there are depth questions on the offensive and defensive lines. The jury also remains out on John Brantley. They need a big season out of him. The facilities are up there with Alabama and LSU, in my mind. My take on the Gators is that they will be a good team this year, not a great team. Their schedule is brutal. If they win nine games, that would be an excellent start to the Muschamp era.
In a SEC race who wins you or Charlie Weis?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
Charlie's brother, Pat, would beat us both. We went to college together, and he used to wear me out back then. Now, playing hoops was a different story.
The Gamecocks are the best team in the SEC and getting no love at all from ESPN. It's okay though, when we win the National Championship, we might forgive you.
Chris Low (1:18 PM)
Getting no love? They're ranked No. 12 in our Top 25 poll. Spurrier's been all over the ESPN cameras. Edward Aschoff was in Columbia last Sunday for their media day, and we're both picking them to win the East. It's probably as much love as they've ever received. The question is: Can they handle all this hype?
Noah (Little Rock, SEC Country)
Arkansas the only team with 2 predicted Heisman vote getters, as predicted by ESPN's panel of experts!GO HOGS. Why do you think polls generally have Arkansas listed under SC and A&M? 2 schools Arkansas beat last year.
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
Probably because the Hogs have to play at Alabama and at LSU this season. But I agree with you, and that is that the Hogs are a legitimate national championship contender.
I think the Mississippi State vs. South Carolina game in Starkville will be a great matchup. I'd like to hear your analysis-
Chris Low (1:22 PM)
Agreed. I think it's a swing game for both teams. The winner will go on to have a big season. Matching up with Jeffery will be difficult for the Mississippi State secondary, but the Gamecocks will have their hands full when Chris Relf takes off and runs. If the Bulldogs are going to win nine or more games in the regular season this year, I think it's a game they have to win.
Assuming A&M makes the move, does the SEC stop at 14 after they invite 1 other, or do they try to add 3 teams and go to 16?
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
Depends on who they can get. If Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma all want to come, then you can bet the SEC would find another team and go to 16 teams.
Brandon (Chattanooga TN)
Is Bobby Petrino not naming a starting QB more for protecting and motivating Tyler Wilson or do you really think there is a competition for the starting job? WPS!!!!
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
I think Petrino wants to keep Wilson on point as much as possible, keep him sharp during the preseason and do his best to create a competition. But Wilson is the Hogs' quarterback. Make no mistake, although Mitchell could certainly see some snaps in situations.
Chris, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St are not a package deal?
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
That's what is so compelling about this whole thing. When one team pulls the trigger, it will be interesting to see who follows suit. Sure, Oklahoma State would make sense, but if the SEC only wants to take two and Oklahoma and Texas A&M both want to come, I'm not sure it's a given that Oklahoma State would also be part of the equation. Remember, the two teams the SEC tried to get last were Texas A
Devin (Baton Rouge)
you wrote an article earlier in the week about the young talent in the SEC. You had the talent at LSU as #1. Why aren't more LSU players getting on preseason award list and will LSU use this a motivation to have a special year?
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
Honestly, because most of their premium talent is concentrated in the freshman and sophomore classes and haven't had a chance yet to put up big numbers. I think that will change this season. And, then, some of the juniors like Morris Claiborne and Rueben Randle, I think, have a chance to go from good to great this season.
Since the other conferences are trending towards 9 game conference schedules will the SEC follow suite or will they continue to load up on cupcakes?
Chris Low (1:32 PM)
SEC commissioner Mike Slive told me last week that there hasn't been any serious discussion about going to a nine-game league schedule. Now, if there's expansion, that may change.
T or F: Mark Richt will be Georgia's coach in 2012
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
I'll say true, because I think the Bulldogs will contend for the East championship this season (maybe win it) and finish with at least nine wins.
How good will the "Big 4" (Powell, Floyd, Easley, Elam) be this year and which do you see having the best season for the Gators?
Chris Low (1:37 PM)
That group of young defensive linemen should be one of the strengths of Florida's team. Powell was really active at that stand-up hybrid position when I got to watch the Gators practice this week. Floyd and Easley will also be much better their second time around. Remember, too, that they have senior Jaye Howard playing alongside them and they're all pushing each other. The Gators really need a big season out of Elam after losing Janoris Jenkins. Elam's a fierce hitter from the safety position, but needs to be a little more consistent in coverage. I would pick Powell as the guy who has biggest season of those four. He's just too talented not to have a big impact.
What happened to my question? You posted it, but then it disappeared without having been answered.
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
Sorry, just a mistake. You were asking about getting the schedules changed so quickly if Texas A&M comes aboard. They would be able to get that done in time for the 2012 season, although it would be tricky in some spots.
Will (Metairie, LA)
Chris, in your mind, what is LSU's biggest advantage over Oregon? Maybe LSU's D-line vs Oregon's O-line. Any trouble spots you see for the Tigers in this matchup?
Chris Low (1:42 PM)
I like LSU's ability to match Oregon's speed with what John Chavis thinks will be his fastest defense there yet. He'll have the luxury of playing five and six defensive backs and will be strong enough up front to stop the run. As for trouble spots, I still want to see LSU effectively throw the ball in a game. I guess I'm guilty of thinking back to how limited the Tigers were in the passing game last season.
Kenny (Wynne, AR)
Where do you realistically rank the razorbacks in the top 25? Below SC ? or above? I believe SC has gotten too much hype. What do you think?
Chris Low (1:43 PM)
I had Arkansas No. 9 on my preseason ballot and South Carolina No. 13. I keep hearing that about South Carolina from Arkansas fans, and I understand why. The Hogs have pretty much owned the Gamecocks and drubbed them in Columbia last season.
Do you think the longer Coach Gus takes to name the starting QB at Auburn, the better the chances that he'll go with true frosh Kiehl Frazier.
Chris Low (1:46 PM)
I've thought all along that Frazier would factor in at quarterback this season, and down deep, I think so has Malzahn.
Jordan (Fort Smith, AR)
Chris,Preseason polls are complete bull. For a team like Alabama, it doesn't matter how they did last year (fourth in the West), they'll still get a high ranking to start the season. Now, what are they based on? What happened last year and how good they are perceived to be. In Arkansas' case, why does it matter what their schedule is like? It makes no sense to me why you would rank SC or A&M ahead of the Hogs just because their schedule is supposed to be tougher.
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
In the grand scehme, it really doesn't matter. Arkansas is very talented and will get a chance on the field to show that it's the best team. Auburn won the national title last season after being ranked 20-something in the preseason. Arkansas is solidly in the top 15. If the Hogs win the games that count, they will be right there. When people turn in their preseason polls, there are all sorts of variables that come into play -- different ones for different voters. It's really just a guess. The botton line is that Arkansas is positioned nicely to make a run if the Hogs are as good as we think they are.
jc92(al) [via mobile]
Who do you feel has the best defense in the sec?
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
Alabama gets a slight nod over LSU, which just happen to be the two best teams in the league, in my opinion.
Chris who do you think Saban will start at the QB position? I McCarron fits the offense better but Sims is explosive, what do you think?
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
I would have said McCarron to begin spring practice, but I keep hearing from those in and around the program that Sims might be the guy. They're both going to play, and I would say they play equal snaps to open the season. By the fourth week against Arkansas, I think we'll have a much better idea of who's going to be the guy. Saban is committed to letting them both play in games and prove themselves there before he makes any firm decisions.
Who is your West winner? As a Carolina fan, I respect that Razorback offense, and especially after last year the defense!
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
I have the Gamecocks winning again. Of course, so much rides on that Georgia game in Athens the second week of the season.
Do you see any preseason similarities between last year's Auburn squad and this year's Florida team?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
That's a tough question, because nobody had any clue that Cameron Newton was about to have one of the greatest seasons in SEC history. Now, maybe one of those defensive linemen for Florida emerges from the shadows and has a Nick Fairley-like impact up front, but I don't think the Gators are as good in the offensive line as the Tigers were last season, nor do they have the veteran leadership across the board that Auburn had last season. But I understand where you're coming from. Can Florida come from the back of the pack and be the SEC's big surprise? Yes, I do think the Gators could be the SEC's surprise team. No, I don't think they're good enough to win the national title. As I said earlier, winning nine games in the regular season would be an excellent start to the Will Muschamp era.
Chad (Austin, TX)
Could you see any scenario where the SEC has three teams this year in the BCS?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
A conference can't have more than two teams in the BCS.
Chris the West?? Not the East lol!!!! But totally agreed. Nobody will stop talking about Week 2 in Athens..NOBODY!
Chris Low (2:00 PM)
Oops. I saw "Carolina fan" and immediately thought East race. I have Alabama winning the West, but wouldn't be floored to see either LSU or Arkansas win it. All three teams are very good. This should be Arkansas' best defense.
Any chance UK can at least get to the middle of the SEC East this year? I know they lost a great deal, but it seems as though there could be some shuffling in the East this season?
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
I don't see it this year. Just too many new faces in new roles. I do like what Joker Phillips is building for the future. Getting back to a bowl game is probably a more realistic goal. But if the Wildcats are going to ever get over that hump with Florida and Tennessee, you'd think the odds are with them to maybe end one of those droughts this season.
Chris, why is Boise State getting so much hype and being favored against UGA? They lose half their players, new OC, no recievers, what gives?
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
Listen, nobody has been more impressed by what Chris Petersen has done at Boise than me, but they've sort of become the national darlings the last few years. In Atlanta, and with Georgia being at full strength now that Jarvis Jones was cleared, I expect the Bulldogs to win by at least a touchdown.
Joey (Charleston, SC)
You seemed to be a avid Tebow supporter when he was at UF. How do you see his pro career turning out? Not looking good so far.
Chris Low (2:07 PM)
I still think we have to wait and see. He's only played one season in the NFL, and at that position, it takes time. I always said he would have to get in the right system. He obviously has a ways to go before he's even an average to above-average NFL quarterback. You can bet that he will do everything in his power to get there.
Chris Low (2:09 PM)
Thanks for stopping by, and we'll do this again next Thursday. Have a great week!