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)
Hello all. Good to be back.
Putting the star rankings aside, whos potential recruiting class looks to benefit the team the most and why?
Chris Low (1:06 PM)
That's a hard one to answer a week before signing day. I agree with Florida's Will Muschamp when he says you can't start to evaluate recruiting classes until two years down the road. That said, I would say Ole Miss appears to be making up the most ground based on what the Rebels have been able to do thus far and the caliber of players they're bringing in, especially if they're able to land a potential difference-maker on defense like Nkemdiche.
Nick (San Antonio)
I couldn't disagree more with a B- for the aggies defense this year. One team scored more than 30 (#1 offensive team in the nation along with 3 starters out on defense), Notre Dame's famed defense did equal or worse (WAY) than the aggies against common opponents (Bama and OU). Plus in the breakdown I was seeing yardage stats. I forgot where teams got 1 point for every 50 yards. The biggest kicker though is many of the games where "we gave up over 20 points" Johnny Manziel and the rest of the first stringers were sipping gatorade talking about how fun the first half was. If you want to give A&M starters a B+ or A- and the backups an F. I can get behind that though
Chris Low (1:08 PM)
All fair points. The Aggies were so explosive on offense this season that their defense, especially the way they improved down the stretch, probably wasn't appreciated enough.
Chase Neumann (Guthrie, Ok)
Do you think that the SEC would be in so many national championships if they did the playoff?
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
Yes, especially if there had been a four-team playoff the last seven years. Go back and look. In most cases, the SEC would have placed two teams in the playoff, and regardless of how many breaks the SEC has or hasn't gotten in getting to the game, the one thing nobody can debate is that the SEC team getting there has been at its best in the money game.
Matt (Roswell, GA)
Be honest with us, Chris. Really honest. I know it's hard to win SEC and BCS titles. I know it is. But if Mark Richt couldn't win either with this, the most talented UGA team he's ever had... will he ever? He always seems to have something missing, whether it's the yearly game where the Dawgs don't show-up, his refusal to fix special teams, his undue loyalty to poor coaches/players. Please, but honest: if Richt didn't win this year, will he ever?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
I keep getting asked this, and my response is always the same: He was one tipped pass from playing for the national title this season. He's been to the SEC championship game each of the last two years. So he's obviously swimming in the right waters. To win championships, the breaks have to go your way. But you also have to get there, and Georgia has done that the last two years under Richt. The Dawgs should again be outstanding on offense next season. A lot of young guys will have to step up on defense, but they have talent on that side of the ball. And one more thing: If you get rid of Richt, who are you going to go get that you can say with certainty will fare better than he has?
AJ McChampion (Harvesting Deer Antlers)
Hey Chris! What do you think about the S.W.A.T.S. guys? Kind of funny they're "releasing" all this stuff about Ray L. before the Super Bowl and, oh, by the way the last 3 BCS Champs have used our stuff too. Looking for a little publicity, or is this a big problem?
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
Timing is everything. I'd also point out that S.W.A.T.S. guys are getting the kind of advertising right now that they could never buy. All of us would be naive, though, to think that athletes at all levels are continually looking for any kind of edge they can get, especially with everything that's out there now.
Little Nicky Satan (Hells Kitchen, NY)
Mr. Chris Low, Do you approve or disapprove of James Frankin's new found swagger. At first, I was going to tell him to concentrate on rehabbing his throwing shoulder, and then I realized it was the head coach at Vanderbilt, not the quarterback from Mizzou. Thank you in advance for answering my question.
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
Similar to what I wrote about it yesterday, Franklin's swagger has been what the Vanderbilt program has needed. He's got an in-your-face persona about him that had been missing at Vanderbilt. Is he over the top at times? Yes. Does he say things that may come back to get him? Possibly. But he's done wonders for that program. Now, can he keep it up? That's the hard part.
Nova (Music City)
Which team do you see making the most improvement next year, and which team do you see having the biggest drop off?
Chris Low (1:23 PM)
Auburn would be my pick for the most improved team. I like the staff Malzahn has put together and believe the Tigers are far more talented than they played last season. As for the team that may experience the biggest drop-off, LSU may be hard-pressed to get to 10-plus wins when you look at all the players the Tigers are losing. Plus, LSU's schedule will be one of the toughest in the league. The Tigers play both Florida and Georgia out of the East.
Chris, do you think it is realistically possible for the Rebels to get Nkemdiche & Tunsil??? What a huge pull that would be!
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
Yes, I think they will get Nkemdiche, and Tunsil is strongly considering the Rebels. Hugh Freeze and his staff are burning it up on the recruiting trail.
How does TAM have a 33 player committ list? Isn't this what's wrong with SEC recruiting?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
It's a tricky deal. You can only sign 25 players. But if you have room from the previous class and signed fewer than 25 players the prior year, you're allowed to back-count players when they enroll early. It's not just the SEC that does that. Some of those players committed may end up at junior college, too.
Would any team in the SEC jump to another conference? If so, who would it be?
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
Don't see any way that happens, not with the kind of money that will be flowing into the league once the new TV contract is negotiated. If anything, I see the SEC expanding again somewhere down the road and continue to believe that Virginia Tech would be one of the prime targets.
Your take on Haynes, Petrino and Smith after their comments in the Sporting News?
Chris Low (1:30 PM)
The whole thing was a disaster at Arkansas last season. I agree that signing a coach for 10 months is a huge red flag. But keep in mind that the players were all adamant that Jeff Long keep that staff intact and not go out and get a new coach who would come in with a new system and all new coaches so late in the game. Hindsight is always 20/20. The bottom line is that Arkansas wasn't very good on defense and neglected that side of the ball in recruiting the previous years under Bobby Petrino. They missed his edge, too, and his ability to get a team ready to play.
Ole miss is having their best recruiting class ever (although its waasyyyy too top heavy...lots of mediocre recruits after the top 4) yet they will still finish behind bama, lsu, florida, tamu, and uga in the recruiting rankings. If that doesnt sum up life in the sec i dont know what does.
Chris Low (1:32 PM)
We'll have a better feel two years from now who was an impact recruit and who was a mediocre recruit. But you're right about life in the SEC. You can finish in the top 15 nationally in recruiting, but about fifth or sixth in the SEC.
Concerned Gamecock (Chicago)
How does Clemson consistently have a higher ranked recruiting class that SC? Is this evidence of a flawed ranking system?
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
Recruiting rankings are nothing more than a gauge. When you think about it, what's really the difference in the 12th ranked class nationally and the 22nd ranked class? We're talking maybe two players, and you never know how those players are going to develop, adjust to college life, etc. The most successful coaches will always tell you that you have to have a good base of talent to win in this league, but it's always more important what you do with them once you get them on your campus than it is getting them to your campus.
Jeremy (Columbia SC)
Looking at the Gamecocks next year do you think they will go with Thompson or Shaw at QB? How do you think they will do in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
As long as Shaw bounces back from his surgery OK, I still think he's the guy to beat. But with Spurrier, you know he's going to play the QB he thinks gives them the best chance to win in that game and the guy who's the hottest QB. Shaw's ability to run is a nice fit with what the Gamecocks are doing on offense right now.
Mobilematt (SW FL)
Chris, one thing that continues to be glossed over is that none of the Tide players tested positive for any banned substances after the NCG. Considering doctors in the field of research for human growth hormones have pretty much said the spray is bunk(especially the way it is ingested), isn't that a pretty important component to gloss over when reporting on the subject? There is a valid reason why the substance doesn't appear on tests. Because it doesn't produce enough of the banned substance and that's assuming it was even taken. Thought?
Chris Low (1:40 PM)
There's a ton we don't know about this story, and I'm sure a ton more (about players from various teams) that will come out. Alabama has known about this company for a while and has attempted to keep its people away from its players. Ultimately, there's just so much you can do and you can't be with players 24/7. I agree that not everything that's out there right now is 100 percent true.
Tim (Nashville, TN)
Hey Chris do you think T. Grantham will leave for the NFL after Signing Day?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
From everything I hear out of Georgia, they don't think he's leaving.
MikeDaTiger (SEC Boards)
Will Nkemdiche's trip to Baton Rouge be enough to flip him to LSU right before signing day?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
No, I think he ends up signing with the Rebels and playing with his brother.
Jpizzle8049 (SEC Blog)
Chris: With Marcus Lucas, Darius White (transfer), LD Washington, Dorial Green Beckham, Bud Sasser... Do you think if Missouri's O-line stays healthy (and possibly a new QB) , that receiving corp could be one of the best in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:44 PM)
I would expect Green-Beckham to be one of the most improved players in the league now that he's been through the league for a season. He's freakishly talented. Protecting the QB will be key, and the Tigers couldn't stay healthy up front this season, but I do like the nucleus of receivers the Tigers return next season.
MikeDaTiger (SEC Boards)
Chris, It seems with all these post-season/pre(2013)-season lists y'all are doing, that one name consistently never makes the cut. Jeremy Hill. In one of your list for breakout players for next year there was a note stating that Jeremy Hill wasn't included because he technically broke out this year, but on your list of Freshmen this past season, he's no where to be found. Whats a kid gotta do?
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
I consider Hill as having broken out this season. He only got 13 carries in his first five or six games and was a beast down the stretch. I put together a list of the top 10 players in the league from this past season who were sophomores or younger, and Hill was No. 7 on that list. He's a big-time player.
Art (Mountain Home AR)
Hey Chris,Two part question. What do you think of Coach Bielema recruiting so far? And do you think any of arkansas players or coaches quit during the 2012 season?
Chris Low (1:50 PM)
I'll say this for Bielema. He's surrounded himself with proven recruiters, guys who know what it takes to go out and get great players. Now, doing at Arkansas is a challenge because the state of Arkansas isn't laden with great football talent. Judging Bielema on this class probably isn't fair. The 2014 class will be a much better indicator. As for players quitting, yes. I think it was pretty obvious down the stretch that some of the players weren't playing with the same passion and focus. But the same can be said for Auburn, which pretty much mailed it in toward the end.
David (Little Rock)
What do you see the conference schedule looking like in the next few years, assuming the SEC stays at 14 teams? The current system seems to give major advantages to a team ie Alabama getting Tennessee and Kentucky, LSU getting Florida and Georgia.
Chris Low (1:52 PM)
I think there's a chance down the road that the SEC will go to nine conference games, particularly with the playoff coming. I also think it makes the most sense to play nine conference games. That way, teams aren't going as long without playing certain teams from the other division.
Derrell Hart (Mississippi)
What are the chances that Bo Wallace will cut down on his interceptions if Hugh Freeze starts him next season?
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
I would say Freeze won't be the starter very long if he doesn't cut down on his turnovers.
Over/Under on James Franklin still being at Vanderbilt in 2015
Chris Low (1:55 PM)
I'll take the over. He's making around $3.5 million with his new raise and has guarantees in his contract that facility upgrades will happen there. He had several chances to bolt this year and didn't. I think he's going to be there until a job he simply can't turn down comes along.
All Aggies, everywhere [via mobile]
Is there a chance Texas A&M can win the SEC West, SEC championship, and potentially a National Championship next year?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
Absolutely. The Aggies weren't that far away this season from being in the SEC championship game. Both the Florida and LSU games could have gone either way. They lose several key players on defense, but keeping OT Jake Matthews was huge.
From the s carolina game on, lsu only had 8/22 starters from the 2011 team (bc of injuries, etc). Next yrs tigers return 14/22 starters including 15 freshman who played this season. They will get their customary 10+ wins. I laugh when u guys forget that lsu has recruited as well as anyone over the yrs and isnt exactly suiting up walk ons next yr. lsu was successful before this past junior class and will continue to be successful after them.
Chris Low (2:00 PM)
Listen, I'm not predicting that LSU drops out of sight. Like you, I also realize how well they've recruited and the fact that they've been good about playing a lot of young players. Their young linebackers should be outstanding. But when you lose the kind of talent they did on the defensive line, that hurts. The other key is Mettenberger making a lot of progress this offseason. If he does, then LSU isn't going to drop off dramatically. But I don't think it's a given that the Tigers win 10 games in the regular season again with some of their personnel losses.
WDE (Boulder, CO)
Chris, What do you think Auburn's chances are of finishing in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings this year? Assuming they sign 2 of the 3 4star RB's theyre in the mix for, hold on to Carl Lawson, sign Reuben Foster and say 1 of the 2 of MacKensie Alexander and Montravious Adams, is that top 10 worthy? Or let me rephrase since you know the area, who do they close out with?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
If they were to get Lawson and Foster, I would say they would definitely finish in the top 10. I also like their chances with Ford. My sense is that Auburn will close well and solidify a top 10 class.
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
Good to catch up with everybody and I appreciate all the questions. We'll do it again next week and wrap up signing day. Take care!