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 afternoon all.
Scratches (D'ham, NC)
Will Nick Saban and Alabama every slow down?
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
Doesn't look like it. The guy loves to recruit. He's a terrific talent evaluator, but I think what sets him apart is his ability to develop players.
Hey Chris. With UGA losing star defensive players to the NFL draft, and after a signing day with several missed opportunities, does the 2013 season have any chance of being as successful as the one in 2012? Do you believe they could still win the SEC and be in the National Championship conversation?
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
I think they will be too young and too inexperienced on defense to be a national title contender, but that offense is going to be lights out. You're going to have to score a ton of points to beat Georgia next season. Their top eight offensive linemen are back, and Murray with Gurley and Marshall in the backfield along with Malcolm Mitchell and a healthy Michael Bennett looks to me to be the top offense in the league.
Can you explain Vanderdoes choosing ND over Bama? It sounded like he loved Bama after his visit.
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
How do you ever know for sure why and how these kids make their decisions? Alabama certainly wanted him, but I'd say the Tide will scrape by without him.
Matt (Washington, D.C.)
Any idea why South Carolina's Shaq Roland came up short in contributing in 2012? Would you classify him as a bust?
Chris Low (1:12 PM)
No, way too early for that. Adjusting to the college game, getting open and making the proper adjustments in route running were all a challenge for him. He's super athletic, and this is obviously a big spring for him. The Gamecocks need another playmaker to emerge on the outside with Ace Sanders leaving early.
Hey Chris, How do you think Arkansas will rebound this season?
Chris Low (1:15 PM)
The first thing that jumps out at me is the schedule. It's a killer. The Hogs play five teams that finished in the top 10 this past season. They're going to be very young on defense, too, and their key playmakers on offense (Wilson, Hamilton, D. Johnson) are gone. It could be a tough first season for Bielema. Simply getting to a bowl game would be an accomplishment.
Corey (Lower Arkansas)
Do you believe that Alex Collins will make a difference at Arkansas? Seems like there are more important areas to focus on for this team. Like the Defense.
Chris Low (1:16 PM)
Yes, I do. The Hogs needed to get a go-to running back, and they think Collins is that guy. He's supposed to be signing (finally) today at 1:30 at his high school. Give the Arkansas staff credit for going down into South Florida and getting two highly rated guys in Collins and offensive tackle Denver Kirkland.
Can you explain the "scheduling agreements" that some conferences are discussing? Should the SEC consider creating one? If so what conference would best "partner" with?
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
There has been talk that the SEC is considering such an agreement with the Big 12.
Bama and LSU has signed 102 players over the last 4 years. ND has signed 87. How does Bama and LSU get away with it?
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
They call it roster management in the SEC, and it entails bringing in a lot of guys early, weeding out guys who either can't play or get injured to the point to where it's not smart for them to continue playing and then losing a ton of players early to the NFL draft.
MikeDaTiger (SEC Boards)
Chris, It seems we have this question every year, just different names. Do you see Miles hiring Cam Cameron, or anyone else for that matter, to be full time OC? Maybe put Studrawa on O-Line, Kragthorpe on QBs, and an outside person solely for OC
Chris Low (1:25 PM)
I do think Miles is going to make some moves on his offensive staff. He's certainly left that possibility open, and there's a lot of smoke about his old colleague at Michigan, Cam Cameron, being the guy. It was unfortunate for LSU that Kragthorpe had his health issues, but that was something nobody could help. But, yes, I could definitely see Studrawa going back to OL and somebody like Cameron coming in and running the offense. That said, to me, the No. 1 key for LSU offensively next season is Mettenberger building on some of the improvement he showed at the end of this past season. I think he'll be much improved in 2013, and Jeremy Hill should be a beast at RB.
Dabo Swiney (Clemson)
I went 2-1 against the SEC last year, how do you think we would fair full time?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
Somewhere between 7-5 and 9-3 most years when you have to play SEC teams week in and week out. That's the difference.
I cant argue with Spurrier on the way he views NSD, and how recruites truely pan out, but how come Clemson, Georgia, and a lot others always seem to get ranked higher year, after year.
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
It's all such an inexact science. It's impossible to tell who's going to have the kind of work ethic that it takes to make the jump to being a solid college player, who will adjust socially, etc. And the thing about Spurrier is that he's been able to develop players and "coach 'em up." I go back to what I said earlier. It's about recruiting and developing at the college level. You have to do both reasonably well to win at a high level.
What are your thoughts on Muschamps building process at UF? I see a lot of similarities to Saban back about 5 years ago. Saban had that first tough season but kept adding strong linemen on both sides, skill players and then in time found a versatile QB. Move ahead 5 years and looks like Muschamps end of 2nd early 3rd year.
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
Also keep in mind that Saban's first signing class at Alabama was pretty average, and then he took off from there. Muschamp has done the same thing at Florida. Where the Gators have come up short (so far) is bringing in explosive playmakers, especially at receiver. Look at what guys like Julio Jones and Trent Richardson did for Alabama. That's where the Gators have to get better, and they also need Driskel to take a big step this offseason. Defensively, though, they're right on track and already playing championship-caliber defense.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
True or False, Ole Miss challenges for the SEC West title in two years?
Chris Low (1:32 PM)
If they don't, coach Freeze is going to have some explaining to do. When you bring in a top 5 class, fairly or unfairly, everybody expects that to translate into being a championship contender.
Steven (Samson) [via mobile]
Hi Chris, What do you think of Auburn's recruiting class especially that 3 headed D-lineman monster? Also do you see this paying off big dividends in Auburn's future
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
Of the four new head coaches, Gus Malzahn looks like he was able to make the biggest splash with his first class. Getting defensive line help in the form of Adams, Lawson and Daniel was huge, especially losing Lemonier early to the NFL. I believe the Tigers will be the most improved team in the SEC next season. A big part of that is getting better on defense.
Regarding the Muschamp vs Saban. Didn't Saban take over a floundering program? Didn't Florida have the #1 recruiting class and win a BCS title just a few years before he arrived?
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
Nobody is comparing Muschamp to Saban. It was more the way Muschamp is trying to build Florida back into an SEC championship contender. If you'll remember, Urban Meyer himself said the program was "broken" when he left. There were a ton of issues that Muschamp had to clean up, and that heralded 2010 signing class under Meyer hasn't been nearly what it was cracked up to be, which is another reminder that none of us should get too ahead of ourselves based on where a class is ranked on signing day.
Perry Massoli (Houston, TX)
Will mississippi state be improved next year due to more experience on the DL and OL?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
If Tobias Smith elects to take his sixth year of eligibility and return, the Bulldogs will bring back all five starters in the offensive line. The Bulldogs definitely need to run the ball more consistently next season. On defense, I didn't think they played particularly well up front and struggled to rush the passer. That's why getting Chris Jones was so important. Autry should be more of a finisher off the edge now that he's had a season under his belt in the SEC.
"When you bring in a top 5 class,fairly or unfairly" You know somthing about Ole Miss. we don't?
Chris Low (1:43 PM)
I know nothing. Just meant that he's going to be expected to have the Rebels in the hunt whether all these guys pan out or not. As for anything else, I've covered this league long enough to know that any time somebody sneaks up from under the radar and has a highly ranked class, that everybody else around the league starts pointing fingers. It's the SEC way. As Hugh Freeze said himself, if anybody has anything on the Rebels cheating, let's hear it.
Now that Alex Collins has signed with Arkansas, do yo uincrease the class from a B to a B+?
Chris Low (1:44 PM)
I didn't do those grades, but I'd say that's fair. They needed a go-to RB and help in the offensive line and filled those needs nicely and got a tight end in Henry who should be a great fit in what they want to do offensively.
Curious Gamecock (Chicago)
Chris, do you think poor recruiting had anything to do with why Spurrier and Ward were not at all upset to lose Brad Lawing?
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
No, that was more Lawing leaving for personal reasons. I also wouldn't call the Gamecocks' recruiting poor. They were No. 17 nationally and got some key guys at linebacker, a quarterback (Mitch) that Spurrier really likes and another running back (Williams) they think can be their workhorse of the future. Spurrier's also proven that he doesn't need top 10 classes here lately to be a top 10 program.
BAMABABE (marietta, ga)
whos the player BAMA missed out on that will be "missed" the most/who would have really made an impact for us
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
Laremy Tunsil. The Tide needed offensive tackles with Fluker leaving early and Kouandjio likely doing the same next year.
C Low, word out of Red Stick is that Les has FINALLY decided that we need a true OC. Word is Cam Cameron will be the new guy. 12 NFL seasons as OC. 11 of those yrs he had an offense that ranked in the top 15 of the league. QB guru who is credited w turning around brees career as OC in SD (brees raves about him in his book). Developed rivers and flacco. Heck as redskins qb coach he helped get gus frerotte to pro bowl. Undoubtedly a HR hire.My question is how big will this be for LSU (mettenberger in particular) and what the heck took so long? Pinch me!!
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
If it goes down, and I think there's a good chance that it will, it certainly makes sense. LSU has to do something to be a more consistent offense. The offense won't be able to carry the defense this next season as much as they have the last couple of seasons.
Does Vanderbilt have a realistic chance of competing for the East in the next year or two?
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
They're probably another really good signing class away from making any serious noise in the East. That said, the Commodores won five SEC games this season, and it was just a few years ago (2010) that a 5-3 record was good enough to win the East. It would take one of those years again, but Franklin has the program headed in the right direction with the way he's upgraded the talent and the excellent staff he's assembled.
would you consider UGA's recruiting; to be down this year due to all the talent we missed out on.
Chris Low (1:56 PM)
The thing everybody was bummed out about at Georgia is that the Bulldogs struck out on so many big names on signing day and didn't get a lot of the top in-state prospects. But it was still a top class, and the Bulldogs have 13 players already enrolled. Let's wait and see how it shakes out in a couple of years. The good news is that some of their best players in this class are already on campus and will get a head start.
Chris man I'm never coming to your chats again. You never answer my questions. Yet you answer clear fakes like Dabo Swinney and people like Blues and Scratches get questions answered daily. I mean seriously why even have a chat if you only answer certain people's questions?
Chris Low (1:56 PM)
Since you put it that way, and I apologize deeply, what's your question and I will gladly answer it.
Clowney (South Carolina)
Chris you taking a jab at South Carolina's 5-3 record in the east to win it?
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
Nope, just pointing out that it's not impossible to win the East with a 5-3 record, which Vanderbilt finished with this season. And by the way, quit knocking off people's helmets.
Chris W. (Montgomery, AL)
I don't get the fuss about Tunsil not signing with the Tide. Alabama already has depth that they can play at that position. It's far from being an immediate need at this time.
Chris Low (2:00 PM)
It's certainly not going to be the end of Alabama's program, but Tunsil was a guy they really wanted. Not even Alabama gets everybody they want, although they're close. They've now had six straight top 3 classes nationally. Some teams recruit ... and others pick.
Christian (College Station)
Chris, will the winner of the Bama-A&M game be ranked #1 the following week? How does the West shake out next year?
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
I would think so. For one, both Alabama and Texas A&M will open the season in the top 10. Alabama will almost certainly be No. 1, and the Aggies could be a top 5-8 team. So winning for a second straight season over the Tide (that early in the season) would probably be enough to move Texas A
jim trevethan (solon ohio)
Urben is building a juggernaut in Columbus that looks to run thru the big ten every year right to the championship, Do they get there next year and how many more in the next coming 5 years?
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
Had they not been on probation, they would have been there this year even though I don't think Ohio State could have come within two touchdowns of Alabama. But, yes, Meyer can recruit, and he can build a program. Ohio State will be a national player as long as he's there.
Being a UT fan I have to ask you, are Vol fans the most negative group of fans in the country?
Chris Low (2:08 PM)
All fans are negative when they've suffered through three straight losing seasons. There's an air of desperation in Vol Land, for sure. It's a proud program that has fallen on hard times thinks to poor leadership at the top of the university, some even poorer decisions from those people and a league that's as good as it's ever been. For a first year, I thought Jones pulled in a solid class. Losing Vonn Bell stung, and so did not being able to sign a marquee running back. The 2014 class will be the one to judge Jones on when he's had more time to work his relationships, etc.
Chris Low (2:09 PM)
Appreciate everyone stopping by. We'll do it again next week. Spring practice isn't too far away. Have a great week!