Chat with Kevin Gemmell
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Pac-12 reporter Kevin Gemmell will stop by to talk some college football.
Gemmell covered San Diego State and the Mountain West Conference for three years before joining ESPN.com. As a Santa Clara graduate, his hope is that the Broncos will one day re-institute football. Until then, he lives vicariously through his readers. Gemmell lives in California with his wife and son.
Send your questions now and join Gemmell Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Kevin Gemmell (2:00 PM)
Buckle up. The chat starts in 3 ... 2... 1 ...
Oscar Martinez (Mexico)
Kevin please tell me the sundevils will 9 games next year.
Kevin Gemmell (2:01 PM)
I'd like to. But I'm not as confident as I was about the 2013 team. You have to figure they'll beat Weber and New Mexico. Notre Dame -- even though it's at home -- is always going to be a tough game. Though both teams are undergoing some defensive rebuilding. You'll hear this a lot during the offseason: the key for the Sun Devils is going to be the defense being just good enough. They will score points. Probably a lot of them. The defense will have to win a game or two for them to get to nine wins.
Heard anything about Pendergast lately? I'm pretty surprised he hasn't found work
Kevin Gemmell (2:02 PM)
Ditto. Swapped some texts with him last week and haven't heard anything yet. Pretty shocking. I talked to one OC last week who told me he thought Pendergast did one of the best coaching jobs in 2013 he's ever seen. Pretty high praise.
Winston has to be the early Heisman favorite but who are some of the other top contenders in your opinion?
Kevin Gemmell (2:03 PM)
Speaking for the Pac-12, Mariota and Hundley have to be high on that list. Both would have been first-round draft picks if they came out, but opted to return. It's a QB world and we're just living in it.
Do you see any potential for some locker room clash between the existing UW players brought in by Sark and the incoming class recruited by Petersen? The overly simplistic stereotype is that Sarks guys were more "athletes with swagger", while Petersens were "lunch pail type overachievers". I think thats a disservice to both sides, but I've heard some of that in the media so far. Your thoughts?
Kevin Gemmell (2:05 PM)
I agree that is extremely over-simplistic. Keith Price was a lunch pail guy. So was Bishop Sankey. I'm not sure how there can be issues in the locker room since the bulk of Petersen's class isn't even in yet or been signed. Guess we really won't know until they get into fall camp.
Duck fans love Don Pellum and want him to succeed, BUT (there is always a "but") do you think Helfrich is not yet secure in his position to put his own mark on the program by going outside "the Family" and hiring an established D-Coordinator?
Kevin Gemmell (2:06 PM)
I don't think that's the case at all. Pellum is pretty darn established in Oregon culture and he's learned from one of the best. I don't have a problem at all with the promotion. I think Helfrich is plenty secure in his position.
Keary (Brooklyn, NY)
Kevin, Do you think Shaw's new staff will hit the ground running and provide a smooth transition? I imagine any H/C needs to delegate well but isn't the challenge at Stanford especially hard due to the academics?
Kevin Gemmell (2:07 PM)
I don't think so. There is an expectation when you come in to coach at a place like Stanford and the type of player you are going to be coaching. Shaw knows the type of guys he wants coaching for him, or else he wouldn't have hired them.
With Ricky Town de-committing from Bama and committing to USC, what was the main reasons behind this? How much effect did Kiffin have on this?
Kevin Gemmell (2:10 PM)
That's a really interesting question. And I don't know. It's a nice pickup for USC, however. You have to think that geography could have played a role also. He's a SoCal guy and maybe the idea of going all the way to Bama was something that didn't sit well with him. Speculating on what goes on in the mind of an 18-year-old is tough.
David F. Calgary AB [via mobile]
What are your thoughts on so many programs hiring coaches from within? It seems there were a lot of DC positions open and the fact that Pendergast didn't get any is very odd.
Kevin Gemmell (2:13 PM)
It's certainly interesting. And as I noted earlier it is interesting that Pendergast was left out of the loop. I understand Stanford. Shaw basically named Lance Anderson the same way he did it a year ago with Bloomgren and just waited a couple of weeks to make it official. It sounds like that's what UCLA is doing. Wilcox stayed with Sark and Kwiatkowski stayed with Petersen. Pellum stays at Oregon. Makes for a lot of interesting offseason fodder. It also shows these guys trust the position coaches they brought in (or were already there).
Brett Hundley (Westwood)
#8 this season? Really?
Kevin Gemmell (2:14 PM)
Yeah. Tough draw. But you have to realize we base a lot of these also off the all-conference teams. Not a lot of "honorable mention" guys make the list, let alone the top 25. We recognize the skill and the game and I'm pretty sure you'll be a preseason top 5.
Jason (Vancouver, WA)
I ask this every week and still no answer: why the heck did Myles Jack win offensive freshman of the year over Thomas Tyner? Numbers are not close. Jack deserved defensive but the offensive award was 100% hype and media driven.
Kevin Gemmell (2:16 PM)
I don't remember the question last week or the week before or the week before that. And I never saw it in the mailbag, but I'm happy to answer it. That shocked me too. But to call it media-driven I think is a bit off, because it's voted on by the coaches. And as a member of the media, I can tell you for a fact those guys don't base their opinions that much on what we think. I think Jack is an outstanding athlete. Obviously. But that one took me by surprise also.
Brett Hundley as expected seems very confident UCLA will be National Champions this year, this is no surprise. What kind of chance do you see this happening this year?
Kevin Gemmell (2:17 PM)
I think they should start the year in the top 15, if not top 10. They are going to be good. The offensive line will be more veteran, you can only expect that Hundley is going to get better and the defense is going to be pretty solid. I'd give them a fighting chance.
What kind of a motivating factor can it be UW to have lost Sark to USC?
Kevin Gemmell (2:20 PM)
Awkwardly phrased question, but I think you mean how motivating is it for them? As I've said before, divorces are always messy -- especially when a coach leaves on his own. It's his way of saying I prefer my new home to my old home. And that stings. And when it happens within the conference, that can be messier. But I think Washington is going to be just fine considering who they brought in.
With all the underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft, rumblings about paying players and the general unrest with conference alliances I am worried that the foundation of college football is crumbling. Talk me off the ledge- I don't want college football to follow college basketball and slowly be watered down.
Kevin Gemmell (2:22 PM)
Not sure being watered down is the issue. The bigger issue is the big five getting the autonomy they need to pass their own legislation. Having sat through hours of that discussion a couple of weeks ago in San Diego at the convention, I can tell you it's needed. The one size fits all model no longer applies. I think the big five conference are actually going to get stronger because of it. If I'm a Mountain West, for example, it's get on board or get out of the way.
Wilbur Jr (Tucson)
Hi Kevin. Are the Cats improving enough on defense to make a run to the top in the Pac-12 South ??
Kevin Gemmell (2:24 PM)
I think schematically they have improved. I've noted before that talking with coaches who operate a 3-3-5, it usually takes two to three seasons to get everything in place. And they made pretty significant strides in Year No. 2. There are some holes to fill. But I think they are heading in the right direction defensively.
David F (Calgary Alberta)
Will Oregon solve it's Stanford issue this year?
Kevin Gemmell (2:25 PM)
Good question. Can the defense get off the field? Third-down defense was a pretty big issue for the Ducks last year. That's going to be a key stat to follow next season.
Will DeAnthony Thomas end up as a corner in the NFL. I know he wanted to play offense at Oregon but longivity and money would be more in the NFL?
Kevin Gemmell (2:27 PM)
I've heard some scouts suggest that. Not really sure how it's going to play out at the next level. Guess it's really to how he performs at the Combine and what team drafts him. This season certainly didn't do much to boost his stock as an offensive player.
Of the following coaches, who is most likely to leave of their own choice next year? (either to a the NFL or a bigger school) Mora, RichRod, Grahm, Shaw, or Leach?
Kevin Gemmell (2:28 PM)
Sort of a loaded question. I don't see any of them leaving, honestly. Mora and Leach have both been extended. Shaw was extended last year and his deflected all NFL inquiries. Rodgriguez and Graham both seem happy where they are.
I know you're not wholly interested in recruiting until the ink is dried on their letters, but have you seen Royce Freeman run? What sort of impact do you think having that option for a bit more power will have next year (or two years if he red shirts)? Is it also telling that Oregon can get the top running backs year to year?
Kevin Gemmell (2:30 PM)
I've only seen highlight clips. He's from the San Diego area (Imperial, I believe). Every year there is a big signing day party in downtown and I'm hoping he shows up for that so I get a chance to meet him. If I do, I'll post a video.
How long until the newer PAC-12 schools, Colorado and Utah, are able to really be competitive?
Kevin Gemmell (2:31 PM)
I think you can make a case that they are already "competitive." If you mean winning titles, I think they are still a ways off. Utah was making a nice run until they lost their QB. They beat Stanford, took Oregon State to overtime and had UCLA on the ropes. Colorado is making some nice strides.
Ryan ("Working" in the Office)
Kevin - What are your thoughts on running-by-committee as opposed to having a a single back? My Utes seem to always default to committee and I don't know if it produces as a single could...
Kevin Gemmell (2:32 PM)
It's all about the personnel. John White IV was a pretty good every-down back and you guys rode him. If you've got a bell cow, you ride him. If you don't you fill in where you can. I gotta have more cow bell.
Just how much can a strong recruiting class impact the following season? Even though JC's are more mature, they still face the challenges of playing on a new team. Which can make more of an immediate impact?
Kevin Gemmell (2:33 PM)
A strong class doesn't always have an impact the very next year. But JC guys can help. Since you're in Tempe, you need only look at what Marion Grice and Jaelen Strong were able to bring to ASU and what Eric Lauderdale potentially can bring. JC guys can be hit or miss. But when they hit, they usually hit big.
Neal (Madison, WI)
Is USC and UCLA the biggest rivalry in the PAC-12?
Kevin Gemmell (2:34 PM)
USC and UCLA fans will tell you it is. Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah, Washington and Washington State fans will probably tell you differently.
FishnUtez (Salt Mines)
Hi Kevin! Mrs FishnUtez and I are having a baby--I'm kinda freakin out man. Any advice for a first-time father?
Kevin Gemmell (2:35 PM)
Congrats! Just be aware that for the first year you aren't going to sleep. For the second year you are barely going to sleep. I'm only halfway through the second year so that's as far as I can go. Rest now. Because you won't be able to later.
What is the next step for Oregon State? they always seem to be close, but never seem to be able get over the hump and compete for Conference Titles.
Kevin Gemmell (2:37 PM)
The next step is getting the running game sorted out. I know deep down it's killing Mike Riley not to be able to run the football. Granted, the offense was pass happy this year because you had an outstanding quarterback and a Biletnikoff winner at wide receiver. But I know he'd prefer balance. If they can get that, Mannion is going to have an outstanding year. The defense could use a little brushing up on tackling, as well.
Best Santa Clara football player ever? Brent Jones is too easy of an answer.
Kevin Gemmell (2:38 PM)
Hmmmm. Brent Jones, obviously. Maybe Doug Cosbie? Dan Pastorini?
John (Los Angeles)
Does Fort Worth ever cross your mind? Just curious...
Kevin Gemmell (2:39 PM)
Not too much. But if I hurry I Can Still Make Cheyenne.
Will Mike Leech be able to keep building Wazzu to the point they are conteders in the PAC-12?
Kevin Gemmell (2:40 PM)
I think so. In a year when they weren't expected to go bowling, they did. Halliday was more consistent down the stretch and the defense won them a few games. Going to be tough to catch the Stanfords and Oregons of the world. But I think they can certainly bully their way into the middle tier consistently.
Ryan ("Working" in the Office)
Kevin - You're put in Whittingham's place. Wilson is clear to go next season, but you fear his recent diagnosis may play mentally on him next year and affect his productivity. Do you start Wilson or start fresh with Manning or Cox?
Kevin Gemmell (2:41 PM)
That's a pretty heavy question with a healthy dose of speculation. If he's cleared, he's cleared. If he's not, he's not. I know what kind of competitor Wilson is, but I have no idea what's in his head. Like everyone, just hoping for a healthy recovery, whatever form that takes.
How badly will Oregon beat Michigan State next year?
Kevin Gemmell (2:43 PM)
Haha. Another loaded question. I think Oregon wins that game at home and that gives them a nice boost in national credibility. Need to study MSU's roster a little more before passing any judgement. But I'm sure Oregon will be favored. Maybe even by double digits.
Any thoughts about the Grammys? I was glad to see Daft Punk getting some recognition.
Kevin Gemmell (2:43 PM)
Absolutely zero thoughts. Didn't even know they happened until someone on Facebook posted something about the Gospel winner walking out because the show was so offensive.
Brad (The Lamplighter)
Kevin: who will be UCLA's starting tailback next season?
Kevin Gemmell (2:45 PM)
Thinking they'll probably stick with a by-committee approach for a while. Seemed to work out. Of course, they'll have the Myles Jack package and Hundley will continue to be a big part of the running game. More Vanderdoes at tight end? Or does he get a couple of carries?
Does the Super Bowl count as a "fun pop culture" topic? If so, what commercial are you most looking forward to? And what in-game element are you looking forward to?
Kevin Gemmell (2:46 PM)
Sure, it's a fun topic. Haven't heard any pre-game buzz about commercials. Though I never look for them. I just watch them and either laugh or groan with the rest of the nation. As for in-game element. Naturally, I'm curious about Manning vs. Sherman.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Are Vaughters and Tarpley up to the task of replacing Skov and Gardner?
Kevin Gemmell (2:47 PM)
Pretty sure Vaughters is going to stay at OLB (or did I miss something?) so you're talking about two LBs replacing an LB and a DE. I think Tarpley has quietly been one of the best LBs in the conference. He's not replacing anyone. He's going to keep doing his thing.
You do realize that the Spartans just beat the Pac 12 Champs and Oregon hasn't beaten anyone with an elite defense?
Kevin Gemmell (2:48 PM)
I do. But I also know that there was a month between those games and bowl games aren't always the best way to judge a team. On the road, in the middle of a season, it's hard not to imagine Oregon not being favored in that game.
Lee (Salem) [via mobile]
Will Sean Mannion finish his career (assuming he remains healthy) as a PAC 12 Legend, or as the most famous player nobody has ever heard of, as the career passing yards leader?
Kevin Gemmell (2:50 PM)
Good question. And as I posted this morning in the story about Mannion, he and I talked about his legacy. He's not too concerned with it. I think if Oregon State can sure up a couple of spots on defense and the running game, they are going to be a pretty good team next year. Need to find a wide receiver or two who can step up. If they win the Rose Bowl, he's a legend. But he should be remembered as a very, very good quarterback no matter what.
David F (Calgary Alberta)
Does spell check play a HUGE roll in your articles that get posted 1st thing in the morning after you've been up all night with a baby?
Kevin Gemmell (2:50 PM)
Y? R wee mispeling alot of werds?
Fred (Walla Walla)
Did you attend the BCS Championship or watch it on TV? If on TV, which espn broadcast did you choose?
Kevin Gemmell (2:51 PM)
I was actually in Bristol while the game was going on so I watched it on TV just like everyone else.
Office in PDX [via mobile]
Kevin, it's not on HBO or FX, but are you "Following?"
Kevin Gemmell (2:52 PM)
I watched the first season with interest. But the end of the first season was so formulaic and cliched that I was pretty bummed. I've got the first couple episodes DVRd. Still deciding if I'm going to watch.
Kevin Gemmell (2:52 PM)
Hey buddy. Long time.
Mr. Wazzu (Pullman)
What does WSU football look like in 5 years?
Kevin Gemmell (2:53 PM)
Competitive. Winning a few games people don't think they will. Consistently in the seven to eight win range. With the right recruiting class, maybe a nine or 10 win season sprinkled in. Definitely heading in the right direction.
Does USC's Morgan Breslin have a chance to play in the NFL?
Kevin Gemmell (2:54 PM)
Absolutely. His health will be scrutinized. But he certainly has the tools to be an outstanding pass rusher.
Have you jumped on the college basketball train yet? Happen to notice who the #1 team in the land is?
Kevin Gemmell (2:55 PM)
Never going to jump off the football train. But I have noticed. Big game against Stanford tonight.
Coach Helton (USC)
How much control will I have with Sark?
Kevin Gemmell (2:55 PM)
Sark is the boss. But I'm sure you're going to get a lot of input. Good call by Sark to retain you because talking with Cody Kessler about your relationship, it seems to be a good one and his improvement is evidence of that.
Pac-12 fan (West)
Kevin, how do you think the Pac-12 teams will fare in the pre-season rankings? And will starting in the top 10 be important in making the playoff?
Kevin Gemmell (2:56 PM)
It's important, but not completely necessary. Pretty sure the 2012 Notre Dame team started the year unranked and ended up in the title game. It helps, no question. I think the Pac-12 will have four or five teams ranked and could end up with six.
Vince (Southern California)
Best concert you've attended in the past ten years?(mine: U2 at the Rose Bowl in 2009)
Kevin Gemmell (2:57 PM)
Loser alert: Haven't been to a concert in the last 10 years. Sorry. But the best ever was Counting Crows, the final show of the initial August and Everything After Tour at the Greek Theatre at Cal in '94. Amazing.
Josh(NYC) [via mobile]
What are your thoughts on Armstead dropping basketball? Is he an nfl DE or should he flip sides for two years?
Kevin Gemmell (2:58 PM)
Personally, I'd like to see him on offense. There's so much talk about how Oregon needs to get tougher on the line. If his future is the NFL, then focusing solely on football is the right call.
Just out of curiosity, roughly how many questions do you receive in one of these chats?
Kevin Gemmell (2:59 PM)
During the season, 600 plus. Off season, about 300 hundred unanswered so far.
Mark Helfrich (Eugene, OR)
If I win 11 games again and don't make the CFB Playoff, will my seat start to warm up? Or will Duck fans forgive me and realize that I'm still learning to be a head coach?
Kevin Gemmell (3:01 PM)
Would be pretty surprised to see an 11-win coach end up on the hot seat. But then again, Oregon is at a place now where it feels like national championship or bust every year. That's a double-edged sword because a very good season can get lost in the mix of not winning a national championship. I think Oregon -- especially with Mariota back -- is the league favorite. Guess we'll just have to see. But I thought Helfrich did a pretty good year this year for a first-timer.
Kevin Gemmell (3:01 PM)
OK folks, that'll do it for today. Great chat as always. Enjoy Ted tomorrow and have a great week. I'm going for a run.