Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

May 15, 8:15 AM ET
Chat with Mark Schlabach

Mark Schlabach
  (3:59 PM)

OK, hope everybody has had a great spring. Only four months before the start of the season. If you haven't seen it yet, we have our third version of the way-too-early preseason top 25 and a sidebar on those teams' BCS chances. Here we go....

goose (urbana)

Mark, Weis has shown that he's not the best at developing young talent. should i be concerned about that Dline?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:00 PM)

D-line has to be better. I like Tenuta taking over the defensive play-calling on a full-time basis. I think you'll see more safety and linebacker blitzes, so they should be able to generate some pass rush in those areas. But D-line has to develop, no question about it.

Ronnie (Canyon Lake, Tex)

Mark, I appreciate your work. How do you see Colt McCoy doing this year? Also, I think Baylor may be a surpise team in the Big 12 this year. Thanks again for your hard work.

Mark Schlabach
  (4:01 PM)

I think McCoy can win the Heisman Trophy. Jordan Shipley should be as good, but Malcolm Williams really needs to step up and become a deep threat. More importantly, Texas has to find an every-down runner to take some of the pressure off Colt. He's a great runner, but they have to be able to run it out of an I-formation. They couldn't do that last year.

Sam Oliphant Carmel, In

Hey Mark i know you havent bee with the jets for a while but who is your best friend on the team?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:02 PM)

I think you have me confused with Mark Schlereth

Vincent (Chicago)

I know you have Ohio State No. 6, but doesn't Jim Tressel need to open up the offense for Terrelle Pryor for OSU to reach its full potential? If he runs the same old offense, Pryor may be in trouble.

Mark Schlabach
  (4:10 PM)

I think the Buckeyes were a little bit hamstrung by their offensive line the last couple of seasons. I think adding Justin Boren and a couple of younger players will make them more athletic. Boom Herron and Brandon Saine should be OK at tailback. You would think Pryor would be better in his second season.

Joshua (Little Rock, AR)

There has been so much upheaval at Tennessee with students leaving, the quarterback situation, and the new coaches. How do you see them stacking up in the SEC this year?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:12 PM)

It's going to be interesting to watch. I think their talent level is a little below teams like Florida and Georgia and LSU and Alabama, but Kiffin is a good recruiter. I think six-seven wins would be a pretty good season. It will be interesting to see what the score against Florida will be.

Travis C. (Lake Highlands)

Mark, Texas should be a decided favorite against OU this year, right? Just seems like Texas is bringing back so much, and OU lost several key guys, that this may not even be a close game.

Mark Schlabach
  (4:13 PM)

It's a rivalry game so it's going to be close. I don't think OU falls off much, not with Bradford and Gresham and Murray coming back. Key, obviously, will be the offensive line. They have to protect Bradford. Defense might be better with McCoy and Reynolds coming back. We'll see.

Peter (Los Angeles)

What team not in your top 25 do you think will surprise some people?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:16 PM)

There were a few teams I considered that didn't make the top 25: North Carolina State, Rutgers, West Virginia, Oregon State, Michigan State, South Carolina, etc....

D. Schwab (Raleigh, NC)

I truly believe that Notre Dame has the BEST SECONDARY and the BEST RECEIVING CORP in the country. Your thoughts?!

Mark Schlabach
  (4:18 PM)

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I'll give you that Tate and Floyd are very, very good. Let's see if they beat Navy...

Nick (SLC)

You have Utah, TCU, BYU and Boise St. in the WAY Too Early Preseason Predictions. Is this going to be a good year for Non BCS schools?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:19 PM)

Could be...Not sure if Utah can come close to matching last year's success after losing so much. Boise State can be very, very good if they beat Oregon in the opener. TCU can surprise some people. ...

Evan (Baton Rouge)

What do you think LSU has to do to be a legit National Championship contender?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:20 PM)

Tackle better and quit throwing interceptions for touchdowns. The talent level is there. I thought their blowout of Georgia Tech was the biggest surprise during bowl season. Nice to see they didn't quit. If Jefferson continues to get better, they'll have a chance in the SEC West.

Mike (Camarillo, CA)

As an SEC guy, I want to know from you if USC has the same 2009 record as Florida and Texas, who do you leave out of a title game? Since all the "experts" say it is about the resume, how does Florida or Texas compete with an @Ohio State, @Oregon, @Notre Dame, and @Cal? Does Florida even know how to speall AT? Or, will the "rules" change next year to, "have to go with defending champ" or "Texas was hosed last year so".......

Mark Schlabach
  (4:21 PM)

You forget that USC has to play Oregon State and Stanford. The Trojans have been better than anyone the last several seasons, but they still manage to lose to a lesser Pac-10 team seemingly every year. They lost a ton of players to the NFL draft. I know Pete Carroll has out-recruited nearly everyone, but how can you be as good when the Trojans lost so much? New QB, new LBs...It will be interesting to watch.

Ace (Tampa, Florida)

Mark, with so many weapons on the offensive side of the ball for Florida, do you think the loss of Percy Harvin will be significant?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:23 PM)

I think guys like Deonte Thompson and Carl Moore will have to step up. I think Aaron Hernandez will be a star. Chris Rainey or Jeff Demps could help fill Harvin's void because of their speed, but he was clearly the best player in the BCS title game. He'll be difficult to replace. But I still say Florida's defense will lead them to the title game. They're loaded on defense.

Nick (SLC)

Kyle Whittingham - Most Underrated Coach in CFB?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:23 PM)

One of the best. Could follow Urban Meyer's path...

Scott (Mount Nittany)

How does PSU rebound from losing all those starters this year? I always thought their WRs were overrated, but the losses on the OL and DL concern me. Can they win the Big Ten?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:25 PM)

I think Penn State and Ohio State are still the teams to beat in the Big Ten. Iowa can contend if they find a running back and the quarterback improves. But Penn State has to replace a boatload of talent at WR, and replacing guys like A.Q. Shipley on the o-line won't be easy. Lost both studs on the d-line, too. Getting Sean Lee back on defense will help, but they need to get Bowman straightened out.

Nick (SLC)

Him following Urban's path would mean he left and stabs us all in the back.

Mark Schlabach
  (4:26 PM)

Come on, he left for one of the best jobs in the country and won two national titles. How can you fault him for taking that job?

Mikey(Lackawanna,NY) [via mobile]

Do you think if Rbs Noel Devine and Joe McKnight have good Jr seasons they should consider entering the NFL draft next year? Do you think they have 1st rd talent?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:26 PM)

Both burners, but a little undersized....I guess Darren Sproles gives all smaller backs a chance in the NFL.

brett (jax,fl)

considering jarrett brown has played alot of games and won the ones he started last year...doesnt WVU at least get into the top 25

Mark Schlabach
  (4:27 PM)

They were one of the last teams left out. Brown looked very good in the spring, but let's see what he does against "live" competition. I know Stew really likes his linebackers. I think West Virginia has the best team coming back in the Big East. We'll see how they do.

Mark Schlabach
  (4:27 PM)

They were one of the last teams left out. Brown looked very good in the spring, but let's see what he does against "live" competition. I know Stew really likes his linebackers. I think West Virginia has the best team coming back in the Big East. We'll see how they do.

Mark (Miami)

Mark, I don't understand the hooplah about the Noles this year. They lost everyone that stood out last year and those that flopped, are back. They still have no qb.

Mark Schlabach
  (4:30 PM)

I don't think you're giving Ponder enough credit. He looked good against Wisconsin. Jimbo Fisher has told me several times he's an NFL quarterback. We'll see.

Troy (Montrose, CA)

Do you think Aaron Corp is the next Matt Leinart and Mitch Mustain is the next Matt Cassel? I see a lot of similarities. Corp is a tall, redshirt sophomore with a subpar arm playing his first season as a starter in an odd year season and will most likely play 3 full seasons for USC. Mustain has the better NFL-upside, but destined to be a backup his whole career at USC.

Mark Schlabach
  (4:31 PM)

What about Barkley? Corp is the guy to beat, but Carroll loves the freshman. Not sure about Mustain. Believe he would have made his move by now.

Saam (Los Angeles, CA)

Do you think the BCS strongly supports Winston Churchill's famous quote that "America will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all other alternatives." Aren't playoffs inevitable? Couldn't the bigwigs incorporate the bowls into the playoffs? Have the best 8 teams play in 2 rounds in one stadium in a 2-week span to determine the two best teams. Have the 2 best teams play in the Rose, Fiesta, Cotton, Sugar, or Orange Bowl and have the rest of the teams fill in the other big bowls. I don?t think it would devalue the regular season because they would still have to play for playoff-eligibility or seeding. I don't think it would devalue the bowls either because it will still have its relevance because of its tradition, pageantry, and it would still have that feel-good sensation of being crowned champion of a major bowl for a team at the end of the season. In other words, the bowl games would be consolation prizes for the 3 other teams (like it is right now) and 1 grand prize for that 1 team (like it is right now).

Mark Schlabach
  (4:32 PM)

I'm all for a playoff, especially after the last few seasons. I don't think it would take away from the regular season at all, but that's just my opinion. How many fans can afford to travel for three or four weeks, though, especially in this economy?

Adam (Galax, VA)

VT looked really good this spring. How good can they be? Also, when will Frank Beamer win the national title, if ever?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:33 PM)

I think they'll have a chance if they throw the football better. Tyrod Taylor can run, but has to keep defenses honest with his arm. Young wide receivers have to get better. The O-line should be better. You know the defense will be good under Bud Foster. I'm high on the Hokies. Heather Dinich, our ACC blogger, says I'm overestimating their chances, but we have a side wager going.

Steven (Dallas, TX)

Robert Griffin is a star QB in the making. Any chance the Baylor Bears make and/or win a bowl game this season?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:34 PM)

The Bears could be really close. Griffin is perhaps the most underrated player in the country. Has to have more help. They were close to knocking off a couple of teams last year.

Larry (Glendale, CA)

This blows my mind just thinking about it. If Steve Spurrier was the head coach at Florida, would he have recruited Tim Tebow? I don't think he would have because Tebow's skill set and style would have conflicted with Spurrier's Fun N' Gun Offense. Do you agree?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:35 PM)

I think Spurrier would have recruited Tebow. Not sure he would have stayed at quarterback, though. Tim fits Meyer's system very well. With him going under center this year, we'll see if he can become an NFL quarterback.

Preston (FL)

Early prediction on the Virginia Tech-Alabama game? What ACC-SEC matchups do you see opening up in Atlanta in the future?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:36 PM)

I think it will be a great game. Hopefully, the Hokies play better than Clemson did last year. I know the Atlanta Sports Council has talked to Georgia, Auburn, etc., about playing in the Dome.

Brian (Brooklyn)

After beating Georgia last year it looked like Ga Tech could be a national title contender then LSU ran them off the field at the Peach Bowl and they seemed like a borderline top 20 team. Which is the real Ga Tech?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:38 PM)

I was stunned by how easily LSU beat Georgia Tech. It will be interesting to see if defenses defend the option better in year 2. Nesbitt has to become a better quarterback, but you'd have a hard time finding a better tailback tandem than Dwyer and Jones. Tech has to replace all the defensive linemen, which made them tough to beat last year. Most of the tough ACC opponents come to the Flats, though.

Greg (Crystal Lake, IL)

I can't wait to see Texas defense in action this year. Despite being in the pass happy Big XII, I think Texas could have one of the better defenses in the country. Would you agree, and why?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:39 PM)

I think Texas' defense will be better in year 2 under Will Muschamp. A little more aggressive. They have to replace Orakpo and Miller, but Kindle is going to be an All-American.

Jon: (Wake Forest NC)

Do you expect Auburn to have a better season

Mark Schlabach
  (4:40 PM)

I think Auburn could be a sleeper if Gus Mahlzahn finds a quarterback. The defense will be solid under Ted Roof, and the Tigers seem to play better when expectations aren't so high.

Bruce (VT)

BYU vs Oklahoma is a pick'em as far as I'm concerned. Any reason to believe it won't be close?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:41 PM)

BYU lost some good players, but Hall, Pitta and Unga are back, so they'll be pretty proficient on offense. Not sure if the defense can hang with OU's offense, though. Will be interesting to see if the OU o-line gels quickly.

Dan (Ocala Florida)

Do you think that the debate over the SEC being the best conference has finally been laid to rest?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:41 PM)

No, you'll still hear about the Big 12 being better this year because so many quarterbacks are coming back.

Adam (Galax, VA)

Would you like to see a Final Four in college football?

Mark Schlabach
  (4:42 PM)

Would love to see a plus-one format.

Mark Schlabach
  (4:42 PM)

Sorry, folks, have to run. Have a great summer and can't wait for the start of the season. Talk to you soon.