We're just about to start our college football spring wrapup. Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg is the first one up!
I'm at the Big Ten meetings. I'll be happy to take your questions before getting back to stalking coaches and ADs.
Hey Adam After Joe Paterno's comments about Big Ten Expansion and adding a playoff were squashed by the commissioner, I have to ask....what is it about the Big Ten that makes them think they dont have to catch up to the future of college football in regards to expansion and always being the stickler in BCS or Playoff plans?
They've been in the BCS more than any other league. They've got fan support. They don't feel like their product is suffering. They don't feel like they have a need to do it.
What is the chance that Illinois will go 8-4, 9-3, or better this season behind Juice Williams at quarterback and the explosive receiving corps and returning running back committee.
They definitely have an explosive offense. The schedule is pretty tough. They have Missouri, Cincinnati. If they can get through the end of October with 5-6 wins, they'll be in good shape. But that offense is the best in the Big Ten.
Can a team like Purdue, Iowa or Wisconsin from the Big 10 ever compete for a BCS Bowl and compete consistantly with Ohio State.
Wisconsin has been to the BCS bowls. They're the last team to win one. Iowa can. Purdue can. All of them can compete but year after year is when it gets hard, competing with OSU and its recruiting and reputation.
With a lot of returning guys coming back and one of the best defenses, it is possible and do YOU think Iowa has a chance to play in Pasadena???
They have a chance, but their road schedule in league play is tough. OSU, PSU, MSU, Wisconsin they have to go to. A 2-2 split would be good. The schedule doesn't work in their favor, but they're good on defense. I definitely see them getting back to a New Year's Day bowl.
With a large portion of the Ohio State defense gone, and Chris Wells, how could Ohio State be the favored choice to win the Big Ten in 2009. Espescially since Terrelle Pryor has not yet proven himself as a stellar QB, not to mention having all the big play recievers gone.
OSU reloads much better than any other Big Ten team. Michigan will get there after a few years under Rich. OSU over a period of time has reloaded every year. They've dominated the Big Ten this decade. And I think their track record says that they'll be good on defense.
What are realistic expectations for Terrelle Pryor this season, both statistically and as a team leader?
I think he's going to pass the ball more. They're going to let him pass and improve in that area. He's not going to win the Heisman, but he'll improve and he'll be a candidate for All-Big Ten.
Real simple questions Adam: If OSU beats USC, then rolls through the Big Ten winning convincingly at PSU and against Iowa, do they deserve a shot at the NC? Moreover, what do you think the reaction would be from the rest of the football world? Finally, what, if anything, makes this a possibility?
Because they would have beaten USC, I think there would be a little more exceptance of them in the NC game. But if you go undefeated, I think you deserve a shot. If they beat USC, a team everyone respects, I think it would be a little easier for everyone to accept them being in the national title game, only as an undefeated team.
Can Michigan expect to compete with a freshman quarterback?
I think they can compete with a freshman QB that fits their system and they have that with Forcier and Denard Robinson. There will be some growing pains, but they fit their system. And everyone should be a year older. I think they can compete.
What do you consider a good year for Indiana football?
I think getting back to .500 and to a bowl game would be huge. They've only been to one since 1993. Finding a way to get to 6 wins and a bowl game is a step forward.
By the way, Joe Paterno is over sitting at the hotel bar by himself.
How can Penn State NOT be everyone's preseason Big Ten champ pick? Isn't it yours? So they lose some receivers...they were good but not great. Daryll will get the ball to the new ones just fine...GO PENN STATE!
That's very confident. I like to hear it. I think the bigger issue will be the secondary and the offensive line losing three starters. But PSU has a lot of star players and a very favorable schedule.
Will Minnesota bulid off of the hot start it had in 08' or continue to crash in 09'. If they don't improve, what was the difference between Tim Brewster and Glenn Mason?
One of the differences is how they're recruiting. They're recruiting at a high level now. One of the other differences is that Tim Brewster isn't afraid to play people. They're playing USC, maybe Texas. They have new coordinators so there might be some growing pains.
Adam, you should go buy him a shot. Northwestern has some talent back on defense and a schedule that is favorable (No OSU), any chance they can make a run at a New Years Day Bowl?
They have the defense to certainly be as good as last year, but I'm concerned with the offense. They lose pretty much all their skill players on offense. If they can start strong with a favorable opening, but I have some concerns about their offense.
Adam, I dare you to walk over to the bar and ask JoePa when he is going to retire.
Is Michigan State good enough to win the big ten, and how does the offense change without Javon Ringer?
The more I look at them, the more I think they could have an outside shot. Nichol and Cousins had strong springs. I think they'll be much more balanced and not as reliant on the running game.
Who is going to replace Shonn Greene and can Ricky Stanzi step up with year without a proven running back? Who is going to replace Mitch King and others on the defensive front line that was one of the best in the big 10 last year?
I think Jewel Hampton is probably the guy who will step in for Greene. He performed well last year. But it will be a committee at RB. They will rely more on Stanzi. It's encouraging what he's done in the offseason.
Adam, which true freshman do you think has the biggest impact in the Big Ten?
In terms of impact, I would say whoever wins the Michigan QB job. It's probably going to go to a true freshman. I don't see anyone else having as big an impact as whoever wins that job.
Last year michigan D looked just as bad as the O... Do you think the D will step up this year?
I think it will improve. There are questions upfront. They lost three starters on the line. I think they'll be better on the back seven. Stevie Brown had a nice spring. They should be better overall at LB and DB, but the line is the big question mark at this point.
Have you heard from any of the Big Ten's presidents about their view of the MWC's playoff proposal?
Jim Delaney has looked at it. He's pretty vocal in his opposition. There are some people in the league that are more open to it, but at the top of the league, this is a very BCS friendly league.
Who are your top three favorites to win? And who is this years Dark horse?
My top three are definitely OSU, PSU and Iowa. My dark horse would be Michigan State. I like the way the schedule sets up for them. Illinois is a potential dark horse, but they were so disappointing last year that it's hard to put them in that category.
Love the blog. Coming out of spring, who are the major Heisman contenders from the Big 10? And is it already Tebow's to lose, before the season even starts?
It is for sure Tebow's to lose. I think the Heisman has become a QBs award and the Big Ten's problem is that they haven't had a lot of good QBs lately. Darryl Clark from PSU might have a chance, but their schedule is so soft that it will be hard for him to get the recognition early enough to be a good candidate.
what do you think of robert marve to purdue?
I think he made the right decision, taking a scholarship to Purdue. It will be key to put all the stuff at Miami behind him. I think he has an excellent shot to compete in 2010.
Do you think the decisive game for the Big Ten Championship will be OSU-PSU?
Definitely going in, that's the way it looks. I think things could change with the Iowa, PSU game earlier, but right now, that looks like the game of the year.
Let's say Ohio State loses early to USC, then wins in Happy Valley and runs the table the rest of the way. What would you say their chances of making the BCS title game are? Good or bad?
I think it's very slim. Because of the Big Tens' national perception. That USC game is not just big for OSU, but for the league. If the league doesn't win a lot of those big ticket non-conference games, it's tough for them to get into the BCS title game.
Who do you think has the best non-conference schedule? I like Illinois, Georgia and Virginia Tech.
From a Big Ten perspective, Illinois and Minnesota that jump out to me. Illinois playing Missouri, Fresno State. Minnesota with Cal. Those are two schools that are challenging themselves.
Predict the UM/OSU ( I spit when I type it--but not at the keyboard, for those of you in Columbus) score?
I think it will be a little bit closer. I think OSU wins that game. But with Michigan having the game in Ann Arbor, I see the game lower scoring, maybe in the 20s with OSU winning by 10.
can we expect to see a continued improvement with northwestern, or did they hit a peak last year?
I think you'll see continued improvement as they become more of a defensive oriented team. If they continue to stress defense and focus on defense, they'll be in the middle of the pack and occasionally contend for the title.
whats joepa drinking?
I don't want to speculate on that. It's something red. It could be a bloody mary, but I don't want to speculate.
He'd never be able to have a drink alone if he were in Pennsylvania.
how does a potential injury to terrelle pryor affect the big 10 race?
Obviously, it would be a big effect on OSU. He's still their most dynamic player. He changes the game. I think OSU would still be good, but it would hurt their title hopes.
JoePa has left the building and is waiting for a ride.
Keep reading the blog for more updates from the Big Ten meetings. Thanks for chatting.
Sorry for the delay. Let's get going on the best of the rest.
Graham, do you really think TCU and Boise will be better than ND this year, or did you write that just to get a rise out of us?
Better is a relative term when comparing these three schools. Notre Dame's schedule is so easy that it's going to be tough to tell whether they are truly better. At least Boise State and TCU will be challenged. ND doesn't get a real challenge until USC. And this ND team has a knack for getting caught up in how good they are. It will be interesting to see whether they've been reading their press clippings and they struggle against Nevada similar to the way they struggled against SDSU.
If ND goes undefeated do they deserve a shot at the title? Over a one loss team lie Oklahoma, Florida, Texas?
If they go undefeated... maybe... but their schedule still won't be as tough as OU or Florida. So if those teams have one loss, depending on who it is, I think they'll get preference. Plus, Notre Dame hasn't been liked by the voters. Even when they were hot last year they were largely ignored in the polls.
Graham, How good can we expect Navy to be this year? Is a shocker anywhere on the horizon this year in Columbus or South Bend for example?
I think Navy will be really good this year if they can find a good running combination. Right now they don't have a duo as good as White and Kettani. I really like Ricky Dobbs. I think he's going to be able to pass the ball, which will give Navy a little diversity. I also think Navy's defense is going to be really tough this year. As for upset, I think winning in either Columbus or SB would be tough.
Graham, about ND's schedule- it looks pretty weak right now, but if Washington gets a little better, Michigan improves, and Michigan State overachieves, by season's end it could look a lot tougher. just saying...
Washington and Michigan aren't going to be so much better that it makes them strong opponents on the ND schedule. Both of their conferences are going to be strong this year.
Hey Graham, I have two questions. Does ECU need to go undefeated to beat out TCU, Boise, and Utah for the BCS game? What does UCF need to improve the most before playing at Southern Miss in the conference opener?
You know, posting this question 12 times doesn't make me answer it faster...
Obviously we all know Boise State plays in a weak conference. However, if the beat Oregon again this season and run the table during the regular season, might they end up in Pasadena (For the First Game there)?
I think it's possible that Boise State ends up in a BCS game... Now, the WAC schedule hurts them through no fault of their own. And, if they're going up against an undefeated MWC team, they'll be passed over again.
Graham, True or False: The 2009 Ute team has more "talent" than the 2008 Sugar Bowl team?
I think that's, well, I think on offense , yes. On defense, no. Regardless, it's gelling that usually wins titles, not just talent. I mean, Notre Dame on paper is easily one of the most talented teams in the country. See what I did there? I brought the conversation full circle.
What is all the hype about utah being bsc busters this year? They lost most of thier team and seem to be great one year and have a down year the next?
Who's saying that? Utah has a tough nonconference schedule and a youthful group. I think it will be tough for them to repeat.
How good is Manti Teo, does he start and does he make an immediate impact?
Yes he starts and yes he makes an immediate impact. He's the golden boy of this recruiting class and Weis is only going to have him for a year before he goes on his mission. If you don't use him now, Weis might not be here when he gets back.
Does ECU need to go undefeated to beat out TCU, Boise, and Utah for the BCS game?
In C-USA? Yes. They'll face the same obstacles Tulsa was facing early last season. But ECU is going to have some tough games against VT and WVU.
Graham, do you think Army can ever get back to consistently winning, the way Navy has?
Um, yes, but it won't be right away. I think Ellerson can win there and I already like what he's done with personnel moves and such. But he doesn't have the right players to win there right now. I think it's going to be a couple years before you start seeing any significant improvement.
Hi Graham! With a respectful loss against OU, can BYU garner BCS respect if they run the table the rest of the season?
I think you guys are underestimating Florida State. That's not going to be an easy game. And TCU and Utah aren't going to be easy either. I think BYU will be good this year, probably fighting TCU for the MWC by the end, but don't discount Florida State.
i've heard a lot about how this has to be jimmy clausen's break out year for the irish? but is there an irish player that isn't getting a lot of attention that we could all be talking about in the fall?
Armando Allen. I believe he's going to be the breakout star this year. I know the running game has struggled, but he had a fantastic spring and could be the different this year.
OK. I gotta go. Thanks guys.
Thanks, Graham. Hey, everyone. Questions about all teams, answers about some. Here we go.
Why is the Big 10 dead set against a playoff? They don't have to change the tradition. They can have their matchup by sending teams to geographic locations.
I guess you're intending to include the Rose Bowl as part of a playoff. Why would the Big Ten want to share the Rose Bowl. They didn't want to share it with the rest of the BCS.
ivan how did your like u of m spring game and how do you like the up grade on the big house
I went to Ann Arbor, but not for teh spring game. It is jarring to come up Stadium Drive, or Stadium Road, or whatever it is, and see the red brick rising up. One of the coolest things about the Big House was that it was understated, below street level, almost the Big Basement. But I'm not going to argue against progress. It looks good. It just doesn't look like the Big House.
Ivan..who would you say this year has the best defense in america?
It's either Virginia Tech, Florida or Alabama. The Hokies and the Tide are coming to your town Labor Day weekend for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, so we'll get a good idea right off the bat.
Ivan, if USC beats Ohio State, but suffers loss to a Pac-10 Cal or Oregon, do they still have a chance at the NC? Or just a BCS game?
It will be tougher for the Trojans because of the national skepticism of the Pac-10. But I can't give you a black-and-white answer. It depends on what the other teams do. If Notre Dame is undefeated when USC goes there, the Trojans may get a bump from that game.
Will Monte Kiffin truly make an impact on college defenses and will he be a recruiting factor in years to come?
I don't think he will revolutionize defense, if that's what you're asking. And I don't know how big of a recruiting factor he will be. I don't expect him to get out there and beat the bushes the way that Ed Orgeron does. And I don't know how many 17-year-olds know who Monte Kiffin is. If they come to Knoxville, I do know he'll coach 'em up.
Ivan, as far as your best defense in america answer, where to you think TCU fits this year. Year in and year out, they produce a top flight defense.
I knew I would forget someone, and I knew that I would hear from whomever's team got slighted. TCU is for real. Allow me to plug today's podcast, which I just finished recording with the one-and-only Beano Cook. We discussed TCU as BCS Buster. You'll enjoy it. It will be posted soon, if it isn't already. We also discussed the SEC West race, Greg Powlus and Syracuse, Delaware and sports betting, and, of course, Alex Trebek (the real one, not Will Ferrell).
Ivan, my girlfriend thinks i spend too much time with my friends, but i think shes just upset b/c her friends arent that cool. what should i do?
I say take her to a Northwestern game. If she loves it, ditch your friends.
Ivan, I'd like to hear your take as someone who is not the ACC blogger or writing for a fansite ? are the Hokies REALLY national championship contenders? What about another ACC team? Or are Florida, OU and Texas going to be dominant again in that conversation?
I think you have to include Va Tech in the conversation because they will play a top-10 team in the first marquee game of the season. Either the Hokies or the Crimson Tide will get a big boost out of that Sept. 5 game.
Ivan, why didn't Eric Berry get any Heisman chatter? He had a year (better in my opinion) or equal to Woodson's career except he didn't need to play special teams to match the all purpose yards. I know 5-7 is bad, but this isn't the NBA. Team performance shouldn't hurt the player's careers. Berry didn't even win the Thorpe award....What is going on?
James, no player on a losing team has won a heisman since 1956. Few players on losing teams win major awards in any sport, so college football isn't that different. It's not a reflection on Eric Berry. That guy is way past for real.
Ivan, what is your take on the progress at Nebraska? Are they on the cusp of taking the next step back to national prominence this year? How do you see them matching up against VA Tech?
I think this is the year that the Huskers return to the national stage. They may not stay very long but they'll get out there. The North isn't as strong as it has been the last couple of years. But the Huskers have the best linemen they've had in years.
Ivan what do u think of charlie strong? do you think he will be with the gators next year or finally get a head coaching job?
Charlie Strong is a very good coach. I can't explain why he hasn't been given an head coaching opportunity. Neither can anyone else. If you're a Gator fan, I wouldn't complain.
Ivan, I know you spent some time in South Bend, What is your assesment of Jimmy? I think his just an average college QB that is over hyped and I'm a huge ND fan. I would rather see Christ on the field. Thoughts?
Who wouldn't? Oh, you mean Crist.
Ivan, why isn't there a final BCS standings released after the Bowls? Is it b/c the winner of the NCG may not be #1?
The BCS ratings are used to pick two teams to play in the championship game. The commissioners don't have any interest in prolonging anyone's agony but putting out another one. That's my interpretation. But I'm not a BCS rating fan.
Wait a minute, Notre Dame has a player named "Christ?" You've got to be kidding me!
Quarterback Dayne Crist is backing up Jimmy Clausen. Based on my limited viewing, Crist has a lot of talent but not near the knowledge of the offense. He's not ready for this season. Unless Clausen gets hurt. Then Crist has to be ready.
Everyone is already picking Texas over Oklahoma, which I think is a mistake. The OU D ended last year holding Mizzou, Tech, and Florida to their season lows in points and brings back 9 starters on D, including the entire front 7. I don't see Texas scoring much on OU this year w/o a solid running game. And OU should be able to take advantage of Texas' young DL with a lot of screens and I-formation plays. What's your early take on OU-TX, the biggest game of the upcoming season?
OU's defense is very good. It should be in that conversation with Va Tech, Florida, Alabama and TCU. But the Sooners have one experienced offensive lineman. I don't see them contending for a national championship for that reason.
What is your take on the UF/UGA game being moved like Richt has suggested? When UF was getting beat 20 years ago Spurrier came in and said we don't need to move it and went on to start UF's great streak. Sounds to me like Richt should coach his players up better and worry less about location.
What either school would gain from another home game would be dwarfed by what both schools and the rest of us would lose in tradition and plain ol' fun. I hope they never move.
Ivan, Do you think that USC can shut down Pryor and the Bucks this year in the horse shoe, or is Ohio State going to find a glimmer of redemption?
I think USC shuts down Ohio State. The USC defense has a lot of talent. It's missing experience in a couple of places, but with Taylor Mays patrolling the middle of the field, I don't think anyone is going to have a lot of success against them.
What does Colt McCoy have to do to win the Heisman? If Florida goes undefeated, does Tebow win it by default, based on preseason hype, no matter what the stat sheets look like?
Tebow has a head start. But McCoy doesn't have far to catch up. I think as long as Texas keeps winning, McCoy will get a lot of consideration. And that may be the most obvious comment I've typed today.
Brian, with Pat White gone and the loss of some other key players, do you think that WVU has a better chance to win the Big East than they did last year?
I do think WVU has a good chance of winning the Big East because the league this season has no obvious favorite. You want to pick six teams to finish third, and then figure out what to do with Syracuse and Louisville.
What is one under the radar team that will make a BCS game
TCU is the top candidate from the non-automatic-qualifying leagues. I think Ole Miss has a shot. Nebraska. Iowa has a longshot's chance in the Big Ten. My colleague Ted Miller likes Cal as a BCS dark horse.
Ivan, what is your take on the idea that defensive coordinators will "figure out" Coach Paul Johnson's option offense. I understand that the more film and preparation time help, but thats true of all offenses and people seem to think Georgia Tech is doomed next year.
Paul Johnson has won everywhere he has coached, as both the head coach and the offensive coordinator. No one has figured it out yet.
Thanks, everyone. Brian Bennett, Mr. Big East, will be here in a snap.
I'm here to take any questions you have on the Big East (except who's going to win the league -- I still have no idea).
Since Jarrett Brown is going to be leading the mountaineers this year, What are his chances of being a first or second round pick in next years draft?
I think first or second round might be a little lofty, given that he'll only have one year of experience and West Virginia doesn't exactly run an NFL style offense. But with his size (6-4, 225) and arm strength, he'll be an intriguing prospect.
Is Paulus enough of an addition personnel wise, to bring 5-6 wins to SU this season? Who around him helps on the O-line to provide the offense a running attack or pass protection? Peace
I don't think so. I really see Paulus as a backup. I just don't see how he's going to be ready to start after four years off and with only three months to get ready. The O-line looked awful in the spring game. That's a major concern right now for Marrone, who's an O-line guy.
I hope Pitt beats the hell out of ND this year? Think they can pull it off? They need people from the hoop team..
If Syracuse could do it on the road, I see no reason why Pitt couldn't pull it off at home
Who wins between Auburn and WV and why?
I like West Virginia at this way-too-early stage. Yes, it's on the road, but Auburn will still be figuring out a new offensive system. And West Virginia showed last year it has just as much talent, and probably much more on offense
Brain, diehard Rutgers fan. Just graduated the best academic school in the Big East yesterday. I know you are big on Noel Devine, but do you agree with me that Joe Martinek may overtake him and lead the Big East in rushing. Better O-Line and a team with questions in the passing game. This kid was super-dominant in limited action last year. R-U Rah-Rah.
I like Martinek, but I don't know if I'd go that far. Schiano might not even make him an every-down back. Remember he has one 100-yard game in his career. He's not at Devine's level yet by a long shot.
Do you think the Big East will ever expand with more teams?
I do think a day is going to come when they decide they need a ninth team for scheduling purposes. They'd like to have that now, but no one makes sense as a fit. The 16 members in basketball also makes it tough to add. If it were up to me, I'd drop DePaul and add a football-playing school. But it's not up to me.
brain would like to see west virginia vr michigan that would be a good match up to see
It sure would be fun to write about all week
Do you think Rutgers can win 7 games this year with Joe Martinek as starting RB? Thanks
They could win 7 games with me at running back (well, maybe not). Remember they have two FCS teams, FIU and Army on the schedule. If that's not four wins right there, something has gone horribly awry.
Hey Brian, enjoy the chats but shouldn't you, Heather, and Graham only be allowed 15 minutes so that real football can be discussed? Anyway, seriously, football is cyclical so how long before the Big East becomes relevant?
Let's not forget that from 2006-2008, the Big East won three straight BCS games, beating the champions of the ACC, SEC and Big 12 while doing so. Just saying.
Will any serious Heisman contenders emerge from the Big East this year? And if so, who do you pick after spring, and do they stand a serious chance against the current favorites?
I don't see it this year. Had Shady McCoy or Donald Brown stayed, they might have worked into the conversation. Given that Tebow, McCoy and Bradford are all back, I don't see any way a Big East player comes close.
Brian, over the last few weeks you've been putting together your top 30 players in the Big East. Who would you say is your number one player right now?
Chris, I will reveal that on Friday. Stay tuned!
Which big east team has the most talent and potential to make the biggest impact on the national scene this year?
I'd say the most overall talented team is Pittsburgh, but their quarterback situation is still iffy and may hold them back. I'm not sure that any Big East team greatly impacts the national title chase.
Do you think that Pitt can be 6 - 0 going into the Rutgers game? If not, who do you see being their biggest obstacle?
6-0 is a tall order. That game at NC State is a tough one, and UConn always plays Pitt well.
Do you think the Big East would really drop a school for a better football team, B-ball is there bread and butter and has a ton of history?
DePaul has almost no history in the Big East and hasn't done anything since joining. That's what I was saying.
Man Brian, for being the only Big East cheerleader we got at ESPN, you sure are a downer.
I'm not a cheerleader. (You would not want to see me in a skirt). I'll defend the Big East when it deserves it, but I'll also tell it like it is.
Who starts for Scarlet Knights behind center? Or do we see the old QB Shuttle this year!
I think Natale will start the season, but Savage will push him and may even take over by midseason. Just my best guess, because no one has seen Savage play against college players yet
would you agree that wandestandtlksd has underachieved at pitt? sure, nine wins last season, but they've yet to really live up to their annual preseason hype.
I don't know that they've had a ton of hype there under Wannstedt. Two years ago, they were decimated by an injury to their starting QB in the first game. Last year, 9-3 was about as good as they could have been in the regular season, especially considering they lost their opener
What makes Cincinatti the favorite to win the Big East? Who's going to step up on that team and make them a contender?
They've got the best offense, the best quarterback and the best coach. They just need to find enough players on defense. The league schedule does them no favors, however.
Hey Brian, what do you think of South Florida's chances against Florida State and Miami? I think they split the games myself.
I tend to agree. Lose in Tallahassee but beat Miami at home. I actually think the Bulls could get better as the year goes along, which would be the exact opposite of the past two seasons.
Brian, isn't the uncertainty about a 2009 favorite merely reflective of the fact that vastly different types of teams have won the new BE since 2005? We've seen champs with a high-powered run offense (WVU), high-powered pass offense (Louisville), defense-first with no pass game (UConn), and defense-first with no run game (Cincy). A recent track record like that suggests to me that anything can happen.
I think it's mostly that there was such a loss of talent from last year, especially at the skill positions. Every team has serious flaws. From 2005 to 2007, you could reliably pick West Virginia and Louisville as the favorites, and WVU was the favorite again last year. This year, everybody has big-time warts.
Who will be the best freshman we see in the big east this year?
Keep an eye on Savage and Lowery at Rutgers, Tavon Austin at West Virginia and Giddins at USF
Would having a team that (almost) consistently ran the table in the league help the national perception of the Big East? (e.g. USC in the Pac-10) Or would critics just claim that the team was benefiting from weak competition? And how big are USF's games against FSU and Miami for the Big East?
I think it's more important that the Big East win some big nonconference games and have a team each year be dominant. I don't think it needs the same one year after year
Brian, with Wes Lyons having such a good spring, how is that going to translate into WVU's scoring ability this fall?
Well, I know this. Having Brown (6-4) throw to Lyons (6-8) in the red zone should be a huge advantage
Any chance uconn goes bowling this year?
Sure. I expect to see them in a bowl again. My only question is whether the Big East will have enough spots if Notre Dame takes the Gator Bowl bid.
Hey Brian, is this the final year for Kragthorpe at UofL? Any replacement ideas?
Tom Jurich is still preaching patience, but with stadium expansion underway and what looks like a lousy season ahead, there will be enormous pressure on Kragthorpe this year.
Any news on Jock Sanders?
Not yet. We won't hear anything until his court case is completely resolved, which should happen later this summer
Who do you see as a better NFL prospect, Tony Pike of Matt Grothe?
Tony Pike, hands down. Simply for the fact that he's 6-6, while Grothe is barely 6-foot.
What's the scuttlebutt on UConn's new passing attack?
They need receivers and for Frazer to be more consistent. The freshmen coming in at wideout will have a chance to play right away. Still, it should be better than last year. Could not possibly be worse.
Brian Brain, Why is SU being so secretive about Arthur Jones biceps injury? Is he really done?
First of all, it's a torn pectoral muscle. Marrone has said his policy will be not to comment on injuries and let all information come from the medical personnel. Every coach handles injury information differently.
ECU makes sense in the Big East.
Doesn't give the league a lot of buzz, and it's not exactly in a desirable market. Plus, ECU brings nothing to the table in hoops
What seniors in the Big East have 1st day NFL draft potential? Who is your preseason Big East offensive and defensive mvp favorites?
George Selvie, Arthur Jones, Mardy Gilyard, Tony Pike, Nate Allen ... and I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. Early favorites? Give me Pike on offense, Selvie on defense
ECU would bring as much to the table as as USF did in bball while bringing plenty in football.
Yes, but the difference between Tampa and Greenville is enormous
Brian, i think that Memphis makes more since than anyone in the Big East?
Currently, yes. But I think the Big East can do better than that.
OK, that's all the time I have. Thanks for all the questions. Next up is Mark Schlabach.
Mark, Does Alabama make it back to the SEC Title Game vs. Florida? If not, who will and why?
I think the key is going to be the offensive line. it's going to be tough to replace Smith and Caldwell and the right guard. I think McElroy will be OK, and Julio Jones will definitely help him out. I think Alabama might be the favorite, with Ole Miss as a definite sleeper. Obviously, the Rebels have to replace Oher and Jerry, which won't be easy. But I think Snead is going to take the next step, so the Rebels will be very difficult to beat. Don't count out LSU, either. Jefferson has to play well, though.
Mark, I believe the BCS boils down to a few things and they are: OU vs Texas, SEC Championship, USC vs Cal (or other stupid loss) and IF any Big 10 team can go undefeated. Is it that simple?
I think Virginia Tech vs. Bama will be big in Week 1, too. I think it's OU-Texas winner vs. SEC champion (presumably Florida at this point).
Mark, what do you think of Nebraska's chances in Blacksburg, VA the third week of the season?
They have a couple of Sunbelt warmups before Va. Tech, so we'll see how the new quarterback does. They're going to be better on defense. It's a tough game playing in Blacksburg. Will be a great non-conference game.
Mark, I know Missouri has lost several key players, stacking the draft with 6 picks. Do you see them becoming a contender with new quarterback Blaine Gabbert and a potent defense?
Obviously, it will be very difficult replacing Chase and Maclin and Coffman. Then you throw in losing Ziggy Hood and William Moore on defense. The Tigers have to be better on defense. They were downright awful at times last year. So the quarterback has to play well, but the defense has to improve more importantly.
which big east coaches do you see moving up to "bigger name/salary" jobs next?
I'm surprised Brian Kelly hasn't moved yet. Schiano is still going to be a hot name, and Randy Edsall has done a great job at U. Conn.
With Saban mentioning Arkansas rather than Ole Miss as the team to look out for in the SEC West, what do you think the chances are for Arkansas to be this years Ole Miss.
I think the Hogs will be much better in Petrino's second season. With Ryan Mallett coming in at quarterback, you figure the passing game will be much better. But the schedule is very, very difficult. Arkansas could be the most-improved team in the SEC, but the record might not be a ton better because the schedule is so difficult. At Alabama, at Florida, at LSU, at Ole Miss. That's tough.
Why is Edsall still at UCONN? Is he waiting on something in particular?
I think he likes where he is. He's had some chances to leave, but has stayed put. It's really a breath of fresh air to see a guy take a program to I-A and stick around to watch it grow.
Mark, what is the nonconference matchup your looking most forward to?
Alabama-Virginia Tech. Nebraska-Virginia Tech. Ohio State-USC. Georgia-Oklahoma State. Oklahoma-Miami. Boise State-Oregon. Those off the top of my head...
Mark, do you see Zach Robinson as a possible Heisman Candidate by seasons end?
Possibly. It's such a balanced offense, and he's going to be battling Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy for attention and headlines in the Big 12. Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter will get a lot of recognition, too, if the Cowboys are as good as advertised.
Mark- Boise state was Athlon sports preseason # 12 revealed today. do you agree? or should they be higher or lower?
We had them at No. 14 in the third version of our preseason top 25. I think a lot depends on the OL. It has to stay healthy and get better. A lot will be determined by the opener against Oregon. If the Broncos beat the Ducks, they'll have a chance to be a BCS contender and possibly run the table. They have a lot of talent coming back.
Will the Rose Bowl ever put a worthy opponent for USC to play like a team out of the SEC and not the BIG TEN?
The Rose Bowl will continue to have the Big Ten-Pac-10 matchup as long as the BCS rules allow it. They really like the matchup and tradition.
Mark, what do u think of the florida state-byu game the third week of the season?
I think it's an interesting road trip for FSU. I watched UCLA play BYU in Provo last year and it wasn't pretty. It will be a tough early test for the Seminoles. BYU has Hall and Unga coming back, along with Pitta. FSU is playing a lot of young players at key skill positions.
How long before games do they usually announce kickoff times? I hope the Alabama/VT game is 8pm, as VT usually gets stuck with afternoon games which really bugs me.
I think you'll be happy with the kickoff time.
Hey Mark, I'm a big Ohio State fan, but I'd sell my soul to see Florida play LSU at night in tiger stadium! What would you do to see that game in person?
I've seen it in person. Unbelievable atmosphere in Baton Rouge anytime the Tigers play at night. I'm sure Urban Meyer is hoping for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
Any chance Paulus gets some playing time at Syracuse?
He has a chance to play. I think Doug Marrone will give him a fair shake. It's been a long time since Greg has played football, though. I've heard his arm is still very strong. A lot of people didn't like him when he played hoops at Duke, but you have to give the kid credit for chasing his football dream.
Mark, I loved your article on Tebow's mechanical adjustments, but at the end of the day do you think it's a good idea? Seems to me there's no need to fix what's not broken.
I think it boils down to what Urban Meyer told me: You have to do Tim justice by trying to better prepare him for the NFL. He's given a lot to Florida. But I think at the end of the day, Urban and Tim won't be worried about his NFL future when the games begin. And I don't think you'll see him change the way he plays on the field, either. I think he'll still run an awful lot and take on tacklers.
Mark, Do you think OU can get over their BCS slump this year and break into the win column against a big program?
They came awfully close against Florida last year. I think if they beat Texas in Dallas, they'll have a chance to get Pasadena.
With our new OC at UVA, will the wahoos finally beat VT and make it into a significant bowl game this year? Or will this be Al Groh's last year as our coach?
I think it will be difficult. The Cavs have to replace most of their linebackers and receivers. Haven't settled on a quarterback yet, although Sewell and Hall give them some options. Glad to see Al Groh went with a faster-paced system. We'll see if it works.
Mark...What is your take on the OSU/ Georgia game 9/5?
Georgia has to find a way to get pressure on the quarterback, which it struggled to do last year. A couple of new starters in the secondary, so they have to get pressure on Robinson. I think Georgia can score some points, as long as a running back steps up. The offensive line should be better. But I think Oklahoma State is going to have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. We'll see if the defense is any better under Bill Young.
Do you think Muschamp will actually wait for Mack Brown to retire? Or will he take another job before then?
Having talked to Will several times, I don't think he's going anywhere. He knows he's being handed the keys to one of the best programs -- if not the best based on recruiting base and resources -- in the country. I think it's only a year or two before he takes over, anyway.
Every year a team in every conference comes in with average expectations and flies under the preseason radar , but during the season surpasses them and thus generates a buzz in the process due to the surprise season. Looking at the 6 BCS conferences, if you had to pick 1 team from each conference, who would be your surprise teams?
Good question...Not as much flying under the radar, but teams that might exceed expectations: ACC: Miami Big East: Rutgers Big Ten: Michigan State Big 12: Baylor Pac-10: Oregon State SEC: Arkansas
Mark, Talk to me about Georgia Southern Football and will we ever get back to the Erk Russell days?
You have a good head coach. You'll get better. Hatcher has had to restock the roster. Give him time.
Is Josh Lockerof UW a Heisman candidate?
Washington will have to win more games, but he's definitely one of the most exciting players in the country. Sarkisian will make him better, too.
Do you see Jarrett Brown as a Big prospect in the 2010 draft?
If he throws the ball like he did in the spring, he'll have a chance to move up the draft board. He's taller than Pat White and has a good arm.
How would you rank the BCS conferences for the upcoming season?
Early guess: 1. SEC 2. Big 12 3. Pac-10 4. ACC 5. Big Ten 6. Big East
Thanks for joining the chat. I'm handing it over to Heather Dinich, our ACC blogger. Tell her to keep my beverages on ice for the end of the season....
Do you think that clemsons not having a starting quarterback will affect either of them becoming a team leader?
No, definitely not. I think the competition will only make Kyle Parker and Willy Korn better leaders.
Hey HD, would you educate Brian that USF will not beat Miami ever or come within 14 points of doing so...Anyways HD i do not think 9 wins and "god
Aww, no picking on the Big East blogger. He's got enough problems without Pat White. That could be a trap game, but I see the Canes winning that one, even though it's on the road.
Heather! Love your blog! NC State's chances of winning the Atlantic/ACC and conference championship over Virginia Tech?
I really like NC State's chances of winning the Atlantic, and while Virginia Tech should be the preseason favorite to win the Coastal, that division is loaded with upset potential.
Heather, how do you see the Maryland at Cal game shaking out to start the season?
I see the Terps sleeping in that game because it amounts to what would be a 10 p.m. kickoff in Terp time (a.k.a. East Coast). Otherwise, I expect Chris Turner to play well. He'll have a good crowd of friends and family there.
Heather, do you think that Duke can continue to improve this year? What would you consider a successful 2009 season for the Blue Devils?
Yes, Duke will get better this year. It wouldn't surprise me to see them win five or six games and beat somebody none of us are expecting them to.
How close is Paul Johnson with G. Tech for competeing for a national Championship?
If he won nine games in his first season, I wouldn't think he was too far away, but that answer also depends on what everyone else -- like Florida, Oklahoma and Texas - are doing.
Hi HD. What are the keys for Hokies to be victorious over 'Bama ? What do you think the outcome will be ?
Whoever scores first might win that one. I actually think the Hokies will have the edge offensively, with Bama under a new quarterback and the offensive line having a different look. Those two advantages go to the Hokies, but Alabama's D will be GOOD. Should be a low scoring game.
OU at Miami. Who wins and why?
Oklahoma. They're a more experienced team right now.
Heather, please explain the NCAA's reasoning that its fair for Greg Paulus to play 4 years at Duke and then transfer to Syracuse without sitting out a year, but deny Corey Surrency an additional year because of a flag football league.
Ah, because it's the NCAA's reasoning, I can't. The Paulus rule makes sense. The Surrency rule does not.
HD, who will be a surprise player on both sides of the ball for BC this year?
Well, for BC's sake, let's hope the quarterback is a surprise, whomever that may be. And as for defense, I'd say it's up to Dominick LeGrande, Herzlich's backup to step up to the challenge.
Other than VT-Alabama and Miami-Oklahoma (which have already be chatted about), what's the biggest out-of-conference game on the schedule this season?
Well, you always have to look at Florida State/Florida, but Virginia Tech/Nebraska, and NC State/South Carolina should also be good.
Heather -- Should the ACC Championship Game be moved to Charlotte? And do you think it showed the arrogance of John Swofford to have it in Florida. He assumed FSU-Miami would meet up every year.
First, it is moving to Charlotte after this season, and second, I don't think Swofford assumed that, however it would obviously be good for business. I think a more centrally located stadium would be best, and Charlotte fits. We'll see how it works. More than just location played into poor attendance though last year. It was a rerun in a bad economy.
Hola Heather, was Russell Wilson's 1st team ACC QB selection a fluke considering injuries to other top QBs like Yates and Lewis, or do you see him taking it again this year?
Definitely not a fluke. Other coaches in the conference will likely agree he was the best. There's a definite chance he can repeat if he stays healthy. He's only going to get better.
I think the BCS is starting to ruin college football for me. This is the first summer that I'm not getting excited about college football as I used to. I just don't want to deal with the mess the BCS leaves at the end of the year. Is it just me, or you think other people might also be beginning to feel as I do?
No way! College football fans love the sport, which is why they're arguing so passionately on behalf of it.
Hi Heather, what do you see as UVA's best-case and worst-case records this season, and what will it take to keep Groh in town?
Best case -- Sewell takes over, Simpson has an all-star season and they go to a decent bowl game. Worst case -- the offense doesn't click quickly and it's home for the holidays again. Groh is given a pass for all of the staff changes and new faces on offense.
HD, why do you not include me on your ACC top DE list? I am a beast.
I know, I was at the Virginia Tech game last year. Maybe next year.
After VT, who has the nest defense in the league?
First, I'm not sure VT HAS the best defense in the league. Clemson will be very good, and I really like North Carolina's defense. NC State should also be much better.
High Def,....Oops Heather, Got a quick Miami question. Will Miami be Miami when Randy Shannon is done?
H-Bomb works too ... All I can tell you is that their AD seems to have the patience to find out.
Will Kam Chancellor be the best safety in the ACC next year? He's got to be top 3 hardest hitters in the conference at least.
No doubt he should be one of the best, but Morgan Burnett at Georgia Tech will be another one to watch. It seems like the year for corners in the ACC.
i keep reading about butch davis making the tar heels more athletic. will this be a breakout (mack brown type) year?
Butch is recruiting some talent, but the reason I hesitate to give the Heels too much credit early is because of how much offense graduated with their receivers. Not that the young guys didn't have a good spring, but it could take a few games before they really get it.
Do you think the ACC can surprise the nation again and produce 10 bowl teams?
Maybe even 11.
If VT beats Alabama, do you think it will change minds about the strength of the ACC or just increase respect and National Championship hopes for VT?
I think it will do both in a heartbeat.
Do you think C.J. Spiller has a chance at the Heisman?
If he does, he's about 10th on the list.
is sean spence 1st team ACC this year @ olb ?
He is good enough to be, yes, but the linebackers are another loaded position in the ACC. Vincet Rey at Duke, Dekoda Watson at FSU, Nate Irving, NC State, Quan Sturdivant and Brucer Carter at UNC .. the list goes on.
Best starting LBs in the ACC, or at least the top 3 perhaps since I know you hate making quick decisions.
Ha ... see above response. I'd probably say Sean Spence, Nate Irving and Quan Sturidvant
BTW HD, it's nice to see you have fallen into the trap of thinking BC will be at the bottom of the league this year. If we had listened to the pundits we couldn't compete with the athletes of the ACC, couldn't deal with a coaching change, couldn't lose Matt Ryan.... Good thing these games aren't played by the pundits and recruiting stars.
Well, that ranking had a little to do with the fact BC doesn't have a quarterback, is very thin at linebacker, and is learning a new offense. Other than that, they'll be OK.
How do you see Clemson's offense performing this year?
This is another year that it has no excuse not to perform well. OK, the o-line was an excuse last year. Not this year.
I'm hearing that Miami will beat UNC @ UNC. Does this sound like a bit of a stretch. UNC is on a bit of a streak against the U. Plus BD hasn't lost to his former team yet.
No, that doesn't sound like a stretch, although you're right, the Heels have had the edge there. Don't underestimate Miami. That team is loaded with talent. It's just got a brutal start to the schedule.
OK guys, time to pass it to my buddy Bruce Feldman, king of the workout warriors. Enjoy.
You think UNC's linebacking core of Quan, Bruce and Zach is the most athletic in the acc?
It sure sounds like it. All three timed sub 4-5, even if it's on the fast surface that's still impressive.
Hey Bruce, if you're a top recruit right now, which 3 coaches do you want to go play for?
I'd make sure I loved the schools because those coaches could bolt at any time... but the three I'd go with now are Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer and Mack Brown.
How can you leave Da'Quan Bowers off the list of workout warriors?
I talked to people in the Clemson athletic dept, the guys they were touting were Jacoby Ford and Spiller more than anything. Maybe next year for Bowers. He's still young.
Bruce. I hear a lot of people tell me how much better Eric Berry is than Taylor Mays. Is it not true that Mays just plays a different role than Berry which results in less interceptions?
You can't go wrong with either. They do play different positions. Berry is more of a ball hawk. Mays is almost a linebacker playing safety but he really came on and played great in the last half of the season.
Bruce ... was there a breakthrough season out in South Bend I missed? How did the Irish grab a pre-season 17th ranking?
They have a ton of experience and have you seen the schedule??? They could go 11-1 without beating one ranked team.
could colt mccoy be next heisman for texas
I actually voted him #1 last year with Bradford #2 and Tebow #3. Colt has plenty of good talent around him but it'll be a tough race and so hard to put up even better #s than he did in 08.
Hey Bruce, Just here to pat your ego, what's the next book your working on? Any chance you can handle another year with coach O at UT?
Thanks... Not sure quite yet. I think it'll have to be involving another really interesting character in CF though.
which team in the ACC do you see having the best chance to make a NC run in 2010? (I don't think anyone right now can do so)
Miami could be ready for a big run in 2010. The team has a ton of athletic freshmen and sophomores right now.. also UNC is one to watch.
Have you seen OLB Nigel Bradham at FSU? that man is a beast and is only going to be a sophomore.
Yeah, he is one of a bunch of athletic LBs they have there.
Bruce...do you think that Black-outs, white-outs, or Color-outs look best on TV?
The Penn State deal is very impressive.
I'm convinced that Ole Miss is going to "pull a Clemson" this season and dramatically underachieve. Am I wrong?
I think so provided Jevan Snead stays healthy. They have a better QB than Clemson and good receivers and a great D-line. plus the schedule is very manageable. Toughest games are home vs. Bama and LSU.
Bruce how much longer can you see Miami not being mentioned with the elite teams ?
Check back in November of this year, maybe even October. I think Mark Whipple was a great addition and they have a ton of top athletes ready to shine now.
Which team in the SEC West has the best chance to challenge Florida for the Championship in Atlanta?
LSU could beat them in BR and Ole Miss could beat them in ATL. They did beat them in Gainesville last season.
Bruce- Which non-bcs team do you like to "bust" the bcs this year?
Maybe Boise State.
As an NFL fan, which teams should I watch on Saturdays for the best Sunday prospects?
This year watch a lot of Big 12 and also Florida games.
Which coaches do you think are on their way out this year (barring a conference championship).
Maybe Al Groh. Weis has to win at least nine games.
if rutgers win out do they have a shot at a BCS game? I like rutgers to go 12-0 this year.
Nah, they have too many holes. Even 9 wins would be optimistic.
Do you think that Notre Dame is still an option for Urban Meyer
Probably not for four or five years.
does usc have a legit shot at the national title game
Yeah, but they need solid play from their QBs because their toughest games are all on the road. Plus their new LBs have to be very smart. They're probably faster than last year's D but that experience is tough to replace.
What does South Carolina need to do to escape their mediocrity? I ran into Steve Spurrier a couple of weeks ago, and as expected, he said they would certainly look good.
They have to hope Stephen Garcia has matured. If not, they probably don't get to even a bowl and if that's the case, you have to wonder if Spurrier comes back in 2010... Doubt he came back to go 7-5 all the time.
What record does Sherman need to stick around at Texas A&M?
Well, he's still new there, but he can't afford say a 3-9 season because Baylor isn't a doorman any more.
Bama-VT who wins and why?
I'll say Tech. They have more experience at OL and QB.
Which "elite teams" would be worse (lose at least 2 additional games) if they were in a different conference?
Maybe Ohio State and USC.
Any relation to Scott Feldman of the Rangers? Been pitching well recently!
Not that I know of but I'll claim him even he keeps pitching like this. Not related to the Morehead State football star either btw.
Will the winner of the TX-OU game decide one of the teams at Pasadena?
Whats up with UM's new D Coordinator? what does he habve in mind in terms of scheme, heavy blitz? interception focus?
With as much talent as Miami has on its Dline, especially at end, I doubt they blitz a lot. John Lovett though has to find ways to get his DBs more aggressive and forcing turnovers. I talked to Shannon last week and he loved that no one knows what to expect from his team scheme wise because of the two new coordinators. BTW, I'll have more on that in today's blog.
Are you related to Corey?
No, and him I wouldn't claim anyhow.
will bama win the west
I don't think so. The O-line has too many questions coupled with a first time QB. Plus they have to go to Ole Miss this season.
Where would Oregon have to end up in bowl season to final be recognized as one of the powerhouse programs of the past decade? They continue (for the most part) to end in the top 25... What do they need to do?
Start by beating Boise and then beat USC. It's about consistently being a top 10 team. I think Chip Kelly is the right guy for it though.
Bruce, Which coaching staff that you've talked to is the nicest and most accessible? Does it make you write more favorably about their team?
Honestly, most programs tend to be very friendly to the national media when you come to town.
Any thoughts on how early recruiting and commitments are happening?
It's going to keep happening earlier and earlier every year as coaches try and one up one another. It's unfortunate because it lends itself to spotty evaluations.
Thanks for the questions.. I'm going to hand off to my pal Tim Griffin, the Big 12 blogger, who according to Ted Miller makes a mean steak.
Thanks Bruce for the compliment. I don't know if it's up to Ted's high praise, but any of you guys are always welcome if you come down here. But on to some Big 12 questions. Please fire away.
What are your top 3 coaches on the "hot seat" to start the 2009 season?
Honestly Cullman, I can think of only two in my particularly conference. I think Mike Sherman is facing some immediate pressure to try to turn around the A&M program. And Dan Hawkins' "10 wins and no excuses" comment last season really raised some expectations at Colorado - if they weren't already there. Other than that, I think the other 10 coaches should be in pretty good shape.
Who do you think Nebraska's strongest weapons are on offense?
Noah: I really like the I-backs Castille and Helu running behind that big line. And the Cornhuskers go about five deep at tight end led by Mike McNeill. So I could see them going into a lot of 2-tight end sets and mashing opponents off the line.
is ou texas the most anticapted game this year?
Beau: It is for me. When I saw the report today about the game's 11 a.m. kickoff, it kind of made the hairs on my arm stand up. It can't get here quick enough.
Tim, do you see any real possibility that Texas will have a viable running game this season? Or will it be the same RB Committee/McCoy trying to make it happen but not being quite productive enough?
Drew: A lot of that depends on how fast Chris Whaley grasps the offense. And also if Cody Johnson can come back in better shape where he can shoulder more of the work. Because I don't think that Texas can win the national title if Colt McCoy is the Longhorns' leading rusher.
Speaking of Sherman, do you think he is the right person for the A&M ship?
Carson: I thought he was the right hire, after the Franchione firing, to win back some of the old traditional parts of the Aggies' fan base. But if he can't win this year, he's going to be in some trouble. And in the South Division of the Big 12, that isn't a good position to be in.
Who do you think is the most dynamic playmaker in the Big 12?
Justin: I'll go with Robert Griffin of Baylor. And as an underrated choice, also consider Brandon Banks at KSU. The Wildcats are planning on using him as a wildcat this season.
I might have a chance to go to some Mizzou home games this season (first ever big time football chance for me), do any count as "can't miss"?
Jason: You owe it to yourself to catch the atmosphere for the Thursday night game when Nebraska visits. That one should be entertaining.
What are Nebraska's chances of winning the North and actually competing for the Big 12 title?
Taylor: I think quite good. It will depend on Zac Lee's progress and cobbling together a workable defense. I think the Cornhuskers can win nine games and remain in the hunt for the North title.
Who is your early frontrunner? Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
I'll say Tebow, only because his team will be favored coming into the season. I don't know if McCoy or Bradford can match their statistics from last season. If they don't do that, it will be hard for them to make a case for the award. Tebow's numbers went down last year from 2007. I bet they go up this season.
Why doesn't OU recruit more in Florida? That is where all the speed athletes are, right?
John: I think they do try to recruit, but it's tough to get a foothold when compared to the SEC and ACC schools that are already entrenched. Instead, the Sooners have developed into obviously recruiting Texas heavily, as well as the Las Vegas area in recent seasons.
Love the blog Tim. Heres my question for you; Do the Iowa State Cyclones ever turn there football program around? Or should I just become a Hawkeye fan.
Jason: I don't know if I would go that far. Just be patient. It wouldn't surprise me if Rhoads was able to get the Cyclones back into bowl contention in three or four years.
I know my Sooners are replacing 4 offensive lineman, but Texas is replacing its entire defensive line. Which is more difficult to do: rebuild an offensive line, or rebuild a defensive line?
Phil: Nice career. I think it's tougher to rebuild an offensive line, considering the cohesion you need to build. Also, I think that Sergio Kindle and Alex Okafor are going to be pass-rushing beasts for the Longhorns.
Regarding the Texas Oklahoma Debate, everyone is saying how great Oklahoma's defense is and how it will be a tough match up for OU. But what about Texas's secondary. Rumors are that its two deep, and if you take OU's passing game away, can they still win?
Daniel; Those aren't rumors about Texas being two-deep in the secondary. I have seen them and they are going to be very good. They made Colt McCoy look ordinary in the spring game.
What non-conference game does the Big XII need to win to garner respect after last seasons bowl games?
Erik: I think a couple of them. The biggest non-conference games for the Big 12 will be Georgia-0SU, OU-Miami and Nebraska-Virginia Tech. If they can win a couple of them, they should be in good shape.
you say the horns cant win it all if colt is the leading rusher but yet they were a blake gideon drop from being there last year. if whaley grasps the offense then texas could be very scary. what do you think chances are garrett gilbert gets on the field this fall ?
Craig: Just think it's asking a lot of Colt to do that. He would have seen the trouble of that style if he had played those jet-quick defensive linemen from Florida. And I think there is a good chance that Gilbert plays this season. That would make him a sophomore and ready to compete for the starting job in 2010. That's why he came to school there, wasn't it?
Hey Tim, great blog. What do you think of OU's DT depth? After McCoy, Granger, and Taylor it gets pretty thin. Does Jamarkus McFarland step in?
Blake: The first three in the rotation might be the best 1-2-3 group in the nation. They do need to stay healthy and hope McFarland can step in when he arrives.
Which Big XII stadium has the best food?
Scott: From a spectator standpoint, I can't really say. But I'll always be partial to the Mexican buffet at Texas. It's been picked as one of the best by several different sports writers.
Tim, did you just refer to Okie State as "Zero"(0)SU? If so, that's awesome!
Blake, I thought I typed OSU. Nothing meant by it. Think the Cowboys can challenge for the Big 12 South title if their defense improves.
Who do you have winning the north division?
Will A&M lose to every big 12 south team this year?
Keith: I'm saying no. I think they can beat Baylor, who hasn't won at Kyle Field since 1984. That's a long streak to overcome.
Neb vs. VT, chance for the Red to win and factors?
Jake: Tough game for the Cornhuskers. I think they have a 30-35 percent chance to win the game in Blacksburg. They'll have to control the line of scrimmage, keep the ball away from Tyrod Taylor and keep mistakes to a minimum.
Schlabach mentioned OU's lack of depth on the defensive line...can you please let him know that this is probably the deepest and most talented OU D-line ever? They go 5 deep at DT and 5 deep at DE..is he insane?
Garrett: I'm not going to say anything about a fellow ESPN employee. But Oklahoma has the deepest collection of defensive line talent in the conference.
What are the chances the Rose Bowl will have two undefeated teams like it did in 05 with Texas and USC.......and if you think it's very possible, what two teams do you think can make it there?
Andrew: I think there's a good chance. How about the winner of the UT_OU game and Florida playing there. I'm leaning slightly to Texas beating Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry.
I'm going to pass it over to my good friend, Pac-10 blogger extraordinare Ted Miller. Thanks for the questions.
Wow... almost hate to interrupt because that was some good stuff. Howdy folks... who your hump day is going well... fire away...
Ted, Bruce Feldman said that USC might lose an additional 2 games if it were in another conference. Is he or anybody else aware that SC has only lost a single game outside of the Pac-10 over the last six years?
Bruce is a cool dude but USC would dominate every conference just like it dominates the Pac-10. Why? It has better players than everyone else.
Ohio State beats USC by how much?
That's so far away... did USC and Ohio State play last year and, if so, what was the point spread?
Can Arizona build on last years bowl win?
Yes... obviously folks are concerned about breaking in a new quarterback and rightly so, but my general feeling is Mike Stoops has been collecting good players and they've established a system. OC Sonny Dykes will get the most out of a first-year QB and the Wildcats will play in another bowl game.
What shot does Oregon have in beating USC and playing in a BCS game ?
A decent shot...USC may be vulnerable -- may be -- and Oregon has some nice pieces back, including QB Jeremiah Masoli. The key thing for the Ducks: They have Cal, USC and Oregon State at home.
Ted, A question that I've long wondered is why does USC not schedule any nonconference games with SEC schools such as BAMA, Florida, Ole Miss, or LSU? These would be great match ups.
I'm looking into this and will blog on it shortly... what I can tell you now -- much to my and everyone else's disappointment -- is there is little hope for putting something together in the short term. Unless we get a BCS championship game, which would be great fun.
What are Washington's chances at getting to a bowl with Locker healthy?
That might be a little ambitious but, Ben, far stranger things have happened. Also, if the Huskies had scheduled more wisely -- not scheduled LSU and Notre Dame, for example -- it might be more plausible. I'd say remote... but Locker is such a difference maker I wouldn't rule it out, which says something considering we're talking about an 0-12 team
Why are people over looking Oregon State again? The Beavers are deeper than ever, Yes the talent is young but the talent is better than we have ever had in Corvallis. I honestly dont see how they finish lower than 4th
Why? Tradition! Fourth sounds right... I still think replacing an entire secondary should give anyone pause. And it sounds like the Beavers didn't leave spring practices feeling great about their O-line... That said... They'll be in my preseason top-25 because they've earned that respect after three consecutive seasons finishing there
if usc were as dominant as, say florida or oklahoma, it wouldn't lose as often as it does to teams it shouldnt lose to.
Look at who the past few national champions lost to during the regular season. Then fill their names into your comment.
Can Chip Kelly take the Ducks to new heights? Can he get the Ducks to there first National Championship in the near future? What are the chances this year?
Maybe. Maybe. Probably not great. I think Kelly is going to do a great job at Oregon, which Mike Bellotti built into a national power. As for as next year, I always take a wait-and-see attitude with teams that have uncertainty on the offensive line.
With the PAC-10 going 5-0 in bowls last year and USC being the premier program in the country, why are we still getting disrespected?
I don't know. Because we live here and they live there...
What would it take to consider Tim Tebow the GOAT?
Another Heisman... another national title.
Would you argue the PAC-10 is a better conference than the SEC?
if Notre Dame beats wash, wassu, and usc, will you mail me a beer?
If that happens, my guess is you already will have had plenty.
True or False. Cal could contend for a National Title if Tedford would subscribe (just a little) to the concept of defense being important.
I don't buy the premise. Cal's been solid on defense under Tedford -- ranked second in scoring D in conference last year. And my guess is Cal will, again, have the Pac-10's second best defense... and maybe even best...in 2009.
do you think ty willingham will ever coach d1 again?
Better hair,Arizona's Brooks Reed or former Trojan and current Packer,Clay Matthews?
Clay's was always much more LA -- it was glam rock stylish. Reed's reminds me more of a biker... So I guess it's a matter of taste. I'm really hoping the Thor thing sticks with Reed, though...
Has the Ok State safety got up from Massoli's hit yet?
Thanks for that Will... my favorite play (times two!) of last year.
Does Matt Barkley have a legitimate shot at starting for USC or is this some kind a jab at Mitch Mustain intended to light a fire in his belly?
Mustain is a talented guy who still hasn't learned how to stop making mistakes -- he thinks he can make the ball go places it can't. As for Barkley starting... my hunch is no, Aaron Corp will be the guy. The big question then will be whether Barkley becomes the true backup -- and burns his redshirt -- or whether that would then fall to Mustain...
Speaking of Mustain, was it a mistake for him to transfer to USC?
looks that way now, eh?
Why is everyone jumping on the Oregon bandwagon? Masoli had one terrific performance against OKState but both their lines need work and they had a fairly mediocre regular season (finishing 1 game above Cal in the Pac-10)
I've been picking Cal ahead of Oregon, but most of the national media loves the Ducks... that fancypants offense... we shall see...
Gang... it's been fun. Handing off to the one called Chris Low, the knower of all things SEC...
Does Tennessee have enough talent to make some noise in the SEC this year and get back in the top 25?
Not this year. But if they have another recruiting class comparable to this one, I think the Vols could make some noise in 2011. They've got to find a quarterback.
All the the LSU home games are currently scheduled for 8:00 PM on espn's LSU page. Do you know if this is official?
No, some of those games will be moved for TV purposes.
What are the Tide's chances of making the SEC championship game this year?
I think it's a three-team race with Ole Miss and LSU. Alabama's defense has a chance to be even better than last year. If McElroy comes through at QB and Joe Pendry can whip that offensive line into shape, I like the Tide's chances. They do have to play at Ole Miss, though.
Chris, any news regarding Bama, the NCAA, and textbooks?
I was told when the letter came from the NCAA that Alabama should expect some type of penalty, probably the loss of a scholarship or two and a two-year probation that doesn't include a bowl ban or television ban.
Georgia's schedule is a tough one this year. Should fans be optimistic, and what is the bowl outlook for the Dawgs?
What a tough start to the season with games at Oklahoma State and Arkansas in the first three weeks of the season. That Arkansas game is critical. If the Dogs can win that one, I'm saying 9-3.
Who can stop Julio Jones? Who can stop the madness of Saban and the crazy recruiting he's doing? Is there any greater place for football than Tuscaloosa Alabama?!?!?!
As for Julio, I think he's the best non-quarterback on offense in the SEC. Just a nightmare for anybody trying to cover him one-on-one. He never goes down on the first tackle.
Can a successful program be built in Starkville?
Absolutely. Croom won eight games two years ago. The first thing Mullen has to do is get most of the best players from that state, and he's off to a good start. I'm anxious to see how good QB Tyler Russell is.
Chris, I was born and raised here... I love the Gators... but I am sick of seeing them play overrated BIG 10 and BIG 12 teams.... Isn't the real match up, SEC Champ (us) vs. USC?? That's what I want.
I'd love to see the Gators vs. the Trojans, too. Maybe this is the year we see it in the BCS National Championship Game.
With all of the talent in the SEC, at what point does Steve Spurrier call it quits when he realizes that the Gamecocks aren't going to win an SEC Championship in the near future?
He insists he's not near that point. But another five- or six-loss season may well send him to the golf course full time. I really like the young talent that the Gamecocks have brought into the program.
Chris, how many self-reported minor infractions is a program allowed in a given year? It seems like UT is reporting something else every week.
All programs have their share of self-reported violations. It's just that some of Tennessee's have been higher profile because of the lightning rod Kiffin has been and all the things he's said ... before ever playing a game in the SEC.
With the Gators returning all 11 defensive starters and all 11 back ups, and the offense loosing so much fire power, will the defense win the Gators a national title?
I think the Gators will win another national title because of the combination of their defense, Tim Tebow and the best kicking game in the country.
Chris, in your understanding, is vol-nation generally excited for or fearful of the lane kiffin era?
Honestly, a little bit of both.
Auburn has been staying under the radar (until the Limo Party), how soon until they become a factor again?
I think the defense will be very good, and I'd look for a monster year from Coleman. The issue is quarterback. Who's it going to be? Down the road, I think Rollison is the man. It's a bit much to think he can come in and be the quarterback right away. I'm thinking six or seven wins this year.
Ted Miller believes USC would dominate any conference. I really can't believe he thinks they would "dominate" the SEC. I could see them in the mix for the championship every year, but dominate? Your thoughts?
Nobody is going to "dominate" the SEC. Florida's in the midst of an incredible run, but there are three or four teams in this league who could knock off the Gators. Did anybody see Ole Miss beating them last year. The first thing USC would need to understand about playing in the SEC is that there are no weeks off. The Trojans have been known to take a few weeks off over the last few years, and it's cost them.
How do you think LSU will do this season?
Better than last year, mostly because I think the Tigers will regain their edge on defense under John Chavis. If Jordan Jefferson takes the QB job and runs with it, I expect the Tigers to be right there in the West race. They do have the tougher schedule of the Big Three in the West, playing Florida and then having to play at Ole Miss and at Alabama.
Georgia: How do the injuries look for us?
Everybody of note should be back for most of preseason practice. The big loss was losing Justin Houston to suspension for those first two games.
Didn't Florida take a week off against Ole Miss last year? It didn't cost them...
Ole Miss turned out to be a really good team, though, which I think didn't hurt Florida as much in the polls.
How do you see the Hogs doing in BP's second season?
The Hogs are my team to break through in 2009. But because of their killer schedule, I don't think their record will be quite as reflective of their improvement. I'm saying 7-5.
How many wins for Kiffin in his first year at UT?
I'm torn between 6-6 and 7-5.
Chris, What are the chances of AJ Green and Julio Jones being the first two wide receivers picked in the 2011 draft?
They would definitely be my first two receivers taken.
How do you see the Florida Tennessee score coming out this year. Do you think Urban will tack on a few extra points if possible?
A few extra points and a few extra timeouts at the end to rub it in.
How does Alabama match up against a strong Virginia Tech team?
Two of the best defenses in the country. Alabama wins 17-13.
Thanks for all the questions. We'll do it again soon.