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August 8, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Ivan Maisel

Ivan Maisel
  (3:01 PM)

Hey everybody, good to be back talking about things on the field.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Ivan, Oklahoma was considered a darkhorse for the national championshp by some. However, with the recent blows to their offensive line the past week. Is a Big XII Championship now in doubt?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:03 PM)

Well, I thought they were a much wider horse than you did. I thought they were a top five team. Bob Stoops sounded reasonably confident in plugging in the guys on the depth chart. Where the hole may come is who plugs in for those guys. A championship team has at least 8 OL that they can depend on. I still think Oklahoma is the favorite to win the league, but the margin is a lot narrower.

riv. m (Ks)

A big IF, but if E. Golson exceeds expectations this year how do u feel N.D.'s overall perfomance agaist the top schools on their schedule, Ou,USC,Mich, and would they have a legit chance of winnings any of them. thx

Ivan Maisel
  (3:05 PM)

I think there are a few teams that I perrenially get excited about and perrenially they disappoint me. Notre Dame, Florida State and others are some that I have to temper my enthusiasm. Notre Dame was better last year, but they still talk more about 2013 than this year. But in your scenario, sure. If they get consistent QB play. The offense has to show more than a jump ball to Michael Floyd who's not there any more. They have maybe the best TE in the country. The defense is solid. You can find reasons to be optimistic. You can, but I'm going to hold off.

Bruce (Columbus, GA)

Ivan; I'm really curious about Lane Kiffin. He's never been anywhere long enough to prove if he can coach (especially as head coach), yet he has gone from one top job to another. He has had top recruiting classes at USC but also has been hampered by sanctions. What is your take on his future? Will he break out with a top team soon or will he tank?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:07 PM)

They certainly put all of their chips on this team. The restrictions took longer than anyone expected. They were able to bulk up their depth. I get the sense that they think this is the year. Maybe they are so bullish on it because they know what's ahead. I think this year is really important, because of what this year has become with the buildup and they've embraced the buildup. We'll know a lot more about Kiffin this year. I think he's done a very good job there to date. I still think the restrictions they have had to this point are going to effect them at some point. But I seem to be in the minority in having that view.

Jay (Michigan)

Michigan chances against Alabama? How do you see this game going?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:08 PM)

I think Alabama will have too much speed, too much quickness on their lines of scrimmage for Michigan to handle. It's the advantage that the top SEC teams seem to have on everyone. No one's taken advantage of that more than Nick Saban. I think it's a critical difference. I will say that I was stunned that the spread is 12 points. I don't think there's that big a difference between them.

CC (Atlanta)

I still think Richt is on the hot seat. Do you? Anything less than 10 regular season wins and he's out. With our schedule 9 wins would be a disaster... that would mean he got outcoached (not out-talented) 3 times.

Ivan Maisel
  (3:10 PM)

Some of us are of the opinion that Georgia fans have been saying that for years and yet he's still there winning games. They were ready to give up on him after the 0-2 start last year, but I guess winning 10 in a row calmed them down a little bit, but not enough to have these questions stop. I think he's a very good coach. I continue to think he's a very good coach, which proves that I'm not a Georgia fan.

Justin (Stillwater, OK)

Some quick hitters for you:1) With 40 plus wins over the last 4 years has Oklahoma State arrived as a nationally respected program or are they still arriving?2) For you which holds more interest this season, TCU and WVU in the Big 12 or A&M and Mizzou in the SEC3) This year's sleeper team in the Big 12 is who?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:12 PM)

That's an interesting way of putting it. I think they've arrived, but I'm just not sure how long they will stay. This is a really important year. They were able to replace Dez Bryant with Justin Blackmon. Brandon Weedon came in and set a new standard at QB. And now Mike Gundy is handing the offense over to a freshman. I respect him as a coach. I think OSU has a lot of talent, but freshmen are freshmen. There aren't that many freshmen QBs for a reason. In terms of my definition of a power program, sustaining it year in year out, this is an important year.

Ivan Maisel
  (3:14 PM)

I'm intersted in both for a great deal, but for completely different reasons. I think TCU and WVU can enter the Big 12 and enter the best teams in the league. My interest in TAMU and Missouri is more like what happens to mice when you drop them into a snake pit in the laboratory. That's probably not fair to Missouri. My issue with the Aggies is not only are you stepping up to tougher competition is you are doing it while you are trying to transition to a new offense and defense with a young team.

Chris (South Carolina)

I'm pretty much in agreement with the pre-season Top 25 except for Michigan. Top 10? Seriously? Am I missing something?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:15 PM)

Well, I'll tell you what. I understand your hesitance, but Denard Robinson has been playing college football for 8-9 years now, at least that's what it feels like. You can not put high enough value on a QB who has 30-plus starts in college. Plus, I think the defense under Greg Matteson looks like what we expect from a Michigan defense, which we didn't get under RichRod. If they make all of the red lights, then yeah, I think they ride right up to the Top 10.

Don (Great Lakes, IL)

How do you think Illinois will fare under Tim Beckman?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:17 PM)

I think Illinois will fare pretty well. Tim Beckman is a good coach. You can see by the way they attack the Penn State roster that they are at least aggressive. Whatever you say about Ron Zook, he usually had a pretty good eye for talent. Whatever renovation that Beckman has to perform there won't be as extensive as you might think.

Donald (Lindenhurst, IL)

Who is your pre-season Heisman front runner?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:18 PM)

My preseason Heisman front runner is....very good question. I'll say Landry Jones. I know there is someone out there I'm not thinking of. I think a healthy Marcus Lattimore is the best offensive player in the country and if healthy, he'll win. But I'm not convinced that he's going to be healthy.

Jay (Michigan)

How do you see Boise St/Michigan St game going?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:20 PM)

That's an interesting game. We've put so much faith into Boise State the last several years. What we're going to find out early this season is how much of that faith went into Chris Peterson as the coach and how much went into Kellen Moore as the QB. Peterson's lost coaches over the years. He lost Moore. It's a real interesting season for Boise State. I tend to think because of the transition and because the game is in East Lansing that Michigan State wins, but you can't be surprised if Boise State rises up and wins. You should be used to that by now.

Ben (Baltimore)

I thought that John L Smith was pretty much a flop at Michigan State. Between his hire and going for a one-year solution seems to me like disaster for Arkansas. Do you agree?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:21 PM)

No, I don't agree, because of why Arkansas hired John L. Don't forget that he's been on the staff for the last few years. He parachutes in. There's no chemistry issues in the coaching room. There's no time for the new coach to get to know the players. Everyone likes him. His enthusiasm and positive attitude might just be the tonic for the shock of losing Bobby Petrino. I think it was just the right move.

April (Lake Bluff, IL)

Which first week game are you most looking forward to?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:23 PM)

Oh, Michigan-Alabama, for the obvious reasons. Boise State-Michigan State will be a very good game. Boston College-Miami will be interesting. And let's not forget what my friend Mark Blaudschun points out: No. 123 Texas-San Antonio and No. 124 plays South Alabama on Thursday night. Talk about big stakes.

Bob (Brooklyn)

Where do you see the potential for a BE team to make a splash this season? Lousville is talented, but raw. Rutgers defense seems elite, but their offense is a question mark. USF always has talent but seems to pan out by October. The league needs someone to step up

Ivan Maisel
  (3:25 PM)

Yeah if I had to put my money on a team this year, I'd say USF. With Daniels at QB, like I said about Denard earlier, it feels like he's been starting since the Clinton administration. That's something to hook on to. I don't see a team in that league making a splash other than WVU, had they stayed.

Cappy (Boston)

Ivan- If you had to guess at the % of the carries for Lacy,Hart,Fowler this year would it be something like 55/30/15 or do you think Lacy will carry a bigger load?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:26 PM)

Nick Saban has been real good about playing two backs or more effectively over the last four seasons. I see no reason that won't happen again this year. That said, both Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson were special talents, game-changing backs. I'm not sure that Eddie Lacy has shown that yet. It might be more of a comittee approach this year, but that can certainly work and be effective.

Kevin (Sacramento, CA)

Who would you say has the best defensive end tandem in the country? LSU, Florida State, or South Carolina?

Ivan Maisel
  (3:27 PM)

If I had to pick one, I'd pick South Carolina of those three. You can throw Texas in there too.

Stealthy (Auburn, AL)

Seeing practice and the atmosphere of this team, Auburn will move up in the polls as they become the surprise team (only to national pundits) in 2012 . . .

Ivan Maisel
  (3:29 PM)

Well, you have new coordinators on both sides of the ball. You don't have a proven QB. You have a lot of talent. You have a little bit of experience, not a lot. I think they're still a year away. But they know how to fight, especially late in the game. That's what got them into a bowl game last year. You might be right, but I still think they're a year away.

Ivan Maisel
  (3:30 PM)

Thanks. You guys made me strain my brain for the second week of August. I enjoyed it. I'm working the rust of the summer off. We'll be back at noon ET next Wednesday and every Wednesday after that. I hope you can come back.