Colin Dunlap: Well good afternoon.
Welcome to the final regular-season West Virginia football chat...what do you say we get started.
Herd: I really, really think WVU should make sure they keep Marshall on the schedule. It makes Oliver Luck look bad if he backs out on the Marshall series.
Colin Dunlap: Wow! I didn't know you took the time to join these chats, Chuck Landon.
Thanks for the question.
Let's move on to real business.
Greg: How do Jock and Noel look to potential NFL scouts? Either of these guys actually have the "next-level" speed to make them NFL-caliber players for more than a year?
Colin Dunlap: Good question. And try to follow me here...
I actually think Jock could be a better NFL guy, and here is why: The limited numbers on an NFL roster. Seems to me, Jock can be valuable because he can run the football, catch the football, return punts, return kickoffs, will play on a kickoff coverage team and could be a tackler on a punt coverage team. The guy has a ton of versatility.
As for Noel, while he is a wonderful running back, and will get a look in the NFL, no doubt, I think his versatility is limited to a degree. As everyone knows, NFL teams are always playing that juggling game with roster numbers and I think Jock's ability to be a super-utility guy could be his biggest asset.
Patrick: Colin-- I've been seeing rumors that the Champs Sports Bowl would take a 9-3, ranked WVU squad over an unranked 7-5 Irish team. Can you substantiate this?
Colin Dunlap: I have been told, by someone very near the situation, that the Champs Sports Bowl wouldn't mind "waiting" on a better Notre Dame team in the availability window they have to get the Irish. That said, there is a juggling act here, though. What is Notre Dame, in that four-year window, gets "too good" in a sense for the Champs Sports Bowl? It is, undeniably, a calculated risk. So, with all that said, after speaking to someone, I am now convinced that if WVU does not get the BCS bid, they will be in Orlando.
Colin Dunlap: That last response should read "What IF Notre Dame , in that four-year window, gets ..."
Rob W.: What is the next domino? Villanova? UCF? Notre Dame in? Notre Dame out? Also, do you think my gut feeling is correct - that the football schools finally called the basketball school's bluff and threatened a break if they did not accept TCU for all sports? I just can't see the basketball side willing to give up the balance of power but my gut tells me that they were told that the football side would walk and they still want to play UConn and Syracuse.
Colin Dunlap: I have said all along it will be VIllanova's choice to jump in football (which it is) and then UCF will be granted the next invitation. The real question is, how long does Villanova really have to decide?
Rob W.: After the losses to Syracuse and UConn, what was your sense of what was going on inside the program? Did the coaching staff and the players pull together or was there division? Other than LSU, this has not been a strong schedule, but as critical as I am of Stewart I have to give him credit if he winds up 9-3 from where he was.
Colin Dunlap: You can't control the conference schedule; Pitt came into the season with these ultra-high hopes and grossly underachieved. And, Maryland was a BCS-league school that was scheduled. So, the schedule outside of LSU wasn't as awful as some make it out to be. I look at it like this: The turnaround since the Syracuse and UConn losses has been very, very nice; it has been something of a rejuvenation within the throes of the season. But, when you look back at this season after it is complete, won't the defining moments of the season still be those two losses and not the wins that followed? Many, myself included, would argue the defining moments would most likely be the losses, not the subsequent wins.
Lt. Frank Drebin: Colin, does Bill Stewart know anything about Hector Savage? He's from Detroit, an ex-boxer. His real name was Joey Chicago.
Colin Dunlap: No, but he is friends with Ed Hocken.
Justin: Any prediction on where WVU ends up bowl wise and who they play after all these games are played this weekend? The biggest factor obviously being your prediction of who wins the UCONN/USF and WVU/Rutgers games.
Colin Dunlap: If you were to make me fly to Las Vegas (and, gosh, I wish someone would MAKE me fly to Las Vegas) and you were to make me sit in one of those ridiculously comfortable leather chairs at the Bellagio Sportsbook (gosh, I wish someone would MAKE me do that), I would bet that West Virginia and South Florida win the football games they participate in on Saturday.
That would put West Virginia in the Orange or Fiesta Bowl.
Justin: Has the improved O-line play been more about WVU actually improving or has the level of competition made them look better?
Colin Dunlap: The o-line play hasn't really improved all that much. I think two things have happened: Josh Jenkins has improved a bit and WVU's run game has pretty much abandoned everything to the right side when they need to make yards. Go back and watch the Pitt tape. Barclay was mauling people and Jenkins played, probably, his best game. Jeff Mullen went heavy left-handed when he needed to gain ground. So, to say the offensive line has improved as a whole is a bit of a misnomer.
Rob W.: Was that Casazza????
Colin Dunlap: No. He's probably walking his dog. He does that about 1237129321418 times a day for some reason.
Late-Great Leslie Nielsen: Colin, a hypothetical question: If WVU goes to the BCS and defeats either Nebraska in the Fiesta or VT in the Orange, what kind of contract extension would see you Stew getting?
Colin Dunlap: No idea. Maybe a year, maybe two --- maybe none. It won't be something blockbuster.
Wayward Eer: Given the talent in (or not in) the program from an offensive line stanpoint, is there any hope that this unit can be at least average next year?
Colin Dunlap: They are average now. That is the problem. Much of it depends on how Spain develops and how Jenkins' game continues to progress. Also, Pat Eger intrigues me as does this Kindler kid.
W.Gwinn: I wish we would see more of ALSTON and AUSTIN this year. BUT the future looks bright with those 2. Anyone else to have a break out year next year? What is going to happen with the midget recruiting?
Colin Dunlap: William Stewart --- or Bill, or Stew --- made it quite clear in his postgame conference after Pitt that he likes the big backs. Brian Bennett at ESPN wrote something about this yesterday. I think there will be a shift to that in the years to come, or as long as Stewart is coach at West Virginia. I thought it was very, very telling what Stew had to say. As far as a player who could have a breakout year? Maybe McCartney. But I will tell you, they will NEED a breakout year from someone on that D-Line. A guy like Will Clarke would do well to play well next season.
WVUPensGuy: In your dealings with the players, are they doing a good job of staying focused on the Rutgers game? I think we all remember the last time everyone looked beyond an "easy" final game...
Colin Dunlap: Yep. Absolutely. I will say this: It has been eye-opening just how much of a leader Jock Sanders has turned into this season. Totally eye-opening.
Lt. Frank Drebin: Colin, what happens next season when this defensive unit loses Neild, Leonard, Lazear, and Hogan? I believe the truth is that the unit will not be nearly as good. And the truth hurts, doesn't it, Dunlap? Oh sure, maybe not as much as landing on a bicycle with the seat missing, but it hurts!
Colin Dunlap: Oh yes, it hurts! Let's see what a guy like Busick can do, what a guy like Rigg and Miles can do at LB. But, to me, it will still come down to the lineman. Also, as per Busick, it has been an intriguing season for that young man, huh? I thought he'd play a much bigger role. Let me just clear some things up .... let's just say I am fully confident in saying that little hand injury he received didn't come within the confines of the football field. That set him back a whole lot this year. I know that he is a big part of the future, though.
CN123: Can you give us your analysis of why you think UConn will lose Saturday? I'd like to know if its just hoping that WVU gets in for the conference's sake or if you really think USF will pull out a win. I, for one, am not confident in counting on USF to do anything.
Colin Dunlap: Because they are 1-4 on the road (I didn't look that up, just thinking off the top of my head so I could be wrong) and USF will throw two QBs at that Todd Orlando-led defense. Now, Todd Orlando, UConn's defensive coordinator and a great western Pennsylvanian, is a good coach, but he was a tiny bit confused when Geno Smith was running the football early in the WVU-UConn game. Honestly, WVU confused the heck out of them. I think that USF using two QBs will really mix UConn's defense up.
Greg: Odds on USF doing WVU a favor at taking down UCONN this weekend? Go Bulls!
Colin Dunlap: I think USF will win, I really do. It is funny; I spoke to Skip Holtz this week, a man who is a tremendously quotable guy. He said that he will never be as popular in the state of West Virginia as he will be this Saturday night (provided WVU takes care of their business on Saturday afternoon)
WVUPensGuy: Everyone's talking about USF-UConn, but what are the odds of Cincinnati denying Pitt a BE title share? Go Bearcats!
Colin Dunlap: Pitt will win that game.
Rob W.: UC can't tackle or cover. Plain and simple
Colin Dunlap: Pretty good call. I will say this: I think Butch will get it going there. Pitt will beat UC on Saturday, but I think Butch will get UC going --- I really do think they made the right hire. He needs to get that defense tightened up and they will be fine.
Justin: Do you think the decision Devine made to stay one extra year affects other player's choices moving forward? I would think it could not have a positive impression on a similar player like Austin.
Colin Dunlap: No. I think players look at those sort of decisions more independently than you would think. While they consult with other guys, it really does come down to what is best for them. In terms of Tavon Austin, I see him as a four-year guy, for sure.
Late-Great Leslie Nielsen: Colin, who's your favorite for Big East coach of the year? Marrone or Strong? Someone else? Does Dave Wannestadt get recognized for doing the least with the most?
Colin Dunlap: Marrone.
They were dreadful.
Beck: Do you ever get on Rivals message board and if so, what do you think of all the Rumors flying
Colin Dunlap: I only believe eersports.com
Cody: How much would you be willing to bet on USF?
Colin Dunlap: Not my mortgage, but more than a gyro at Nick's Canteen.
Justin: Have the most recent games slowed down the Stew bashing or is it just being better filtered? I have been on the fence since he was hired (personally wanted Butch Jones) and he still has me on the fence. If he wins a bowl game is he safe?
Colin Dunlap: I think the Stew bashing absolutely fluctuates in direct proportion with wins and losses. There are some people who are hard-liners: hey will ALWAYS be for him or ALWAYS be against him and you will never change those folks. As for his job security moving beyond this season, I really don't know, honestly, I don't. I wonder, though, if he beats Rutgers on Saturday, how much of a factor the outcome of that game in Tampa Saturday night --- which he has zero control over --- could weigh in the decision on whether he comes back.
mdeer: rewind the tape to near mid season when you gave odds on coaches staying or going based on final record. stew seems to have positioned himself to stay (if all breaks right how could you fire a coach who takes his team to BCS bowl?) is Johnson and Mullens (still inconsistent) on the hot seat? and do we have short memories - we actually scored more points after half-time than we did in the first quarter! is this simply a porduct of Pitt not having a chance to see our O in the first half so couldn't make adjustments!?! (a new game plan - keep the O off the field until the second half?)
Colin Dunlap: Walt Harris "left the program" after he went to a BCS bowl.
WVMule: What does WVU do with those Pro Combat Unis now?
Colin Dunlap: I don't know, they might wear them again (I know they have that option). I saw Noel signing one of them the other day for the Sports Communications staff for something. I am guessing they are giving/auctioning them for a good cause. Also, I am sure they have more than one set, so it wasn't like that was the lone jersey Noel had.
mdeer: mule - please tell me we don't mix and match like we do no (except the yellow shoes!)
Colin Dunlap: More than one time, I thought those shoes were a penalty flag. I mean that.
Cody: There are tons of rumors about Nick Saban floating around, none of which I believe, but what have you heard?
Colin Dunlap: So, I guess Jesus and Lombardi aren't free to coach the Mountaineers?
Kris: What are the chances Oliver Luck secretly sends a big donation to Pitt so they can extend the Wanstach's contract? He makes us look great at times lol
Colin Dunlap: I will say this: If Tino Sunseri had better accuracy throwing the deep ball, it would have been a game. Wannstedt's biggest flaw is his lack of recruiting a solid QB. That game was a perfect example. Sunseri had Baldwin open for at least one --- maybe two --- touchdowns and could not get him the football.
Beck: What is your percentage this year in predictions
Colin Dunlap: Better than Casazza and Hertzel's combined. Heck, I could be Mickey's bookie.
Justin: Most impressive performance for the WVU/Pitt game?
Colin Dunlap: Hogan.
WVMule: Coach Stew is more likely to leave if WVU wins a BCS game and move over to a position in the AD's office. If so which of Oliver's friends becomes HC - Mark Richt?
Colin Dunlap: I find it a bit odd that everyone (or at least almost everyone) is showing Stew the door already on today's chat. Get this through your head: There is a chance -- a good one at that -- he could be the coach of the 2011 Mountaineers.
Jim L: I've not been a big fan of having Geno run the ball unless he has to, do you think it's smart for us to be running him given the lack of experience that follows him on the bench?
Colin Dunlap: Not really, no. And Bill Stewart has pretty much said so a few times in the news conferences as he has told Geno to "get down" as soon as he can.
Colin Dunlap: Got time for just a few more.
Rob W.: Brunetti?
Rob W.: leaving or staying I mean
Colin Dunlap: Heard he isn't happy. What that means moving forward, I don't know. I will say this: He isn't going to play much, if any, unless Eugene gets injured. Did I mention this, as I think it needs mentioned: Eugene's growth as a leader is something that needs pointed out this year. He has been a player this team, through tough times, has really rallied around. I have seen a tangible growth in the young man's leadership skills. Good for him.
WVMule: When NASA has its presser at 2:00 pm about life on Saturn's moon will they show us a photo of Tevita Finu (sp) wearing a WVU hat swimming in a methane lake?
Colin Dunlap: Him and Chris Kemoeatu's brother, yes.
Colin Dunlap: Last one.....
Patrick: Predictions for both WVU-Rutgers and UCONN-S. Florida?
Colin Dunlap: WVU 31, Rutgers 14
USF 24, UConn 20
Colin Dunlap: Thanks a million everyone. Appreciate the time and questions today.