College football mock draft

8/5/2009 - College Football

It's time to separate the haves from the have-nots. Follow along as ESPN.com writers Pat Forde, Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach thin the herd from 120 FBS teams down to 40 in a live mock draft.

For more information on how this new world order will shape up, click here for Forde's column.

The writers will have five minutes between picks, and selections are at the sole discretion of the writer. Forde gets the No. 1 pick, followed by Schlabach and then Maisel.

Got a gripe about a selection? Have a suggestion for our writers? Send them here and we'll post your comments as the draft unfolds.

Moderator: Hello college football fans! We're about 20 minutes from the start of the mock draft. Which team do you think should be the No. 1 overall pick?

Steve Andersen (Riverton, Utah): Strength of schedule should be considered in your argument today. Utah has best winning record against BCS schools. Boise St. plays in a weak conference. TCU should land way ahead of BSU.

Ralph (Norman): No. 1 pick has to be the Sooners.

Ryan (MPLS): The best team in the country, in the best conference, Gators deserve to go Number 1, its a what have you done for me lately world!

Moderator: Time to find out which team Forde selected ...

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: I wouldn't take USC No. 1. To be the best, you've got to fill the stadium even when you're not winning 11 games a year. The Trojans will get ditched like last year's starlet the minute they start losing. Do the '90s ring a bell?

phil (levittown,pa): USC!! right on forde LSU and oklahoma should be 2 and 3.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Three words: Ron Zook era. It wasn't that long ago. It would also be nice to see the Gators get out of the Southeast once every other decade.

Double E (Philly): Penn State - Linebacker U! A Must for your top 5!!

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Shouldn't the Sooners win a January bowl game every now and then to warrant a top-three selection?

Bryan (Boise, ID): Next pick has to be Texas. Check the winning % for the last decade. While you are at it take Boise State. That way you can have two teams that beat Oklahoma in big games.

jeremy (charlotte): OK, so the easiest 3 are done, probably Texas is coming up quick, will be interesting to see who comes after that. Georgia, Ohio State, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee, Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame?

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Mack's about to retire. DeLoss Dodds is about to retire. Where is this autopilot and how do I interview him? Do you remember the 25 years after Darrell Royal retired?

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: The program will be in good hands with coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp, whenever it is that Mack Brown retires. If only the Big 12 would do away with those tiebreakers.

Jeremy (Meridian, MS): I'm an Auburn fan, but I still say Alabama should be in the top 5.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Everything you said is true -- for the last eight years. I'll take my tradition a little more aged, thank you.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: That was a no-brainer -- LSU has earned its place. Still, somebody hand Schlabach a flashlight and a map and see if he can find his way out of Dixie for at least one selection.

Jeff (Reno/NV): Michigan is a MUST for the top 10. Remove last season from the equation and look at overall history. Plus, they not only have the largest stadium in the game but they also fill it....game after game...year after year.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: And the Buckeyes suffer in comparison to the top five. Nevertheless, the six just selected were the clear-cut choices on my board. Now it gets interesting...

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: I guess Ivan isn't too concerned about winning BCS bowl games. Oklahoma and Ohio State? Nice job...

Jack (Nashville, TN): Tennessee must be in the top 10. The tradition speaks for itself.

Dan (New Jersey): Virginia Tech has to be a top ten program. They have been dominating the ACC since they joined and the team is only getting better. Beamer can take a rebuilding year team to the Orange Bowl to win.

Matt Warren (Omaha, NE): You need the Huskers..with one of the best programs in college football history, including top 5 in wins all-time, I know they have struggled as of late, but they deserve to be in the top 10.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Mark, some of us have memories that go beyond the last game played. Pat's right about Penn State. Good pick.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: I'm all for tradition, but I like programs who have accomplished something after I graduated from high school. The Nittany Lions have won the Big Ten two times during the BCS era. Kentucky would have won it three times.

Joey (Georgia): Let's see a school with 12 National Championships, the greatest college coach of all time and the #1 recruiting class the last 2 years and they are surpassed by a couple of SEC schools who have only been relevant recently. Be smart guys ROLL TIDE!!!!

Michael (Athens, GA): UGA has got to be in the Top-10. Mark Richt just keep reloading, a National Title is on the horizon without a doubt.

EB (NY, NY): If you're looking for tradition try FSU - that is if you're looking for decades of winning and not just a team that's had a few good seasons lately.

cg (nyc): Forde, you are forcing Schlabach to pick SEC again with the horrible choice of PSU! 'Bama would fit there.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: I bet Schlabach grew up a picky eater. Mark, try something off the SEC menu.

Matt T. (Philadelphia, PA): Ok, where are the Irish? Minimally they need to be in the top 15. They may have had a down decade and a half ... but they are still one of the relevant teams in any national college football discussion.

John (Miami, FL): Recent troubles considered, Miami should still be pretty high up on this list. Recent championship, players dominating at nearly every position in the NFL, and a roster stocked with young talent. How 'bout some top 15 love?

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Does Ivan know that the Four Horsemen are dead? Does he know Notre Dame is 10-15 the last two years and hasn't cracked the top 50 in the Sagarin Ratings since 2006? The modern-day Irish belong in the top 15-20, but not in the top 10.

Dave (Woodburn, Ore.): If success in the last decade and attendance are two of your factors, Oregon better be coming up soon.

Greg (Baker City, Ore.): Somebody HAS to pick Oregon State later on. Otherwise nobody will beat USC.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Wow, I agree with Pat again. Could this be a man-crush?

Nick (Troy, Michigan): Right on with the irish at #9! I would have put them at 9 or 10 and I am a backer. They are good for football! Period! They will matter again and very soon.

Zhao (Novi, MI): Wisconsin better be in the top 20 based on their success the last 2 decades. Last year was an aberration! 3 Rose Bowl wins, a boatload of NFL draft picks, and the huge fan base. Think about it!

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Ladies and gentlemen: the SEC North.

Ernie (Grand Rapids, MI): How on earth can Penn State be ahead of Michigan??? They don't beat Michigan in ANY criteria, other than last year. Michigan beats them in Heismans, National Championships, attendance, head to head, overall tradition.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: A few (thousand) people are bent because I took Georgia ahead of Michigan. This isn't HistoryChannel.com, folks. We're trying to select a modern meritocracy, and Fielding H. Yost isn't around anymore.

Daniel (Lawrenceville, GA): Mr. Forde's article implied that we're considering overall prestige over the past several decades. That being said, where are Florida State and Nebraska?

Howard (Austin TX): You can haggle about the positioning, but most reasonable people will pick the same teams in some order in the top 12-15. The next tier is where this gets interesting.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Props to the Nebraska fans, perhaps the best in the country. But that program has been an afterthought in the Big 12 North, which is an afterthought in the Big 12 in general.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Spoken like a true Antler devotee.

damets00 (Columbus, OH): When is there going to be some love for the ACC? Despite their recent troubles, Florida State has to be in the top 15, Bobby Bowden anyone?!?!

jared (cf, ia): Auburn should be in top 25. There recent success has to give them at least that. Remember, it is "RUNNING BACK U"!

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: I'd feel better about this pick if Virginia Tech had beaten someone other than Boston College or Cincinnati in a big game.

Jon (Ventura, CA): Nobody has a longer bowl winning streak going than the Utes, and no other team has more momentum the last decade. UTAH is top 40 for sure.

Paul (Chicago): Whether or not history plays a factor will be critical in their selections...A school like Illinois, history factored in, could be in the 20-25 range, but out or very, very close to out without history...

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: This is a good pick, and Florida State once wanted to be in the SEC. That's good enough for Mark.

johnel bowers (kennesaw ga): draft ga tech paul johnson and the triple option will dominate

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Free Shoes, Free Course Credits, Go Noles!

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Mr. Maisel is obviously an ambulance chaser. Loves watching train wrecks.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: You know you just picked a 5-7 team now coached by Lane Kiffin, right?

Stogdiddy (Tulsa, OK): Now that all of the tradition is out of the way, I look forward to see where Oklahoma State lands. They have all the pieces in place to hang around the top-15 for years to come.

Chad P. (Chicago, IL): Man, I'm getting nervous. Already 15 down and no one from the Big East is in. I know my WVU Mountaineers have been the conference bread-winner the past few years, but the atmosphere in Morgantown every game, plus the fact that we have won 4 straight Bowl Games (2 BCS bowls in which we were underdogs), and having some of the most dynamic players in the country the past few seasons (White, Slaton, Devine) should get us in, right?

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: About 10 spaces too high on my board.

Jordan K (Oakland, CA): Id like to see Maryland hit the top 40. since Friedgen took over, the program has made a severe turnaround. From 1992 to 2000 previous coaches at MD had a .352 win percentage. since Friedgen took over the team has a .640 winning percentage. Not to mention hes gone 4-2 in bowl games.

Brett (MN): Where are the Minnesota Golden Gophers?? OK, I can't help but laugh right now ... enjoy the humor to downplay all the calls for your heads.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Uhavegottobekidding. Seriously, Mark, send in your pick. Pat and I are waiting.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Schlabach bucking for a position on Orrin Hatch's staff, clearly.

Max Long (Monterey/California): The Jayhawks should definitely get some consideration. The history isn't necessarily there, but they do have a BCS Bowl victory in the last 2 years, and they're going to put forward a monster season this year.

Dan (Minneapolis, MN): I think the Black and Gold of the Iowa Hawkeyes need to grace this draftboard soon. A couple great coaches here and Kinnick Stadium is a gem. Give it up for the pink visitor's locker rooms!

ray Caldwell (Denver, CO): The University of North Carolina is clearly on the upswing, and Butch Davis's presence should make them crack this list.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Ivan apparently doesn't recognize decay when he sees it. Badgers have gone from 12-1 to 9-4 to 7-6 under Bret Bielema, and sub.-500 could be up next. Though it's a lot of fun when the entire stadium jumps around.

Khalid (Washington dc): yes i know UCLA has struggled a bit recently but show some love for a once proud program

Squatch (Arlington, VA): This is what happens when you clean up your program. You get no respect. Go Canes!

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Good pick and a brave one, given the uneven (polite adjective) start of the Chizik Era.

Timothy (arkansas): did someone really just pick Utah in the top 30 much less the 17th pick. I would love to see them get battered by SEC defenses 8 weeks a year.

Michael Johnson (san antonio texas): We all know that the Air Raid of Texas Tech needs to be coming soon. I believe Texas Tech provides some of the biggest upsets of all time. and you have got to love Leach.

Joe (NY): I wouldn't consider them a top 20 program, but Boston College should be in the 20-35 range. They always seem to exceed expectations and find their way into the top 25, no matter what kind of turmoil goes on in the program. They had the longest bowl winning streak in the country (until the debacle in '08) and were 3 TOUGH losses away from being in BCS games. Probably the most underrated program of the decade.

michael (Birmingham, AL): seriously 1 bad year drops auburn this far? this is still a program that won 13 games in 04, 9 in 05, 11 in 06, and 9 games in 07 before one down year in 2008. Auburn was the SEC's dominant program of the 80's with several good years in the 90's....we have tiger walk, war eagle, and toomers corners adding to the game day experience.at this rate I'm just hoping this panel of "experts" remembers who Auburn is before number 40 comes around.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: I don't agree with this pick but I understand it.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: First the Utes, now the Broncos (and their puny attendance figures). Schlabach is clearly accepting kickbacks from non-AQ conferences.

Vatsal (Okemos/MI): Can I expect see Michigan State in the 30s? Perles' teams were decent and Dantonio has the program on the rise. Not to mention the plethora of receivers to come out of East Lansing.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: If this were the Underachiever Top 40, I might have taken the Tigers first.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: If these selections were based on annual preseason expectations, the Tigers would have been No. 1.

Will J (Portland, OR): Oregon St. will probably get left out of the top 40, and that will be a travesty. Their past is horrendous, and the stadium is small, but they have been one of the most consistent programs in the Pac-10 the past decade.

Mark (Topeka, KS): I'm not expecting you to pick Kansas; we were so bad for so long that our recent improvement isn't much. I'm just saying: please, please, PLEASE don't pick Missouri.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: What if you fielded a football team and nobody on your campus cared?

JJ (Boston, MA): Ok, seriously, I thought this was going to look at a body of work, and for a team that played in two National Championships, winning one, in the past 8 years, Not to mention 5 overall, Where is the U??

Alex (Atlanta, GA): It could be a stretch, but the Wake Forest Demon Deacons belong in the top 40. Jim Grobe is one of the 10 best coaches in the country (I'd say top 5) and Ron Wellman is certainly a candidate for best AD. An ACC Championship in 2006, and were a horrible call away from the championship game last year. The Deacs are here to stay.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: If Schlabach picks TCU next, I'm calling for an investigation.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: SEC, done. Mountain Time Zone, done. What will he fixate on next?

Dave (NJ): If you factor in recent bowl performance, program momentum, stadium expansion, young coach/AD, Jersey recruiting, recent NFLers and NY market, Rutgers deserve a spot in top 25? Program on rise!

Sunny (Los Angeles): Kansas State is highly underated. They will have one of the best starting defensive lines in the Big 12 North, and watch out for Daniel Thomas, will be the next coming of Micheal Bishop. Mark it down.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Randy Shannon recently told me when they tore down the Orange Bowl, one guy hit it with a sledge hammer and an entire side of the stadium fell. A couple of more losing seasons and ...

wes (Denver, CO): Schlabach, don't be a jerk. Just wait and see what coach Hawk does in Boulder. It'll be twice as amazing as what has and is going on in Boise. Lets go buffs - Top 20 in the 80's and top 10 in the 90's, 2001 Big 12 Champs, lets see them up on the board today!

Brad (Hazlehurst, Miss): How about the Ole Miss Rebels? There is a lot history with the program including a great run with the legendary Johnny Vaught during the 50's and 60's and Houston Nutt has this years team in the top 10 to start the season. Need more? How about Archie Manning, Eli Manning, Deuce McAllister, Charley Conerly, Ray Poole, Ben Williams and more. National Championships in 1959, 1960, and 1962 as voted by different publications.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: No thanks, but the coach is never dull.

Chris R. (Colorado): What about taking a flyer on Fresno State? Will compete every week in conference, and at least you will never have a complaint about location. Bulldogs will play anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Speechless. Here's a motto: Making Noise in the Top 25 Since 2008.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Wow. I bet a lot of teams that have gone 31-42 in league play wish they could be picked this high, too.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Call me stubborn, but I'd like to see Kirk Ferentz earn his outrageous paycheck for the first time since 2004.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: So our arguments are now being reduced to kicking a field goal to beat Penn State? Have the Hawkeyes done anything else this decade?

Chris (Houston, Texas): Why is Schlabach taking West teams that have been inferior to TCU the last decade for overall play, schedule, record and bowl wins. It makes no sense.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Advice to Mr. Forde: Don't renege on your West Virginia pick. The Mountaineers have now claimed you as one of their own. You can never leave.

Jax (Kansas City, MO): Wow! Really? Tech and Okie St. over programs like West Virginia and Mizzou and a gang of non BCS schools over Miami? What's going on here?

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Ole Miss is the only SEC West team not to appear in the SEC championship game. But you've got to have the Grove in here.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: So we're just going to pretend that whole Ed Orgeron, 10-25 train wreck never happened, huh?

Jim (Salem, OR): As a Duck I can tell you OSU should be in your top 40. This school, like Oregon, Manages money well and Riley is due in the next couple years to get to the Holiday Bowl or Rose Bowl. Parker Stadium maybe small for the excuses, but even LSU fears playing in Corvallis!!

Michael (Madison Heights, MI): OK. This has become a draft by the Three Stooges! You would think that the northeast (except for Penn State) plays flag football on Saturday. Three teams from non-BCS and no one from the Big East?!!! What about WVU, Pitt, Rutgers, Louisville? Look at your own Prestige ratings!!!!!

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: What happens when Mike Riley leaves? I'll tell you what -- look at their record book. It's not pretty.

Tucker (Lawrence, KS): Where's the love for the Big 12 North? The Big 12 is quarterback country. Reesing, Keller, Bradford, Harrell, Freeman, the McCoys, Daniel, Robinson. How about picking a team with an offense and a future.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Maybe so, but college teams in pro cities have fans with short attention spans.

Ryan (Raleigh, NC): NC State has to be a top 40 program now. History isn't necessarily on its side, but it's become a consistent Pro Factory with Philip Rivers, Torry Holt, and Mario Williams to name a few. And with Tom O'brien sending the Pack down the right path, they should only get better in the next decade.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: In a rare moment of charity, I will lend my endorsement to both of the previous selections.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Let's take a look at South Carolina's storied bowl history .... There, we're done. Four bowl victories in more than 100 years of playing football? Come on.

Moderator: The choices are dwindling away. Which teams are going to fill the final six spots?

Sam (Phoenix, AZ): Arizona State is better now, this decade, AND over the past 50 years than several teams already chosen. What criteria are you using? Name one area, including recent success, where, say, Oklahoma State is a better pick (to name just one).

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Yep. Both Michigan State and Arkansas deserve to be in here.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Home stadium was full once last year. Is it true they have to give away Doug Flutie bobbleheads to get people to buy tickets?

Sean D (Portland, OR): As a Duck i just have to laugh, at how rabid the husky fans must be right now. Wow, this is awesome.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Boy, didn't see that one coming. We're ranking football programs, not journalism schools.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Give the guy his alma mater. He showed admirable restraint in waiting this long.

David (Hattiesburg, MS): Southern Mississippi deserves it. 15 straight winning seasons and the alma mater of Ray Guy and Brett Favre.

Mike (Truckee, CA): Schlabach, no doubt you've got Fresno St. with your next pick. And ASU must be in, if only for the girls and great weather.

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: Mark, we're still picking football, not hoops.

Greg (Houston, TX): I'm still hoping the Purdue Boilermakers show up in one of these last spots as they've been pretty respectable in the BCS-era. But with this season's outlook, I have a feeling they'd probably be relegated to the Tom Joad Subdivision after the first year.

Pat Forde, ESPN.com: Three losing seasons in the last six and the Aggies still get in? Better thank the Corps of Cadets and Midnight Yell Practice, because the on-field record doesn't support the pick.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Losing to Arkansas State doesn't eliminate a team from consideration?

Bill (Colorado): You have every team to win a national championship in the last 20 years on the board except 2. Colorado and Washington anyone?

Moderator: And with the final pick of the ESPN.com mock draft, we turn the keyboard over to Pat Forde ...

Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com: The Sun Devils should be in here, as should Maryland, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Illinois....

Kyle (Morgantown, WV): I can't believe I'm asking this, but where's Pitt? They at least have a national championship (ugh), play in a pro stadium, and had some guy named Dorsett, and most recently, Fitzgerald. If you're seeking out mediocrity -- South Carolina, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, Oregon State, Ole Miss -- at least take a team with a few big time bowl appearances and a national championship in the last 40 years.

Brad (High Point, NC): There's definitely an argument to be made for North Carolina. It ranks as one of the 25 winningest programs of all-time, has had some great players like Charlie Justice, Lawrence Taylor, Dre Bly, and Julius Peppers, and has been enjoying a recent resurgence under head coach Butch Davis. It's not outside the realm of possibility that they could contend for the ACC title this year. You simply cannot leave UNC off this list.

Josh Peelman (Liverpool, NY): Where's the Syracuse Orange? I know they have been down lately, but back in the day they were really among the best teams in college football. Go Orange!

Alex (Cowtown): It is amazing. On one side, yall talk about the team needed to be successful currently. TCU has been a Top 25 program easy since 2000. On another side, you talk about the history needs to be rich, we have Baugh, Davey, LT, Lilly, and Swink! The final side talks bout tailgating, ours is so good, people watch the game on tv while tailgating. What is the deal? Where are the Horned Frogs?!?

Greg S (New Brunswick, NJ): If it wasn't for Rutgers, there'd be no college football to talk about. You owe us!

Joey (Columbus, OH): Not to worry folks, according to the system: BYU, Utah and Boise State will all be removed after the first year of being hammered in the top 40.

Moderator: And that wraps up ESPN.com's relegation mock draft. Check back tomorrow when Mark Schlabach breaks down the two of the four 10-team conferences.