Blog Entry

Picking the SEC

Posted on: June 30, 2009 12:05 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2009 12:34 pm
 

You're tired. We're all tired.

Of the SEC.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't believe the hype. Since it expanded in 1992, the SEC has won seven national championships in 17 years, four of the last six and three in a row. It generally sends the most players to the NFL, approximately 36 a year since 1990. How many leagues can narrow the national championship race to one game? Since 2006, the winner of the LSU-Florida game has been the national champion.

Nowhere else does one agent (Jimmy Sexton) represent half the league's coaches. The SEC produces the most draft picks, the most talent, the best stories. Open a browser. You'll find something about Lane Kiffin somewhere.

This season, Florida opens the season as the consensus No. 1 chasing a third national championship in four years. Only two other schools have accomplished that feat in the wire service era: Notre Dame (1946-47, 49), Nebraska (1994-95, 1997).

Let's not forget those lucrative new TV contracts from CBS and ESPN. In the SEC, money flows downhill -- into league coffers.

Tired of the SEC? Too bad. You'll have to pay attention. Once again, the winner of the league will probably be in contention for the BCS title game.

Picking the SEC ...


West Division

1. Alabama -- They've dismissed the Sugar Bowl as a fluke in Tuscaloosa long ago. They'd rather remember how Bama went undefeated in the regular season and was No. 1 for several weeks. Nine returning starters on defense is a good place to start. New quarterback Greg McElroy better find Julio Jones often. A rebuilt offensive line will try to spring Mark Ingram (12 touchdowns as a freshman). The magic of St. Nick gets the nod in this packed division.

2. LSU -- Don't agonize over Jordan Jefferson at quarterback. LSU has won two national championships with, shall we say, less than dynamic quarterbacks. Crazy Les has the SEC's best running back (Charles Scott) and at least one NFL draft pick (Ciron Black) on the offensive line. After the co-coordinator thing failed on defense, Miles went out and got the best player on the board -- John Chavis, formerly of Tennessee.
 
3. Ole Miss
-- Until Ole Miss actually does it, they can't be the pick in the West. I know Jevan Snead might be the league's best pro prospect at quarterback. I know Greg Hardy can beat anyone off the edge. I know that Alabama and LSU come to Oxford. I know that Houston Nutt is underrated as a coach.  I just can't get over the fact that after beating Florida, Ole Miss lost at home to South Carolina. There's a clunker out there somewhere that will keep the Rebels from winning the West.
 
4. Arkansas -- Bobby Petrino has himself a quarterback. That's a good start. Ryan Mallett has the best pure arm in the SEC. The problem is defense and special teams. Petrino has never been known for his defensive prowess. The D surrendered more than 31 per game last season. Until that gets corrected, the Hogs won't compete in the West. Petrino wisely hired old buddy John L. Smith to run the special teams. Mallett punted in the spring. Hopefully, that won't have to be the case in the fall.
 
5. Auburn -- Let's see, Tony Franklin was fired because players had a hard time picking up his offense. His replacement at offensive coordinator is Gus Malzahn, basically runs the same offense. Let's hope Malzahn is a better communicator because his offenses might play faster than anyone in the country. Gene "5-19" Chizik has a lot to prove after coming over from Iowa State. It won't be this year.

6. Mississippi State -- All the buzz is coming from Oxford. For good reason. Dan Mullen tried to install his version of the spread in the spring with fewer than five receivers on the roster. That will change in a hurry as Mullen says he wants at least a dozen receivers to get playing time. But as his old boss found out, the passing game comes second. Mullen better be able to run the ball first and find some defensive linemen who can come off the edge.


East Division

1. Florida -- How's the view from the top? It is Florida's division, conference and national championship to lose. Every starter is back on defense. A guy named Tebow seems to have won the quarterback job. Now the question is, who replaces Percy Harvin? Meyer says he won't do it by committee. Watch for Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and incoming recruit Andre Debose to take their shots. After two titles in three years, the further motivation is Florida's first undefeated season.

2. Georgia -- Strange, but the Bulldogs seem like they're going to be OK. Joe Cox doesn't have to light it up in replacing Matt Stafford, just manage the game. Receiver A.J. Green is a year older and bigger. There are two stars on defense -- defensive tackle Geno Atkins and linebacker Rennie Curran. The last time the expectations were this low, 2005, Georgia won the SEC East. It's going to take a win over Florida to do it, so a division title isn't likely. But 10 wins out of this group isn't out of the question.

3. South Carolina -- Steve Spurrier's greatest trait is his honesty. When asked at the SEC spring meetings if quarterback Stephen Garcia was ready to take over he didn't hesitate. Still needs some work, Spur Dog said. If Spurrier can't get the quarterback thing right, what hope is there for the rest of the Gamecocks? They have faded late in each of the last two seasons. Spurrier has averaged seven wins in his four seasons and has produced just one bowl win. At 64, Spurrier is committed. Is his quarterback, who has had legal problems?

4. Kentucky -- UK's run of three consecutive bowl wins might be in danger. Mike Hartline must show he can become a solid SEC quarterback. Randall Cobb remains a wild card, in a good way, as a quarterback, punt returner and receiver. Rich Brooks has his best defensive line since coming to Kentucky. He wants to get the Cats into the top 25 on a regular basis before turning things over to coach-in-waiting Joker Phillips.

5. Tennessee -- Behind the bluster, is this: Tennessee isn't particularly good. The offense is going to be painful to watch -- again. Lane Kiffin has yet to sign the quarterback who will define his success in Knoxville. His best hope at the position might be All-American safety Eric Berry who should get some snaps behind center. If the offensive line holds up, maybe super freshman Bryce Brown can keep the Vols in the hunt. Guru Monte Kiffin gets a head start with athletes on his side of the ball. Defense wasn't the problem last season.

6. Vanderbilt -- After going 26 years between bowls, Vandy just might be getting started. Coach Bobby Johnson gets all five offensive line starters back. The defense that allowed less than 20 points per game is stout as well. It will be typical Commodores in that they will struggle to score but hang in with defense. The Nov. 21 regular-season finale at Tennessee could have a lot on the line.

 

 

Comments
psu 1
Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: July 4, 2009 12:12 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2009 11:12 pm
 

Picking the SEC

You call yourself a Vols fan?? Give me a freakin break!  I am not saying we are going to win the East, b/c we are not.  But we will not finish any lower than third.  And I am going to predict we finish 2nd.  I dont know what game you were watching, but at the Spring game, our players looked 10 times more disciplined than they have in 10 years.  Lane Kiffin can flat out recruite and he has done nothing but surround himself with one of the best coaching staffs in the country.  He will also show that he can coach a team to a lot of wins and we will be in a BCS game by the third year he is there.  Where is your faith in the University of TN?  You need to find another team to cheer for.  Oh, wait, you already are b/c you are some piece of crap posing as a UT Fan.  Go back to following your beloved Crimson Tide.  Any UT fan that stands up for Bama, is well,  not a UT fan!  What a joek!  While he has said things he should not have said, he has UT fans more pumped about football than they have been since the Title game in 98.  So you just enjoy watching from your couch and I will enjoy my season tickets and watching us win again in Neyland Stadium . What a loser!



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2009 10:52 pm
 

Picking the SEC

Wow 3 Fingers!  You sound like an awesome Big Orange fan!  Maybe now that Saban has the Tide back on probation things might just be looking up for the Vols! 



Since: Dec 6, 2008
Posted on: July 3, 2009 10:24 pm
 

Picking the SEC

Really?  Really?  You can't legitimately make fun of someone and have so many typos.  Instead of "plane and simple," try plain and simple...BIG difference.  One flies, the other describes.  And don't forget about Mom--really--you missed Mom?  Go spell check, and talk to me in the morning.



Since: Apr 6, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 10:12 pm
 

Picking the SEC

This man obviously does not need to be reporting "professionaly". come on dude. theres a few other things I'd like to point out tho. Why are all the Tennessee fans bashing on Kiffin? I'm a UK fan and still dont understand it. He has NFL experience and brought Monte with him. Recruits are gona start flocking to Tenn. Yeah this guy has gotten some bad publicity but after a few recruiting classes, and after everybody gets a hold of the schemes, Tenn is gona be a freakin monster. its gona be just like how Saban turned Bama around. You guys need to chill and give this guy a chance because I gaurentee your gona be praising him in a couple of years. Also, Arkansas will be giving Alabama a run for their money in the West VERY SOON. Petrino has already brought in one of the best qb's in the nation. Even with a mediocre defense, this guys offense racks up huge numbers. Look at what he did at UL. He took them to a BCS game in a very short period of time. Everybody wants to get on him because he decided to go to the NFL for a sh*tload of money and he bolted because the franchise was crumbling and he wanted to return to the college game. Arkansas' offense will be on top of the SEC with Florida in a few years. I'm not sayin they will win a National Championship but if Petrino does stay around they will compete for BCS bowl games.



Since: Jul 26, 2008
Posted on: July 3, 2009 6:40 pm
 

Picking the SEC

My prediction for next year is 7-5  3rd in the EastI can go with maybe 7-5 but I think you will go 3-5 in conference and finish more like 5th in the east again. The offense will still be below average and don't see the Defense being any better after losing Morley, Ayers, Willingham, Karl and Bolden. Given a few good recruiting classes Tennessee should work it's way back toward the top again. Still will have a hard time passing Florida though.



Since: Jul 3, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 6:12 pm
 

Picking the SEC

As a VOLS fan I'm not expecting much this year. But I am anxious to see what Bryce Brown can do.



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2009 4:38 pm
 

Picking the SEC

Wow, Dodd, you really ought to do some research. Pick Auburn where you want, but get your facts straight. The situation with Franklin had nothing at all to do with players having a hard time picking up his offense. It was just that his offense didn't work. And unless you believe the quarterback being in the shotgun equates to running the same offense, Malzahn's offense is nothing like Franklin's. Do you actually get paid for this stuff?



Since: May 6, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 2:53 pm
 

Picking the SEC

You are not a Tennessee fan -- "Fulmer threw Ala. under the bus"...Nice....I'll also point out...A football fan would never judge his team by the spring game.  doubt that you went to the game -- I was there and didn't see any short buses in the parking lot. Just Sayin'  



Since: Jan 6, 2007
Posted on: July 3, 2009 1:21 pm
 

Picking the SEC

For once, I found this "article" by Dudley almost positively rateable.  He just blew it with the first three sentences and several picks.  Since his top 6 in each division are all he selects, he's really just picking the divisions favorites, clearly, and not the SEC.  Without that nitpick, I like where he's played Alabama in the West.  Now there's a surprise!  I think LSU has more rebuilding to do than folks may expect and think from last year's robust finish that Ole Miss will be competitive at #2-3.  In the Eastern Division, while it's almost automatic to just pick Tebow's team, I do not think they will survive undefeated in conference play.  Despite the loss of Stafford, and a big one at that, I think Cox will do just fine, so I'm picking UGA to be #1 in the East.  I think South Carolina and Kentucky will change places, as well as Vandy and TN.  Sorry Kiffin, but I think you'll lose to Vandy on Nov.21.  jmho. 


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