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.




Since: Nov 27, 2008
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:37 am

Picking the SEC

LSU Tigers #1 #1 recruiting class in the nation!!!! we will have them hitz for years to come!!!!! But u just cant get away from the SeC We have the best Defenses period.... Yeah yeah just like the Big 12 has there offesenses

Since: Sep 16, 2008
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:36 am

Picking the SEC

TIRED OFTHE SECYell  What the hell are you talking about!!! I'm tired of the Big 12 and USC 10. How many primetime games did the Big 12 have last yr?! Mizzou vs Ok vs Tex vs Mizzou vs Ok. Those games had too much hype, no comp, (with exception to TX vs OK) and was crammed down the throat of the entire college footbal country. So n e who cram them down our throats again along with USC so we can keep up the motivation to keep winning NC, with that said wait till about....3 wks into the season and listen as to why USC and/or Tx/OK should be #1. Tired my a$$, you were right about one thing GET USE TO ITCool

Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:15 am

Picking the SEC

Ole Miss has a pretty easy schedule. Bama, LSU, Ark at home, no UF or UGA, and South Carolina on the road. It looks pretty easy for Ole Miss. The two biggest games at home and not much on the road. I don't think it will be easy but that is what everybody sees and that is why Ole Miss is picked by some to win the West. Ole Miss will have an offense and you are right about any time with a offensive pulse can control their destiny somewhat. As far as UF in the SECCG if we can get there, we own UF 3 out of the last 4. We beat them at home last year so why not this year?

Since: Apr 9, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:02 am

Picking the SEC

ConnGator, you have a valid point.  Fact is, I'm not so sure all the over-the-top hype is Tebow's fault as much as it is the media's.  The only problem I have with Tebow is that he's allowed it (media traveled with him to the Philippines to see his mission work).  I honestly don't think Bradford would've been cool with that if he'd been in that situation.  But, do I think that makes Tebow a bad guy?  Nah.  If he showed up at OU, I probably wouldn't kick his as$ off the field.  HAHAHAHA!!

Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:01 am

Picking the SEC

You are correct sir!!!!! 3 out of 3, but what does Dodd know?

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:13 pm

Picking the SEC

UT was in the title game 2 years ago but how did they do against Florida that year? 39 points makes me think Florida might have been the better team regardless of who made it to Atlanta. And it hasn't been one bad year. Fulmer wasn't forced out for one bad year. They've had 2 losing seasons of the last 4. This team hasn't won the SEC, and really isn't that the goal, since Tee Martin. Drink the UT Kool-Aid but tell me when you think the mighty Vols should be able to win another one. It won't be with Crompton, who the fans booed last year. And there isn't another one on the roster who's going to lead them there.

Since: May 18, 2009
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:03 pm

Picking the SEC

Wait a minute, I'm a little confused. Vanderbilt is now one of the most experienced teams in the SEC. The offensive line is terrific, play at running back was miles better than it had been and it's not like Vandy lost any playmakers at wide receiver. Also, you're arguing that Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee are all either where they were or worse than last year, but Vanderbilt's still at the bottom? From what I've heard and seen at spring games and practices is that Vanderbilt's offense will be much better than it was last year. I like either Larry Smith or Jared Funk to start ahead of Adams (at least if BoJo cares about the future of the program). Early word on Funk is that he's in the mold of a Brett Basanez (QB at Northwestern) with a higher IQ and a better arm. Smith showed he's got more than enough ability in limited action last year. He's at least better than Nixon or Adams. The defense loses playmakers Rashard "Skud" Langford and DJ Moore, but Myron Lewis and Ryan Hamilton are more than capable in the defensive backfield. Look at Hamilton's game at Ole Miss last year. Lewis may end up on the SEC First team. Vanderbilt's linebacker play will improve as will the line. Vanderbilt's defense equilibrates, the offense improves, special teams sucked last year. This is coming from a columnist who failed to even mention DJ Moore in his SEC preview last year, I called it last year. Vanderbilt continues to get little respect from anyone except the teams in the SEC. We were on the brink for years, now, the floodgates are open. BoJo's got one of his best teams. We win four in the SEC, three out-of-conference, and make a repeat apperance in the Music City Bowl. I'll call it right here.The problem for you guys is that you don't have the athletes to compete with most of the teams in the SEC.  You won last year because you took advantage of mistakes.  Your problem this year will be as usual, being able to keep up with faster, more athletic teams.  And you have to play 5 games against Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  You also play Ole Miss and LSU in the west this season.  Those are 7 games you will probably be favored to lose.  Plus a game against Georgia Tech.  Compared to Kentucky which plays Bama, Auburn, and Miss St in the west.  And Miami (OH), Louisville, UL Monroe, and Eastern Kentucky in nonconference.  Which puts us in a position that allows us to beat just you guys and MSU, and still go bowling.  Plus we get Florida, Bama, Tennessee, and Louisville at home.  And Kentucky is bringing in the type of recruits that can allow us to compete with the major powers in the SEC.  Our reruiting class was ranked 28th in the country, but 11th in the SEC.  Meanwhile Vandy is not recruiting higher caliber prospects.  I know Vandy has high academic standards but that doesn't stop Northwestern, Stanford, and Notre Dame from bringing in good recruits.  Because of this Vandy just can't compete with most schools in the SEC. 

Since: Aug 12, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2009 10:47 pm

You are NOT a UGA fan

and you don't know squat about the football team.  Defense years away?  Are you naturally a moron or do you work at it?  Geno Atkins and our returning-from injury Jeff Owens BOTH will be first round NFL draft picks.  We will have a terrific defense with 10 starters returning (or more).  Joe Cox has five years experience including some serious time as a sophomore.  Look it up.  We have four RBs that would start at most schools (look them up).  We are a reproduction of the FSU teams Mark Richt coached up.  He is 82-22, so how do you think we lose the first two and have a losing season?  Ignorant or a fake poster.  Go away.

Since: Aug 12, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2009 10:40 pm

Picking the SEC - Tennessee desperation?

Vols Pick Another Berry

Football recruiting took an even more drastic turn toward younger athletes when 13-year-old Evan Berry, the brother of Tennessee star safety Eric Berry, accepted a verbal scholarship offer from Lane Kiffin, despite not having played a down of high school football yet.

Kiffin is rolling the dice that the 145-pound Evan Berry will develop the same way his brother and father did. James Berry, Eric and Evan's father, is a former running back for the Vols. This should be an interesting case study.

Unlike basketball, where top players are often identified before entering high school and play against each other in summer camps and AAU showcases, football offers no such barometer for evaluations.

Given the extremely physical nature of the sport and the importance of the maturation that occurs during high school years, it’s very hard to look four years into the future and predict if a player will be equipped body-wise to handle the rigors of Division I college football.

Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2009 9:41 pm

Picking the SEC

Bold words there, sir!  Care to make an one month avatar bet that Tenn losses more than 3 games?

Not my words. But yea I'm always up for an avatar bet. But lol to the guy that said UK would loose 3-4 games not include UT as a loss. Does 24 years mean anything to you?

Conngator, where's my favorite av gone

As an "unbiased" bystander / observer / arbitrator, i volunteer to be a witness in this wager !!

However, in the interest of loyalty to one's school, i suggest that as soon as the vols lose the three games, the av should be displayed on ihatemets profile until the end of the bowl season.

Gotta walk the walk if you really believe in what you

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