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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

Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: July 9, 2009 10:15 am
 

Picking the SEC

 

Let me come to my own defense here. My criticism of UT choosing Kiffen is due to his head coaching experience. What did our arch rivals do when they needed a new head coach? Alabama got Saban and Florida got Meyer. Both proven winners as head coaches for major programs. In my opinion Kiffin will have to be successful while learning on the job, for an elite program in the number 1 conference in the BCS. This man will have to accomplish all of this while at the same time being criticized and suffering through fans "who bleed orange" calling for his head. These are the same fans coming to his defense now. This is a lot to put on anyone's plate much less a coach like Kiffen who has zero experience coaching in the SEC or any major college conference. I really do hope I am wrong and Kiffen brings us several national titles. I will eat crow in a big way. I just do not think he was the best choice for our program at this time. 




Since: Jul 8, 2009
Posted on: July 8, 2009 10:10 pm
 

Picking the SEC

Maybe you should comprehend what you read before spouting off!  He said since 2006 the winner of the LSU-Florida game has won the NC.  That would be 06, 07, 08 or 3 consecutive years.  He said that Florida was going for their 3rd in 4 years.  I think you should check your facts.



Since: Jul 8, 2009
Posted on: July 8, 2009 8:03 pm
 

Picking the SEC

I know this is a crazy idea, but has anyone thought that Jonathan Crompton will have an Eric Ainge-esqe turnaround this year? If anyone remembers, and I know we all like to forget, in the 2005 season, Eric Ainge looked like the worst thing to get under center since Ingle Martin, then UT gets a new O.C. and he, though he will never see a down in the NFL, gets drafted two years later and I'm pretty sure there was an SEC Title game appearance in there. People tend to forget that the kid was a top rated recruit, and Clausens system just did not fit. I know its easy to kick UT when they are down, I would do the same if it was Bama, UF, or UGA, but, I dont see why everyone thinks Kiffen is going to fail. Granted he hasn't won a game in the SEC yet, along the same lines, he hasn't lost one. People think he is awful for his secondary violations but everyone has them. I would rather be all over ESPN for these violations that really don't matter, than for the citations and arrest that we were all over ESPN for in the prior years when Fulmer wa allowing our players to do what they please. If the old idiots who are allready ready to fire Kiffin and go find Johnny Majors to coach again give Coach Kiffin a chance to keep bringing in classes like the one he brought in, with out a full recruiting season mind you, UT will be back on top in a year or two. Go Big Orange!



Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: July 8, 2009 5:47 pm
 

Picking the SEC

I'm a Vol fan myself, and to the earler Vol that said we had as much talent as anyone...No we don't, we are very down for Tennessee standards, with that said, were still about 5th in the sec in talentm behind Fla, Ga, LSU. Ala, and the way were recruiting, maybe as soon as next year, we'll be right in the mix if not the most-talented. You are right about us having enough talent to beat anybody as long as the QB position is fixed, QB can make or break even the most talented teams, a great QB can make an average talent team great.
It's a very important piece, I think Tenn gets Scroggins, if not, the Rhett kid is holding up his committment to BC because Tennessee just offered him, we'll be fine this yr, and scary in a few years!  Orange Nation



Since: Mar 26, 2009
Posted on: July 7, 2009 11:22 am
 

Picking the SEC

Sentence



Since: Aug 15, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2009 10:41 am
 

Picking the SEC

I believe he got it right.  I can't believe I had to defend Dodd.  Man that was horrible.  Its bad when you make Dodd look smart.

It's bad when you are a week late getting on this thread and he changed the mistake already. Why would 200 people point this out. That was easy making you look stupid



Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2009 10:13 am
 

Picking the SEC

First let me say that I am a diehard Tennessee fan. But I do have respect for the rest of the SEC teams. I don't have any respect for Dodd, he's an idiot. I don't see why they would let anyone with clearly as little knowledge about football as him write about football.

I have to say that with all honesty and realisticness, unlike most other SEC fans and there very biased and smartelic posts, I am going to be realistic about Tennessee's chances. Which all boils down to the QB position. Tennessee is just as talented on both sides of the ball as anyone else in the SEC. The problem last year was the QB's and as everyone knows the QB can make or break your team. Now whether or not is was the crappy offensive system that Dave Clawson tried to install or the QB's themselves has yet to be seen, we will know in the first game. But this is something Tennessee has seen before unfortunatly. In 04 when Ainge was a freshman he looked extremely promissing as did Crompton. But then he was placed in a very bad offensive system because of Fulmer's crappy decisions and he and the team suffered because of it in 05. But in 06 he once again was in a good system under Cutcliffe and he shined big time, throwing 31 TD's and finishing with 10 wins. I think what is going on with Crompton is the same situation, he suffered because of Fulmer's crappy decisions. Now that he's in a system much like Cutcliffe's that caters to Pro-Style QB's he will finnaly get to show what he can do just as Ainge did. If none of you know, Crompton when recruited was a 5-star QB ranked 3rd in the country behind Stafford and Tebow. So i think how well Tennessee does will be based completely on how well Crompton does. If he does well they can easily win 10 games, if not they win maybe 6. It's all about the QB, take Florida for instance. Great football team, lot's of talent, but remove Tebow and Florida is a top 20 team instead of #1. They would lose 2-3 easy. So if Crompton does well then Tennessee will be a contender, if not, well it could get ugly. I personally think that now he's in a good system and working with Peyton Manning throughout the summer to improve he will shine.

Quick Prediction for the SEC- Florida loses 2 because of the loss of there best player Harvin, who is the only reason they won the title against OU.

LSU is much improved, especially on D with the addition of John Chavis as Coordinator.

Kentucky, Vandy and MSU continue abysmal seasons.

SC stil can't come up to Spurriers level of coaching and barely lose most meaningful games again.

UGA is replacing QB and RB and will suffer because of the inexperience, but still be decent.

Bama, same as UGA

Auburn, let the craptacular seasons begin with the horrible coach and staff assembled.

Ole Miss becomes a real contender and wins the west.

SEC Championship- Ole Miss vs Florida unless Crompton plays well, then Ole Miss and Tennessee



Because sorry to crush everyones love to hate, Tennessee has as much and more talent then everyone elses in the SEC at every position, were only hurting at QB which hopefully is fixed. If not then we lose again, but if it is fixed get prepared to lose.



Since: Jul 7, 2009
Posted on: July 7, 2009 12:52 am
 

Picking the SEC

I'm not a Dodd fan, but I wouldn't be so quick to jump on him.  Allow me....  
"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."  Dennis Dodd

On a side note, the picks weren't that bad, except for having the Vols 5th.  





Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: July 6, 2009 7:26 pm
 

Picking the SEC

AU has defense and that is not questioned. AU had no offense and that is what killed you guys last year. If Gus Malzahn can put up some points, Auburn will be tough. But that is a pretty big IF.



Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2009 5:08 pm
 

Picking the SEC

Auburn fan here...  I personally think AU's Defense will jump them up a spot over either Ole Miss or Arkansas.  AU will beat one or both, and I think will win one of the ones we are supposed to lose and end up in spot #4 in the West.

Yes, I'm hopeful, but we have Gene Chizik, so there.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com