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: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2009 4:45 pm

Picking the SEC

I'm not a Alabama fan, I actually hate Alabama almost as much as that team furthest south. But the Sugar Bowl was a fluke, alabama had been ranked #1 in the nation, playing the SEC championship against that team, and lost. everything they had wanted was no longer possible, they came in to the Sugar Bowl lazy and uninspired, after Utah jumped out to a 21 pt 1st Qt lead, there pride jumped in, and from that point they outplayed utah, but to Utah's credit, they were alot better than most thought, and were able to make a few key plays to hold on to that game. If that would have been the NC game, Alabama would have beaten them by 10 pts minimum. We've all seen situations like that before. Utah had a great team last yr, they would've finished 5th in the SEC behind Fla, Ala, LSU, and UGA, and maybe Ole Miss, so maybe 6th...PERIOD!

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2009 3:13 pm

Picking the SEC

lol, my question to you would be what would give you the notion that Alabama will come in 3rd in the west behind two teams that they beat last year? lsu has a brand new qb (only 1 game under is belt) and a new defese which is run by a guy who got mashed by the Tide last years with better  atheletes (yes tn. athletes last year were better than lsu,s this year) and ol miss has a coach that could'nt win when he had two of the best back college football has ever seen? lol dodd is that you?

Since: Feb 20, 2009
Posted on: July 6, 2009 12:21 pm

Picking the SEC

Gus Malzahn and Tony Franklin basically run the same offense?

You mean they are basically called the same thing (spread).

Malzahn could run the wishbone and it wouldn't be any more different than what Franklin does.

Since: May 12, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2009 10:33 am

Picking the SEC

So..according to this story...people in Alabama still think the Sugar Bowl was a fluke?!  Unbelievable. 

Since: Jun 10, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2009 9:03 am

Picking the SEC

not everyone is in love with the area code league and not everyone cares about it period.

I understand now why florida plays all thier games in the same area code. most of thier players cant releases from their parole officers to leave the county.

not everyone is in love with the area code league and not everyone cares about it period.


Since: Apr 22, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2009 8:35 am

Picking the SEC

Actually, if you look in the opening statements, he clearly states that the SEC won the last three national championships.  The two of the last three statement applies to Florida only. 

Since: Apr 22, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2009 8:34 am

Picking the SEC

two of the last 3 for Florida.  He states above three in a row for the SEC.

Since: Jun 9, 2009
Posted on: July 6, 2009 2:36 am

Picking the SEC

I really see vandy and Miss st. fighting it out for the championship....hee hee

Since: Sep 24, 2007
Posted on: July 5, 2009 11:24 pm

Picking the SEC

NC, can you read?  Dodd said " the SEC has won seven national championships in 17 years, four of the last six and three in a row."  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.

Since: Mar 14, 2009
Posted on: July 5, 2009 10:45 pm
This comment has been removed.

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