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: Jul 5, 2009
Posted on: July 5, 2009 1:36 am

Picking the SEC

You sir are obviously not as passionate about your football as most of the people on here. This is my first post and whether or not it is my last who knows. However if you don't like the opinions of the posters don't read them. You have apparently been on here long enough to read more than one so you are obviously bored of reading your Yachting club magazine. And basically stereotyping the posters on here as Alabama fans gotta love it. ROLL TIDE!!  Enjoy watching the Ivy League!!!!

Since: Jul 5, 2009
Posted on: July 5, 2009 1:08 am

Picking the SEC


Pot meet Kettle!

Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: July 5, 2009 1:01 am

Picking the SEC

sorry I didn't read this.  Is this a ranking of what teams are gonna lead the nation in arrests?  Or for number of fans without teeth?

Since: Aug 15, 2007
Posted on: July 4, 2009 8:29 pm

Who is stupid ?

ihatemets13, if you really think Dodd is stupid why do you keep reading and commenting about his stuff? You can't see the forest for the trees. Every comment secures his job. If you don't like him; quit reading and quit commenting. I hope my punctuation wasn't over your head.

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: July 4, 2009 5:02 pm

Picking the SEC

Sound like you are one of those UT fans that can't be objective.  What makes you think UT is going to be any better this year than last year.  All you do is try to bash other people, but do not offer any reasoning for your opinions...the key word being opinions. 

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: July 4, 2009 4:57 pm

Picking the SEC

What makes you think that?,  because of teir awesome season last year?

Since: Jan 30, 2009
Posted on: July 4, 2009 4:44 pm

Picking the SEC

A huge Tennessee fan would know how to spell Fulmer.

Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: July 4, 2009 4:20 pm

Picking the SEC

Whatever happens please let it not be Florida, I f*cking hate them and theres no way their gonna continue to be as good as they've been. I think the they've peaked and is about to see a decline along with the most over.......rated coach in football. I want to punch that tool every time I see his pretentious face. And for the record he's been getting kudos for recruiting in the easiest state to recruit in now for qiute some years now-not impressed

Since: Jul 19, 2008
Posted on: July 4, 2009 1:23 pm

Picking the SEC

JOHNNY3FINGERS, why would you say Kiffin isnt right for coach??? Maybe because he didnt show many offensive plays in his gameplan???? If you wouldve listened to him during his interview before, he was only gonna use 20% of his offensive plays during the O & W game. Youre not even a Tennessee fan is what it seems to me.

Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: July 4, 2009 11:49 am

Picking the SEC

I agree about the local talent being alot better than UT seems to think, other top programs keep coming in and grabbing local kids. But I totally disagree about Kiffin being gone in two years, In two years, Kiffin will be at the top of the SEC, or darn near the top! He recruited the #8 class in the nation this year in 3 1/2 weeks of a full staff, they've already got verbals from a hand full of top rated players for 2010 and 2011...the only thing Kiffin hasn't got is his top rated QB, which is very important, but do you really think Tenn want get a top QB. any young kid just has to look and see all the pieces are lining up. top OL, DL, DB's, the top TWO RB's in the country, very high rated WR's, all Kiffin needs is a stud QB to run this battleship he's building. I still don't understand the Heaps kid out of Washington going to BYU???? what the hell? BYU?  he has a SEC sleeping giant, arming itself with all the top weapons to be a national tile contender in acouple years, and Heaps could've been at the for-front of this run, and he picks BYU...I'm still puzzeled over that one, he must be a mormon, the only thing I can guess. But, Kiffin will get his QB, probably Scroggins, why would he go to USC, and sit behind that freshman stud for 3 years, when he can be the man at UT, with the two best freshman RB's to hand off too, a defense that will surely be top 5 "ever" year, and the chance to whip that USC fresman head-to-head down the road!  Kiffin will be fine, and he'll get his QB!

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