Y'all Play Nice. SEC Christmas Wish List
What does Florida's Muschamp want for Christmas?
What does Florida's Muschamp want for Christmas?
Posted Dec 8, 2011

CFN's Brian Harbach and Russ Mitchell break down the SEC bowls, the SEC questions you want answered, and what each team wants (and will get) for Christmas. All things SEC from two different SEC writers, with two different SEC points of view. One of 'em always right. Now y'all play nice.


(i) What is the best SEC bowl match-up?

Russ Mitchell:

Well, that's a lay-up. Not that it really matters – LSU is the 2011 National Champion, but we're still excited about the prospect for a great exhibition down in New Orleans.

What, you say? The team that wins the final game is the champion? What utter nonsense. We're not coaches – we didn't agree to some ridiculous financial agreement that handcuffs us into selecting the winner of one game – especially if the two teams in question have already played.

YOU ARE ON CRACK if you think Alabama has had a better season than LSU. Even IF the Tide win that last game, they'll have less overall wins than the Tigers, less wins against winning teams, less wins against ranked teams, less wins against top three teams, less wins against conference champions, less wins against conference division champions, and will have already lost to LSU IN THEIR OWN STADIUM. (The mystical "WORST LOSS", which Bama fans should be all too familiar with, having argued it from the treetops this past month.)

Bama nation might have leveraged its influence (in terms of ratings power), prestige, history and highly mobilized fan base to finish the season ranked second in the nation - and it was truly a spectacular, if second place, season. Unfortunately for the Tide, they must play a #1 team they've already lost to, and to whom they have had an inferior season. One single win on a January Monday night in New Orleans will not be enough to change that.

Brian Harbach:

The BCS Championship game is without question the most exciting Bowl Game SEC fans have left on their DVR schedule, but there is plenty of time to discuss The Rematch. There are quite a few dogs on the SEC slate this year and we will get to those in a minute, but one game that deserves some serious attention is Cotton Bowl.

One of the most exciting games in the SEC this year was the neutral site match up between Arkansas and Texas A&M, and there is an excellent chance we get the same kind of barn burner in this one. Neither Arkansas or Kansas State would be defined as defensive powers, but their offenses can light up the scoreboard. Throw in a great venue and zero chance of weather issues, and you get a game that is without a doubt the best the SEC has going outside of the BCS Title game.

(ii) What's your least favorite SEC bowl match-up, and why?


Usually the The Chick Fil A Bowl benefits from a great time slot and gets some great teams from the ACC and SEC. Some of our best memories watching SEC-related bowls have come in this Atlanta throwdown.

However, Auburn is woefully overrated this season, and you need look no further than the 208 points the Tigers have allowed in their five defeats, and their defensive coordinator now reunited with his old boss at UCF. We had high hopes for Virginia, until they threw up a goose egg against a Virginia Tech squad that would then go out and get absolutely embarrassed by a Clemson team that has been running on fumes down the stretch.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your 2011 Chick Fil A Bowl. Auburn vs. Virginia. Drink up.


So many horrible games to choose from, it is hard to pick the least exciting one. The Outback Bowl (Georgia and Michigan State) should be a snoozefest with two very good defenses and two offenses that have had problems getting out of their own way. If you really have an aversion to offense make sure you tune into the Gator bowl between Florida and Ohio State. Those two schools should excite most casual fans, but after the futility with youth at quarterback and flat out awful line play…this one will be a battle of field goals and special teams.

However, the least appealing game on the SEC slate is actually one of the yearly favorites of most SEC fans…The Chick Fil A Bowl. Auburn and Virginia are bad football teams this year and what is usually the second best ACC team and the fifth best SEC team. This year Virginia is probably the 5th best ACC team and 6th best SEC team. Neither team has played good offense, Virginia has a good defense but played very few good teams this year. Ugly football in Atlanta on New Year's Eve…at least there is plenty to do after the game in the ATL.

(iii) What every SEC fan should be talking about as we head into the bowl season, but isn't?


Are we starting to cannibalize ourselves by our own success? Hugh Freeze? Really? That's it? Freeze is a talented young coach, and may in fact go on to great success at Ole Miss. But here's a look at some of the last few coaches hired into the SEC: Joker Phillips, Derek Dooley, Gene Chizik (certainly not a big name when he was hired, and one superstar player/season does not a great coach make), Will Muschamp (great promise, no head coaching experience; book's out, though we're believers), James Franklin and Hugh Freeze. Yes, outside of Florida and maybe Auburn, those are some struggling programs, but the hires before that were Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban, Rich Brooks & Steve Spurrier. While it ended in flames, you can even include Houston Nutt on that list, who was a very respected coach (outside of Fayetteville) and "brand".

It's certainly not the money – our conference has as much or likely more than the rest. But at a time when the Pac-12 is gobbling up brand name coaches like Rodriguez and Leach (regardless of what you might think of them, they have more cache then Freeze and Phillips), the SEC seems to be, dare I write, reaching?

Have six straight championships set the bar so high that some quality coaches are simply afraid (yes, including you, Urban – hard to call it anything else given your 12 month turnaround)? Has the SEC become so top heavy with national championship caliber teams that brand name coaches don't want to come and risk their reputation to rebuild a second tier SEC school? We don't know for certain, but it'll be worth tracking in the short- and long-term.


There is a significant danger associated with the SEC winning a sixth straight National Championship, there is going to end up being some serious backlash from the media and the rest of the country if the BCS Title game does not go smoothly this year. Particularly with OSU getting left out in the cold.

The country is SEC'd out…they shouldn't be, but they are. They are tired of the SEC getting all the breaks, winning all the big games and getting all the hardware. If the Championship game turns out to be another 9-6 game (it isn't but let's assume it does) it might be very difficult for the SEC to continue to get the benefit of the doubt. People are going to start wanting to see the other guys and see them get a shot. This isn't fair but it is reality…anti-SEC sentiment has never been higher and the ESPN lovefest of Alabama and LSU for the past 14 days leading into the final BCS poll and no doubt what we will see over the next month will not do the SEC any favors in the public. This should be a great game, however the SEC needs it to be because all eyes will be on the conference January 9th.

IN FOCUS: What they want for Christmas? And what they'll get.

What the Tide want for Christmas…
Mitchell: A time machine to go back and play the first LSU game over again.
Harbach: Already got it, don't be greedy Alabama fans.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: Either another loss, or an asterisk.
Harbach: The Mad Hatter with a month to prepare for the game.

What the Hogs want for Christmas…
Mitchell: Depth.
Harbach: A defense, a defense, a defense, a defense.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: LSU & Bama at home next year.
Harbach: One Randy Shannon.

What the Tigers want for Christmas…
Mitchell: A QB.
Harbach: Someone to act like a freaking quarterback.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: A new defensive coordinator (like it was Roof's fault).
Harbach: Zeke Pike enrolling in January.

What the Gators want for Christmas…
Mitchell: A win in October.
Harbach: Urban Meyer to fail miserably at Ohio State.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: A fantastic recruiting class. Just wait.
Harbach: A running back that weighs more than 170 pounds.

What the Dawgs want for Christmas…
Mitchell: A signature SEC win…been awhile.
Harbach: Isaiah Crowell to grow up fast.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: Yet another "star" running back with little experience.
Harbach: A second straight year with a true freshman as the starting running back.

What the Wildcats want for Christmas…
Mitchell: Depth.
Harbach: The youth at quarterback to step up in the spring.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: A pure #2 who can play defense and hit the open J.
Harbach: Another roller coaster season for Joker Phillips with unfair calls for his head.

What the Bayou Bengals want for Christmas…
Mitchell: Peace on earth.
Harbach: All players to avoid K2 and Spice over the next month.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: Nearly everyone coming back for 2012; scary.
Harbach: Jarrett Lee kneeling down in victory formation.

What the Rebel Black Bears want for Christmas…
Mitchell: A football team that people won't laugh at.
Harbach: Pete Boone never, ever, ever to step foot on campus ever again.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: Another long season in 2012 (have you checked out the schedule?).
Harbach: A reminder every fall Saturday the next four years of Boone's screw ups.

What the Bulldogs want for Christmas…
Mitchell: A do over.
Harbach: To beat anyone from the SEC West not called Ole Miss.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: A recruiting class heavy on offensive linemen; they better.
Harbach: Another nice schedule against the SEC East in 2012.

What the Gamecocks want for Christmas…
Mitchell: Spurrier to stay for 2012.
Harbach: To avoid a mass exodus with players and coaches.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: A new coach and a new WR.
Harbach: Lots of new faces in Columbia next fall.

What the Vols want for Christmas…
Mitchell: A do-over on the Kentucky game.
Harbach: A healthy 2012.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: Even more pressure on 2012 than there should be.
Harbach: More depth to make up for unavoidable injuries.

What the Dores want for Christmas…
Mitchell: They already got it (head coach James Franklin).
Harbach: A winning season in year one for James Franklin.

And what they'll get…
Mitchell: A bowl victory.
Harbach: Three more years of competitive football in Nashville.