Spring Preview 2009
The 20 Big Questions ...
With spring ball
underway, here are the 20 Big Questions to start off the offseason,
beginning with the top non-conference games.
spring ball underway, here are the 20 Big Questions to start off the
Is the SEC worth the hype?
It is until another big league steps up and proves otherwise. Just
when it seemed like there was ammunition for SEC haters, the league came
through when pushed.
The SEC, other than Florida, Alabama and
Kentucky, had a nightmare of a time in pre-bowl, non-conference play,
but for some reason the losses seemed to fly under the radar. Yeah, it
was supposed to be a down year for the conference with several
rebuilding jobs needing to be done, but the defeats were stunning and
- Arkansas lost to Texas and barely got by Western
Illinois and UL Monroe
- Auburn lost to West Virginia
lost to Georgia Tech (but beat Arizona State)
- LSU didn’t even play
a BCS team in non-conference play, but needed an epic fourth quarter to
get by Troy.
- Ole Miss lost to Wake Forest
- Mississippi State
lost to Georgia Tech (along with Louisiana Tech)
- South Carolina got
blown out by Clemson (but beat NC State)
- Tennessee lost to an awful
UCLA (along with Wyoming)
- Vanderbilt lost to Duke and Wake Forest
That means eight SEC teams went a combined 2-9 in pre-bowl games
against BCS league teams. 2-9?! Fine, throw in Florida, Alabama,
Kentucky and LSU in the mix and the SEC still went 6-9 … oooooh.
But here’s the problem … everyone else stunk, too.
The Big 12
South got plenty of attention and the ACC did a solid job against other
BCS teams, but it’s not like anyone else did much of note with the Big
10, for example, struggling and the Pac 10 having problems with the
Mountain West. But that doesn’t excuse the SEC, which injures itself
patting itself on the back when the media and the college football world
aren’t doing it for them.
The bowl games showed that the SEC
really might be just rebuilding and reloading, and that the athletes are
in place to remain the nation’s top league, at least in perception.
Florida really was that good. Ole Miss blew past Texas Tech. LSU played
up to its potential and destroyed a hot Georgia Tech. Vanderbilt beat
the ACC’s No. 2 team, Boston College, and Kentucky beat the Conference
USA champion, East Carolina. Of course, South Carolina went in the tank
against Iowa and Alabama was stunned by Utah, but overall the SEC made
That’s fine, and winning three straight national titles
and four of the last six will mean the top team will always get the
benefit of the doubt in the BCS Championship game discussion, but the
league has to come back roaring this year to prove that it really is
worth the hype. The idea that it’s too hard to get through the SEC
unscathed only works when the conference doesn’t stink in out of
“rebuilding” excuse is usually valid, but the SEC boasts that the talent
level is stronger than in any other league, and as Florida has been able
to show, it’s possible to win with freshmen in key spots. The recruiting
is always so strong that the league can’t go out and tank so badly when
it dares to venture outside of conference play, and on this, fans of
other leagues have a valid point when it comes to the attention and the
benefit of the doubt the SEC receives. Even so, the league gets a bad
rap for not playing tough non-conference games and that’s simply not
Remember, the league has several built-in rivalry games
like Florida vs. Florida State, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, Kentucky vs.
Louisville, and South Carolina vs. Clemson. Alabama plays Virginia Tech,
Auburn plays West Virginia, Georgia plays Oklahoma State and Arizona
State, LSU plays Washington, South Carolina plays NC State, Tennessee
plays UCLA, and Mississippi State and Vanderbilt play Georgia Tech.
That’s not bad. Those are 13 key games that the SEC has to win at least
seven of to save face, and has to win nine or more to truly prove it’s
the nation’s power conference and that it’s worth all the hype.
The Top 5 Players Who Need A Big Spring
1. Kodi Burns, QB Auburn
2. Jordan Jefferson, QB LSU
3. Stephen Garcia, QB South Carolina
4. Bradley Sowell, OT Ole Miss
5. Joe Cox, QB Georgia
The Top 5 Position
1. Florida wide receiver
2. Alabama offensive
3. Tennessee defensive line
4. Arkansas quarterback
Biggest SEC Spring Storylines
1. Can anyone touch Florida? With
everyone of note but Percy Harvin coming back, including all the
defensive starters, and with a shockingly light schedule, the Gators
have no one to blame but themselves if they don’t play for a third
national title in four years.
2. Was last year a fluke for Alabama?
The great recruiting classes under Nick Saban will have to fill in some
huge holes, but this could be a more talented team than last year’s.
Does it just need time to jell, or is it a bit of a rebuilding year?
3. Lane Kiffin, Gene Chizik, Dan Mullen. Mullen will get a little bit of
a break at Mississippi State, but the spotlight on Kiffin and Chizik
will be white hot.
4. Is Ole Miss for real? The team was playing at a
high level at the end of the season, and now the expectations will be
through the roof.
5. LSU and its talent level. The Tigers were
amazing against Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but they sputtered
all season long. Are they going to be back in the national title hunt
soon after yet another amazing recruiting class?
The Spring SEC Team Rankings
4. Ole Miss
8. South Carolina
12. Mississippi State
The Pre-Spring Call For Player Of
1. Tim Tebow, QB Florida
2. Brandon Spikes, LB
3. Eric Berry, S Tennessee
Jevan Snead, QB Ole Miss
5. Eric Norwood, LB South Carolina