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7/20 Roundtable - 5 Thoughts On The SEC
LSU RB Charles Scott
LSU RB Charles Scott
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 20, 2009


7/20 Roundtable - Five thoughts on the upcoming SEC season. It's the Monday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 20

5 Thoughts on the SEC.

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables:
7/17 5 Thoughts on the Pac 10

7/16 5 Thoughts on the ACC
7/15 5 Thoughts on the WAC
7/14 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt

7/13 5 Thoughts on the Big 12
7/10 M-West & the BCS
7/9 Guilty Pleasures
7/8 OU or OSU - Biggest BCS Bust
7/7 5th BCS Game
7/4 Should the SEC get a BCS break?
7/3 There should be a playoff
7/2 There shouldn't be a playoff
7/1 The unbreakable record
6/30 BCS on ESPN
6/29 Best non-BCS program
6/26 Rule changes
6/25 Why does the Big 10 stink?
6/24 Top 3 non-conference games
6/23 Coach on the hot seat
6/22 The No. 5 team is ...
6/19 Most underrated teams
6/18 Most overrated teams
6/17 BCS title sleeper
6/16 Do 40 times matter?
6/15 Is a Rooney Rule needed?
6/12 Should Bama vacate wins?
6/11 Should players be paid?
6/10 Recruiting hype
6/9 Your No. 1 draft pick
6/8 Where would you coach?
6/5 Who does the least with the most?
6/4 Who does the most with the least?
6/3 Sept. star players
6/2 Who'll generate early buzz?
6/1 The one coach you'd want
5/29 Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
5/28 Should the Big Ten expand?
5/27 Should the Pac 10 expand?
5/26 Chizik, Kiffin, or Mullen?
5/24 Heisman sleepers
5/22 Most interesting teams
5/21 Is Tebow the best ever?
5/20 When should polls come out?
5/19 The M-West & the BCS, Part 1
5/18 BCS or bust for Weis

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: 5 Thoughts on the SEC.

A:
Why is the SEC getting a break in terms of national perception?

Ohio State loses two national title games and drops a heartbreaker to a national championship-caliber Texas team, while Penn State has the unmitigated gall to lose to USC in the Rose Bowl, and the Big Ten can't play.

The weekly funfest that was the Big 12 last year was supposedly a mirage after a rough bowl season, the Pac 10 stunk because it couldn't handle the Mountain West, and the Big East and ACC were, well, the Big East and ACC. At least those were the knocks on all the other leagues, while the SEC got a free pass even though it totally and completely, for lack of a better word, sucked.

Oh sure, Florida was terrific. I still get into arguments on a daily basis about why I truly believe that when Percy Harvin was healthy, 2008 Florida was one of the best teams in college football over the last decade and was far and away the best in America last year. But if USC fans want to beef (and they do) that their Trojans didn't deserve to be tossed aside for a loss at Oregon State while Florida's home gaffe to Ole Miss got swept aside, they have a case (not a great one, but they have one). The same goes for Utah fans who saw their team throttle an Alabama team that pushed the Gators to the wall. Penn State had an argument and Texas certainly had a big complaint. However, because Florida is in the (dramatic music) S-E-C, it was assumed that it would be playing for the national title after beating unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Alabama in the title game.

Fine. Again, that really was a great Florida team and it did enough to deserve the BCS Championship slot, but if the SEC does that again, the league champion doesn't deserve the automatic bid without a far more critical analysis than has been given over the last few years.

There appears to be a general feeling across the board (I'm guilty as charged on this, too) that LSU is just going to bounce back after last year's dud. Great recruiting classes, a blowout win over Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and the fact that it's LSU makes it a reasonable projection, but a resurgence into elite status isn't quite the lock it might appear to be, at least for this year. There are still holes on this Tiger team that doesn't seem to have it compared to the national title teams of the past. Meanwhile, Auburn and Tennessee still have to answer their major questions. You don't play as ugly an offensive game as those two did last year and simply flip a switch, and a coaching staff, and make everything fine. I really like this Alabama team and think it could be better than last year's squad, but it's still a bit of an X factor with changes in the backfield and the loss of Andre Smith.

Do you believe that Ole Miss is really No. 5-in-the-nation caliber? Ehhhhhhh, not sure. It might be the type of team that can beat anyone at anytime, and them come out and clunk against Vanderbilt and go into the tank. The Commodores are rebuilding, as is Mississippi State, Kentucky has to find a quarterback and lost some key defensive linemen, South Carolina is a bizarre, but very interesting, mishmosh of a team. Georgia should be terrific, but it has to replace the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and Knowshon Moreno, while Arkansas appears to need one more year of fitting the right pegs for the right holes, and still needs to prove it can play defense. It all adds up to a solid league made stronger by a big, bad powerhouse on the top, but that doesn't mean the league deserves to have its butt kissed from Day 1.

After last year's disastrous season for the league, the national championship notwithstanding, the SEC has to prove it again and it has to stop getting by on reputation. A great conference of teams beating one another up is one thing, but when there are bad teams playing bad football week after week, it's time to lump the SEC in with everyone else and point out the warts along with the beauty marks.

What happens if Penn State (who has a joke of a schedule compared to other top teams) goes unbeaten, Texas or USC goes unbeaten, and Florida loses a heartbreaker at LSU in the regular season and then makes up for it with a blowout over the Tigers in the SEC Championship game? Are we at the point where the SEC champion, with a decent excuse for the one loss, get in over a name-brand unbeaten team from another BCS conference? Does the SEC really have that much pull? It does, but it shouldn't.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the SEC.

A:
Georgia is not going away.

Despite popular opinion, the Bulldogs are still going to be a player in the Southeastern Conference race. It’s amazing how people overreact when players from marquee positions leave school, yet yawn when an elite offensive or defensive tackle graduates. Would Georgia love to have Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno back in Athens? Of course. If Vanderbilt, as an example, lost players of that caliber, an S.O.S goes out, but at this program, it creates an opportunity for a new wave of stars to emerge. Joe Cox and either Caleb King or Carlton Thomas may not be Stafford and Moreno, but then again, they may not have to be for the Dawgs to exceed marginalized expectations. Both the offensive line and the front seven will be outstanding, which will have a way of masking concerns in the offensive and defensive backfields until both get settled.

More than anything, I get the sense there’s a different mindset around Athens than in 2008. Last summer, the Bulldogs were constantly dodging questions about being a national title contender and top-ranked team. This year, they seem to have a chip on their shoulder and a quiet resolve to catch people by surprise. That kind of attitude, coupled with a slew of former four and five-star players, can carry a team beyond preseason forecasts.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the SEC.

A: Florida and LSU are ready to rock and roll. Alabama and Ole Miss should be really solid. Arkansas will be better (but to what degree?). Some SEC teams inspire confident projections, but most clubs in the conference are the objects of intense speculation and the sources of considerable uncertainty.

Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Tennessee are thoroughly enigmatic outfits at this point in time. These four Jekyll-and-Hyde SEC East programs show the occasional flash of brilliance, but can never sustain it for very long. Mississippi State is one big question mark in year one of the Dan Mullen era, while Georgia faces a brave new world after the departures of Mr. Stafford and Mr. Moreno. And we haven’t even dealt with Auburn, who went to the parking lot last December and traded in a Tommy Tuberville model—worn down by friction at an intersection thanks to oversold guru Tony Franklin--for a used Gene Chizik convertible that had the top on in chilly Ames, Iowa, but has now pulled the top down in the warmer climes of Alabama.

Exactly what, pray tell, should one expect in the 2009 SEC besides unpredictability? How about enthralling press conferences from Lane Kiffin… especially before and after his visit to to a place called Gainesville?

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com


Q: 5 Thoughts on the SEC.

A: Hope you’re not bored with all the pro-SEC banter filling every medium of media in the sports world.  The more-or-less consensus top league is only getting stronger.

Let’s start at the top.  Florida has all 11 starters and all 11 backups back on defense.  They’ve got the current best player in the game leading the offense and there’s speed all over the field.  Anything less than a Third national title for Urban Meyer will be a disappointment, and rightfully so.  Then there’s Alabama who gets nine back on defense after a surprise 12 win season in Nick Saban’s second year.  And Ole Miss is making some preseason top ten noise after Houston Nutt finally got Ed Orgeron’s talent to show on Saturdays.  With QB Jevan Snead, DE Greg Hardy, and WR Dexter McCluster all in Oxford, the Rebels have the schedule to make a run.

LSU should bounce back in a big way after their worst season in six years.  John Chavis will revive the defense, and Jordan Jefferson should be a major upgrade at QB.  The talent is as elite as always.  Georgia is consistently a more dangerous team when the expectations aren’t as high.  After losing two first round picks from their offense, the Dawgs should fly in their comfort zone, under the radar.  Kentucky has one of the more underrated defenses in the conference and will be looking to win their fourth straight bowl game.

Tennessee has a brand new coach with a verbal discretion disorder, a load of energy, and a great defensive coordinator coaching perhaps the best defender in the country in Eric Berry.  Arkansas welcomes Ryan Mallet to Fayetteville giving them a legitimate quarterback to run Bobby Petrino’s system.  And there’s still a guy named Spurrier manning the wheel at South Carolina.

And you can’t leave Auburn out.  The Tigers always have one of the toughest defenses around, and that just happens to be what wins games in the SEC.  New coach Gene Chizik has his work cut out for him, but the hire of Gus Malzahn to run the offense should turn out to be a good one.

Even the little guys, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, have reason for hope.  Vandy is coming off of its first bowl appearance since 1982 and first win since Eisenhower was in office.  And Mississippi State just hired Dan Mullen, a hot name after leading the Gators’ offense that recently won the national title. 

There may be only a handful of legitimate national title contenders, but then again, the fact that they have more than one puts this conference in elite company.  The league is deeper in the middle than it has been even during its recent run of dominance.  Nine bowl teams isn’t an impossible expectation.

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: 5 Thoughts on the SEC.

A: It's been the best league in college football for the past few seasons, with the Big 12 nipping at its heels last year.  This year, I think the SEC will once again be the best league, because teams four, five and six are better than what we are going to see from the Big 12.  It's a deep league, the brand of football is exciting and the national champ is likely going to come from there.  If anyone other than Florida winds up winning the national title this year, I will feel that is a huge upset.  Can LSU clear up its quarterback situation?  How will Ole Miss fare as the hunted?  Alabama served youth last year, and did it quite well, but they have some key losses on the offensive side of the ball.  Georgia is going to be better along the offensive line than it was a year ago.  Arkansas likely bounces back, as does Tennessee.  Saturday night football in the SEC is dead ahead.