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7/20 Roundtable - 5 Thoughts On The SEC
LSU RB Charles Scott
7/20 Roundtable - Five thoughts on the upcoming SEC season. It's the Monday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.
CFN Daily Roundtables
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Q: 5 Thoughts on the SEC.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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