Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
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And we're off:
Kentucky fans shake their heads in disappointment, but I'm definitely going with Gus Malzahn at Auburn.
Athletic director Jay Jacobs said when he dismissed Gene Chizik that the lack of development of talent played a big part in his decision. The Tigers have signed a top-15 class in each of the last three seasons according to 247Sports.com, two of which were years in which Malzahn was running his offense in Auburn.
Auburn's offense has been abysmal for the last two years, but the downfall started when Chizik slowed down Malzahn's offense to protect the defense in 2011.
Ellis Johnson took the defensive coordinator gig with the knowledge of how Malzahn runs his system, and nothing from Malzahn's track records suggests he will change.
Tennessee and Arkansas have major rebuilding efforts in front of them, and a 10-win season at Kentucky is more myth than reality.
Auburn already hit rock bottom and did so with a lot of talent, and should rebound rather quickly.
@barrettsallee What's Arkansas' and Tennessee's records this time next year?— Daniel Patterson (@Danielpatt) December 7, 2012
It's going to be tough for either head coach, and a lot of it depends on the recruiting job each of them does with the players currently on the roster.
For new head coach Butch Jones, keeping quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson will the key to a successful inaugural campaign in 2013. We know there will be issues fixing the defense, but having some or all of those players on the roster will keep Tennessee in games.
But games at Oregon, at Florida, at Alabama, vs. South Carolina and vs. Georgia make the 2013 slate daunting. I'll say 6-6 is likely, but that shouldn't sway Vol Nation's opinion of Jones.
Arkansas is in for a rebuilding year in 2013 as well.
The Razorbacks will lose quarterback Tyler Wilson, wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, running back Dennis Johnson, tight end Chris Gragg and possibly running back Knile Davis. Bret Bielema will have his work cut out for him in his first season.
Arkansas has road games at Alabama, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss and Rutgers; none of which will be easy. But a 7-5 record isn't out of the question. I'll be diplomatic and say 6-6.
It's going to be a rough road for both of these new head coaches in 2013.
@barrettsallee if either Clowney or J. Jones played for Notre Dame would they be in Teo's shoes? Why isn't Jones either way?— Josh.O (@Josh_Point_Ooh) December 7, 2012
That's really hard to say, because injuries to Jadeveon Clowney and Jarvis Jones probably played a big part in them not being in the Heisman Trophy mix more so than the teams they play for. But yes, playing for a team that's in the BCS National Championship Game certainly helps.
For Clowney, it's going to be hard for him to break into the legitimate discussion because sometimes his impact is felt in places other than the stat sheet.
Take the Georgia game for example. He only had four tackles and one sack, but dominated that game for a full four quarters. Voters do their homework, but unless they watched it in full, they may not recognize that.
Jones' ankle injury probably knocked him out of the discussion more than Clowney, which isn't really fair considering it didn't cost him any big games. He took over games in the same manner that Te'o did, and it is surprising that he's not getting more consideration.
The fact that we are legitimately discussing defensive players—plural—makes me smile, because outstanding college football players aren't exclusive to the offensive side of the football.