Christmas Wishes for Every SEC Football Team

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 13, 2012

Christmas Wishes for Every SEC Football Team

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    The holiday season is—as ESPN will remind you ad nauseam during bowl season—"the most wonderful time of the year."

    While many will hold out hope for that perfect gift to unwrap on Christmas morning, many SEC fans will be wishing for that perfect gift for their favorite team as well.

    What tops the Christmas list for every SEC school during this offseason? Our list is in this slideshow.

Alabama Crimson Tide: Another National Title

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    Whether you want to count it as the 10th national title of the poll era, the 15th or the 349th, all Alabama fans want this holiday season is a BCS National Championship Game win over Notre Dame on Jan. 7 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

    It would solidify the current Alabama football program as a modern-day college football dynasty with three national titles in four seasons.

    In the age of scholarship limits and BCS bowls working to put the top two teams in the country in a national title game on an annual basis, that's unheard of.

    Whether it's a blowout, a slug-fest or a shootout, all Alabama wants for Christmas is a win over Notre Dame.

Arkansas Razorbacks: Relevance

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    Arkansas was supposed to be playing in a BCS bowl this year, and perhaps even the one that Alabama and Notre Dame will square off in on Jan. 7.

    And then Bobby Petrino wrecked his motorcycle, covered up an affair and was replaced by John L. Smith, Arkansas was beaten by Louisiana-Monroe and seven other teams, and the rest is history.

    New head coach Bret Bielema brings a stellar resume to Fayetteville, having led Wisconsin to three consecutive Rose Bowls, but he's inheriting a team that's losing a ton of firepower.

    Arkansas wants to be competitive in the SEC again, and it starts with securing a solid recruiting class and will continue if Arkansas is in the discussion to take home the SEC West title in late October.

Auburn Tigers: An Offense...Any Offense

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    New Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is charged with turning around an Auburn program that posted its first 0-8 season in the SEC in program history.

    That's not supposed to happen at Auburn.

    The Tigers sputtered to the nation's 118th-ranked offense in 2012 under former offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, but Malzahn hopes to turn things around in a hurry—much like he did when he set a single-season total yardage record in his first season as Auburn's offensive coordinator in 2009.

    His hurry-up, no-huddle attack led Auburn to the promised land in 2010 before former head coach Gene Chizik slowed him down midway through the 2011 season to protect the defense.

    Now that Malzahn is running the ship, Auburn fans hope that he brought the successful offense with him to the Plains.

LSU Tigers: Nick Saban to Leave for Cleveland

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    Reports surfaced that Alabama head coach Nick Saban could be interested in jumping to the NFL following the season, and the Cleveland Browns are rumored to be a potential landing spot.

    With that, the ears of fanbases of the 13 SEC schools outside of Tuscaloosa city limits perk up—particularly in Baton Rouge.

    Saban has been public enemy No. 1 at LSU ever since he bolted the Tigers for the Miami Dolphins, and that hatred has only increased since he took the Alabama job and crushed the hopes of Tiger Nation in each of the last two seasons.

    It's a long shot—sort of like Ralphie asking for a Red Ryder BB Gun in A Christmas Story—but if Saban were to leave, LSU fans wouldn't mind.

Ole Miss Rebels: A Contract Extension for Head Coach Hugh Freeze

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    The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger reported earlier this month that Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork is reworking head coach Hugh Freeze's contract.

    In finishing the season 6-6, demolishing intrastate rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl and becoming the first college football program to legitimately be happy about playing in the BBVA Compass Bowl, Freeze proved that he is the perfect hire for the Ole Miss program.

    Ole Miss fans hope the reworked contract includes provisions that will keep Freeze in Oxford for a prolonged period of time.

    Nobody thought Ole Miss would be this successful in Freeze's first season, and the best may be yet to come.

Mississippi State Bulldogs: For It to Be "Our State" Again

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    The arrival of head coach Dan Mullen in 2009 kicked off the beginning of three straight years of Bulldog dominance within the borders of the Magnolia State.

    So much so that Mississippi State began the "This Is Our State" campaign to keep the program's dominance at top of mind 24/7/365.

    Things came crashing down on November 24, when the Bulldogs fell to the Rebels 41-24 and the power in the state shifted back to Oxford.

    Mullen needs to re-establish the program's power within the borders, because Hugh Freeze's program doesn't look like it's losing momentum.

Texas A&M Aggies: Stars to Stick Around

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    Texas A&M enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in its inaugural campaign in the SEC, and had it not been for a couple of missed field goals against LSU, it would have won the SEC West.

    Head coach Kevin Sumlin has been recruiting his tail off, but in order to break through that glass ceiling in 2013, he will have to recruit defensive end Damontre Moore and offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews to pass on the NFL and stick around.

    Moore was one of the most dominant defensive players in the country, notching 80 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks from the defensive end spot. Meanwhile, Joeckel and Matthews were big reasons why the Aggies could line up and play smash-mouth football out of the spread.

    If that trio comes back, A&M will be in contention for not only the SEC West title, but the BCS title.

Florida Gators: A Passing Offense

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    It's hard not to be impressed with what head coach Will Muschamp did in his second year.

    The Gators finished the season 11-1 and have arguably the top resume of any one-loss team in college football, narrowly missing out on an undefeated season and a chance to play for the SEC championship.

    But it wasn't without frustration.

    The Gators finished last in the SEC in passing offense with an average of 143.9 yards per game—13 YPG worse than 13th-place Auburn, which finished 3-9.

    Florida is losing running back Mike Gillislee but is gaining some key wide receiver recruits, which could kick-start the Gator passing attack.

Georgia Bulldogs: That One Play Back

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    While most fans are looking forward to what could be, Georgia fans still may be thinking about what might have been.

    Head coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo's decision to not spike the ball with 0:15 left and no timeouts in the SEC championship game will be questioned forever. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, it didn't work, and Georgia fans are left dealing with the unknown.

    Had the staff told Aaron Murray to spike the ball instead of taking a shot, the Bulldogs would likely have had three shots to score.

    One of those could have caused Santa Claus to bring Bulldogs fans BCS National Championship Game tickets and hotel reservations in South Beach this holiday season.

Kentucky Wildcats: A Bowl Game

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    Opinions are mixed on how good of a hire head coach Mark Stoops was for the Wildcats, but there's no questioning his track record.

    When he took over as Florida State's defensive coordinator before the 2010 season, he had his work cut out for him. The Seminoles finished 2009 as the worst defense in the ACC at 434.5 yards per game—38 YPG worse than 11th-place Maryland. 

    Since then, the Seminoles have finished with the top defense in the ACC twice.

    It wasn't a sexy hire, but Stoops has the ability to get Kentucky back to bowl games on a rather consistent basis, which is exactly what former head coach Rich Brooks was able to do.

Missouri Tigers: The Offense They Left in the Big 12

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    Missouri was supposed to come in with established players and a flexible enough scheme to enjoy at least a little bit of offensive success in its first season in the SEC.

    Instead, it looked more like the Tigers left that offense in the Big 12.

    The Tigers sputtered to post the SEC's 11th-ranked offense at 356.4 yards per game and never seemed to get in rhythm at any point throughout the season.

    David Yost resigned as offensive coordinator following the season, and the offensive coordinator post remains open. Maybe Santa will bring head coach Gary Pinkel a scheme that's ready for the SEC.

South Carolina Gamecocks: The Next Jadeveon Clowney

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    Jadeveon Clowney will be around for at least one more season, but another version of the star defensive end wouldn't hurt.

    Mel Kiper Jr. said this week that the rising sophomore would be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft if he were eligible.

    That's strong praise from the draft guru, and if another Clowney exists, head coach Steve Spurrier better find him a hurry.

    Clowney is the kind of player that can control the game from the defensive side of the ball, which is rare in this age of exotic offenses. It'll be hard—if not impossible—for South Carolina to find his successor.

Tennessee Volunteers: Patience

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    It may appear that Tennessee settled a little bit when it named Butch Jones as its next head coach because, let's be honest, it did.

    But you don't win 19 games in two seasons by accident, even in the Big East. 

    Jones is a good coach who can succeed on Rocky Top, but with an underachieving defense and an offense that could be losing several key stars, he will need patience from Vol Nation.

    After the Derek Dooley debacle, though, the words "patience" and "Tennessee" don't go together.

    If Jones gets the time, he can get the Tennessee program pack on its feet.

Vanderbilt Commodores: James Franklin to Stay Forever

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    Second-year head coach James Franklin led the Commodores to their second consecutive bowl game for the first time in program history and was rewarded with a contract extension.

    Since Vanderbilt is a private institution, the details of the contract are not public. Vanderbilt fans (yes, plural) hope that there are provisions that will make it difficult for Franklin to leave Nashville.

    The man won eight games at Vanderbilt, and when you look back to 2011, he was pretty darn close to doing it then too.

    Franklin was the perfect hire at the perfect time for the Commodores, and they'll continue to be competitive as long as he is there.