Checking in on My Good, Bad and Ugly Preseason SEC Predictions

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 27, 2012

It's the holiday season, and as has been my tradition at several locations, it's time to hand out my holiday gift to you.

If you've commented below a story or sent me a tweet demanding accountability when something I've written or said struck you the wrong way, this column is for you. 

It's the end of December, which means it's time to examine the good, bad and ugly predictions that have landed on the SEC Blog over the last eight months with a little "end of the season accountability."


The Good

Georgia's Final Record

In our SEC East Predictions piece, I pegged the Georgia Bulldogs with an 11-1 record at the end of the season, their only loss coming to the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Their final record: 11-1 with a loss at South Carolina.

Mark Richt and Co. made me look good, so much so that they made their one loss count, after getting blown out 35-7 in Columbia by the Gamecocks.

In two short seasons, Richt has gone from the hot seat to nearly the top seat in the SEC, coming within five yards of winning the SEC title and claiming a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

You can say Georgia was a product of an easy schedule if you want, but you can't say that I was wrong about them. At least, not this year.


Florida's Offense

After Florida's season-opening snooze-fest versus Bowling Green, I wrote that it was too early to get down on quarterback Jeff Driskel—who completed just 10-of-16 passes for 114 yards in the 27-14 win.

It was true then, and a little bit prophetic when you expand it out over the entire regular season.

Driskel wasn't a difference-maker this season, but he provided enough of a threat—particularly with his legs—to keep opposing defenses honest and let running back Mike Gillislee have a big season.

With the way the Gators play defense, a stable running game is all Florida needed to be successful in 2012. Driskel was able to provide some of that and, for the most part, avoid mistakes en route to an 11-1 record and a Sugar Bowl berth.


Alabama on the Brink of a Dynasty

I wasn't exactly stepping out on a limb when I predicted Alabama to win the SEC West and make the BCS National Championship Game, but 'Bama came through for everyone who predicted the start of a dynasty.

With a target on its back for most of the season, the Crimson Tide was able to maneuver around the November loss to Texas A&M and find their way to South Florida.

We all talk about how good Alabama is, but winning three of four national championships in the BCS era is an accomplishment comparable to the dynasty that former Crimson Tide head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant built during the 1960s and 70s.


The Bad

Texas A&M's Quarterback Battle

When Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel was arrested this summer, I wrote that the arrest, coupled with the fact that it appeared that he was already behind Jameill Showers in the quarterback battle, brought things more into Showers' favor.

Yeah, about that...

All Manziel did in his first year as the Aggie starting quarterback is lead his team to a 10-2 record, break Cam Newton's single-season total offense record and become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. 


Auburn's Season of Tumult

In August, it appeared Auburn had a relatively manageable schedule with most of its tough games (save for Alabama) taking place either in Jordan-Hare Stadium or at neutral site. That, coupled with a new offense and a stout defensive line, should make the Tigers competitive again, right?

Say, 8-4 (4-4 SEC) perhaps?

Instead, the Tigers sputtered to the first 0-8 campaign in SEC history, head coach Gene Chizik was fired, they never found a quarterback and were blown out 49-0 by their arch-rival Alabama to end the season in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated.



Eddie Lacy is a Boss

In late June, my colleague Michael Felder and I discussed if Alabama running back Eddie Lacy was ready to be the next great back at Alabama.

The conclusion?

It might be too early to elevate him to the standard set by former Tide running backs Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram. As it turns out, it was too soon only because it was June and the season hadn't started yet.

Lacy's final season stats: 184 carries for 1,182 yards, 16 touchdowns and a first-team selection on the Coaches' All-SEC team.

Yeah, that's not too shabby.


The Ugly

Arkansas' Downfall

I was of the belief that Arkansas wasn't going to have much of an issue replacing former head coach Bobby Petrino due to the presence of quarterback Tyler Wilson, running back Knile Davis, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and a fresh approach with new defensive coordinator Paul Haynes.

Two weeks into the season, Wilson got knocked out of the game with Louisiana-Monroe, the Razorbacks lost in overtime and their fall from grace kicked into overdrive, culminating with a 4-8 final record.


Those big hotels in Las Vegas didn't build themselves, so clearly you can't get every prediction right. Thank you for reading during the 2012 season and letting me know what you agree and disagree with. I look forward to continuing the discussion in 2013...when everything I write and say will be 100 percent spot on, of course.