Ways SEC Football Can Improve in 2009

Riley AngelCorrespondent IApril 13, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 22:  Montario Hardesty #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers carries the ball during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Nashville, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The SEC has been widely regarded as the best conference in football for the last several years. Despite this conception, the league can be improved if several things happen.

One of the problems the SEC faced last year was the implosion at Auburn. At the start of the year, Auburn had high expectations coming in with a ferocious defense, a new offensive system, and a head coach who had beaten their hated in-state rival six times in a row.

Unfortunately, the spread offense of Tony Franklin failed miserably, as seen by the now infamous 3-2 win vs Mississippi State.

This offensive futility would end Tubberville's and Franklin's tenures at Auburn, bringing in Gene Chizik and his staff, including Gus Malzhan, the man beind the highest scoring offense in the nation as the offensive coordinator at Tulsa.

There is no doubt that Auburn has the talent to compete in the SEC but the question is can Chizik mold the offense into a high end unit without stressing one of the most elite defenses in the country. If he can, he will enjoy success this season and could have a long career in Auburn.

Lane Kiffin has been one of the most controversial figures this off-season. At Tennessee, Kiffin is relieving one of Tennesse's greatest coaches in Phillip Fulmer, who won the first BCS title game.

Tennessee has taken a back seat and been whooped by rivals Alabama and Florida and that was one of the reason's for Fulmer's firing. Kiffin was announced as head coach after Fulmer's final game. As soon as he got into office. he shot off his mouth at the two toughest schools in the conference, who also happen to be Tennesse's biggest rivals.

Calling out Florida for cheating really put a bulls-eye on the Volunteer's back, which was made even worse when Florida was cleared of his charge. However, If Kiffin can can be competitive against both Florida and Alabama, he will be going a long way to restore prestige to the Volunteer program.

Ole Miss proved last year with hot new coach Houston Nutt that they had the talent to beat anyone in the nation by beating eventual national champion Florida.

Despite this, they lost several close games early that they easily could of one and closed out the season with six straight wins including a bowl win against No. 8 Texas Tech, who had only lost one game to the National Champion Runner-Up Oklahoma.

If they get it together early, they should be in the national championship conversation at the end of the year.

Last season, LSU was coming off a National Championship. Things seemed to be in place to make another big run. Then the season started. LSU couldn't put up a fight against Florida in their fifth game of the season. It only got worse from there.

Their quarterback seemed to be throwing more touchdown passes to the other players than his own team. The defense fell apart and put up mediocre stats, which is enough to kill a team in the SEC.

Near the end, they ended up starting Jordan Jefferson who preformed well despite being an inexperience freshman. They looked good in their bowl game with a win against Georgia Tech and with the No. 2 recruiting class this year they look primed to make a comeback.

If they stay focused and Les Miles keeps taking his risks, they should be at the top of the west at the end of the year.

Georgia seems to get by every year on their talent alone. Last year, the Bulldogs had two Heisman trophy contenders in Stafford and Moreno and put up a 10-3 record that included embarrassing poundings by Alabama and Florida, plus a late season loss to in-state rival Georgia Tech.

If Mark Richt finally becomes hard on his players, they could pull together for a title run, or at least put a scare into Alabama and Florida.

These teams along with the continued success of Florida and Alabama should strengthen and already dominating conference.