Ways SEC Football Teams Can Implode in 2009
I recently wrote an article about ways the SEC could improve in 2009. After some constructive criticism, I am doing a slide show for how the opposite could happen for each team in 2009.
The SEC has in recent years has been viewed as the dominant conference in recent years. With the last three National Champions and constantly having multiple teams finish in the top ten it is easy to see why this is.
This year the SEC is once again being touted as being the toughest conference in the land with as many as five national championship hopefuls.Unfortunately, falling short of expectations is much easier than exceeding them.
In this slide show, I hope to show you how easily the SEC can go from the most dominating conference ever seen to the worst BCS conference in the span of one year.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Football
Mississippi St came into last season with high hopes. Sylvester Croom had the reputation of coach killer as some high profile coaches lost their jobs after losing to him and he had just taken his Bulldogs to a bowl game the year before.
It looked like Croom was finally beginning to turn his team around. However, in 2008 his offense was pitiful and his defense could only stop the most offensively challenged of teams.
The final record of 4-8 sent Croom packing and brought in highly touted Florida offensive Coordinator Dan Mullen. Mullen looks to bring in the spread offense.
However, with the current roster it looks like Mullen will have a hard time enjoying the success he had at Florida. If he cannot make his system work right away, Mississippi State will have a hard time of keeping the other teams off the field.
In 2008, Auburn was looking good. They were on a six game winning streak against their in-state rival Alabama. They were returning one of the nations top defenses and had brought in offensive coordinator Tony Franklin to introduce the high scoring spread offense into Auburn.
There was only one flaw in the plan; Tony Franklin was an awful coach. He tried to use the pass to set up the run when Auburn's history was full of strong running games. He made the offense pathetic and was fired halfway through the season.
He set back the Tigers possibly several years and got Tommy Tubberville Fired. This season, they bring in Gene Chizik from Iowa State who they hope can help turn things around.
Although Gene Chizik runs a spread offense, he should know enough to stick to the basics when it comes to offense.
However, if Chizik becomes too creative with his offense as Franklin was, Auburn could be looking at another long season.
Before the start of last season, Houston Nutt was forced to resign from Arkansas amid controversy and discontent from the Razorback fan base.
Arkansas proceeded to higher another controversial head coach Bobby Petrino, who has been lauded for his production at Louisville, but at the same time despised for leaving the Atlanta Falcons before the finish of his first season.
In his first year in Hog Nation, Petrino had sort of a down year. If he doesn't adapt his system to fit the SEC, the Hogs are going to regret ever having let Houston Nutt go, if they don't already.
The Volunteers have gone into a spiral the last several years, and they hope that a changing of the guard can turn things around. Phillip Fulmer was a beloved coach at Tennessee and will always be cherished for what he did for that program.
That being said, things have gotten off to a shaky start with Lane Kiffin. Mouthing off at the top teams in the league is a very good way to get your team pounded.
If he is unable to back up his talk against Florida and Alabama, be sure to look for a lack of confidence among the Tennessee players and fan base. If this is the case, you can be sure Kiffin's stay won't be a long one.
Kentucky in 2008 was a mixed team. They made it to a bowl game and won against East Carolina but failed to beat a single team with a winning record during the regular season.
Kentucky has a slightly harder schedule next season but it could be enough to prevent them from a bowl game.
Last season, the Vanderbilt Commodores reach their first bowl game in 26 years, with their first win in 53 years.
The Commodores won their first five games of the 2008 season with a highlight victory over then No. 14 Auburn and reaching a rank as high as No. 13 in the AP poll.
However, after that game, Vanderbilt hit a wall in the meat of their SEC schedule, losing six of their last seven final regular season games before beating Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
If Vandy plays like they did in the second half of the season, they will be back to watching the bowl games from home.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Steve Spurrier hasn't been the same coach since he left Florida. His offenses have been pathetic and he has gone through almost as many quarterbacks as Tim Tebow has had touchdowns.
He has gotten through games by his brilliantly coached defense but that can only get one so far. If anything goes wrong with that defense look for SC to be at the bottom of the league this year.
Louisiana State Tigers
LSU was looking good last season. Coming off a National title, and bringing in one of the top ranked recruiting classes. And then they imploded.
A combination of complacency and poor quarterback play made LSU painful to watch. The quarterback alone was giving the opposing team six points a game.
At the end of the year the Bayou Bengals finally settled on Jordan Jefferson, who ended up playing well for them at the end of the year. However, if Les Miles cannot get his team to straighten up and focus this year, look for more of the same in 2009.
Ole Miss Rebels
Houston Nutt has had a history of exceeding expectations when they are low, and failing to meet them when their high. His teams are at their best when they have something to prove and this year they really don't.
People expect the Rebels to be at the top of the SEC West this year and that is not good for Nutt, who in all probability rather be and underdog and motivate players to bring out his bag of tricks.
If Nutt cannot find ways to motivate them, look for the Rebels to be another average team with loads of talent.
The Georgia Bulldogs are a hard team for me to judge. The last couple of years, it seems that they have coasted by on their talent. However, with the loss of Stafford and Moreno, Mark Richt will have a tough time staying on top of the SEC.
Look for them to get to eight wins but not do much better with inexperience at Quarterback and Running Back.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide could be in for the hardest fall of all. The Tide is a team that vastly overachieved last year and was lead by two very experienced seniors in John Parker Wilson and Rashad Johnson.
They also relied on offensive lineman Andre Smith, who they really missed during the SEC Championship game and the Sugar Bowl. The Crimson Tide faces the challenge of replacing Wilson and Johnson along with three starters on the offensive line.
Nick Saban will have a hard time duplicating the success of last season and Alabama could fall in several games.
The Florida Gators are the defending National Champions and are returning nearly all of their starters. This is the one team that I have a hard time seeing falling far from the previous year.
The only way I see them losing more than two games is if they get complacent with having two national championships in two years. If that happens, they could fall behind Georgia in the SEC East.