South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
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@barrettsallee who is your SEC front runner for the heisman that is NOT a QB??— Stuart D. Davis (@stu623) June 13, 2013
Without a doubt, it's South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Oddsmakers will tell you that Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon is going to be squarely in that mix too, and they're probably right.
But Clowney finished sixth last season, and you can't buy the publicity that he received all offseason from that one hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith. That will work wonders for him as he tries to become the first primarily defensive player to take home the award.
The mere fact that Clowney's in the discussion before the season—Bovada.lv had him ninth at 14-to-1 at last check—is a testament to just how dominating he really is.
With that said, it's not going to be easy for Clowney.
Simply matching his stat line from last season—54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks—won't be good enough to win it. However, if he gets a scoop-and-score, or perhaps a pick-six on a screen pass that directly impacts the outcome of a game, it might be all he needs to bust through that glass ceiling.
Jadeveon Clowney: The Most Impressive Recruit Ever
@barrettsallee which of these 5 games does Ark. have the best chance of winning? at Alabama, at LSU, at Florida, home vs A&M & home vs USC.— Tyler Woessner (@TylerWoessner) June 6, 2013
Typically I'd go with a home game for a question like this, but I'll throw a curveball and say Arkansas' Oct. 5 at Florida as the most likely win in that group for a few reasons.
Most importantly, I'm not buying Florida as much as I am the other BCS National Championship contenders in that group. I like Matt Jones at running back, the defense is going to be solid yet again; but you can't be purposefully one-dimensional in the SEC and be successful long term.
That game comes in the middle of a brutal five-game stretch for the Hogs, but it does fall before Florida's trip to LSU. Maybe, just maybe, the Gators get caught looking ahead.
That there's no good answer to this question indicates just how small the margin for error is for the Razorbacks. All five look like losses on paper, and the trips to Rutgers and Ole Miss weren't even part of the question.
Bret Bielema is a good coach and Arkansas has the talent to be competitive. But that schedule....yikes.
@barrettsallee Does a 9 game conf schedule contribute to secession from the NCAA?— Shane (@lumbar_shane) June 6, 2013
Actually no, I think if the SEC moves to a nine-game schedule—perhaps in 2016—it's an indication that the "power five" conferences are developing some sort of uniformity and will stay under the NCAA umbrella.
Breaking away from the NCAA would be an extreme move due to the financial implications of leaving that tax-exempt umbrella. The more likely move would be a division of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) within the NCAA.
We're already seeing signs of this happening.
There's talk of limiting or eliminating Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponents, more division in bowl tie-ins and—the biggie—$4,000 full cost of attendance stipends.
All of those things will contribute to a split of the division, but not away from the NCAA unless it makes financial sense.
Will secession happen in the future? The revenue being generated these days certainly brings it into the conversation, but I see "baby steps" happening first.
Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at email@example.com.