It's early January, which means there's plenty to talk about in the world of SEC football.
From the College Football Playoff National Championship Game between No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Alabama, to the coaching silly season and the recruiting stretch run, this time of year is loaded with storylines and littered with intrigue.
What should Georgia fans make of another week without head coach Kirby Smart? Is Nick Saban going anywhere other than Alabama? What kind of pressure is on Tennessee head coach Butch Jones in 2016?
Those questions are answered in Bleacher Report's weekly SEC Q&A.
Scott Spencer @wdescott
@BarrettSallee do UGA fans have a right to be aggravated by Smart not working full time for them during bowl prep or is it no big deal?1/4/2016, 8:20:48 PM
Coaches double-dipping during this time of year is not as big a deal as it's made out to be, provided that a coach—in this case current Alabama defensive coordinator and future Georgia head coach Kirby Smart—doesn't try to poach coaches from his old staff to join him on his new staff during game preparation.
Is it ideal that Smart will be with Alabama for another week as the Crimson Tide prepare for the title game?
For Georgia, of course not. Bulldog fans would prefer to have Smart's undivided attention as he finishes off his staff, prepares for the recruiting stretch run and starts his new life.
But the recruiting dead period lasts until Jan. 13, so he won't be missing out on any face-to-face contact while he's prepping for the Clemson game.
He already has assembled most of the staff, with Jim Chaney named offensive coordinator, Sam Pittman as offensive line coach, James Coley as wide receivers coach, Dell McGee as running backs coach, Shane Beamer as special teams coordinator/tight ends coach and Kevin Sherrer and Tracy Rocker also staying on board on the defensive side of the ball.
It's not an ideal situation for Georgia fans. Of course the best option would be for Smart to have abandoned Alabama from the jump, but no coach who is in the mix for a national title is going to do that.
It's a slight headache that he's not on campus right now, and nothing more than that.
Drew Bridges @am_bridges
@BarrettSallee If Alabama wins the national championship this year, do you think Nick Saban walks away? Or will he try to chase Bear Bryant?1/4/2016, 7:31:58 PM
Let's get this out of the way as quickly as possible: The NFL might call Alabama head coach Nick Saban (or his representatives) regarding his availability, but he won't be going back up to the pro ranks.
With that said, though, could he walk off into the sunset if he wins a national title this year? I still think that's very unlikely, although certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Saban seems rejuvenated this year and is especially proud of this team's resiliency after losing to Ole Miss in Week 3.
"This team has done a particularly good job of sort of having the kind of competitive character and want-to that you like to see in a team," he said on Monday's national championship teleconference. "They've worked really hard to improve, and they've always competed well whenever challenged.
"Some of the teams it's been a little more challenging to get that. They get a little bit satisfied when things go well. But I think the early loss to Ole Miss probably did a lot to jilt the attitude of this team in helping them do the things they needed to do to be what they could be and follow and do the things that were necessary for them to be a good football team."
That's about as proud as Saban can get, and he certainly looked proud after the Cotton Bowl win over Michigan State when he was smiling, dancing and enjoying the moment. That's a direct contrast to the national championship win over Notre Dame following the 2012 season, when he said on ESPN's set that the time in South Florida winning a national title cut out a few days of recruiting.
Saban is signed through the 2021 season, and I don't think the 64-year-old will stay through the end of that deal. If he wins a title in 2018 or beyond, I could certainly see him riding off into the sunset.
Not right now, though. He's having too much fun.
No, not at all. Quite honestly, I'm surprised Tennessee head coach Butch Jones gets any criticism.
He has improved in each of this three years on Rocky Top, going from 5-7 to 7-6 to 9-4 in 2015, is consistently in the top 10 in recruiting and was one 4th-and-14 play by Florida away from winning the SEC East in Year 3. The logical next step is to win the division, but it's by no means a requirement in 2016.
Sure, the division looks rather open and Tennessee absolutely should be in contention every year from here on out under his watch. But it's really hard to win a division title even in a down division. Teams need to catch a few breaks here and there and those breaks might not fall Tennessee's way next year.
That shouldn't signal the end of the Jones era or be an indictment of the program's future. As long as the Vols are in the mix, Jones is fine.
Even if they suffer a slight regression, it would just be a one-year regression. That's not nearly enough to warrant a coaching change or even have that discussion.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.
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