With the 2009 season getting ready for the bowls, it's never too early to look ahead into the future: the SEC East in 2010.
The Eastern Division powerhouses are in rebuilding mode next year (Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee are all replacing quarterbacks), so is it time for the underdog to step up?
The answer: Yes.
South Carolina has the second youngest team in the nation (behind Boise State). With all the juniors returning, it will be the best opportunity in Spurrier's tenure to win the division and make it to Atlanta. With almost all of the offense returning (only losses being Garrett Anderson, Lemuel Jeanpierre, and Moe Brown) the Gamecocks seem to have enough talent on both sides of the ball to do what Spurrier came to Columbia for.
The freshman phenoms in Gilmore, Gurly, Giles, Miles, and Jeffery all have a year of experience under their belt. With Cliff Matthews and Clifton Geathers both expecting to return for their senior season, they could be the most feared defensive end combo in the country. Sure, they lose All-American Eric Norwood, but Ellis Johnson has the talent to replace him.
I think this will be the first year the SEC East doesn't have a winner in Florida, Tennessee, or Georgia. It's the year of the underdog.
John Brantley has the capability to replace Tebow, there is no question about that. I believe the defense at Florida loses too much talent, and with Charlie Strong leaving for Louisville, they must rebuild.
Tennessee is a hot mess right now. Kiffin, I believe, has gotten himself in a whirlwind of trouble in Knoxville. There are too many distractions there for them to compete next year.
Georgia also has a new DC , and with Joe Cox leaving, I'm afraid Logan Gray won't be ready to lead the Bulldog offense.
So, who will be the SEC East Champions next year?
It's the SEC; you can never really tell.