12 Reasons NOT to Fear the SEC in 2010
It doesn't take much football knowledge to realize that SEC fans are pretty proud of their conference.
Who can blame them? Last time I checked the past four BCS champions have come from the premier power conference in the land.
They've produced high quality NFL talent and some of the best regular season duels we have seen in a long time.
With six BCS titles to their credit that's more than every other conference in America combined.
So it stands to reason that SEC fans have become a bit, let's call it confident, about their programs and their conference domination. They'll be quick to tell you about it too.
Well I hate to break it to you boys and girls, but this looks like the year no SEC team will be winning the BCS Championship.
I will wait for the collective gasp to stop.
That's right, the SEC may have been the top dog for quite some time but it appears the bark will be worse than its bite this season.
The following are 12 reasons (one for each team) why opponents no longer have to wet themselves at the thought of playing the mighty behemoths known as the SEC.
I hope you enjoy!
Les Miles Can't Tell Time
How can I put this nicely?
Les Miles is...stupid.
He seems to have built his play-calling off of Madden video games.
Why go for a field goal when I can fake it and run my placekicker to the end zone? What could possibly go wrong with that?
We can always go five-for-five on fourth down, right?
Who needs timeouts, I can just press the X button on my controller and all the players will magically be transported there in time for the last play. Go ahead and run the ball like we did against Penn State!
Some call these plays unconventional, others call them what they really are: unnecessary.
When these insane plays work he is seen as a bold daring maverick. When they fail, people have a little more common sense and see him for what he is.
Les Miles can recruit and he can talk a good game, but he simply can't be relied upon to not get in his own way with his play-calling.
Unfortunately for the "Mad Hatter" he also has the most over-rated quarterback in the SEC this season with Jordan Jefferson.
Jefferson has yet to find any consistency under quarterback, his decision-making is still poor and his arm will never be the best of the SEC. He also has wide receivers that are about as likely to drop the ball as they are to make a big play.
As much as LSU wants to take advantage of Alabama's NFL attrition, they simply won't be able to avoid mistakes. They'll hand teams the opportunity and their opponents will take it.
LSU is 8-8 in the SEC since that national championship and many believe they could be the first SEC team to lose in their ACC opener showdown vs. North Carolina this year.
Maybe Michigan will do the Tigers a favor and take Les Miles away from Baton Rouge.
Alabama's Secondary Has More Holes Than Swiss Cheese
It's tough to repeat as national champions in college football.
It's really tough to do it in the SEC.
It's going to be even harder when Alabama faces any team with a quarterback.
The Crimson Tide may be loaded on offense, but they have only two starters returning on the championship defense.
Two...in a division in which two of the highest scoring teams in the SEC lurk.
It may have been scrimmage but Greg McElroy and his back-up A.J. McCarron decimated the secondary for a combined 47-of-59 for 601 yards.
Sure it was practice and maybe Alabama's just that loaded at quarterback. I prefer to look at the glass half empty view myself though and imagine Ryan Mallett doing that by himself later this year.
Yes, the Tide have some injuries that account for the poor play. I also expect some players will get better.
However, outside Mark Barron, the secondary has virtually no experience and offensive coordinators will make them pay.
If Alabama struggles to run the ball just one game, they could be forced to win a shootout, something coach Nick Saban would prefer to avoid like the plague.
Despite being a loaded team, championships don't grow on trees. The Crimson Tide will have the biggest bulls-eye in college football, and one of the more obvious weak links.
That's never a winning combination.
Tim Tebow's Gone, He's Not Coming Back
Elvis has left the building.
It's obvious that Tim Tebow dominated SEC headlines for four years and although his God-like status in Gainesville may have made millions of college football fans want to puke, he did merit plenty of praise.
Now Florida fans may be looking to the future in rose-colored glasses. I get it, John Brantley can throw the football better than Tebow. That was never exactly the man's biggest strength to begin with.
Look at it the other way though.
Is Brantley nearly as mobile as Tebow? Nope.
Is Brantley the proven winner that Tebow was? Certainly not yet.
Is he ready to lead a team? Who knows?
Coach Urban Meyer was able to exploit Tebow's mobility and toughness to national championships. He was the leading rusher, not running back Jeffery Demps.
As much as we love the spread offense boys and girls, it doesn't work in short yardage situations unless you have a quarterback teams have to account for.
That means when the game is on the line, the Gators are going to struggle to move the chains with the same regularity that Tebow had.
Besides, given everything that's happened, we all know it only takes one or two inexplicable losses for the stress to get to coach Meyer and he finally takes that sabbatical he spoke of not too long ago.
Can Meyer find success with just a pure passer whose inexperience will be a field day for SEC East teams ready to claim their spot atop the standings?
The Only Thing More Overrated Than Steve Spurrier is Stephen Garcia
So remember when Steve Spurrier was going to take the Gamecocks to the next level?
Apparently neither does the Ole Ball Coach.
It's not just the fact that Spurrier has lost more games in five years at South Carolina than he did in 12 years at Florida.
It's not even that the Gamecocks have one winning conference record, his first one.
It's that the one thing Spurrier has built a legacy on, grooming quarterbacks, he cannot do.
Stephen Garcia was supposed to be that guy. He's not.
When coach Spurrier uses the media to publicly rip you in an attempt to "inspire" you, that says something about Garcia's work ethic.
Maybe the 20-7 loss to the Connecticut Huskies where you threw 16-of-38 for 129 yards and one interceptions should be pushing you to work harder.
Garcia may be in camp and in slightly better shape, but he's still a rising junior who had 10 interceptions, 37 sacks and has yet to achieve a 60 percent or higher completion percentage in an SEC game against a team not named Vanderbilt or Kentucky.
Spurrier likes to air it out, but it makes little difference when those balls keep hitting the dirt. It certainly means even less when the other team is taking it away from you.
South Carolina has a coach who would rather be on the links than in the film room dissecting teams. It's really that simple. The Gamecocks deserve better, but they're not going to get it.
There's Always Vanderbilt...
After eight seasons and a 29-66 record, coach Bobby Johnson surprisingly bolted ship just months before the start of the season.
Can you blame him?
One winning record in eight years. Last year the Commodores won two games all season. They went win-less in the SEC, matching Johnson's record his first season at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt has four bowl appearances its history. The last time a head coach had two winning seasons during his tenure at the school was in 1950.
The Commodore offense has been pretty non-existent for years now and with an offensive line losing all five starters that probably will not improve anytime soon.
Vanderbilt could use a hug, but they'd settle for an SEC win.
I'd hold out more hope for the hug.
Does Gene Chizik Even Have a .500 Record Yet?
Auburn, Auburn, Auburn.
Everybody is crying War Eagle after an 8-5 campaign last season.
I guess it makes sense when that's three more wins than your coach ever had in two seasons at Iowa State.
Good counting coach Chizik, one winning season does not make a superstar SEC team.
You can compliment the recruiting capabilities and the depth coach Chizik has created, but he's never been around a program long enough to see if that actually pays off. In fact, he won one more game in two years than his predecessor won in his final 4-8 campaign with the Cyclones.
That's not exactly turning around a program. It's not even keeping the status quo.
Auburn still has a porous defense that ranked dead last in the SEC in scoring and questions at quarterback. Although the offensive line looks solid would you still pick the Tiger offense over Arkansas?
Would you pick the Auburn defense over any other SEC team not named Arkansas?
Yes, I know that Chizik is beloved in Auburn and helped lead a defense which gave them an undefeated season and a Sugar Bowl victory.
I also know that Auburn was the second most penalized team in the league, their special teams were near the bottom in terms of returns yards and they have to replace nearly 4,000 yards of offense between quarterback Chris Todd and running back Ben Tate.
Whenever you have question marks at offense, defense and special teams, it's going to be hard to live up to these heightened expectations.
Since When Does a 12-12 Record in the WAC Qualify You for an SEC Job?
Hang down your head Coach Dooley.
Tennessee has rallied behind you and certainly you are less slimy or wicked than Lane Kiffin.
However, even the prima donna Kiffin has achieved more in his coaching career than you have.
Dooley had one winning season at Louisiana Tech, a 12-12 overall record in the WAC.
Before the Tennessee debacle, Dooley was rumored as a potential candidate to take over for his alma mater, the University of Virginia.
Dooley replied by saying that he doubted any coach who won four games last season would make anyone a viable candidate.
Well it didn't stop one of the more storied programs in college football from giving this guy the keys to the castle.
Now as a Virginia guy, I don't mean to throw Dooley under the bus. I think he'll be fine...eventually.
However, Tennessee still has a mediocre offense and a murderous schedule.
Volunteer players may be fired up all they want to make a statement in 2010, but playing Oregon, Florida, at LSU, at Georgia, Alabama and at South Carolina in an eight-week stretch is ridiculous.
I could be completely fired up and ready to take on Manny Paquiao. Doesn't mean I won't get knocked out in the first minute.
The Volunteers simply don't have the weapons to compete with the big boys yet and it will not be an easy transition into the SEC for coach Dooley.
Between departures, injuries and all the other bad news Tennessee fans have had to deal with over the past few months it might be time to hang down your heads and cry.
Here's hoping for a better time in 2011!
Missing: Arkansas Defense, If Found Please Call
Bobby Petrino must be an intelligent man.
After all, people call him an offensive genius. He can handle his own with the media, he learned all the Razorback chants pretty quickly, he even found ways to avoid his complete NFL meltdown in interviews.
However, there's probably one word that coach Petrino might have a little trouble defining.
Defense? You mean those guys we torch in practice all the time?
Ryan Mallett is one of the best quarterbacks around, but the SEC is built on defense. For further evidence, note the fact that although the Razorbacks amassed over 424 yards on average per game last season, they also gave up slightly over 400 yards per game.
That might explain the whole 8-5, 3-5 SEC record he amassed last season.
Arkansas returns seven starters on defense and although the talent has improved up front, the secondary still looks to be a big gaping hole on the Razorback resume.
Bringing pressure is great, but the SEC has plenty of great offensive lines to buy time for quarterbacks. If you can hold off the blitz, you'll be seeing touchdowns in your future.
Coach Petrino may have been very successful at Louisville, but that was against a very weak Big East class that really only consisted of the Cardinals and the West Virginia Mountaineers.
If Petrino can't stop his opponents, he cannot possibly hope to outscore all of them.
Jeremiah Masoli Will Be Suspended Again by November
Okay, okay...that was a little harsh.
Let's face it though, Masoli can't seem to keep his name out of the news for stuff off the field.
Now he's going to a completely new program, with new terminology, new players and new SEC defenses that are going to try to knock him out with each and every play.
Welcome to the SEC Mr. Masoli.
Combine that with a coach who has a rather infamous history with developing quarterbacks and the situation gets a little murkier.
After all, wasn't Jevan Snead going to bring the Rebels to an SEC West title last season?
9-4 is not a bad mark, but not nearly what the fans were hoping for. Still, in all these years in the SEC coach Houston Nutt can't get out of his own way sometimes.
In 12 years, only once has he lost fewer than four games in a season.
Sure he can run an offense but his quarterbacks never really amount to what they should and this Masoli decision could just make things worse.
Nathan Stanley still remains above Masoli on the depth chart, which will only lead to greater scrutiny once the season starts.
When the Rebels look bad on offense, what do you think fans are going to do?
Masoli is a risk, but he's also a distraction.
How well will coach Nutt be at handling this potential powder keg?
John Calipari Can't Pay for Football Players
Let's face it, it's not easy being Kentucky coach Joker Phillips.
Hello, highly touted recruit that could go anywhere in the country, I want you to come to Kentucky.
That's right...to play football.
Yes, we're still in the SEC East with Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Yes, we went 0-12 against those three teams the past four seasons but we went to four straight bowl games!
Okay, you're right, the last time we won at least seven games in four consecutive seasons did was over a century ago. That means we're ready to take it to the next level, right?
Oh...we don't have a starting quarterback yet?
We gave up 183 yards on the ground last year and have now lost our best lineman, linebackers and secondary player?
We haven't had a winning record in the SEC since 1977?
Oh, there were recruiting violations back then too?
I think I'm just going to leave this briefcase of money on the table and run, let me know if you need a ringer for your SATs and tell me what you decide!
Mississippi State—Need I Say More?
I didn't think so.
Georgia Has Fallen and It Can't Get Up...or Find a Quarterback
Apparently Georgia has become so used to being pounded into the ground that they decided to bring the turf with them wherever they go.
The Bulldogs have a fair amount of preseason buzz in their Tebow-less SEC East.
Unfortunately for them, all the buzz can't help them find a quarterback.
A.J. Green may be a star wide receiver, but how long do you expect him to keep his cool if Aaron Murray struggles as a freshman quarterback?
Which in the SEC, just about everyone does.
Is he supposed to rely on a running game that ranked dead last in the conference entering November?
Of course Georgia racked up big yards against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, everyone did.
The offensive line may be a big strength but you need play-makers behind it to step up.
Washaun Ealey and Caleb King may be saying all the right things now about splitting time, but can they maintain the company line once the team starts losing?
Anytime your head coach lists punting/kicking as your second biggest strength, you should be a bit concerned.
A switch from defensive schemes was long overdue but will take time to adjust, particularly with a make-shift defensive line and a terrible turnover margin in 2009.
Georgia may think it's ready to rise from the dead but it won't be this year.
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