A Sad Day for the SEC: Three Programs That Need to Stop the Bleeding

Roy LaFaverCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2008

Three SEC programs are bleeding badly, and the emergency medical kit is missing.

Let’s begin with Mississippi State.  A multitude of Auburn turnovers helped the Bulldogs to their best game of the year.  The satisfaction was completely erased by Georgia Tech, an ACC team.  Following their best season in years, State appears to have recaptured doormat status.

Arkansas has always been competitive with only an occasional drubbing to dash the enthusiasm of the Hog faithful.  But Houston Nutt is gone, pushed out by an administration that didn’t feel being competitive and winning a rare trip to Atlanta was enough.  So they went out and got themselves a Bobby Petrino.

Even if Petrino can breathe life into the Arkansas offense, the powers in Fayetteville should know offense is not enough in the SEC.  In fact, if a team must have one or the other, it had better be defense.

It is sad to see the Razorbacks in this situation, and now they must go to Texas and face another top 10 team, an old nemesis.  I really wish they had some hope of walking off the field with their heads up, but I don’t see how.

Tennessee is perhaps the greatest disappointment of them all.  It’s not as if they don’t have the players, but one thing is sure: It will now be much more difficult to sign top talent.

Fulmer followed up the worst season in years for the Vols with a trip to the SEC championship game, but it appears he might have the Orange at a deeper point than they reached in 2006.  This is inexcusable.

Most fans in the SEC ask more than anything that they have a competitive team.  At least let them have, “If so and so had made that play we might have won,” or even, “The refs stole the game from us.”  The whipping they got at UCLA and the one by Florida, right beside the Tennessee River no less, left nothing for UT fans.

I doubt Smokey will be able to eat this week because that proud hound now comes off as just another mutt.

Will Fulmer find magic again as he did in 2007, or will Vol fans continue to see their cherished Orange humiliated for the rest of this season?  One can only hope that Tennessee either finds great assistant coaches to right this ship—or perhaps it’s the head guy who needs to find a new address.

There is an upside to this musing.  Ole Miss looked really good in a close loss to Vandy, and Vandy looked good in a narrow win over Ole Miss.  Neither of those teams looks to be automatic wins for anybody.  Houston Nutt is doing just what he did at Arkansas, which might not be enough to become perennial champions, but Ole Miss will be competitive.

We still have big games to anticipate (Georgia-Alabama, Georgia-Florida, LSU-Florida, Georgia-Auburn, LSU-Georgia, Alabama-Auburn, Alabama-LSU to name a few), but I hate for any of those teams to have what amounts to a bye week at Knoxville, Starkville, and Fayetteville.

Somebody please get some bandages.