Its been a long off-season from college football, but here we sit, just 35 days from the first kickoff of the 2011 season.
In part one of a two-part series, I'll preview the SEC East's upcoming season. Next week, I'll predict what will go down in the SEC West this season, and in just a few weeks score predictions return weekly until the conclusion of bowl games in January.
**In the last two college football seasons (including bowl games), "Tucker's Pick 'Em" has recorded a Win/Loss record of 249-75.
The hiring of Maryland's James Franklin to replace first-year head coach Robbie Caldwell was initially questioned by some, including myself, but there is only one way to go after the last couple dismal seasons: up.
Sure, Franklin might be able to pull some strings with returning players like quarterback Larry Smith, but don't expect it to amount to anything better than last place in the East this year.
"C-A-T-S CATS CATS CATS!!" How much more straight-up does it get?
Too bad for the people of the Bluegrass that we're talking about football and not basketball here, but hey, there's light at the end of the tunnel.
The Cats did well in 2010 under first-year head coach Joker Phillips but finished the season under .500. The suspension of starting quarterback Mike Hartline during the BBVA Compass bowl enabled Pittsburgh to rattle the Cats out of the stadium.
Well, Hartline won't be playing this year either, and neither will former starters Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb, as all three have finished their Wildcat careers.
As I said about every week in last season's edition's of "Tucker's Pick 'Em," Mark Richt is on the hot seat.
If his Bulldogs can't produce this season, the former national champion could be bitten by Georgia's mascot, "UGA."
As if a 6-6 record wasn't embarrassing enough last year, the Bulldogs finished their season off in style with a 10-6 loss to the Conference USA's Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl.
To add to the misery, the Dawgs return roughly half of the 2010 starters to this year's squad, meaning a new coach could be in Georgia's near future.
But the upside, at least, is that the Dogs will still finish ahead of Vandy and Kentucky.
Upon Derek Dooley's hiring at Rocky Top, I think it's safe to say not many people, even the most fierce Alabama fans, disliked the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley.
Of course, it helped that Dooley was simply someone other than Lane Kiffin.
Dooley has a promising quarterback returning in Tyler Bray for the 2011 season and an experienced team ready to do battle for the young coach to bring Rocky Top back to all its glory.
If the Vols can win two-of-three against West foes Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU, they'll be sitting pretty.
Sure, the Gators hired a new coach this season, but we shouldn't forget the talent-laden roster Will Muschamp inherits from Urban Meyer. ]
Muschamp has coaching experience in the SEC (at schools like Auburn and LSU) and his ability to coach a defense is tough to match.
Defense wins championships, and it shouldn't take Muschamp long to prove that in Gainesville.
Oh yeah, Charlie Weiss is set to call the plays on offense for the Gators. Remember him?
The only reason I put Florida outside of Atlanta is due to the players' ability to learn new systems under new coaches, but don't count out the Gators.
The Ol' Ball Coach looks to add another division title to his illustrious resume in 2011, but can the Gamecocks man up and win the conference championship?
Sure, it's possible.
They return sensational tailback Marcus Lattimore and experienced quarterback Stephen Garcia to their lineup. Last season was pretty impressive with those two leading the way.
Can they repeat as division champs? I don't see why not.