SEC Football: Answers to Five Burning Questions in the Conference
We have rolled past the final weekend of the 2011 SEC regular season, and the postseason fireworks have begun in earnest.
There are questions abound surrounding coaching openings, Heisman trophy rankings and championship games, just to name a few.
It has been a wild season, and we should all buckle up for an even crazier ride to the finish.
In this slideshow I will give my thoughts on the five hottest questions in the SEC today...
Who Should Ole Miss Hire as Head Coach?
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There have been plenty of candidates mentioned in connection with the open Ole Miss job.
However, the Rebels should hire Southern Miss Head Coach Larry Fedora to replace fired coach Houston Nutt.
Fedora was a star offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, eventually receiving job offers from Rice, Baylor and Air Force before moving on to be the head man for the Golden Eagles.
At Southern Miss, Fedora has proven he can recruit and win. Since his first season in 2008, his team's record has improved each season—from six regular season wins in 2008 to 10 regular season wins in 2011.
His overall record as a head coach is a solid 32-19.
He has the Eagles in the C-USA Championship game in just his fourth season as coach and had his team ranked in the top 25.
He knows recruiting in the state of Mississippi, as he has been fighting for Magnolia State recruits at USM.
While other candidates may be considered, and some would do a solid job, Fedora is just 49 years old and would be a great long-term fit for Ole Miss.
Should Trent Richardson Win the Heisman Trophy?
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Trent Richardson has had a huge season and is one of the very best players in college football.
However, I don't believe he should win the Heisman trophy at this point.
In the biggest game of the year, the biggest game of the century if you believed the hype, Richardson ran for just 89 yards on 23 carries and failed to score a touchdown in the loss.
Hard to say he is the most outstanding player in the nation when he was so average in the biggest game of the season.
Not to mention that 12 of his 20 touchdown runs came against Kent State, North Texas, Ole Miss and Georgia Southern.
Against SEC West rivals Arkansas, LSU and Auburn, Richardson had zero touchdown runs.
With 1,583 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns, the Crimson Tide back doesn't even lead the nation in rushing stats. Wisconsin's Montee Ball has 1,622 yards and 29 rushing scores in comparison.
Again, Richardson is a deserved All-American and a future top NFL draft pick, and is a very talented player. I just do not see him as the most outstanding player in the country.
My vote would be for a quarterback that took a CUSA team to an undefeated record and will finish the season with over 5,000 passing yards, 43 passing touchdowns and just three interceptions. Case Keenum has broken countless quarterback records and deserves the Heisman for a ridiculously outstanding season and a prolific career.
Who Should Win SEC Coach of the Year?
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If Les Miles leads his LSU Tigers to win over Georgia to win the SEC Championship, he will deserve to win the 2011 SEC Coach Of The Year Award.
Miles overcame off-the-field issues and the suspension of his starting quarterback at the beginning of the season to lead the Tigers to an impressive undefeated regular season.
Games against highly ranked Oregon, West Virginia, Alabama and Arkansas made for a tough schedule and makes the unbeaten run even more impressive.
If LSU loses to Georgia in the SEC title game, I would consider Georgia head Coach Mark Richt for the award, after leading his Bulldogs back from an 0-2 start to a 11-2 record and an SEC title.
However, in the event of a LSU loss in Atlanta, I will have to cast my Coach of the Year vote for Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin.
The first-year head coach lead the Commodores to a 6-6 record, which qualifies them for a rare bowl invite.
Vanderbilt was just 2-10 a year ago and had low expectations going into 2011.
Franklin changed all of that by instilling a new attitude in Nashville and having his team believe they can win.
As a matter of fact, Vanderbilt had nice wins over out-of-conference opponents Connecticut, Army and Wake Forest this season, beating those teams by a combined score of 109-to-59.
The Commodores also hung tough in the SEC with blowout victories over Ole Miss and Kentucky, and losses to top 10 nationally ranked Georgia and Arkansas by just five and three points respectively.
It is an outstanding job of turning a program around in just one season, and Franklin deserves recognition.
Will Dan Mullen Be the Next Coach at Penn State?
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Dan Mullen will most likely be the next coach at Penn State.
Joe Schad, of ESPN, reported this week that he was the Nittany Lion's No. 1 target in the coach search.
Mullen's father is a Penn State alumnus, making it a understandable destination for the young coach.
In his response to questions about the position, Mullen definitely did not deny the possibility and simply used coach-speak to say he was focused on his current job and players in Starkville.
It would not have been hard for him to say "I will not be the next coach at Penn State," and he did not say anything of the sort.
After a tough fall from No. 16 in the nation to a 6-6 season and a lower-tier bowl game, he may be wondering just how tough it may be to build a winner in Starkville.
However, could it be much tougher rebuilding from a child molestation scandal at PSU? Stay tuned.
Should Alabama Be in the BCS Title Game?
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Alabama is one of the two best teams in the country and should be in the national title game.
The Tide has the best defense in the nation and can run the ball as well as anyone.
Alabama is giving up just 74 rushing yards a game, tops in the nation, and has given up under 200 total yards per contest on defense, also best in the country.
They also have Heisman Trophy candidate Trent Richardson at running back in a rushing offense that leads the SEC with over 200 rush yards per game.
Although they played a pretty light schedule, outside of the three-point loss to No. 1 LSU, Bama hasn't won a game by less than 16 points all season.
As a matter of fact, led by the solid defense and running game, they have won by the average score of 36-to-8 in 2011.
The coaching staff is one of the best in the nation and the program is thriving with a 34-4 record over the past three seasons.
No other program matches up to what Alabama brings to the table, when discussing who the No. 2 team in the nation should be.
Regardless if LSU beats Georgia on Saturday, Alabama and LSU will play for it all in January.