What to Make of the SEC Regular Season
This past weekend wrapped up the regular season and it was a rough Saturday for the SEC. The SEC East went 1-3 against it’s ACC foes, with only Kentucky getting the victory. Florida’s offense was stymied by Florida State, Georgia choked and gave Georgia Tech the game, and South Carolina was whipped by a far superior Clemson team. Further, Tennessee’s late season collapse culminated in a loss to SEC doormat Vanderbilt. Missouri and Arkansas played on Friday, and to be honest I didn’t watch it, but judging by the box score and the highlights it was painful.
In the West, Alabama looked somewhat pedestrian on offense, yet still found a way to make the Iron Bowl a snooze fest in the second half. LSU and Texas A&M didn’t play defense in the second half of their game, which ended in the Tiger’s sixth straight victory over the Aggies and the LSU players chanting for Coach Orgeron to keep his job. Alleva listened, reluctantly. Ole Miss gave up on the season with an absolutely embarrassing loss to Mississippi State. The drubbing on the scoreboard was one thing, but the rushing numbers Nick Fitzgerald put up in one game were enough to make him a Heisman contender. (Just kidding, but you get my point).
So what does all this mean? Here are three observations:
1. This was a down year for the SEC. The SEC is probably either third or fourth in the pecking order of strongest conferences in college football this year. I think the Big 10 and the ACC have had better years than the SEC. The SEC is still the greatest conference in college football. The SEC is like the New York Yankees. Are the Yankees always the best? No. But with no question whatsoever, the Yankees are the best franchise in pro baseball? Did the SEC have a down year? Yes. Was the conference even close to being the best in college football this year? No. But the SEC is still the best conference in college football historically, and by this time next year we could be talking about a much stronger showing by the SEC.
2. The future is still bright for some programs in the SEC East, even with a horrific weekend. Florida has found a way to win the East two straight years with one of the worst offenses in the SEC. If recruiting can find the Gators a quarterback, some depth on the offensive line, and some playmakers, Florida almost always has a defense that is talented enough to win games and championships. Georgia looks promising, as well. Currently the Dogs have a top 5 recruiting class for next year and return a quarterback that saw live action his freshman year. Don’t forget Georgia fans, year one for Nick Saban was not too pretty at Alabama (a loss to UL-Monroe comes to mind). Saban disciple Kirby Smart is building the Georgia program his way, and I would not be surprised if it starts resulting in wins and championships sooner rather than later. And then there is South Carolina. Yeah, the Gamecocks got throttled by Clemson, but South Carolina fans should not get hung up on that. Muschamp took a bad South Carolina football team and found a way to win six games, make a bowl, and start preparing the future. Muschamp has a top 20 2017 recruiting class and is primed to pull in an even better class in 2018. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I think South Carolina has a decent shot at winning a lot of games a few years from now.
3. There was no parity at the top. In the Big 10, Ohio State lost to Penn State, Michigan lost to Iowa, and Michigan and Ohio State battled it out in overtime. In the SEC there really wasn’t any of that. Alabama was challenged in Tiger Stadium by LSU. That’s about it. The rest of the “contenders” basically folded against Bama. Brendan wrote it earlier in the year, but I don’t think an unstoppable Alabama is good for the SEC. There has to be at least some parity.
Oh by the way, last weekend’s Turkey Picks results: Chris was 17-8, Pavy was 12-13, and Brendan was 11-14. And no, hot sauce will not be snorted.
(pic from nola.com)