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Guest Post: ByronVolFan with the 2010 SEC Football Preview

August 6, 2010

Hey there football fiends!

ByronVolFan is back for the fourth year in a row with his SEC Football preview.


2010 SEC Football Preview

by Byron Earnheart aka ByronVolFan of the Gridiron Goddess’ Harem

It is time.  I was watching the re-showing of “America’s Got Talent” last Sunday night (because my wife is 9 months pregnant and controls what we watch) and there it was…the announcement…the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game kicking off in 1 week.  The most useless overhyped football game of all football games…and I nearly cried.  It means my beloved sport…the new American pastime…is coming to recall us back from the brink of becoming a soccer-crazed nation.  Yes, I got soccer fever for awhile, but it left me lagging like a Daniel Lincoln field goal.  The game has abandoned Tiger Woods…LeBron has joined forces in Miami and will forever have any victory tainted by the fact he is on the NBA’s equivalent to the New York Yankees.  What a terrible summer!

But, fear not, Gridiron Goddess fans…there is hope.  She is a bright and shining star beckoning you to stay the course…the North Star in a turbulent sea.  She is football…and she will make you laugh, cry, bleed, and laugh…all at once.  This is especially true for us SEC fanatics.  The time of monitoring spring practice and the idiots who post useless information on the whims of 18 year olds is over.  It is time for football.  It is time to be filled with pride when your team takes the field to defend the honor of your state against those infidels across the state line.  It is a time for revenge or to taste the smarting sting of shameful defeat once more.  But it is time…

So, allow me to set down my mint julep, light a cigar, recline in my rocking chair on the porch in my seersucker pants, and tell you what I think about everything about this upcoming year.

SEC Championship Game:  Alabama over Florida.  This year, it is these two teams at the top and everyone else clawing behind them.  And I hate that.  My Volunteer heart burns at this fact…but it is true.  Alabama is still too good and Florida is too green.  Alabama will have a tougher schedule as the West is much deadlier than the East…but the division titles are these two teams’ to lose.  Don’t be surprised if Urban Meyer cries at the end of this game…partly from chest pains and partly because he realizes he probably should have redshirted Tim Tebow.

Now, in their predicted order of finish within the division, here are my thoughts on the rest of the league by division:

SEC West:

The best division in the league this year and possibly the country.  Yeah, I said it.

1)      Alabama: As stated before, it’s theirs to lose.  2 MONSTER RB’s returning and a VERY adequate and tested quarterback.  On D, I always like stellar linebackers and ‘Bama is stacked there too.  Yes, McClain is gone…but Hightower is a beast too.  Very talented.  Expect the name “Nick” to outpace “Bubba”, “Junior”, “Larry”, “Hank”, and “Garth” in baby names in the state of Alabama in 2011.

2)      Arkansas:  This is the year for them.  If Petrino can get enough credibility to move on to his next mercenary position, this is the year for him to do it.  Mallett is  a stud.  That’s all there is to it.  Don’t be fooled by the Liberty Bowl performance.  I was at that game…and cold doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Nobody could have performed well in those conditions…and ECU isn’t that bad of a team.  Their game, at home, against Bama is for the West…but don’t get too excited.  Key losses in the D-line will hurt and I just don’t see the Hogs stopping Ingram and Co.  But take heart, your “Woooo Pig Soey” (or however you spell that) will be just as ignorant at the Capital One Bowl  or Cotton Bowl as it would be in the Sugar Bowl.

3)      LSU: This is no reflection on my belief in LSU talent or coaching.  As predicted, last year, Les Miles began to show his true ignorance.  This is a team that has been living on borrowed time since Saban left.  “Yeah, but they won a National Title”.  Yes, they have the distinct privilege of being the first 2 loss national champion, violating every reasonable football strategy, and still winning.  There is such a thing as “Reversion to the Mean” in football and when you tempt fate as much as the Miles has…it will bite you as it did last year. ..and last year could have been worse.  LSU was beaten at Mississippi State and if not for a rookie mistake from Mullen with a QB who might be 5’8”, the Bulldogs would have been bowl bound and we might have been talking about the Malzahn era at LSU.

4)      Mississippi State:  See above.  This is a team on the rise.  Great young talent that’s gotten some good game experience and, arguably, one of the top 5 coaches in the SEC.  Mullen did a great job with almost no talent last year and, if not for a freakish defensive play on a questionable offensive call, they would have beaten LSU and been in a bowl.  “But, you attacked Miles’ coaching and praising Mullen’s”.  Yes, because Miles has coached longer, won a title, and is at a “better” program.  I’ll give Mullen one call…Miles has had years of stupidity to prove my point.  Back to State…great QB talent in the hands of a great QB coach…mean defense coached by an up and coming DC.  If you follow Southern football at all, you’ll admit that MTSU had a fairly good defense…well, that guy is at State which means exponentially better players playing in an aggressive style.  Regardless, State will beat Ole Miss and, in any year, that’s all that really matters.

5)      Auburn:  This was the toughest call for me.  For one, I didn’t really watch much of Auburn last year.  They always seemed to be playing when a more interesting game was on.  Yet, they managed to do MUCH better than anyone expected.  I put them behind MS State only because I watched more of them than Auburn.  Truthfully, 3-5 on this list could be put in any order you wish and will probably be close.  I don’t know where the wins/losses will be, but, at first glance, Auburn should pull 7 games out this year.

6)      Ole Miss: My, how the high and mighty have fallen.  Masoli will not save this team.  Name me the last great QB that Nutt ever produced?  Matt Jones, right?  Well, that’s an assumption in calling him a QB and not the precursor to a Wildcat formation.  The amount of talent this team has lost is astounding.  I’m sorry, but this will be a bitter year for the Rebels.  I hope the warm embrace of their new mascot (Which I’m sure will be ridiculous…Admiral Ackbar was almost there!) will keep them warm along with their toddies.  And the really sad thing is that they may start 5-0.  However, it only gets easier when UL Lafayette comes to Oxford.  6-6…and that’s a stretch…but not a good SEC showing.

The East:

It’s Florida’s year…and the rest are there to keep Urban Meyer’s medication flowing.  (That’s just wrong…I’m sorry)

1)      Florida: Tebow is gone but this team is still stacked.  The East is theirs to lose.  Meyer, all health related jokes aside, is a heck of a coach and recruiter.  Kermit the Frog could coach this team and still get it to Atlanta for the SEC game.  Brantley will do just fine at QB and A.J. Jones will be great at LB.  It will be a tougher road than in previous year, sure, but with the East as down as it is…

2)      South Carolina:  Man, this kills me.  Robert Johnson…I mean Coach Spurrier…has got to be on the way out.  What’s he done for the program?  Yet (and this is sad) he has the best returning QB in the East in Garcia.  However, losing a beast like Norwood at LB will be tough, an easy SEC East schedule should make up for that.  Being 2nd in this division is like being 2nd in “Rock of Love”…you’re still nasty and horrible.  (I’ve got to stop watching the reality TV my wife forces on me!)

3)      Georgia: Drunk texting from the AD?!  Nice!  The only way it could be worse would be if their players held up a student while wearing their practice jerseys!  Ha ha ha ha…um, wait a minute, that’s us.  Anyway, what can I say…underperformed last year…but AJ Green, to me, is still a stud.  He’ll get the touches and get yards.  Moving to the 3-4 should be good for a fairly solid LB corp and Easley proved to be fair as the RB.  Don’t get too excited…

4)      Tennessee: I have been dreading this paragraph for months now.  The incident with “he who shall remain nameless” has deeply set my beloved program back.  Bravado is one thing…but making Spurrier’s deal with the devil look innocent is something else entirely.  As Amy is a friend of mine and putting my thoughts and opinions on her website, that’s all I can say about that!  Seriously, this will be one of the “rebuilding years”.  We have the number one punter and kicker coming in, so that’s good.  Seriously, there’s some talent on this team…but too much is untested and green.  The D will be serviceable and if the offense can occasionally get some first downs, we should be fair.  I have no idea how good Dooley will be.  The Big Orange Kool-Aid is like Guinness…the further one gets from Knoxville, the worst it tastes.  If I was hesitant about “he who shall remain nameless” until the first game, (And by and large, I was) then it will take a few games for Dooley.  If you’re looking for some sort of quantitative analysis…we might make a bowl…we might not.  That’s what I got for you there.

5)      Kentucky: Another team on the rise…but just can’t find the apex.  Randall Cobb is coming up on his 15th year in college football and should be good again.  They’ll be like last year…good solid 7 win season but nothing flashy but exceeding expectations and keeping the boosters happy until Calipari can falsify some more SAT scores for his basketball team.

6.) Vanderbilt:  Who cares?  Really, I’m sorry.  I know you lost your beloved coach who barely sniffed at .500 during his time there.  You had Cutler.  You beat Tennessee once.  Good job.  But when I read the returning starters list for the ‘Dores, it’s like reading a list of the Federal Reserve

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5 comments

  1. Southern Web Girl approves this message. Paid for by ROLL TIDE BABY!


  2. Byron, idk if your friendship with Gridiron Goddess suggests you have any more respect for the PAC10 than other SEC faithful, but im hoping it does 🙂 For fairness purposes, lets just say u do!

    I respect the fact that you have done the SEC preview for 4 years in a row- thats cool- seriously. Ironically, you are a VOL fan and thats cool too. I too live in Vol country, despite the inherent challenge of being- dare I say- a fan of a non SEC school. It was tough before, but now its even more difficult after Lane Kiffin, like anyone else, decided to simply take a better job 🙂 So yeah…ive taken some heat over the last 6 months bc im the only SC fan most of these folks know for miles and miles around.

    I usually get bombarded with the standard SEC responses if i try and wave my SC or PAC10 flag. SEC speed? really? Speed just for SEC players…a special kind? I also love the excuse (when explaining losses) that “SEC teams just beat up on each other all year and thats why none of them have great records”…blah blah blah…all conferences do that! Every one of them. SEC is not special in that regard. They have great fans…in fact the best ion the country…however, despite common perception in the sec, having tons of fans doesn’t get you a great team. I just think the self perpetuated myth of dominance has to end. It’s just… inaccurate.

    Anyway, you honestly did a good job covering the SEC; however, Im gonna have to throw my 2 cents in. In the end, all hype aside, the SEC has 2 good teams (bama and uf…NOT LSU!) and the rest are either annual mid level disappointments or bad teams riding the sec hype machine for eternity. Here goes…

    SEC West:

    1) Alabama: champs- i get it. They’re a good team for a variety of reasons…though they did lose a lot of players and i dont care what conference u are in, reloading isnt easy. Their qb play has been bad since fat freddy kichens…not expecting much different now. Saban, despite his grotesque existence, is a good coach. So thats 1 good team…moving on. Final assessment: champs by default equals good team.

    2) Arkansas: potential for good things but still continues to disappoint. Until u beat ECU in the crappy Liberty Bowl, i dont wanna hear it. ultimately a mid level team with never ending disappointment. bottom line.

    3) LSU: Les Miles is a redneck. LSU is an ongoing overrated mess. What a joke. Bottom line- another mid level never ending disappointment. deal with it.

    4) Mississippi State: joke. always has been, always will be. let them and ole miss battle it out at the egg bowl. who cares? no one does except MS and SEC fans. do not ever use MSU as evidence of a strong conference. ever.

    5) Auburn: really auburn? really? we r still doing this? how many awesome players have u had and how many championships do u have? put them right bw lsu and msu…more on going disappointment and one more team for the “dont u ever try and use this team as evidence of a strong conference” status.

    6) Ole Miss: eli was an anomaly. Snead was a huge huge joke…1st rounder? are you kidding? amazing. dude rode the sec bandwagon all the way to the end only to be discovered as a fraud…similar to most sec qbs who enter the nfl. ole miss dishes out about 1 first rounder a year…thats nice. u think tubes is gonna turn it around? no. hes not. bottom line- mid level at best, usually nothing more than low level team. Also a “dont u ever try and use this team as evidence of a strong conference” team.

    The East:

    1) Florida: the usc of the sec…so thats really a wash in the sec vs pac10 comparison. they’re good…that makes 2 teams that are good in the sec. count em- 2. bunch of talent and good coach…despite his awkward creepiness. cant forget the reloading after tebow…again, rebuilding isnt always a gimme. i see a few hiccups…but of course the fans will just use the default excuse “man its so tough in the sec with all these good teams”. ridiculous.

    2) South Carolina: once again, mid level disappointment. why all this “disappointment” u ask? bc every sec team thinks and expects that it will dominate…but wait…what happens when these mid level sec teams lose, like they do every year to other average teams in lesser conferences? its ignored- thats what. the other USC is on par with Arkansas…great fans but thats about it. btw someone needs to get smelly or whatever his name is a normal qb face mask. was he a senior? idk, who cares.

    3) Georgia: huge huge disappointment. keep on drunk driving and texting or whatever u were doing mr ath director. u should prob do yourself a favor and sleep in the office and get some work done on firing richt. another- tons ‘o talent team- that has done nothing….for a long long time. they also have that ole miss thing goin on where they send a player a year to the 1st round. other than that and a great fanbase…pretty lame.

    4) Tennessee: UT doesn’t have a lot to work with next yr…im not wishing it on them, bc i do feel for them on paper…but they may actually be looking at a losing season. derek dooley went 4-8 at la tech in 2009. im just sayin. doesn’t look good, but who knows. lane kiffin literally tunred lemons into lemonade at UT…and that was the main reason i was convinced he CAN coach. doooley did go to UVA Law- soooooooo, theres that.

    5) Kentucky: hahahahaha they have a football team? tim couch hahahaha. basketball, basketball…woohoo. SHUT IT and move it out to the MAC with that crap. Defintely a “dont u ever try and use this team as evidence of a strong conference” team. seriously. Gimme a break.

    6.) Vanderbilt: now i like ole vandy bc well….other sec fans dont. they are like the duke or stanford of other conferences. we all got em and you have to respect that ya know. they dont front though…they keep it real. i honestly think sec fans have a big prob with that. vandy, bc its populated with reasonable people and bc its in a nice city, has a the right perfective….lets call it humility. Sec fans look that up. i always cheer for vandy…and man was it nice when cutler beat uf.


  3. AJ,
    Thank you for the kind words. I do try and be as level-headed as possible and, since I truly love college football over any other sport, I try and savor the best offerings the other parts of the country has to offer. That said, I am on the record as saying the Leinart/Bush/White combination at USC was the best team in college football…probably of all time. It’s honestly hard to argue against it. That was amazing football and the infamous “Bush Push” Notre Dame game was one of the best football games I’ve ever seen. Period. To deny that is to be blind to football. Also, I do feel great sympathy for your having to be in Vol country during the Kiffin “issue”…especially if you live close to the Nashville area since Mr. Kiffin’s recent debacle with the Tennessee Titans. That cannot be easy…however, Kiffin, in my opinion, needs to fall off something tall and land on something sharp.

    As to the shameless SEC promotion, it goes too far at times. I admit that…freely. The “speed” issue is overplayed. Yes, there was a time when, I would argue, we (the SEC) were probably faster than most of the rest of the country. However, I think everyone would admit that now we all have roughly the same caliber of athlete. I’ll agree with you there.

    However, I do think that you may be a bit too harsh. I would argue that every conference is dominated by 2-3 “great” teams and the rest are “mid-tier”. Even your beloved Pac 10, up until VERY recently, has been VERY top heavy (and even now, you can’t honestly say that there are more than 3-4 good teams). That said, those “mid-tier” teams I would not call “disappointments”. So, to bash a conference because they’re top heavy is a bit harsh. In addition, your point that teams not named Alabama or Florida should not be proof of a strong conference is harsh as well. Again, if all conferences are dominated by 2-3 teams and the rest are somewhere in the middle, aren’t all conferences, by your definition, weak?

    That said, I do think, top to bottom, the SEC West is in the running for toughest conference division in the country. Just my opinion…I may be wrong.

    As for the fans and the “we beat each other up every week” argument. Yes, you’re right to a point…in that any conference game in any conference SHOULD be a decent game and the fans are in it. However, from my own experience, it’s just…different…in the SEC. I would surmise that a Florida/Vanderbilt game is going to be more intense than a USC/WSU game in terms of fan participation…which, we can admit, is a factor in a game. 80k+ people screaming their lungs out can have a much larger impact on the game as say 35k apathetic people (WSU’s stadium size). Now, I know that WSU may be a bad example for the Pac 10 comparison…but, I would say the same thing in any conference. Great fans don’t make a great team, sure, but great fans do make a great program. When South Carolina went winless a few years back, they still sold out the stadium. That’s a rabid fanbase that I would venture to say is not present in any other conference…especially at a school that’s never been a football powerhouse.

    Also, for those not from the Southeast, let me offer this as a bit of a sociological explanation for SEC craziness…in terms of athletics, what else does this area have to be proud of? Occasionally, college basketball…ok. But, pro teams? The Saints, historically, have sucked…the Falcons, eh…, the Braves but only amongst the baseball fans and, over a long view of time, they haven’t been good for long (going back to the 60’s and the like). The Titans? Again, relative short lived success. College football is where we, as Southerners, have the most long term success to cling to. A friend of mine has a theory that college football is only as big here because of the Civil War. Not to fight the war again, but what else has the region had to brag about since 1865 to the rest of the nation? Sports is a HUGE part of the national conversation and has been for almost 100 years. With no long term professional sporting team to advocate, we are left with college football. (I don’t know if I buy that theory completely…my friend drinks a good deal…but it does illustrate some possible explanation of the “why are these rednecks so crazy?!?!?!” question)

    That said, it doesn’t legitimize the craziness, but, hopefully, explains a little bit about these people are so freaking nuts down here.

    Now…on to your response by team…

    1) Bama–IMO, just too loaded still. Saban’s never had a “good” QB if you think about it. McElroy is serviceable and won’t lose games. That’s the biggest thing. I agree, reloading isn’t easy…but, with a coach like Saban, it’s much easier.
    2) Arkansas–I was at the Liberty Bowl. Neither team really won that game. It was terrible conditions to ice fish, much less play football. I see your point, but, given the rest of the division, #2 should be realistic.
    3)LSU–I have a theory that it’s all the voodoo down there. Seriously, the wins they’ve pulled out down there is freaking spooky.
    4)MSU–Ok, I’m biased. I grew up a MS State fan in the 80’s (talk about fan loyalty through tough times). Usually, I would agree with you…however, Mullen HAS to make a name for himself to move up the coaching ladder. Going 6-6 at MSU isn’t going to do it. Also, he’s beaten Ole Miss in recruiting an untapped talent area. What state in the USA has more NFL players per capita? Florida? Texas? California? None…Mississippi. Mullen is a non-redneck who knows the college game, can spot and coach talent, and has done more with nothing than most coaches in the country could have possibly done. Plus, they’ve got Brett Favre’s nephew who shattered McNair’s state high school records…come on now, that’s gotta be worth some respect!
    5)Auburn: They’re just always right there, you know? No matter what, they can pull out an 8 win season (good by any other conference standard in the country) no matter what the talent pool looks like.
    6) Ole Miss: Yeah, they suck. I hate them almost as much as I hate ‘Bama and Florida.

    1)Florida: SC of the SEC? Ooooo, I don’t know…’Bama could give them a run in terms of talent and long term tradition at the national level.
    2)South Carolina: With Spurrier, will never get over the hump.
    3) Georgia: Yes, a 77% winning rate means this coach sucks.
    4) UT: Dooley’s UVA law degree should only help get our players out of hock.
    5) Kentucky: We need them every March to get TV money for basketball.
    6) Vanderbilt: Really?!!?!? Every time I listen to Vanderbilt fans I have to hear “this is the year!”. For…a bowl game? I don’t know. To call Vanderbilt fans “reasonable” is a far cry, in my opinion. Yes, we all have them…they all help our GPA’s…I don’t dislike them, but I don’t know if I would call them more “reasonable” than any other SEC school.

    Anyway, thanks again for the kinds words. I’m sure that we’ll agree to disagree on the whole conference thing. I’m sure that obscene conference biased is deeply rooted (to some extent) in every conference, so, you’ll forgive my SEC slant. And I wish I could say “Fight on” to you, but my Big Orange blood just can’t do it…I will just say that, in any other circumstance, I would pull for USC. This year…it’s just not going to happen and I think you’ll understand why.

    Good luck!


  4. Allow me to clarify a point my friend was making about the “Civil War” argument.

    1) Remember, he drinks.
    2) The South, in most respects, did not have much to brag about PRIOR to 1865. His use of that date was to frame his point from Reconstruction forward in time.
    3) I still don’t completely buy the theory.

    I just wanted to clarify the point about bringing in the Civil War into the argument…


  5. Paul Hackett was Tennessee’s coach last year? Who knew!



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