SEC Media Days kicked off yesterday in Hoover, Alabama, allowing media members from across the country to ask questions concerning the upcoming season to the conference’s top head coaches and players.
Although the focus is truly on those who actually play a role on the field and on the sidelines on Saturdays in the fall, a bit of the limelight goes to the sportswriters covering the event, who are always polled in order to predict the conference’s champion. The predictions have been generally off, however, as the media has posted an abysmal 4-16 record in doing so (last correct prediction was Florida in 2008).
With the press being off so much in general in regards to SEC play, I took it upon myself to make up for their miscues and release my own predictions on how the Southeastern Conference will play out this season.
Alabama 11-1 (7-1)
LSU 11-1 (7-1)
Arkansas 9-3 (5-3)
Auburn 7-5 (4-4)
Mississippi State 7-5 (3-5)
Texas A&M 5-7 (1-7)
Ole Miss 3-9 (0-8)
NOTABLE UPSETS: Arkansas over Alabama by 4
NOTES: The odds aren’t in my favor of the top results playing out almost just like it did last season, but I really believe that both Alabama and LSU have successfully reloaded for the upcoming season. The Bayou Bengals probably have even more talent on the offensive side of the ball than they did last year thanks to junior Zach Mettenberger taking over as the signal caller, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban will have just as dominate a defense as he had last year. Circle November 3rd on your calendars, boys and girls, because in all likelihood this Battle in Baton Rouge will determine the SEC Champion for the second straight season.
Florida 10-2 (7-1)
Georgia 11-1 (7-1)
South Carolina 9-3 (5-3)
Tennessee 8-4 (4-4)
Missouri 7-5 (3-5)
Vanderbilt 6-6 (3-5)
Kentucky 3-9 (0-8)
NOTABLE UPSETS: Vanderbilt over Auburn by 3, South Carolina over Arkansas by 4
NOTES: The Gators find themselves back on top in the East after a two season hiatus, beating the Bulldogs 30-24 in Jacksonville to hold the tiebreaker that punches their ticket to the Georgia Dome. Georgia fans can’t help but wonder what happened in a season that set up for great things, but another ten-win season helps head coach Mark Richt cool his seat for the foreseeable future. Speaking of cooling seats, Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley successfully douses the flames that engulfed his seat at the end of last season, as Tennessee hits .500 in SEC play for the first time under Dooley and shows the rest of the conference that they are almost ready to contend for the top spot in the division.
2012 SEC Championship Game: Alabama defeats Florida 27-14
Most Surprising Team: Florida Gators. I must admit that I had a double take after I tallied up the number of wins that I gave the Gators this season, but there schedule just plays out perfectly for them this season in the fact that their three toughest conference games—LSU, South Carolina, and Georgia—are all played in The Swamp. If Florida can find a way to top the Tigers on October 6th, they may very well have a shot at going undefeated, which should result in the fans proclaiming “Urban Who?”
Most Disappointing Team: Arkansas Razorbacks. Granted, a 9-3 record is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Razorbacks’ dreams after last season were concentrated solely on winning a national title. These dreams were then dashed thanks to the escapades of then-head coach Bobby Petrino, who was then fired and replaced by John L. Smith. Quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis will make some noise throughout the season, but all in all the year will be seen by the media as a major disappointment.
Heisman Watch: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina Gamecocks. All eyes will be on Lattimore due to his leg injury last season, and I fully expect the 6’0’’ 218 lb. halfback to have an outstanding game in the season opener against Vanderbilt and never look back. If Lattimore can top one hundred yards in the Gamecocks’ games against LSU and Arkansas, expect him to be in New York in December at the Heisman ceremony.
Head Coach on the Rise: Derek Dooley, Tennessee. Dooley has had a major amount of heat on him in his three years of coaching the Volunteers despite the fact that he took over an absolute nightmare in Knoxville, but the heat will soon disappear thanks to a strong outing by this Tennessee team this year. While an 8-4 record is an accomplishment for Dooley, it’s just the beginning of bringing Tennessee back to the top; next on the list must be to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Head Coach Who Will Be Shown the Door: Joker Phillips, Kentucky. I feel sorry for Joker Phillips, a Kentucky alum who took over for Rich Brooks when he retired after the 2009 season, but the Wildcats have gotten worse each season that he has been on the job. Although the victory over the Volunteers last season was very nice (first time Kentucky defeated Tennessee since 1984), it won’t be enough to justify Joker staying for another season if Kentucky fails to go bowling come December.