Hot topics ahead of Hoover
Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 3:33 p.m.
SEC Media Days starts on Tuesday in Hoover, Ala., which, of course, means one thing. The college football season is only weeks away now.
Pat and Robbie Pick the SEC
Pat Dooley's picks
1. South Carolina
3. Mississippi State
4. Texas A&M
5. Ole Miss
SEC champion: South Carolina.
Robbie Andreu's picks
3. South Carolina
2. Texas A&M
4. Ole Miss
5. Mississippi State
SEC champion: Alabama
As it usually does, SEC Media Days will draw a record number of media members and lobby watchers (fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite coach or player and possibly get a coveted autograph).
Here are five hot topics heading into SEC Media Days (and the start of college football):
1. Can Alabama make it three in a row?
Well, duh. Of course. The Crimson Tide have some rebuilding to do on the offensive line and in the secondary, but this is a roster that's still bulging with big-time future NFL talent, much of it on offense, including quarterback AJ McCarron and wide receiver Amari Cooper. Add in the Nick Saban factor, and this is a Tide team that has an excellent shot at winning Alabama's third consecutive national title, and the eighth in a row for the SEC.
2. Meet the new coaches (four of them)
The fact there are four new coaches in the league should add to the entertainment value this week in Hoover. New faces and new stuff, you know. Who walked into the toughest job? Who has the best chance to succeed immediately? Who is most likely to flop? It's going to be interesting watching Butch Jones (Tennessee), Mark Stoops (Kentucky), Bret Bielema (Arkansas) and Gus Malzahn (Auburn) in the SEC spotlight for the first time.
3. And the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner is ...
The Heisman favorite, of course, is going to be last year's winner, Johnny Football. But it's going to be interesting to see how Johnny Manziel handles his new celebrity status once the season starts. Remember that a year ago nobody outside of College Station even knew who Johnny Manziel was. He's certainly appeared less than comfortable with his new-found fame through the offseason, based on his Twitter posts. Either way, Manziel is going to get plenty of competition for the stiff-arm trophy from within his own league. South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and McCarron are legitimate contenders. And don't rule out Georgia's Aaron Murray. If he has another big season — and the Bulldogs win big — he could be the guy.
4. Year of the Dawg?
After coming only seconds (and inches) away from upsetting Alabama in the SEC title game and earning a spot in the BCS Championship Game, some are thinking Georgia just might be the team that ends Alabama's championship run this fall. The Dawgs have a star quarterback (Murray) and all kinds of experienced talent on offense. The concern is on defense, where last year's top players are getting ready for their rookie season in the NFL. If the defense, which should be very fast and athletic, comes through, this Georgia team has a good chance of winning it all.
5. Will the Ole Miss momentum continue?
Coach Hugh Freeze pretty much stunned the SEC last season with his ability to turn Ole Miserable into a bowl team again in only one season. He stunned everyone even more after the season when he put together one of the nation's elite recruiting classes, something that's not supposed to happen at Ole Miss. The question now is: Will this newfound Rebel momentum carry over into the 2013 season? If it does, Ole Miss could be a key player in the Western Division race.