Impressions from SEC Media Days

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HOOVER, Ala. — Some final thoughts from SEC Media Days as we now race toward the start of the college football season:

* To me, the most impressive of the league’s four new coaches was Kentucky’s Mark Stoops. He’s been waiting for a head coaching opportunity and he has a real plan to build a program that will make the Wildcats competitive again. I like that fact that Stoops, a defensive-minded coach, is going to go with an up-tempo offense. Not only will it entertain fans, it will give UK a chance to recruit some potential dynamic offensive players. He’s got a lot of work to do, but his defense will eventually be pretty solid. You can sense the excitement Stoops has already generated in the state of Kentucky.

* Watch out for LSU this season. Many are discounting the Tigers’ chances in the SEC because they’ve lost so many players, including their entire defensive line. But this is a very fast and talented team that will be capable of beating every team it plays. I have a feeling the Tigers like being in this position — being picked to finish third in the West. Les Miles’ team seems to be the most dangerous when it is overlooked.

* It was a little jarring at first to see that Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is all the way down on the third team on the media’s preseason All-SEC team. But the more you think about it, the more sense it makes, I guess. Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy last season. AJ McCarron won the national championship. Murray threw for a bunch of yards and touchdowns but the Bulldogs had to settle for the Capital One Bowl. Murray could end up being the All-SEC quarterback this season if the ’Dogs turn out to be as good as many think.

* Steve Spurrier continues to be the most entertaining coach in the SEC. And it’s not even close. He entertained the media big-time this year with his call for players to be paid — and for Notre Dame to join a football conference if it wants to have any say in the college playoff. Spurrier has never seemed more comfortable at the podium, speaking exactly what’s on his mind.

* Bret Bielema and Gus Malzahn are not going to be friends. They’ve already got a heated rivalry going now due to their differing opinions on up-tempo offenses and whether it puts players at risk of injury. Arkansas and Auburn are in the same division, so this is going to be interesting.

* Johnny Football is going to continue having problems dealing with all the attention he’s getting. I’m sensing a little bit of a sophomore jinx for him this season. I have a feeling defenses are going to come up with a better plan for him now that they’ve seen him once. And the pressure is really on this kid.

* A lot of people think this South Carolina team is the best Spurrier has had. I just don’t see it. The Gamecocks must replace all their linebackers, don’t have a whole lot of proven talent at wide receiver and don’t have a dynamic tailback, at least not yet. I think Spurrier is so fired up about this team because he’s got not one, but two, quarterbacks that he likes.

* Heading into the season, there really aren’t any coaches on the hot seat. But I have two candidates who could end up there by November — Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel.

* Here are my predictions: Alabama will win the West, Georgia will win the East. I just have a feeling the ’Dogs will take down the Tide in the SEC Championship Game. As for the Gators, I think they’re going to be strong on defense again and much better on offense. But it’s going to be tough to match last year’s 11-1 regular-season record with a tough schedule that includes road trips to Miami, LSU and South Carolina.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree, the Gators over-achieved last year, the talent is there this season, but with a much tougher schedule. Got to take it one game at a time, I don’t see Miami, SC or LSU with better talent, but give a slight advantage to the home team in those games.
    Gotta hope A&M can pull the win early against the Tide, if not, Bama’s schedule favors them to run the table and wait to see who comes out of the East.
    If LSU stumbles against TCU in week one, it will be a long season in Baton Rouge; Tiger fans could be looking at a 5 loss season.

  2. I agree SoCar is a bit over rated, but the have the easiest schedule of the big three in the East.

    If Florida wins in Jacksonville the Columbia game will decide it (unless the Gators choke away a game to Mizzou or Vandy).