There are truths and untruths in the world of sports. And there are also opinions that are worth discussing. You may agree or disagree. Just do it with decorum. So continues this occasional feature as Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun embrace the debate:
Item No. 1
Kyle Trask will have a Joe Burrow-type season in 2020.
Andreu: Here are the two main reasons he won’t: he does not have Joe Brady or Ja’Marr Chase to work with. Brady was the mastermind behind Burrow’s ridiculously huge season last year, while Chase emerged as the nation’s best wide receiver in 2019 — and it wasn’t even close. Granted, Trask will see a surge in his game in his second year in Dan Mullen’s offense and tight end Kyle Pitts should have a monster season, but Trask won’t have the star wide receiver — or the bevy of elite ones — that contributed so much to what Burrow accomplished last season. FICTION.
Dooley: It would be a lot of fun to cover a season like that and we kind of did the year Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy. But Burrow‘s season was ridiculous in part because LSU’s defense almost seemed to only hold the opposition to do the minimum necessary to win games. LSU was eighth in the SEC in defense so Burrow could never take his foot off the gas. And he had a perfect storm around him. Trask has Dan Mullen and Brian Johnson and a receiving corps that might surprise some people, but I‘m not sure he will have the running game necessary to have an unstoppable offense. And let’s face it — we may never see a season like Burrow‘s again. FICTION.
Item No. 2
Within five years, Auburn and Missouri will switch divisions.
Andreu: It makes perfect sense geographically. Auburn is in east Alabama and is only about a two-hour drive from Atlanta, while Missouri is way, way out there, west of St. Louis. For travel purposes alone, the other teams in the East would love to add Auburn — and love to see Missouri also staying closer to home in its SEC schedule. It makes perfect sense for the two schools to switch divisions, but for some reason the league has been reluctant to even consider moving Auburn out of Alabama’s division in the past. So, I don’t see that changing. FICTION.
Dooley: Let‘s remember that everything is changing in the college football world, so anything is possible. The teams in the West don’t want to lose Auburn because of the gate that comes with those Tigers vs. the gate that comes with the ones out of Columbia, Mo. It seems silly and — to be honest — ridiculous that Florida and Auburn hardly ever play, but the SEC is based in Birmingham and sees the Auburn-Alabama rivalry differently than we do in Gainesville. They want those teams competing for a division champion annually. The only hope would be if there was some kind of expansion, but even then it is doubtful. FICTION.
Item No. 3
LSU is the only team other than Alabama which can win the Western Division.
Andreu: A year ago, I would have said this is an absolute fact. But not so in 2020. There are two other teams that are capable of taming the wild West this season — Auburn and Texas A&M. The Tigers beat Alabama last season, so there’s no question that Auburn has the talent not only to hang with Alabama and LSU, but defeat them. Texas A&M is a team that really intrigues me. The Aggies have eight starters back on offense, including quarterback Kellen Mond, and eight on defense, so this team seems ready to take the next step under Jimbo Fisher. And, Alabama and LSU both are replacing their star quarterbacks. FICTION.
Dooley: Sorry, I‘m not buying the Aggies, especially if we end up with conference-only games. And the same goes for Auburn unless Bo Nix makes a huge jump in his second year at quarterback. There is only one roster that compares to Alabama’s and that is LSU‘s, even with all of the great players who advanced to the NFL. The interesting thing will be how LSU plays without what is considered to be one of the best home crowds in college football. The Tigers do get Alabama at home, but have to go to Texas A&M and Auburn at the end of the season and have to travel to Gainesville. But this might be a good year to have a tough road schedule considering the lack of crowds. FACT.