Before and After Hoover

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One of the biggest reasons I find the SEC Media Days invaluable (despite inane questions from pseudo-media members) is simple — you can read all the preseason magazines you want but spending three days eyeballing players, listening to coaches and getting a feel for confidence levels gives you a better idea of what to expect each season.

It’s hardly an infallible method. I’ve been sucked into believing in a team at this event in the past two decades only to see it win three games.

But I do know that I often leave Hoover with a different feeling about a team than I had driving up I-65 to get there.

So here we go:

ALABAMA

Going in: Even with all of the players lost to the NFL, Alabama is the team to beat in the SEC because of Nick Saban.

Coming out: If the Tide can get past Michigan in the opener and Arkansas in week three, the Nov. 3 game at LSU may be bigger than last year’s.

ARKANSAS

Going in: Arkansas is a mess because of the Bobby Petrino scandal and has no chance to have a special season.

Coming out: John L. Smith may sound like your crazy uncle but the 63-year old coach has instilled his players with a level of confidence that was surprising.

AUBURN

Going in: Gene Chizik captured lightning in a bottle two years ago and will have another pedestrian season.

Coming out: Auburn’s game against Mississippi State early in the season is huge for both teams and a win could propel the Tigers to a nice year.

FLORIDA

Going in: The Gators will be better but I’m still not sure about the quarterback play.

Coming out: Because we deal with this team all the time, not much changed in Hoover. The national media came away thinking Florida might be pretty good this year.

GEORGIA

Going in: Georgia has a tough team and a soft schedule and might be a national championship contender.

Coming out: Mark Richt has that look like he knows he has a special team but also knows that it’s college football and anything can happen.

KENTUCKY

Going in: It’s going to be another long year for Joker Phillips.

Coming out: When does basketball season start?

LSU

Going in: Can the Tigers get over the massive hangover that has been a black cloud this offseason?

Coming out: LSU is the team to beat in the league. If Zach Mettenberger is as good as everyone says he is, the Tigers might be unstoppable.

MISSISSIPPI

Going in: Is Mississippi still in the league?

Coming out: Hugh Freeze talked about trying to lead this program out of the wilderness. It’s going to take awhile.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Going in: Dan Mullen needs a big year in Starkville.

Coming out: His comment that his team wasn’t that far away from a national title last year made me laugh out loud.

MISSOURI

Going in: The Tigers aren’t ready for what the SEC has in store for them.

Coming out: Oh, yes they are and they’re tired of hearing about it.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Going in: Steve Spurrier has it going and the Gamecocks could win the East.

Coming out: The ball coach has changed the culture in Columbia and is back to being the Steve Spurrier Gator fans used to love and everyone else couldn’t stand.

TENNESSEE

Going in: Derek Dooley is in trouble.

Coming out: The Vols are going to be much better than some people think and if they are watch out for Tennessee in the next couple of years.

TEXAS A&M

Going in: Aggies will be a tough second-week opponent for Florida.

Coming out: Kevin Sumlin is as laid-back as the Aggie fans are intense. I’m not sure I’d pick Florida to win that game.

VANDERBILT

Going in: The Commodores are trending in the right direction, which is a rare thing indeed.

Coming out: Vandy may be the surprise team in the league.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Come on, Pat… you’re giving-up on Florida at Texas A & M in July!?!? Florida’s Q.B.’s have never had this much ‘doubt and uncertainty’ surrounding them (as Sophomores) in a long time… I think they’ll surprise some people!
    I predict U.G.A. to finish 3rd behind Florida- 2nd, Carolina -1st.. Tennessee finishes 5th behind Vandy (4th) So, what happens to Dooley when NOTHING CHANGES? GO GATORS!!!