Monday, April 24, 2006

SEC Offseason Musings


Spring has been good to the Gators; the Basketball team just won a National Championship and the four super sophomores have decided to return for their junior season.   Donovan's crew will be a definite Top 5 pick next year considering they also have a pretty good recruiting class coming in as well.  On the football field, Urban's Meyer's first recruiting class was ranked #1 by many scout services.   The Gators should be the favorite in the SEC East this season.



The Bulldogs spring practice was much ado about the QB race that will continue into fall according to Mark Richt.   During the spring, Joe Tereshinki, Joe Cox, and Matthew Stafford were all vying for the starter position.  Nobody seemed to break away from the pack, but I would not be surprised at all to see True Freshman Stafford starting by mid-season.   The QB is the only thing holding UGA back from winning the SEC East again; it will be very to repeat with a brand new face at QB.  Basketball started off promising this season, but lagged to the finish.   Felton's has been improving each year the Dawgs should be able to compete for a NIT bid next year.



Spring means new beginnings and that is exactly what Phil Fulmer wanted in Knoxville. David Cutcliffe has returned to be the OC, a position he held during the Peyton Manning years.   The Vols lost a fair amount of talent that will need to be replaced on defense though.  They will be back in a bowl game this year, but I can't see and SEC East title without more stability at QB.   The basketball season ended in disappointment after such a strong regular season.  Bruce Pearl and his crew should be back next season in contention for another title.


South Carolina-

Spurrier's second season under the helm in Columbia should be another one filled with high expectations.   The Gamecocks have had another spring to digest Spurrier's offense, but the defense lost some key players especially in the backfield.  I think S. Carolina will be good for one large upset in conference, but just doesn't have the talent to compete for an East title yet.   The basketball won its second straight NIT Title and defeated National Champion Florida twice (and took them to a wire a third time).  NIT titles are great and all, but I am sure the fans would like to see Odom move into the NCAA next year.



The Wildcats will struggle again on the football.  On the hardwood, Tubby Smith endured his roughest season in Lexington and will lose his best player Rajon Rondo to boot.  Kentucky has not recruited at the same level it has in the past, so I think you may see some more seasons like the one this past year to come.  



They lost Jay Cutler so what else do you want me to say.  The Commodores will play teams tough at home only to lose in the fourth quarter.   The basketball got hot late in the season, but couldn't bring it over to the SEC Tournament. 



With Matt Flynn's play in the Peach Bowl and highly-touted Ryan Perriloux redshirting last year, the Tigers have a quite a QB controversy.   Last season's starter JaMarcus Russell will be fully healed come August, but may not be the starter.  It is a nice problem to have for a team that will be highly ranked come preseason.   If the Tigers can win 10 games in a season like this past one, bet on it happening again this coming season.  John Brady got his basketball team to the Elite 8 and now he wants to see the rewards for it.    Brady is one of the lower paid coaches in the SEC (but one of the best IMO).  He will lose forward Tyrus Thomas, but Glen Davis will return for another season.   The Tigers should be strong again this coming season.



The Tide is another school who will see a new face at QB this fall.  John Parker Wilson is the leading candidate serving as Brodie Croyle's understudy last year.   Alabama has to travel to LSU, Florida, and Tennessee this fall, but does get Auburn at home.  The Tide returns the majority of its basketball team intact from last season.   A brutal non-conference schedule along with injuries hindered the Tide team early on last year.  They should be competing for the SEC West this year.



Last season began and ended on sour notes for the Tigers.  Luckily, most of their starters of offense return from last season, including RB Kenny Irons.   Defensively, the line will have to repaired, but Auburn has recruited pretty well over the last couple of years.  The LSU game could very likely determine the winner of the West.   Jeff Lebo's basketball team is a couple of years for competing for the NCAA Tournament.



Houston Nutt endured his roughest season yet as head coach just two years after turning down Nebraska to stay in Fayetteville.   QB Mitch Mustain was widely-ranked as the top Prep QB in the nation last year and will be given every opportunity to grab the starting job.  The running backs are going to carry the load until then, but the Razorbacks have one the best sets of running back in the nation.   On the hardwood, Ronnie Brewer left for the NBA.  The Razorbacks will have to rely on their role players from this season and the incoming class to make it back to the Tournament.


Ole Miss-

Ed Ogeron will not fail at Ole Miss due to a lack of effort.  One of the best recruiting classes in school history was bolstered when former Tennessee backup Brent Scheaffer joined the Rebels.  Still, Ole Miss doesn't have the depth of the top tier teams in the West.  They, like South Carolina , are a couple of years away from competing for a conference title.  In basketball, the Rebels faded fast down the stretch.  Right now, the future doesn't look bright in Oxford.


Miss St-

Sylvester Croom is through the honeymoon stage and now it is time to produce some results.  Recruiting has not gone as well as expected and the Bulldogs just lost their top player RB Jerious Norwood.   Rick Stansbury's basketball team struggled this season, but is heading back towards the top of the SEC West again.

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