The TV moguls who now rule college football have given us the ability to carry on this upcoming football season, sources say, as outdated as it will seem with just a four-team football playoff, and our bizarre notions of a smaller, geographically oriented team. conferences.
Let’s live it, suckers.
Yes, the world may seem like it’s crashing down around us in college sports, but there will be a season. That was brought home earlier this week when, in between writing stories about realigning, he ventured to the soccer practice grounds in Georgia where the two-time defending champ was happily practicing, as if there was still 2023 in season. Which, again Sources assure us that there will be.
So let’s discuss it. SEC Mailbag Free from Reorganization!
Some questions have been edited for length and clarity, and to remove all references to reorganization:
Which Dan Enos should Hog fans expect to see? Brandon Allen/Hunter Henry-era Inos or Miami-close-out-by-LA Tech-in-the-Independence-Bowl Enos? I’m excited to see what the best use of KJ Jefferson’s tight ends can do.
Adam, I’ll get to your question, but first let me use it as a way to get to a larger point.
This keeps it simple, but there are generally three types of offensive coordinators:
- Greats who will improve almost any attack they have, even though they may not make what should be a bad attack great. More like bad to average.
- Respectable people whose fortunes will depend on the individuals they have.
- The bad guys who will take what should be good insults and make them average, and make the ordinary bad.
That’s why, for example, Georgia fans should feel good about Mike Bobo, who is at worst in the mediocre category but has shown during his later years at Georgia that he can be in the top category. Ditto for Bobby Petrino at Texas A&M, William Quinn at Kentucky and Auburn, where Philip Montgomery is the OC. But that’s the offense of Hugh Freese, who despite his other warts is good at scoring points.
Meanwhile, this is why Alabama is kind of in question, because Tommy Race is still in the unproven category. During his three years managing the offense at Notre Dame, the Irish ranked between 34th and 45th nationally in yards per game. The freshmen coordinators of South Carolina (Doyle Loggins), Missouri (Kirby Moore), and Mississippi State (Kevin Barbay) are also unproven at the power conference level, which means they could be in over their heads or the next big thing in college football, though we might We don’t see it right away because they don’t work with Georgia level talent. (Tennessee also has a new OC in Joey Halzle, but that’s still Josh Heupel’s offense, so they’ll be fine.)
There is a lot that needs to come together for a great attack. Todd Monkin is seen as a wizard of what the Georgia offense did under him in 2021 and 2022, but in his first year, when the quarterback situation was in flux, things didn’t go so well. Then there was LSU in 2019, when we were all ready to crown Joe Brady as the next Bill Walsh, when Brady wasn’t calling plays, and it turns out that Joe Burrow, Ja Mar Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the same offense were a good thing. And if you want to go back even further, as great a player as Gus Malzahn was at Auburn, his best year was with Cam Newton as the starting quarterback. (Although Malzahn did very well in 2013 with Nick Marshall.)
On the flip side, even an unqualified OC can do something with decent players. When I covered the 2015 Georgia team, for example, OC was, shall we say, not ready for the college game, and that offense still ranked fifth in the SEC in yards per game. (Nick Chupp and Sonny Michel were the Bulldogs’ saving grace.) But you need players, as we saw with Dan Mullen at Florida, where the scoring offense was at rock bottom in 2021, his fourth and final year with the program, and recruiting has caught up.
And now for Anoush: his history shows more cause for encouragement than concern. The situation in Miami is more of an exception, and the Hurricanes offense hasn’t been as great before or after 2019, his only year there. Maryland was good on offense last year, when Enos had a good quarterback (Taulia Tagovailoa), and Enos should have been a good quarterback this year (Jefferson). Enos was also working at Maryland with Mike Loxley, who he knew from one year at Alabama (when Loxley was OC and Enos was the QB coach), and again Enos is working with a head coach he knows, having worked at Arkansas when Pittman was coach O-line.
Which SEC team will pull off a first upset win in the first month of this season? In contrast, which team is likely to suffer an upset loss first?
Most likely to score an upset: Florida, because they have two shots at that: at Utah in Week 1 and at home against Tennessee in Week 3. That doesn’t mean I’m picking the Gators to win either game. If I had to pick one game where I see an upset, it could be Vanderbilt at Wake Forest in Week 2, or South Carolina over North Carolina in Week 1, though that streak is just a field goal right now, so it hardly qualifies. At the same time, Florida has many questions, be it quarterback, depth, or coaching. But it’s still Florida, and she’s had two apple bites in the first month.
Likely to be upset: Alabama, according to the aforementioned metric, has multiple chances (at home against Texas, at South Florida and home against Ole Miss) along with the Crimson Tide with two new coordinators and a new quarterback. This could be one of those years where Alabama has an early loss and then rolls over the rest of its schedule. More on the radar: Texas A&M is already favored in Miami in Week 2, which seems risky given the questions about the Aggies. Auburn needs to be careful in California going into week two. Ole Miss goes to Tulane in week 2.
Seth, let’s play a version of Win, Lose, or Draw. For this year’s SEC teams, please select the following:
1-The team that will improve its win total compared to 2022.
2- The team that will repeat (or come closest to) its win total compared to 2022.
3-The team that will reduce their win total compared to 2022.
You earn a point for each additional win achieved by Team 1, lose a point for the difference in wins from Team 2, and receive a point for each additional loss achieved by Team 3.
Well, I’ll let you calculate this at the end of the season – assuming the TV moguls let us get to the end of the season – but here are my picks:
1. Texas A&M, whose record was 5-7 last year appears to be a low-water mark for this year. They could win by nine or ten (Kentucky, which was 7-6 last year, was my second choice. Alabama would also be a good flyer: 11-2 last year, perfectly capable of going 15-0).
2. Arkansas could easily repeat its 7-6 record. Of course, more than half of the other teams in the league can, too. Look at these records from last year and tell me they’re nothing like this year’s predictions: Tennessee (11-2), South Carolina (8-5), Ole Miss (8-4), Missouri (6-7), Florida (6-7) ), Auburn (5-7), Vanderbilt (5-7). And of course Georgia at 15-0 again won’t surprise anyone.
3. Mississippi State, which was 9-4 last year but was the last-place pick in the SEC West this year. I’m actually rooting for a good Bulldogs season, given what they’ve had to go through, and behind the arm of Will Rogers and Zach Arnett’s defense they have a chance. But their schedule is a bear.
Any answers as to whether or not Brian Kelly closed in on Louisiana State recruiting wisdom? This is weird culturally appropriate however…
… However, LSU has commitments from four of the six top recruits in the state for this course, while the other two are undecided. The previous cycle wasn’t as dominant: the Tigers signed just one of the top four and three of the top nine. However, this was Kelly’s first year at LSU, and no one should be surprised if he rolls around there. He’s a good coach and he didn’t win all those Notre Dame games with smoke and mirrors. He knows how to recruit. And LSU should always dominate in its own state, since it doesn’t have any strong conference contenders, a luxury most other SEC schools don’t have. (Missouri and Arkansas are also the only Power 5 programs in their states.)
Seth, can you list your top 10 college strength coaches?
I haven’t done a scientific poll or ranking, but I can assure you that the top 10 are all bald, have a goatee, and don’t smile for their media guru pictures, but they do have hearts of gold and it’s the secret to what makes their shows tick.
Seth, do you think it’s possible for Bobo and Will Muschamp to retire as Dogs? They both tried to be HC’s, did well, and now they’re in a great position coaching the top guys for a big program, their alma mater, with one of their best friends.
I would say yes other than their age. Bobo just turned 49, and Muschamp was 52. Either one of them can pull Matt Lock and decide they’re ready to hang her. Most likely, they spend a few years in Georgia, maybe more than a few, and then at some point they get their challenge itch somewhere else, whether it’s a head coach at a smaller school, or something in the NFL, or maybe something in management. somewhere. The good thing about Kirby Smart and Georgia is that in these two guys he knows they won’t have wandering eyes.
When do you think we’ll get a week-by-week schedule for 2024?
I’m going to break the no-realign rule to answer this. Greg Sankey’s comments on Tuesday night should comfort any notion of anyone else being added for the next season of the SEC, so I expect the weekly schedule to appear sometime in the next few months. And it will be a reminder once again that next season it will not be all bad: these are some very good matches, not only because of the two new teams but because of the new schedule format.
For 2025 and beyond, whether the SEC goes to nine games, et cetera, I mean at this point I’m just giving up.
This may be a difficult question to predict, but given that ABC/ESPN is the sole owner of the rights to SEC football starting in 2024, how do you think the regular weekend schedule for conference broadcasts will be distributed? Considering they would also need to be compatible with some ACC and Big 12 games (I’m not entirely sure what their obligations are to those conferences).
This isn’t really a realignment either, is it? It’s about next year, so I’ll try to keep it short: Between ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and the SEC Network, there will be the ability to put good SEC games in three prime time slots every Saturday (noon, 3:30 and 7/7:30 p.m. Eastern) and the SEC and ESPN will do their best to do so, especially to compete with Fox and other Big Ten partners. In fact, they’ve already begun to do that, which is why SEC fans need to retrain themselves from thinking afternoon games are minor against their own team. In many cases, it will actually be a compliment. Migrating to ESPN+—only online—may not be straightforward in some cases, either, as the network tries to build out its own streaming platform.
But in some cases, yes, it will be slight. Just know that the people who make these decisions aren’t idiots, and they don’t hate your team. There are very good business reasons for making these decisions. However, whether they should have all that power, is a good debate to have.
(Photo by Dan Enos: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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