Saturday, July 21, 2012

SEC Storylines for 2012

As SEC Media Days passed by last week, I guess it's time to get the blog warmed back up. Wish I could find inspiration in places outside of college football and basketball. Preferably in places that could potentially benefit me personally or financially.

But alas...

The storylines that I'm paying attention to going into the football season are below. There's not a whole lot of analysis here, just stuff that has caught my intrigue and will be keeping my pulse on:

1) Steve Spurrier Swagga

'Ol Ball Coach was looking good this past week, and I'm a huge fan of the smack talk. The SEC is more fun with Steve Spurrier, and even better when Steve's feeling good about his team. Connor Shaw's coming back after 9 starts (which the Gamecocks won 8 of) last season, and likely very little QB controversy. I'm a little curious to see more of what he's got, as last year his best play was the QB draw - not really Spurrier's signature style.

Dude is awesome.
And, of course, there's a healthy Marcus Lattimore. Kid's awesome. That's probably the cause of Steve's smirk.

But the storyline is whether this will hold - South Carolina always seems to lay an egg at some point. September's looking alright (maybe Missouri could be trouble, but game is at SC) - then murderer's row in October BUT they get the big one - UGA - at home. If the Gamecocks can get to October 6th with a 0 in the loss column, could be a second showing for South Carolina in Atlanta.

2) The New Kids

Texas A&M's got a new head coach (I like Sumlin), the QB with the hot girlfriend is long gone, and that's about all I know. Going to take some getting used to.

Missouri - I know even less. Gary Pinkel. That's it. And I know that if I start at 1:00 in the afternoon, I can drive to Columbia, MO and be there shortly after midnight. Only because I've done it before. (Nashville to St. Louis is the best way from Birmingham.)

I'm not happy what this has done to the schedules, and I'm pushing for the 9-game conference schedule (6-2-1, baby). Unfortunately, no one listens to me.

I plan on going to the Alabama @ Missouri game, as I want to get a feel for what Big XII football is about. What's the tailgating like when it's not Texas/Oklahoma? Interested to see if there's any culture shock.

Also curious to see if the Alabamas, LSUs, Georgias, etc. run up the scores - no one from what I've read expects too much out of either new entrant. So will the SEC schools try to crush them before they even get started? Beat the hell out of Missouri, and then go recruit up there to snag their best talent? ("Look, son, you saw what we were able to do to Mizzou last year - if you want to win, you need to come play at LSU.")

Les thinking it over.
3) Anything Les Miles Says

Enough said.

4) The Derek Dooley Carousel

Tennessee football has become a thrill ride for everyone except for Tennessee fans. With the expectations coming from the Finebaum's that this will be Dooley's last season, will Derek go for broke?

Well, we'll get an early look with Tennessee playing NC State in the Chick-fil-A kickoff. Lose that game, and wheels could come off real quick. Florida in week 3, and Georgia in week 5. And while it's probably foolish to say... but I bet that James Franklin is going to roll that tape of Dooley's postgame taunt on Vanderbilt going into the Vols' visit to Nashville. Franklin could really hammer in the last nail.

The money line comes in about 1:50.

5) James Franklin! Intensity!

I like James Franklin, as he's fighting the exact way I would as Vanderbilt's coach. The past is the past, and we aren't going back to that. Dude's changing the attitude.

Too bad it's an impossible task. Come on, dude. It's Vandy. But please keep me entertained. Go get in a fight with another assistant coach.

6) Will Muschamp! More Intensity!

Florida better get my attention real quick this year, because I haven't paid any attention to them. You take Charlie Weis out of my life - how can I forgive you?

Florida can't seem to find any stability, either with position players or coaches. They've done a better job of holding it all together than Tennessee, at least.

7) Dan Mullen - WTH?

I gotta say, a few years ago, this dude was my man. And then he goes and beats no one in the west except for Ole Miss, and they don't count.

But, as usual, Miss State is caught in that whirlpool of "if we fire him, then who would we get?" And I don't know either.

Either way, Mullen's stock as 'next hot coach' has slipped substantially. In his defense, he has had Chris Relf overthrowing passes for the past two years (maybe worst D-1 QB I've ever seen in person), so what could he really do?

If Mullen doesn't make some progress soon (and it's hard playing now in the same division as Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, and Texas A&M), he may keep the job in Starkville, but I doubt anyone's going to be knocking on his door.

Poor dude. Tough spot.
8) John L. Smith and The Whole Arkansas 'Thing'

Bobby Petrino at least made it an interesting Spring. Really haven't seen anything like this since Mike Price. And Mike Shula served up a 4-9 season that fall. (And same items - big arm QB, fair amount of experience coming back...)

I don't expect good things for Arkansas on the field this year. But, keep the off-field drama coming, please.

9) Ole Miss

Good luck.

10) Auburn Expectations

And this is a confusing one, because it's not about whether Auburn will meet expectations, it's what are the expectations?

I honestly don't know.

He looks like he can throw here,but the ball
hasn't left his hand yet, and it was also in warm-ups.
QB position is still a big question mark, as Kiehl Frazier wasn't allowed to throw at all last year, and now the message boards are saying he's Dan Marino. Not sure how far off from the truth that one is.

Malzahn's gone - and what's worrisome for Tiger fans is where he went to and why. Did he and Chizik just not get along, and that's the end of it? Or was Malzahn jumping ship? I just thought that he'd be leaving for a different job (Arkansas State). How desperate was Malzahn to get out of Auburn, and what was the real motivation?

We may find out on the field.


And that's really it. Some stuff for you kids to mull over, or at least take notice of going into the season. College football's changed a lot the past two years, and with more to come. Going to be a fun one.

Yeah yeah, Twitter: @harry_long