Sunday, August 25, 2013

Buy, Pass, Sell: SEC Edition

The SEC is largely thought to be the class of college football by virtue of Alabama and LSU cashing in on all of their. It is truly amazing to think about what they have done in the last decade. However, top to bottom, I am not buying this crap about the SEC being the best overall conference in America. Sure, there is strength at the top, but the bottom half of the SEC is as bad as any conference in America. Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky, and Arkansas were absolutely putrid last season, and hey, Missouri is about as bad an add on as one will find. Mizzou was hardly competitive in the Big 12 the last few seasons before joining the good ole boy club, so how were they ever going to compete here? With all of that in mind, here are my choices for Buy, Pass, and Sell in the SEC for 2013.


South Carolina: This should be the year that Spurrier puts it all together to take the SEC East and challenges for an SEC title outright. It should be...but how many times have we heard this before at USC? We heard it under Lou Holtz as well, so it's not just Spurrier, to be fair. The tools should be all on the table to make a serious run as a dark horse contender in the SEC this fall. Jadeveon Clowney is the best defensive player in America, and Connor Shaw may be the most underrated QB. I am buying in, but this is a risk/reward pick based on previous failures to live up to billing.

Georgia: There is no doubt in my mind that Aaron Murray has some of the best tools of any QB in the SEC. Now is the time to shine for Murray, Richt, and Friends, and the roster looks loaded. There is one glaring issue that I see in front of the Bulldogs going into the season, and that's the September schedule, which includes games against Clemson, South Carolina, and LSU. The back half of the schedule looks like a day at the park, so it's all about surviving the first 4 weeks that has only one guaranteed win on the slate in North Texas. Again, this is a risk/reward pick.

Vanderbilt: I am buying in on Vandy simply because I believe in James Franklin at head coach. It's all about getting off to a fast start, because the first month is tough. The Commodores open with Ole Miss at home, which is a huge opportunity, and the visit South Carolina in week three. I believe that, like Northwestern in the Big 10, Vandy could spoil someone's season. One other item to watch will be the play of Austin Carta-Samuels, the former Wyoming transfer. Will he play like he did as a freshman, or will he flop like a fish like he did as a sophomore before bailing out of Laramie? I probably should be passing on Vandy until the end of September, but hey, what's a little risk?

Alabama: If you are not buying in on Bama, you are probably high on some really bad crack. Until proven otherwise, the Tide will be the best team in the country with the best coach in the country in Nick Saban. Alabama will load up on talent once again, and has as effective a QB as there is in the nation leading them in AJ McCarran. Alabama will truly blast Virginia Tech in the opener.

LSU: Never bet against Les Miles and company, unless they are playing Alabama. LSU would be rolling in BCS titles by now if they never had to play the Tide. Here's my issue with LSU...offensively, they don't have the talent of Alabama. QB has been an ongoing problem for the Tigers for a while now. I don't believe that Zach Mettenberger is going to be the man. There is enough talent around him and on defense for LSU to make another huge run this season, and challenge Alabama in the West.

Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze has been quietly building a miniature empire in Oxford, and recruiting is at an all time high. It's only a matter of time before the roof blows off, and the Rebels are threatening everyone in the league that comes across their path. The days of easy wins against this program are over.


Florida: The offense stinks. That is why I don't know what to do with the Gators right now. There is no real viable QB in the program right now, so no, I don't believe in Jeff Driskell right now, or ever for that matter. The Gators are looking for a new RB, but this is not a very productive unit overall. The defense is great, but eventually, you have to score points to win.

Tennessee: Butch Jones is going to get it right in Knoxville eventually. Will Tennessee be good enough to make the East uncomfortable in 2013? That remains to be seen. I can see myself selling on the Vols at the end of September, with the expectation to possibly buy in for 2014. We'll see.

Texas A&M: The Aggies have the biggest quotient for falling backwards in 2013. Johnny Manziel has been an off-field circus this year, and his head doesn't seem to be in the game, but rather trying to strike on his ego while the iron is hot. That could be a problem, and if the NCAA suspends him for Autograph-gate 2013, the Aggies could be in trouble. I am waiting a little longer to make a decision, so passing for now is a good idea.

Arkansas: John L. Smith was at the core of the mess that was the Razorbacks in 2012, as was the Bobby Petrino disaster. Bielema should be a decent fit in Fayetteville, but will he be likable enough and fit in to the system in place there. Likability has always been an issue with the guy. Look at how that worked with Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, and with Smith and Arkansas last season. Bielema has some work to do with the roster, but he has some time to make it work. The Hogs could be better than expected, but I am not ready to make a decision just yet.


Missouri  It's a make or break year for Gary Pinkel, and the schedule is brutal. That's not a good sign for a team that completely lacks an identity heading into 2013. If you thought that the Tigers were an afterthought in the Big 12, they are invisible in the SEC. It would be even worse if they were in the West instead of the East. I have already committed to the sell, but the only thing that would have kept me on Pass mode would have been if I could trust the health of QB James Franklin. The problem is, I don't.

Kentucky: Joker Phillips was an abject disaster as head coach in Lexington. That should be a cautionary tale of naming a coach in waiting, as that almost never works. Phillips was Rich Brooks' guy when Brooks walked away from coaching, and Brooks is left looking like a bad judge of talent. Enter Mark Stoops, as the Stoops family has more brothers I think than the Baldwin family. If Bob Stoops is the Alec of the family, then the rest can only so far compare to the Stephen and Billy factor, which is far less talented and accomplished. Mark has the chance to blow that concept out of the water, but it won't be now. I am probably two years away from being able to think about buying into UK, and even then it'll be a maybe at best.

Auburn: The Tigers may struggle to reach 6 wins in the first year of the Gus Malzahn era. There is no established QB, the three top receivers are gone, and there are no go to options right now. The defense should be better, especially with Ellis Johnson running the unit. Auburn needs playmakers, and they will only come through recruiting later.

Mississippi State: Much like Iowa State in the Big 12, the Bulldogs are a middling program that are usually happy to get to a third tier bowl. The receiving corps has been decimated, and the schedule, especially in November, is just heinous. There is depth on defense, but I don't see that MSU has enough talent to run with the big dogs in the West, and Dan Mullen will be answering some questions as to how they will get said talent by the end of the year.

Coming up next...Buy, Pass, Sell: Sun Belt Edition

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