College Football

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The East Beasts

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are going to take a look and preview the SEC East for the upcoming 2022 season.

#1 Georgia: The Bulldogs finally beat Alabama in the National Championship to win their first national championship since 1980.

They only return 10 starters but they are expected to reload. The defense was historically good but they lost players like linemen Jordan Davis and Travon Walker, linebacker Nakobe Dean and safety Lewis Cine.

Stetson Bennett returns under center and they return three starting offensive linemen. They have two very talented tight ends, Brock Bowers and Arik Gilbert.

#2 Tennessee: Head coach Josh Heupel is entering his second season in Knoxville and he has the program going in the right direction. The Volunteers averaged 39.3 points a game. They also led the SEC in plays of 40-plus yards (23) after only having three in 2020.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker is entering his senior year after having a breakout year in 2021. He passed for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also rushed for 620 yards and 5 scores.

They also return four starting O-linemen. The defense allowed over 200 rushing yards and 33.6 points a game in SEC play last season.

#3 Kentucky: It’s a toss-up between the Wildcats and Tennessee for the No. 2 spot. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen helped them average 32.3 ppg last year. Coen left to take a job on the LA Rams staff. Mark Stoops hired Rich Scangarello from the 49ers to replace him.

QB Will Levis is back and they have a good running back stable led by Chris Rodriguez Jr.

Kentucky ranked fourth in the SEC in scoring defense, 21.7 ppg allowed. They have holes to fill up front and in the secondary. The linebacker unit is talented.

#4 Florida: The Gators are led by first year head coach Billy Napier. They finished 6-7 in 2021 and they should improve this season. Quarterback Anthony Richardson played in eight games last year and averaged 8.1 yards per play, ran for 401 yards and 9 total scores.

Florida should have a solid running back core that includes Louisiana transfer Montrell Johnson and former top recruit Demarkcus Bowman. The Gators finished 10th in the SEC against the run and only had 20 sacks in conference play.

#5 South Carolina: The Gamecocks could be one of the most exciting teams to watch. They have several transfer players including quarterback Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) and receivers Corey Rucker (Arkansas State) and Antwane Wells (James Madison) to add to a receiving corps already featuring Josh Vann (15.8 yards per catch) and Dakereon Joyner.

They return all five starting O-linemen but that’s still an area of concern. They only averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 2021. The defense allowed 175 rushing yards a game.

#6 Missouri: The Tigers have a bad defense and inconsistent quarterback play. The defense allowed 6.7 yards per play, 36 points a game and more than 200 rushing yards a contest in SEC action last fall.

Offensively, the Tigers averaged only 22.6 points and 5.2 yards per play in SEC games last season.

Ends Isaiah McGuire and Trajan Jeffcoat lead the way up front, while cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine and safety Martez Manuel are two building blocks for new coordinator Blake Baker.

#7 Vanderbilt: Are we surprised to see the Commodores here?

Mike Wright and Ken Seals are competing for the QB 1 job.

Vanderbilt ranked 13th in the SEC against the run, last in pass efficiency defense, and surrendered an unpleasant combination of 6.8 yards per play and 35.6 points per game.

How Good Is Florida Gators Anthony Richardson?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Anthony Richardson has a cannon for an arm! The Florida Gators quarterback showed it off Friday at the Manning Passing Academy.

Richardson is one of several elite college quarterbacks serving as a counselor for this year’s camp at Nicholls State University in Louisiana from June 23-26.

Friday featured the “Air It Out” competition between the quarterbacks, and AR-15 stole the show. On his rep, Richardson did a three-step drop and then let it fly. From the 30-yard line, he effortlessly launched a deep ball that jumped off his hands and traveled over 70 yards in the air, drawing “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd.

“That was a long throw,” Manning said in reaction to Richardson’s bomb.

This weekend gives Richardson an opportunity to give back and learn from three legends, with NFL standouts Archie Manning, Peyton Manning and Eli all participating in their namesake event.

“Talking to the Manning’s, I just want to soak up everything I can,” Richardson said. “Be a better person, be a better quarterback, you know, just get as much knowledge as I can. And working with the younger guys, I just try to connect with them because I was once in their shoes. So just helping them and giving them advice on what to expect when things come up.”

Anthony Richardson showed why he’s considered as one of the more physically-gifted quarterbacks in college football. The rising redshirt sophomore wowed onlookers with his deep passes, effortlessly flicking the football around 70 yards downfield.

Richardson has huge hands and probably threw the tightest spiral we saw. His athleticism is well documented (he turned a backflip after connecting on one throw) but he has big-time arm talent as well. Richardson has a bit of a looping throwing motion that can be offset some by the velocity on his throws.

The Gainesville native flashed some tantalizing playmaking ability in 2021. He’ll need to continue developing, but he could be primed for a breakout year; especially under new Florida head coach Billy Napier.

After serving as a backup for most of last season, Richardson is finally QB1 for the Gators following his stellar spring game. He threw for 207 yards and scored three total touchdowns.

More importantly, he looked comfortable in the new offense under first-year coach Billy Napier. Richardson studied former Louisiana QB Levi Lewis to get a feel for Napier’s system.

“Watching some of their games from last year, even hearing about Coach Napier and then considering him, I started watching some of the games just to see what was going to happen,” Richardson said this week. “And watching Levi play, that was their old quarterback, that put me in good hands because we have similar skill sets. I talked to coach Napier and coach Ryan O’Hara when they came in and they told me I was going to fit well in their offense. Then I went through spring, I think I do fit well in the offense, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Billy Napier will rely heavily on Richardson to lead his new program this fall. What he picks up in the passing game, especially at the event this weekend, will be crucial for the Gator’s success this fall.

Wild West

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Let’s take a look at the SEC West and preview how each team’s season will go.

#1 Alabama: The Crimson Tide are loaded with talent like they are every year. They return Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young and add Georgia Tech transfer running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

There are also a pair of transfer wide receivers, Tyler Harrell (Louisville) and Jermaine Burton (Georgia).

Left tackle Evan Neal departed for the NFL. The offensive line gave up 41 sacks last year and they were very inconsistent. The defense held teams to 20.1 points per game last season and they should be better this year.

#2 Texas A&M: The Aggies had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in 2022.

The question is can they convert that into winning the West, getting to the SEC Championship and the CFB Playoff? No, but I think they can win double-digit games.

Quarterback Haynes King was injured in the second game of 2021. He returns in 2022 along with LSU transfer Max Johnson and true freshman Conner Weigman.

They need more big plays from the passing game and true freshman Evan Stewart could provide that. Devon Achane rushed for 910 yards, 9 touchdowns and averaged 7 yards per carry in ’21. He should have a breakout year and the offensive line returns three starters.

#3 Arkansas: All-SEC candidate KJ Jefferson returns at QB, four starters on the o line and a solid backfield led by Rocket Sanders.

It’s going to be tough to replace receiver Treylon Burks (66 catches) and the big-plays he used to make. Transfer receiver Jadon Haselwood (Oklahoma) and Matt Landers (Toledo) will compete with Warren Thompson for the top target.

The defense gave up 29.6 ppg in SEC Play last year but they thrived at getting third down stops and limiting teams in the red zone.

They only return four starters but they added several players from the transfer portal. That includes ends Jordan Domineck (Georgia Tech) and Landon Jackson (LSU), linebacker Drew Sanders (Alabama), and defensive backs Dwight McGlothern (LSU) and Latavious Brini (Georgia).

#4 LSU: Bryan Kelly left Notre Dame to take over this program.

The Tigers are 11-12 over the last two seasons so they have a lot to improve. Only six starters return but they typically have talented players in Baton Rouge.

The secondary finished 12th in the SEC in pass efficiency defense last fall. They have several transfer players that should be able to contribute.

Garrett Nussmeier, Jayden Daniels and Myles Brennan are battling for the starting quarterback job.

#5 Ole Miss: The Rebels are coming off of 10 wins and a Sugar Bowl appearance. They lost several key contributors like QB Matt Corrall, running backs Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner and receiver Dontario Drummond.

USC transfer QB Jaxson Dart is expected to win the starting job. They also have several transfers on both sides of the ball.

#6 Mississippi State: The Bulldogs won seven games last year and return 17 starters. QB Will Rogers returns to lead an offense that averaged 378.3 passing yards per game and 29.1 ppg.

They allowed 34 sacks in 2021 and lose both starting tackles.

Having playmakers step up to keep the Air Raid going will be the storyline.

#7 Auburn: The Tigers lost five games to end the season, several players transferred and coach Bryan Harsin is already on the hot seat.

Running backs Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter should be the focal point of the offense.

They ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring last season.

Growing Gators

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Most of Gator Nation didn’t even know who Jaden Rashada was two months ago. Today, his recruitment has fans wondering whether this staff can close the deal.

I understand that sentiment stems from other prospects as well, but the Gators haven’t had enough top targets in the 2023 cycle yet.

With Rashada included, it’s too early to be judging their efforts for this ‘bump’ class. Recruits have to be ready, or scheduled to announce before they can close on them.

Billy Napier and his army showed that ability in his transition class, finishing with a top-20 ranking after signing top-100 prospects Shemar James and Kamari Wilson.

He also landed impact transfers O’Cyrus Torrence, Montrell Johnson, Jalen Kimber and Ricky Pearsall.

We are six months away from the early signing period for the 2023 class. Only two of the top 15 players in the Sunshine State have committed, Keon Keeley (Notre Dame) and Raylen Wilson (Michigan), along with just six of Florida’s top 30 players.

The Gators hosted 19 of those 30 recruits for unofficial and/or official visits this spring/summer and are currently the favorite for eight of them.

UF is also up to 31 official visitors so far this month, and only one prospect who was uncommitted prior to his trip has since pledged elsewhere (Jordan Hall to Michigan State).

Aside from Hall, the only other significant 2023 target Florida has missed on so far is five-star cornerback A.J. Harris, who recently committed to Georgia.

Harris stated that he attended a UGA camp in sixth grade, shook Kirby Smart’s hand and told Smart he was going to play for him one day. Realistically, it sounds like the Gators had their work cut out for them.

With Aaron Gates committed, plus a recruiting board with five-star Cormani McClain, top-200 Sharif Denson and 6-foot-3 cornerback RJ Johnson, Florida should be fine at their position. McClain is a must-get, but his recruitment will be a marathon.

Four-star running back Treyaun Webb, who officially visited UF earlier this month, makes his commitment on June 30.

Five-star receiver Jalen Brown and top-150 prospects Aidan Mizell, Eugene Wilson III and Will Norman all plan to decide before their senior seasons.

The Gators will need to close on those recruits, along with Rashada, in the coming weeks and months. If they land at least half of the targets above, their 2023 class will be in good shape heading into the fall.

Should most of them commit elsewhere, then there will be cause for concern. Either way, the end of summer is when we’ll have a realistic idea of where this class stands.

I’ll say this: Napier won’t miss any of his targets for lack of trying (or name, image and likeness). The Gator Guard has established UF as one of the foremost aggressive NIL collectives, and Napier’s investment and involvement in recruiting is the most we’ve seen from a Florida coach since Will Muschamp.

In terms of ranking the last four Florida coaches as “closers” and how aggressively they recruit, I would list them in this order based on my knowledge: 1) Will Muschamp 2) Billy Napier 3) Jim McElwain 4) Dan Mullen.

I looked back at how many signees from each of those classes joined before July.

Muschamp had the most with 10 commits, although one pledged to the previous staff.

McElwain and Mullen both had eight commits, but only six committed to Mullen.

Urban Meyer, who signed a top recruiting class in 2006, had just five members in it at the end of June.

I wrote when Billy Napier was hired that he would be judged on this recruiting class. Judgment Day is in February, not June.

Frantic Atlantic

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are going to take a look at the ACC Atlantic division and predict how the teams will do this season.

#7 Syracuse: Dino Babers has had one winning season out of six at Syracuse. That includes 15 conference wins out of 50 ACC games.

The Orange return one of the nation’s top running backs in Sean Tucker (1,496 yards) but big progress in the passing game is needed under new play-caller Robert Anae.

Quarterback Garrett Shrader (781 rushing yards & 14 TDs) threw for less than 100 yards in three of his last four starts.

#6 Louisville: Quarterback Malik Cunningham was one of the best dual-threat players in the country last year and he’s back in 2022.

He was a 62% passer a year ago, throwing for 2,734 yards and 18 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions, while also rushing for over 1,000 yards and 20 additional touchdowns, both top 10 numbers nationally.

He lost a few receivers that transferred but the Cardinals also had some talented players transfer into the program. Wide receivers Tyler Hudson (Central Arkansas) and Dee Wiggins (Miami) should be good playmakers on the outside.

Tight end Marshon Ford (49 receptions) has a chance to be an All-ACC first-team pick.

They also return four starters on the offensive line.

#5 Boston College: The Eagles started 4-0 last season before the wheels fell off and they lost four consecutive games.

They finished at 6-6 and won just one ACC game at Chestnut Hill.

Quarterback Phil Jurkovec went down in Week 2 and he didn’t return until November. He’ll be back this season with running back Pat Garwo III and receiver Zay Flowers. They only return one starter on the offensive line so that is a big concern.

They return 7 starters on defense and they only gave up 22.2 points a game last fall.

#4 Florida State: The Seminoles made progress in head coach Mike Norvell’s second year in ’21, finishing 5-7. I don’t expect them to compete for the conference title, but they win total should increase.

Quarterback Jordan Travis passed for 2,074 yards, 15 touchdowns and 6 picks.

The season opener is in New Orleans against LSU. The Tigers are coming off of a disappointing season with a new head coach so FSU can win that game and set the tone for the season.

#3 Wake Forest: QB Sam Hartman returns after leading the offense to 41 points per game last year.

The Demon Deacons have talented receivers like A.T. Perry, Taylor Morin and Donavan Greene. They also return four O line starters.

Defense is where they struggled the most in 2021 and it’s still a big question mark.

#2 NC State: The Wolfpack return 17 starters, which is the most of any team in the ACC from a squad that went 9-3 last fall.

That includes quarterback Devin Leary (35 TDs, 5 INTs) and one of the nation’s top linebacker units anchored by Payton Wilson and Drake Thomas.

They must replace its top two rushers (Bam Knight and Ricky Person) and elite left tackle Ikem Ekwonu. They averaged a league low 3.3 yards per rush in 2021.

#1 Clemson: The Tigers had their streak of consecutive ACC titles snapped at six and failed to make the CFB Playoff for the first time since ’14 last season.

Offense was a problem last year and five-star QB DJ Uiagalelei completed 55.6% of his passes for 9 TDs and 10 picks. In theory he can’t get any worse and if he plays better Clemson will be back in the Top 10.

 

 

Canes QB

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

First-year Miami football coach Mario Cristobal considers himself lucky to have inherited a loaded quarterback room.

Cristobal faces a daunting task of attempting to rebuild the Hurricanes program, but it is made a bit less intimidating with the knowledge of whom he will have under center at QB.

Miami returns last year’s starter Tyler Van Dyke. He assumed the role as a redshirt freshman after D’Eriq King went down with injury in Week 3.

Van Dyke went on to prove he belonged there, throwing for 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions to earn ACC Rookie of the Year. He enters 2022 as the unquestioned starter and a potential NFL Draft pick.

Mario Cristobal has enormous praise for Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.

Evidently, the new leader of the program believes his quarterback can ascend into a superstar. Cristobal compared Van Dyke to Los Angeles Chargers star quarterback, Justin Herbert — Cristobal’s quarterback at Oregon.

Cristobal also thinks highly of redshirt freshman Jake Garcia, who appeared in one game last year before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Garcia is a former four-star recruit who ranked as the No. 52 overall player and No. 10 quarterback in the 2021 class.

“We’re very lucky that we have a very good quarterback room,” Cristobal said in a recent interview. “In fact, one of them is already a projected NFL player if he continues to develop and have a great season. But he’s not alone. You’ve got a guy who was hurt early last season in Jake Garcia. Him and Tyler have got to make the best one-two punch of any quarterback room in the country.”

The talent in the Miami quarterback room doesn’t stop there. The Hurricanes signed four-star recruit Jacurri Brown, the No. 18 quarterback in the 2022 class. Brown is dual-threat and threw for more than 3,000 yards while rushing for over 2,000 the past two years at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. He was an early enrollee this spring, where Cristobal said he was impressed with how he managed to fit in.

“They brought in Jacurri Brown, who joins us as the most prolific passer and winner in Georgia high school history,” the Hurricanes coach said. “A phenomenal athlete and human being who joins these guys. Got here as an early enrollee, which is always fun. It’s like getting dropped off in some place where you have to learn to get to know everybody and know processes. The simplicity of attaining a Cane card is as difficult as you can imagine. But Jacurri has adapted really well and he’s ready to roll, so we feel great about that room.”

Miami is set to enter their first season under coach Mario Cristobal following a disappointing 7-5 season this past year.

As a former Championship Winning offensive lineman with the Canes in 89 and 91, Cristobal understands the importance of rebuilding this program. The Hurricanes have only one 10-win season in the past 18 years.

Cristobal still has a long way to go in his rebuilding of the program, but he at least has a solid foundation at the most important position in offense.

He will get his first opportunity to put that talent to use when Miami opens the 2022 season on Sept. 3 against Bethune-Cookman.

The Coastal Life

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are getting closer to the start of the 2022 football season.

Let’s take a look at the ACC Coastal Division and predict the final standings.

#7 Duke 3-9 (0-8 ACC): The Blue Devils struggled in 2021. Head coach David Cutcliffe is now gone and former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko has taken over.

The offense averaged 14.9 points per game in conference play last season. They lost quarterback Gunnar Holmberg and leading receiver Jake Bobo to the transfer portal and running back Mataeo Durant (1,241 yards) departed for the NFL.

The defense allowed 46.6 ppg and 7.1 yards per play in ACC games.

#6 Georgia Tech 3-9 (2-6 ACC): Head coach Geoff Collins is 9 – 25 over the last three years. The roster only returns four starters and the non-conference opponents are Ole Miss, UCF and Georgia.

Tech lost two offensive pieces in quarterback Jordan Yates, who transferred out, and running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who left for Alabama.

Jeff Sims returns at quarterback after passing for 12 TDs and 7 picks, but there isn’t a ton to work with around him moving the ball.

Drastic improvement is needed for the defense that has ranked 13th or worse in the ACC in points allowed in each of Collins’ three years at the helm. The offense averaged 24 ppg last season, which was third worst in the ACC.

#5 Virginia 6-6 (4-4 ACC): The Cavaliers will be led by first-year head coach Tony Elliott.

He previously served as a coach at Clemson from 2011 – 2021, most recently as associate head coach, offensive coordinator, tight ends coach and running backs coach. He has learned a lot from Dabo Swinney, which should mean good things for UVA.

Elliott inherits one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks (Brennan Armstrong) and receiving corps (Billy Kemp IV, Dontayvion Wicks, Keytaon Thompson and Lavel Davis). Armstrong led all Power 5 quarterbacks by averaging 427.3 total yards a game last fall.

They need to establish balance in the running game and take some of the pressure off of him. They lost all five offensive line starters.

#4 Virginia Tech 6-7 (4-4 ACC): Brent Pry takes over as the head coach in Blacksburg. Pry was the defensive coordinator at Penn State from 2016 – 2021. His experience should help make an impact immediately for the Hokies defense that’s returning seven starters. They held opponents to 25.3 ppg but only had 16 sacks in ACC play.

Transfer quarterbacks Grant Wells (Marshall) and Jason Brown (South Carolina) are battling for the starting job.

#3 North Carolina 6-7 (3-5 ACC): The Tar Heels lost QB Sam Howell, four offensive line starters and the bulk of the rushing attack.

Coach Mack Brown recruits well and a couple of good recruiting classes should make the difference.

Talented redshirt freshman Drake Maye will battle Jacolby Criswell for the starting quarterback job.

#2 Pitt 11-3 (7-1 ACC): The Panthers shocked everyone by winning the ACC last year. QB Kenny Pickett and receiver Jordan Addison are major losses.

USC transfer Kedon Slovis should win the quarterback job. They have a solid stable of running backs and the defense returns seven starters.

#1 Miami 7-5 (5-3 ACC): Mario Cristobal left Oregon to take the head coach job at his alma mater.

He hired Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator. Gattis led Michigan to the College Football Playoffs last season.

QB Tyler Van Dyke returns after throwing for almost 3,000 yards, 25 TD’s and 6 interceptions. He had seven games without a turnover and the U went 5-2.

The O line returns three starters, including All-America candidate Zion Nelson.

New Path

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

McKenzie Milton has decided to officially hang up the cleats, announcing his retirement from football on Thursday.

The former UCF star returned from a catastrophic leg injury to play for Florida State in 2021, providing one great story last season.

But now that the 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, Milton explained on Instagram that “my days of playing football have come to an end.”

Milton had a 27-6 record as a starter for UCF, after starting 4-6 his freshman season, he led the Knights to 23 consecutive wins. He contributed to two American Athletic Conference Championship teams, but that fateful injury in the regular season finale back in 2018 cost him the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Milton graduated from UCF and transferred to Florida State, where he was able to get on the field for six games with four starts during the 2021 season.

After participating in a pro day at Florida State and UCF this spring and not getting drafted, Milton can celebrate his recovery and still know he gave the NFL his best run.

In his announcement on social media, Milton made reference to the “what if” questions that might include whether his NFL Draft outcome might have been different without the injury. But he says his outlook is focused on his growing family, as he and his wife are expecting a boy this summer.

“A lot of people will wonder what if he never got hurt, what if this what if that? I asked myself those same questions for a while too,” Milton wrote in his announcement on social media. “It wasn’t until November 23, 2021 (three year anniversary of my injury) where I saw my son for the first time on ultrasound and then understood why I went through what I went through. It took three years to put it all in perspective. I get goosebumps thinking about how divine it is that three years to the day I get hurt, is the same day I see my baby boy for the first time.”

While Milton was working out with NFL aspirations, he simultaneously got active in the name, image and likeness business.

Dreamfield was founded in the summer of 2021 by two then-active college quarterbacks, McKenzie Milton and D’Eriq King. At the time, both had transferred to Florida schools after great AAC careers. Both said they wanted to take advantage of the new opportunity that was NIL.

Through their Dreamfield platform, they did things like releasing NFTs or non-fungible tokens, which are blockchain-based assets that allow college athletes to easily monetize their NIL, build their brand, and authentically connect with their fans in new and unique ways.

They also brought in other student-athletes, who wanted to use the platform to help find NIL deals.

Today, they offer numerous resources for the athletes who they’ve partnered with, including help with taxes, compliance, and brand building. Meanwhile, they help brands identify the right athletes for them and track the success of their campaigns.

They also exist to help boosters in the NIL era, as they try to begin crowdfunding and things of that nature.

Dreamfield works to bring student-athletes and brands together for the purposes of NIL. They do so without pairing up directly. Instead, they team up with the athletes themselves.

Among those athletes who they have teamed up with are Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham and Washington quarterback Michael Penix.

Now, with these new brands, they will be able to help those brands partner with more student-athletes in deals moving forward.

We may have seen the last of Milton on the gridiron, but he made his impact in college athletics.

Winning

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It is June and SEC football is less than one hundred days away.

My random thoughts relate to SEC Football. When Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007 the entire landscape changed in the SEC.

Alabama became a dynasty. Beginning in 2008 Alabama has run things in the college football world. Here is a snapshot of the current SEC membership since the beginning of this great Alabama run.

Ten-win seasons since 2008:

Alabama – 14: Alabama has won 10 or more games for 14 straight seasons.

The worst record during that time was a 10-3 mark in 2010.

I do not know if college football has ever seen a more dominant run than the current one the Crimson Tide is on.

In the same window Alabama has won six national championships. Many have Alabama as the favorite to win number seven this fall under the Nick Saban watch. Saban is the greatest coach in the history of college football.

Georgia – 9: Georgia has been a consistent winner since 2008 and finally broke a long championship drought in 2021 by winning the national championship.

Losses to Alabama in the SEC title game in 2012, and a loss in the national title game in 2017 have kept UGA from having three national titles in the past decade.

Kirby Smart has Georgia built for the long haul. UGA seems to be here to stay. Kirby is getting ready to sign a long-term contract that could make him the highest paid head coach in college football.

Florida, LSU – 6: Florida won a national title in 2008, then lost the SEC title game to Alabama in 2009. Florida went off the grid for a few years then bounced back with a nice 2020 season then Dan Mullen made the famous recruiting comments after the UGA loss in 2021 then was run out of Gainesville.

LSU went 15-0 in 2019 and won the national title. That team was the first SEC team ever to go 15-0 in a single season.

LSU lost to Alabama in the BCS National Title game in 2011. LSU has had two straight losing seasons in 2020 and 2021. That is unacceptable in Baton Rouge.

Missouri – 4: Mizzou joined the SEC in 2012 and had 10-win seasons in 2013 and 2014 and won the SEC East in the process.

Mizzou also had a couple of other ten-win seasons since 2008. Never in a million years did would I have believed that Missouri would have more 10-win seasons than Auburn since 2008.

Auburn, South Carolina – 3: Auburn is either great or mediocre as evidenced by the 2010 national title with Cam Newton and the 2013 season in which they lost to FSU in the title game.

All of South Carolina’s success came when Steve Spurrier roamed the sidelines in Columbia. The Ball Coach retired in 2015.

Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss – 2: Kentucky has played football since 1892, and in that time has four ten-win seasons.

Mark Stoops has two of those in the past four years. Arkansas and Ole Miss are proud football programs that are on the rebound with good head coaches.

Mississippi State, Texas A&M – 1: MSU is a historical doormat in the SEC, and Texas A&M went 11-2 in 2012, which is their only 10-win season this century.

Jimbo Fisher is getting paid big bucks by The Aggies to be an 8-4 type football program. Now he calls out Saban recently on NIL comments the GOAT made.

Tennessee, Vanderbilt – 0: Vandy is Vandy we know they are not going to compete consistently in football, but Tennessee being a dumpster fire for the last 14 years blows your mind. No ten-win seasons, no championships, 15 year losing streak to Alabama. How the proud have fallen.

2022 should be another banner year for SEC football.

The New Look SEC

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For the next several days, the SEC will take over Destin, Fla., as the league’s leaders and coaches meet to discuss name, image and likeness, future scheduling, playoff expansion, transfer portal windows and more.

There’s undoubtedly going to be grumblings about collectives and college football free agency, but after commissioner Greg Sankey told Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher to zip-it recently, the spiciest of soundbites may have already happened.

Still, even if we don’t get Fisher vs. Saban Round 2, these SEC spring meetings could carry as much importance as they have in many years.

With Oklahoma and Texas set to join the league in 2025, the future of the conference could be hammered out at the Hilton Sandestin this week.

Here’s primer on the various topics expected to dominate the conversations:

Which scheduling model will the SEC choose? Heading into the SEC spring meetings, the conference is split on a couple different potential scheduling options starting in 2025 when new members Oklahoma and Texas join the league.

Pods (think NFL-like divisions) have been eliminated from the proposals.

The league is now considering two main formats: An eight-game (1-7) schedule where schools would have just a single permanent opponent (think Alabama–Auburn) and seven rotating opponents. This would allow every team and fan base to see the entire league every other year.

On the flip-side, it would eliminate a bunch of annual, storied rivalries.

There’s also a nine-game format proposal, where every school would have three permanent opponents, thus preserving more rivalries, and six rotating league games.

For now, divisions seem unlikely but haven’t totally been ruled out.

Expect plenty of horse-trading with whatever format the league chooses. The powerbrokers (i.e., Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, etc.) are in favor of the nine-game format, understanding that it would generate the league even more revenue (i.e., more TV inventory, more butts in the seats) and produce better games. Again, it bears repeating, but it would also save important rivalries like Auburn-Georgia or Tennessee–Kentucky.

Notably, Sankey prefers a nine-game conference slate.

The bottom half of the league currently favors the eight-game format, wanting that extra non-conference game as a potential boost for their overall win-total.

Determining team’s permanent opponents will lead to some contentious debates. What’s equitable? And to whom? Is it fair if Auburn has to play Alabama, Georgia and Florida every year plus a rotating set of opponents? No. And other schools will make similar cases.

How serious is the league about an All-SEC playoff? Four Means More to the SEC than any other conference, so don’t expect Sankey or the league’s ADs to cave on any future eight-team playoff.

They were willing to sacrifice for 12, but when talks collapsed, the league began tinkering with ideas about its own postseason tournament.

The early details include an eight-team playoff tournament, likely starting around the same date (early December) as the current SEC Championship.

The question at hand is this merely a leverage play by Sankey and the ADs to essentially threaten the rest of the sport that if they don’t meet back in the middle on College Football Playoffs expansion then the league will be ready to do its own thing, or are they serious about exploring potential additional expansion (think poaching ACC schools like FSU and Va. Tech, among others), building a super conference and holding their own tournament?

The league would obviously benefit greatly financially from an intra-SEC postseason, and could still plot a path to playing someone from The Alliance (Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 or Big 12) for “national championship.”

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