Best Of The Best

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

Many analysts and fans consider the SEC to be the best football conference. Depending on the year there may be an element of truth to that.

I’m going to look at some of the best teams in conference history and try to determine who the best is.

1998 Tennessee: The Vols were the first national champs of the BCS era.

Ironically, everything came together the year after Peyton Manning graduated. They were led by quarterback Tee Martin and wide receiver Peerless Price. Sophomore running back Jamal Lewis tore his LCL in his right knee, so he only played in the first 5 games.

Price had 920 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Travis Henry led the team in rushing with 970 yards and 7 touchdowns.

They beat Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl to finish 13-0.

1992 Alabama: The Crimson Tide were led by a strong defense. They led the nation in fewest points allowed (9.2 per game during the regular season). They won the first SEC Championship Game against No. 12 Florida.

In the Sugar Bowl they played defending national champ, No. 1 Miami. They routed the Hurricanes 34-13 to finish 13-0.

They also did not allow an offensive touchdown to the Heisman Trophy winner, QB Gino Toretta.

1980 Georgia: This team was led by freshman running back Herschel Walker. He rushed for 1,616, 15 touchdowns and averaged 5.9 yards per carry.

He was talented enough to help the team overcome mediocre quarterback play. Buck Belue passed for 1,314 yards, 11 TD’s, 9 interceptions and completed 49% of his passes.

They beat No. 14 South Carolina and No. 20 Florida in consecutive weeks. In the Sugar Bowl they beat No. 7 Notre Dame to finish 12-0.

1996 Florida: The Gators are the first team on this list with a loss. They outscored their opponents 612-228. QB Danny Wuerffel threw for 3,625 yards, 39 touchdowns and 13 picks. He won the Heisman Trophy.

The offense had a lot of talent with running backs Fred Taylor and Elijah Williams. They also had Ike Hilliard, Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green at receiver.

The Gators only loss came in the regular season finale to No. 2 Florida State, 24-21. They got revenge in the Sugar Bowl and demolished FSU, 52-20.

2009 Alabama: They were led by Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram with 1,658 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had 3 receiving touchdowns.

Linebacker Rolando McClain won the Butkus Award and Jack Lambert Award.

Greg McElroy threw for 2,508 yards, 17 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and he completed 61% of his passes.

Julio Jones led the team in receiving with 43 receptions for 596 yards and 4 touchdowns.

They beat No. 1 Florida in the SEC Championship and No. 2 Texas in the Rose Bowl to finish 14-0.

2011 Alabama: The defense led the nation in every major statistical category.

Running back Trent Richardson won the Doak Walker award, rushing for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Seven players were named to various All-America Teams.

The only loss was to No. 1 LSU, 9-6. In the National Championship Game, they avenged the loss and beat the Tigers 21-0. They finished 12-1.

2008 Florida: This was coach Urban Meyer’s best team. They were led by Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin on offense.

The lone loss came to Ole Miss. They finished 13-1 with a win over No. 2 Oklahoma in the national championship.

2019 LSU: I saved the best for last.

Joe Burrow had the best season for a quarterback in college football history and led the Tigers to a 15-0 record.

The Tigers demolished everyone they played.

I Have The Power

By: Kipp Branch news services

Another college football season has come and gone.

The SEC perception wise seemed a little down in 2023.

No SEC team played for a national title for the 2023 season for the first time since 2014. The College Football playoff committee/ESPN dream scenario match-up of Alabama and Texas did not come to fruition.

It was still a solid year in the premier football conference in the land. My final SEC power rankings are listed below. The 12-team playoff begins in 2024. Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and Ole Miss all would have made an expanded 12-team playoff if it had been in place 12-months sooner.

1.Georgia – It is hard to be disappointed after going 13-1. It was not the best UGA team in the last three seasons but it was damn good.

UGA was not consistent all season on getting pressure on the QB. They lost to Alabama in the SEC title game 27-24, but gave you 63 reasons in the Orange Bowl to show that they are the best team in the country.

A 12-team playoff would have resulted in a 3-peat. UGA lost late in the season one year too early.

2.Alabama – Considering the QB situation, it was great season. The demise of Saban and the dynasty was premature. The Wide Receiver play was not up to Alabama standards.

Jalen Milroe is a talented athlete who needs to improve in the short and intermediate passing game.

Alabama has had the most talented roster in the country for three straight seasons based on blue chip rankings, but no national titles to show for it.

3.Missouri – The Tigers were unexpectedly good and the future is bright.

Who did not enjoy the Cotton Bowl win over Ohio State? This team will be in the SEC title hunt in 2024.

4.Ole Miss – The Rebels won 11 wins for the first time ever. That alone gets you a lofty spot in SEC power rankings. The top four in this conference are better than any top tier teams in any other conference. Lane Kiffin has Ole Miss rolling.

5.LSU – I suspect a letdown given last season but still on the right track.

Did anyone seriously think the LSU defense would be as poor as it was? The Tigers  did produce a Heisman winner.

6.Tennessee -It was a good season for the Vols. There is lots of hope for the future after the bowl game against a tough defense.

It wasn’t as good of a season as I am sure most Vols fans hoped for but not horrible.

Tennessee must improve on the lines of scrimmage to be elite.

7.Kentucky: The Wildcats started 5-0 then finished 7-6. That is about what you expect from Kentucky football.

8.Texas A&M – Ugh. Mike Elko to the rescue. Does that inspire confidence Aggie fans?

9.Auburn – Only Auburn can lose to New Mexico State and then force Alabama to win the iron bowl in miracle fashion and upset the entire college football world’s power structure.

That is Auburn doing what they do best, causing havoc.

Prediction: Hugh Freeze in three years will have Auburn competing for national titles and will be the premier college football program in the state of Alabama.

10.Florida – The Flagship University in the state of Florida has had three straight losing seasons.

The Gators did not make a bowl game in 2023.

They have the schedule from hell in 2024.

DJ Lagway better be really good at QB is all I can say.

Billy Napier may not survive 2024 as UF head football coach.

11.Mississippi State – It may be a while for the Bulldogs from Starkville.

12.South Carolina – There is significant improvement needed in 2024.

13.Arkansas – Bobby Petrino to the rescue. Sam Pittman’s days are numbered in Fayetteville.

14.Vanderbilt – Vandy always has baseball season to fall back on.

On July 1, 2024, you have Oklahoma and Texas entering the mix. The SEC will expand the national perception of being the best conference in college football.

It Just Means More?

By: Robert Craft news services

The shots came from the north, the west and all over social media: The vaunted SEC, dominator of college football, had been humbled.

Michigan player Braiden McGcegor spoke for many: “In the SEC they say it just means more. That should be ours now.” Somewhere commissioner Greg Sankey read that and grimaced.

For the first time in nine years the SEC will not be represented in the national championship game. There’s a cruel irony in that for Sankey, who helped usher in the 12-team College Football Playoff despite his conference dominating the four-team era.

Why change a beneficial status quo? Because Sankey knew college football would be better if more regions and more conferences were invested and engaged. Sankey also wanted expansion this year, which, should it have happened, would have created an opening for at least one more of his teams to make a run.

Ah, well, a good humbling every now and then is healthy in the long run. The SEC sees clearly that it is in an even competition with the newly constituted Big Ten. But it’s also not a dire picture: Alabama losing to Michigan in overtime on a neutral field is not itself a confirmation of inferiority for SEC detractors.

Vice versa, Tennessee stomping Iowa and Missouri beating Ohio State are also not satisfactory evidence of total conference superiority for SEC defenders because well, bowl games in this era.

It’s just a kick in the butt collectively to the SEC to know it is no longer just in competition with itself. That change can be good. It can be fun.

But this edition of the vibes doesn’t look back. It looks forward, which is why it includes the two coming entrants to the league.

And the vibes, for those whom may be new or forgetful, are not a pure ranking from best to worst; it’s who’s feeling the best to who’s feeling the worst which is why these rankings will look funky.

This takes into account expectations, performance, and just generally the optimism, or lack thereof, heading into the 2024 season.

Even when I adjust for the normal postseason optimism, a look at the top of the SEC shows this is still going to be the best  conference, but the Big Ten is not that far behind.

The SECs tagline of “it just means more” carries a little more weight now, as the additions of Texas and Oklahoma make the league a super conference in 2024.

I feel good about 4 to 5 SEC teams’ chances of making it into a 12-team playoff next season.

The SEC will not play for this year’s championship but they are still the top conference in college football.

Saves The Dates

By: Kipp Branch news services

2024 is upon us. The college football playoff landscape expands to a 12-team beauty contest moving forward.

The SEC officially released next year’s schedules recently. Not enough space to go through them all, but I will go through the historical SEC programs and Oklahoma and Texas.

Aug. 31: vs. Western Kentucky
Sept. 7: vs. USF
Sept. 14: at Wisconsin
Sept. 21: BYE
Sept. 28: vs. Georgia
Oct. 5: at Vanderbilt
Oct. 12: vs. South Carolina
Oct. 19: at Tennessee
Oct. 26: vs. Missouri
Nov. 2: BYE
Nov. 9: at LSU
Nov. 16: vs. Mercer
Nov. 23: at Oklahoma
Nov. 30: vs. Auburn

First Glance: Bye weeks before Georgia and LSU. @Tennessee, @LSU, and @ Oklahoma the week before the Iron Bowl. The Tide will be road warriors in 2024.

Aug. 31: vs. Alabama A&M
Sept. 7: vs. California
Sept. 14: vs. New Mexico
Sept. 21: vs. Arkansas
Sept. 28: vs. Oklahoma
Oct. 5: at Georgia
Oct. 12: BYE
Oct. 19: at Missouri
Oct. 26: at Kentucky
Nov. 2: vs. Vanderbilt
Nov. 9: BYE
Nov. 16: vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Nov. 23: vs. Texas A&M

Nov. 30: at Alabama

First glance: No road game until October. @ UGA and @ Alabama. Nice slate for Hugh Freeze to get Auburn back on track.

Aug. 31: vs. Miami (FL)
Sept. 7: vs. Samford
Sept. 14: vs. Texas A&M
Sept. 21: at Mississippi St.
Sept. 28: BYE
Oct. 5: vs. UCF
Oct. 12: at Tennessee
Oct. 19: vs. Kentucky
Oct. 26: BYE
Nov. 2: vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville, FL)
Nov. 9: at Texas
Nov. 16: vs. LSU
Nov. 23: vs. Ole Miss
Nov. 30: at Florida State

First glance: The last five games are brutal. Will Billy Napier still be employed by November? Only one cupcake on the slate.

Aug. 31: vs. Clemson (in Atlanta, GA)
Sept. 7: vs. Tennessee Tech
Sept. 14: at Kentucky
Sept. 21: BYE
Sept. 28: at Alabama
Oct. 5: vs Auburn
Oct. 12: vs Mississippi State
Oct. 19: at Texas
Oct. 26: BYE
Nov. 2: vs Florida (Jacksonville, Fl.)
Nov. 9: at Ole Miss
Nov. 16: vs Tennessee
Nov. 23: vs UMass
Nov. 30: vs Georgia Tech

First glance: Clemson in Atlanta, @ Texas and @Alabama, and a trap game @Ole Miss sandwiched between Florida and Tennessee.

Sept. 1: vs. Southern Cal (Las Vegas, NV)
Sept. 7: vs. Nicholls
Sept. 14: at South Carolina
Sept. 21: vs. UCLA
Sept. 28: vs. South Alabama
Oct. 5: BYE
Oct. 12: vs. Ole Miss
Oct. 19: at Arkansas
Oct. 26: at Texas A&M
Nov. 2: BYE
Nov. 9: vs. Alabama
Nov. 16 — at Florida
Nov. 23: vs. Vanderbilt
Nov. 30: vs. Oklahoma

First glance: USC and UCLA from the Big 10, and the best SEC slate of all the SEC contenders from a management standpoint.

Aug. 31: vs. Temple
Sep. 7: vs. Houston
Sep. 14: vs. Tulane
Sep. 21: vs. Tennessee
Sep. 28: at Auburn
Oct. 5: BYE
Oct. 12: vs. Texas (at Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX)
Oct. 19: vs. South Carolina
Oct. 26: at Ole Miss
Nov. 2: vs. Maine
Nov. 9: at Missouri
Nov. 16: BYE
Nov. 23: vs. Alabama
Nov. 30: at LSU

First Glance: @ Auburn welcome to Jordan Hare Sooners where dreams go to die. Alabama and @ LSU to close the regular season. Are you sure you wanted this Oklahoma?

Aug. 31: vs. Chattanooga
Sept. 7: vs. NC State (in Charlotte, NC)
Sept. 14: vs. Kent State
Sept. 21: at Oklahoma
Sept. 28: BYE
Oct. 5: at Arkansas
Oct. 12: vs. Florida
Oct. 19: vs. Alabama
Oct. 26: BYE
Nov. 2: vs. Kentucky
Nov. 9: vs. Mississippi State
Nov. 16: at Georgia
Nov. 23: vs. UTEP
Nov. 30: at Vanderbilt

First glance: @ Oklahoma and @ Georgia who the Vols have lost seven straight to. Alabama lost the last time they came to Neyland.

Aug. 31: vs. Colorado State
Sept. 7: at Michigan
Sept. 14: vs. UTSA
Sept. 21: vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 28: vs. Mississippi State
Oct. 5: BYE
Oct. 12: vs. Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl – Dallas, TX)
Oct. 19: vs. Georgia
Oct. 26: at Vanderbilt
Nov. 2: BYE
Nov. 9: vs. Florida
Nov. 16: at Arkansas
Nov. 23: vs. Kentucky
Nov. 30: at Texas A&M

First glance: @Michigan, Oklahoma, and Georgia back-to-back, and a Thanksgiving trip to Aggieland. SEC was kind to Texas with the road slate to State, Vandy, and Arkansas who all are terrible now.

Whoever wins the SEC in 2024 will be tested for a deep playoff run.



Old Nemesis

By: Robert Craft news services

This is just another SEC Championship Game. The argument will be made here, probably determining whether Georgia wins their third national championship in a row.

UGA has yet to beat Alabama in the SEC championship or at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

If Georgia beats Alabama on Saturday, they have national champion written all over them.

If Georgia loses to Alabama, there is no College Football Playoff.

Feel free to take those statements and throw them back at me next month. Say it: I’m SEC biased, or  too dependent  on recent history.

Georgia’s biggest hurdle awaits them Saturday. The main reason is talent..

The most talented team in the country, per the 247Sports team talent composite, is Alabama. The third-most talented team is Ohio State.

Class, who is the last team to beat Georgia? That would be Alabama two years ago, in the SEC championship. Which team since then has come the closest? Ohio State, in last year’s CFP semifinal.

The Crimson Tide are still in the Bulldogs’ way. By Smart’s own admission, quarterbacks who can run and throw have given Georgia’s defense problems, and you might have noticed that Jalen Milroe can run and throw.

He has multiple receivers who can make plays Jermaine Burton, playing against his former team for the first time, and Isaiah Bond, the man who caught fourth-and-31 to win the Iron Bowl.

No, Georgia is not doomed. It’s a modest favorite (4.5 points) for the right reasons, and the temptation in this space would be to take Georgia to cover. But it is a mere temptation, because Alabama, Saban and his talented unit are going to be a tough out.

First, of course, they need to make the Playoff, and at this point, the SEC Championship looks like win-and-in, lose-and-out.

That wasn’t the case for Georgia the past two years, but this year there are too many viable candidates in other conferences. There are only four spots, and if Alabama beats Georgia it would get one of them. The Pac-12 championship will get another. The chaos scenario thus requires two of the following three: Michigan losing to Iowa, Florida State losing to Louisville, Texas losing to Oklahoma State.

We’ve been waiting for the chaos, and the chaos hasn’t occurred yet, so it’s probably time to stop waiting.

We could also get into a scenario in which Georgia loses on a late field goal or disputed call, and two of the three win in the same fashion. That’s maybe when the committee finds a way to jam Georgia in.

This is a committee made of human beings who apparently think a lot of Georgia, and might also appreciate the three-peat storyline. If it’s close, that would help Georgia. But it’s harder and harder to see the close scenario. It’s setting up to be fairly clear choices for the committee.

If someone is going to stop Georgia from a three-peat, the most likely team is the one that for the longest time was its nemesis, and could still be again.

Is The Tide Coming In Or Going Out?

By: Jason Bishop news services

The year was 1895 and none of us were here yet. That is the first year that Alabama and Georgia played for the very first time. That game was played in Columbus, GA and the Bulldogs came out on top 30-6 over the Crimson Tide.

Georgia has not fared very well against Bama since that inaugural meeting. The two teams have met a total of 72 times with Alabama winning 42 of those. That is a 58% winning percentage. There are 4 ties to be mentioned.

In fact, Alabama owns the biggest point differential in a win, 36-0 and they did it twice; 1905 and 1923.

Alabama also owns the longest winning streak between the two of seven games. That streak is pretty recent, it ranges from 2008 through 2021.

It hasn’t been all Bama dominance; Georgia did win five straight games against the Tide from 1910 through 1916. And then three in a row from 2002 through 2007. The 2007 loss for Alabama was the last time Bama lost to Georgia until Stetson Bennett went Stetson Bennett in the 4th quarter of the 2021/2022 National Championship game leading UGA to a 33-18 win and their first National Title since 1980.

That win ended most of the Hershel Walker jokes administered to UGA fans. The Dawgs went on to win another national title the very next year, granted Alabama was not in the equation for that run for UGA. The Crimson Tide lost 2 games and just missed making the College Football Playoff.

The sobering truth is even the great Kirby Smart has not had a ton of success beating Nick Saban and Alabama. Kirby showed up in 2016 and had the Dawgs in a National Title game just a short two years later. That was the first of four straight losses Kirby had to Saban.

Kirby is 1-4 against Nick Saban with that one coming in the 2022 National Title Game.

Over the course of the last two seasons, you have heard a national media narrative that Georgia has replaced Alabama as the premier program in College Football despite only beating the Tide once since the Bulldogs program rose to National Title Contenders annually.

To be fair, this version of the Alabama Crimson Tide football may be as powerful as some of its’ predecessors. Bama’s defense is above average but not dominant. There are still some questions about QB Jalen Milroe’s ability to throw the ball, especially down field. Not to mention, Alabama does not have a dynamic receiver who can consistently stretch defenses vertically.

Georgia’s defense has struggled this season with dual threat quarterbacks this season. Milroe is a dual threat QB. However, UGA’s secondary is elite and Alabama doesn’t have a receiver on the roster that can consistently challenge that group. With that being said it will Georgia to ‘spy’ and bring blitzes from the front to neutralize Milroe’s ability to make big plays with his legs.

Alabama has dominated this rivalry, but the SEC Title game will continue yield the same results as every other game has yielded for Georgia. Georgia wins and vaults itself into the College Football Playoff.

28-17 Georgia.


College Football Super Bowl On The Way?

By: Kipp Branch news services

Could Clemson be moving to the SEC soon?

Rumors are swirling again regarding expansion. The SEC currently sits at 16 teams with Oklahoma and Texas joining in 2024. Think of Big 10/SEC as the NFC/AFC.

We’re quickly headed for an NFL-like model for college football because the powers that be desperately want media deals like the NFL has.

The short term will be chaotic, but it’ll eventually settle into a pro formatted league with regional divisions that prints money like the US Government.

But everything between now and then will be uncomfortable for the avid college football fan. It’s regionalized divisions within a national league.  It’s how every professional sports organization is laid out.

Eventually you will see a new alignment that is consisted of the Big 10 and the SEC. You could see 24 teams in each conference breaking away from the NCAA governing body which has become useless by the way.

You could call it something like the National College Football League. You could appoint a league commissioner just like the NFL and negotiate major TV deals for each the league. All teams that are not members of the NCFL could stay as members of the toothless NCAA and still compete at football.

If Clemson bolts to the SEC, what is to stop Florida State, Miami, and North Carolina from following? You keep hearing things from people like what about Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Virginia Tech? Do you want the Big 10 to come down and gain a footprint in the South?

The answer is who cares. In the NFL you have the AFC South and the NFC South. You the AFC North and The NFC North. You see it really doesn’t matter if you land in one of the two major conferences.

What about recruiting? The top-rated recruits will go to a league that has the best TV contract, which will end up fueling NIL money into the pockets of those highly rated prospects.

This will create parity like we see in the NFL. In the NFL anyone can get beat on any given Sunday. An NFL type model in college will create anyone can get beat on any given Saturday.

What if the SEC expanded by four more teams in 2025 with Clemson, FSU, North Carolina, and Miami to put the number at 20?

The SEC could create four divisions with five teams. If a new body was formed with the Big Ten, then there would be no more cupcakes as you would only play teams from each conference.

Twelve game schedules, then two rounds of playoffs in each conference. You then have a championship Saturday with two huge conference championship games then a huge National Championship game on Saturday before the Super Bowl.

A 20-team breakout in a newly expanded SEC could look like this:

SEC Atlantic: Clemson, FSU, UNC, Miami, South Carolina

SEC East: Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt

SEC Central: Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee

SEC West: Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M

You would have 9 conference games annually. Each team would play everyone in their division annually. You would have one permanent opponent from the rest of conference and rotate the rest so you can play home and home with the entire conference in a 4–5-year window.

You would play 3 rotating Big 10 opponents based on a computer model that matches teams with similar records from the previous season. No more cupcakes.

The team with best overall record wins their division and makes the SEC playoffs. If there is a two-way tie in division then head-to-head tiebreaker is in effect. Further tiebreaker scenarios would be determined by league.

This model would require Notre Dame to join the Big Ten.

Put on your seat beat folks this is where college football is heading. If not two conferences, then four with similar type formats.

Rest in Peace NCAA. Can you envision a college football draft down the road with a draft order for the top high school football prospects with slotted NIL money for each pick? You talk about parity folks.

The Great Eight

By: Robert Craft news services

The SEC’s conference scheduling movement received some insight Thursday on  the 2024 season. Here’s what you need to know.

The SEC is not adding a ninth game, at least not yet: It will go with a stopgap solution of an eight-game schedule in 2024, when Oklahoma and Texas join the league, with a decision yet to come on a long-term format.

Keeping eight games in 2024 is more a reflection of not having the votes to go to nine, sources in the conference said, and athletic programs are holding out with hope that an ESPN deal will increase the payout to the SEC in exchange for going to nine.

In the meantime, the 2024 schedule is a stopgap. The exact matchups will be revealed on June 14 in an SEC Network special. It will preserve traditional rivalries, Sankey said.

He didn’t confirm whether that means Texas and Texas A&M will meet in 2024, along with Auburn-Georgia and Alabama -Tennessee, but strongly hinted at it.

The SEC is keeping a requirement that every team must play at least one non-conference game from another Power 5 conference (or Notre Dame) for the 2024 season, but the requirement could end up being dropped if the SEC goes to a nine-game schedule in 2025.

Divisions will be eliminated, as expected, with the top two teams in the 16-team standings will make the SEC championship.

The decision on a long-term format remains between the 3-6 format (three permanent opponents and rotate the other six) or 1-7 format (one permanent opponent and rotate the other seven). And a decision on that could be made soon.

The conference has been debating the schedule for more than a year, and the nine-game format was considered the heavy favorite. But enough resistance emerged over the past few months, and there weren’t enough votes for either the nine-game format or eight-game format on a long-term basis this week at SEC meetings. So the conference went with this solution.

Lack of media money from ESPN still appears to be the main consideration for SEC programs.

Georgia president Jere Morehead has consistently pointed to that, first saying last September: “We have to see, if we go to a nine-game schedule, is that going to provide an opportunity to renegotiate the contracts with ESPN and the like? What we negotiated now was an eight-game schedule.”

All this, according to the two-time defending national championship coach, is ridiculous. “The most overrated conversation there ever was,” Georgia’s Kirby Smart said.

ESPN and the SEC agreed to a 10-year contract in December 2020, prior to Oklahoma and Texas joining the conference. The contract included a pro rate clause where ESPN would pay a basic amount more if it added any new teams.

The SEC was hoping, perhaps assuming, that because it added Oklahoma and Texas, along with a ninth game, it would be more. ESPN/Disney is dealing with layoffs and other uncertainty. They have not made that commitment yet.


The New SEC Schedule Model

By: Kipp Branch news services

The SEC Spring meetings are taking place in Destin, Florida.

The big topic on the agenda was adopting a scheduling model for the conference.

Oklahoma and Texas formally join the SEC in July of 2024, but were allowed to be a part of the meetings in Destin.

It appears that the SEC will adopt an 8-game conference scheduling format for 2024 where each team will play one permanent opponent annually and play a 7-game rotation with the remaining teams. This format after 2024 has yet to be determined according to commissioner Greg Sankey.

Football matchups for the 2024 season will be released on June 14 on the SEC Network, without exact dates.

Other topics were discussed as well, like tampering, NIL future, etc. but let us not kid ourselves, the thing fans are interested in is the proposed scheduling model.

Some schools wanted a 9-game model, but it appears that the 8-game advocates won out during this round of discussions. Based on the projected model here are my predictions on permanent opponents:

Alabama: Auburn. The Iron Bowl will not be touched. The Third Saturday of October annually with Tennessee is a casualty of this model. Thanks Nick!

Arkansas: Missouri. I’m guessing the Razorbacks were for the 9-game format with 3 permanents so they could renew the Texas rivalry, but that did not come to pass.

Auburn: Alabama. Iron Bowl is the best rivalry game in College Football. Under this format the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry game with Georgia is a casualty of this model. What a damn shame!

Florida: Georgia. The Cocktail Party will continue annually, but where after 2025?

Georgia: Florida. The Dawgs wanted the 9-game model.

Kentucky: South Carolina. Must watch TV, right? NOT!

LSU: Texas A&M. The Florida and Alabama games annually are victims of this model.

Mississippi State: Ole Miss. The Egg Bowl lives on

Missouri: Arkansas. This manufactured rivalry game has no appeal.

Ole Miss: MSU. The Egg Bowl is intense, but the long-standing LSU game is gone.

Oklahoma: Texas. Red River Shootout in Dallas comes to the SEC.

South Carolina: Kentucky. The Gamecocks lose their biggest SEC rival in UGA.

Tennessee: Vanderbilt. Vols are jumping for joy with this automatic W but lose Alabama annually.

Texas: Oklahoma. Welcome to the SEC Horns!

Texas A&M: LSU. I’m thinking the Aggies wanted Texas and the 9-game model.

Vanderbilt: Tennessee: In-state rival.

Gone are the two divisions and teams with the two best conference records play for the SEC Tile in 2024.

All the other major conferences play a 9-game schedule. The SEC is going to take a lot of criticism in the press with the scheduling model, but as the commissioner said 65-7 in the latest national championship game tells you where the balance of power is in college football.

Let the debates begin on who the permanent opponent will be. Texas or Oklahoma coming to Athens would be a treat for Dawg fans. A road trip to Austin would be next level also.



The SEC Portal

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The transfer portal has changed college football forever.

Student athletes now have the option to leave a school at the drop of a hat.

A school can land a good recruiting class but keeping all of those kids on campus for 3-4 years is basically impossible. Let’s examine how the SEC is doing with the transfer portal in 2023.

Auburn: This name is a shocker because they’ve been in bad shape over the last couple of years. Hugh Freeze was hired in November to be the 31st head coach at Auburn. He has a checkered past, but he coached at Ole Miss from 2012-2016.

They have the 5th ranked transfer portal class in the nation. They are bringing in a total of 16 players.

Six of them are four-star recruits and the other 10 are three-star. Some of the big names are wide receiver Caleb Burton (Ohio State), linebacker Austin Keys (Ole Miss), defensive lineman Justin Rogers (Kentucky), linebacker DeMario Tolan (LSU) and quarterback Payton Thorne (Michigan State).

The 2023 recruiting class is ranked 18th, so Freeze looks poised to make Auburn a bowl team again.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks have the 6th ranked portal recruiting class in 2023. They were 7 – 6 in 2022 so they needed to bring in more talent.

They had a breakout season in 2022, finishing 9 – 4. Head coach Sam Pittman is entering his fourth season so he may feel the hot seat warming up.

The class has 17 players; three are four-star and 14 are three-star. The notable players are corner back Jaheim Singletary (Georgia), guard Josh Braun (Florida), QB Jacolby Criswell (North Carolina), corner back Al Walcott (Baylor) and defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat (Mizzou).

I think they will make it back to a bowl game in 2023, but I think they will finish the regular season with six wins.

LSU: The Tigers have the 9th ranked portal class. They also have the No. 6 recruiting class in 2023.

Brian Kelly is entering his second season as the head ball coach in Baton Rouge and he’s getting talented players on campus.

LSU overachieved in 2022, finishing the season 10 – 4 and winning the SEC West.

The portal class has 12 players: 4 four-stars and 8 three-stars. Some big name players transferring in are linebacker Omar Speights (Oregon State), LB Ovie Oghoufo (Texas), corner back Jakailin Johnson (Ohio State), corner Denver Harris (Texas A&M), defensive end Bradyn Swinson (Oregon) and wide receiver Aaron Anderson (Alabama).

They should win ten games again this season.

Kentucky: The Wildcats have the 12th ranked portal class.

Kentucky is slowly becoming a football school. Mark Stoops has been the head coach in Lexington since 2013 and he has turned that program around.

They have made seven consecutive bowl appearances. The team was 10 – 3 in 2021 but went 7 – 6 in 2022.

They have 10 players transferring in; four are four-star recruits and five are three-star. Some of the new faces are inside offensive lineman Ben Christman (Ohio State), tackle Courtland Ford (USC), defensive tackle Keeshawn Silver (UNC), QB Devin Leary (NC State), safety Jantzen Dunn (Ohio State) and tackle Tanner Bowles (Alabama).

Ole Miss (21), Florida (22) and Tennessee (23) were the other SEC teams to land top 25 transfer portal recruiting classes.