Florida Gators

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SEC Stocks

Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2022 College Football season is in the books. Kirby Smart and UGA have won back-to-back National Titles. My annual SEC Football stock report is upon us again.

Stock Keys:

Buy

Sell

Hold

Georgia: The best college football stock on the planet. CEO Kirby Smart has developed a winning organizational culture.

401K plan is the best in the business, and the best employees are recruited year in and year out.

The executive management team is the best in the business and well compensated.

This organization is built for any market and will flourish even during down economic times. Blue blood stock that will make you tons of money. The long-term future of this stock is through the roof. Advice: Buy it all.

Alabama: Over a 10-year period this stock has been the most consistent producer of wealth.

CEO Nick Saban is still the king of CEO’s.

Maybe the stock dipped slightly in 2022, but the long-term future is bright.

Top rated employer with the most talented work force make this stock very attractive.

The CEO training program is the best I the country. The executive management team has become a little complacent over the past 12 months and that has been addressed by the CEO.

This stock will always make you a ton of money. Advice: Buy as much as you can.

Tennessee: This historically producing stock crashed over the past 15 years.

However, in 2022 this stock hit a 20-year high. CEO Josh Huepel has been a breath of fresh air after a string of poor CEO’s dating back to 2008.

If you held on to this stock during the bleak years, then you are a wise investor. This stock will continue to rise to get back to the glory years of the Clinton Presidency.

When the Big Orange stock is producing the SEC portfolio is second to none. Advice: Buy

LSU: After reaching an all-time high in 2019 this blue blood stock crashed over the past two years prompting the board of directors to hire a new CEO in Brian Kelly for 2022.

The early returns have been great. Stock has performed much better than expected.

Changes were made in the human resources department resulting in an influx of topflight employees for 2023 and beyond.

This corporation has invested properly for long-term growth once again. Advice: Buy

Mississippi State: This stock made a huge turnaround over the past 24 months. The tragic loss of beloved CEO Mike Leach has made things difficult over the past month.

Leach leaves behind a great foundation that is positioned for continued growth, and his legacy will live on. Rest easy Pirate. Advice: Buy

South Carolina: This stock made a remarkable turnaround late in calendar year 2022 and recovered from some tough early losses by performing well against superior brands Tennessee and Clemson.

Energetic CEO in Shane Beamer has the stockholders optimistic but not totally convinced to invest great sums of money.

This corporation has excited its stockholders before, and returns have not matched investment. Watch this stock closely in 2023. Advice: Hold for now.

Ole Miss: Aggressive CEO Kiffin takes too many chances and this has become a roller-coaster stock. Exciting to watch but for investors nerve-wracking. This is a high anxiety stock. Advice: Hold and never become emotionally invested in stock.

Florida: This stock should be a solid producer. New CEO Billy Napier inherited a horrible organizational culture.

Mass firings have taken place. Lazy employees have bailed for the transfer portal employment agency.

It will take some time to fix this mess. 401K plan is depleted and new hires are backing out causing this once proud organization to take massive public relations hits.

Advice: Sell it all until the board of directors allows CEO Napier to completely blow up this rotten culture.

Auburn, Texas A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Vanderbilt: These poorly run or non-productive organizations are not worth the ink to write about.

Advice: Sell them off quickly. Watch Auburn and Texas A&M for future reinvestment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowl Grades

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

This has been an interesting college football season to say the least in the SEC.

Below are my bowl grades for each team. Auburn, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt did not qualify for a bowl game in 2022. Auburn fired their head coach, and A&M is the biggest disappointment in college football currently.

 

Current Record: 6-5 (East: 2-4, West: 4-1)

 

Las Vegas Bowl: Florida got blown out by Oregon State 30-3. Florida holds the longest streak in college football of consecutive games of not being shut out that dates back to 1988.

When it mattered the most the Gators drove the field with little time remaining and kicked a 40+ yard field goal to keep that streak intact.

Florida was a pathetic team in 2022, finishing the season with a 6-7 record for the second consecutive year. Bowl Grade: F-

Gasparilla Bowl: Missouri went to Tampa and got beat 27-17 by Wake Forest. Did anyone watch? Not many did.

A bowl loss to the ACC gives the Tigers a low grade. Bowl Grade: D

Liberty Bowl: One of the most exciting games of the bowl season.

Arkansas with their horrendous defense, blew a huge second half lead against Kansas and then pulled it out 55-53 in triple OT.

This game film will not be shown at coaching clinics that focus on defense. Arkansas finishes 7-6 on the season. Exciting finish. Bowl Grade: B

Texas Bowl: Ole Miss lost to Texas Tech 42-25 in this contest.

Lane Kiffin and his ‘going for it on 4th down’ antics from anywhere on the field perhaps cost Ole Miss this football game.

The Rebels should have beaten Texas Tech but, instead, continued the late season nose dive for Ole Miss. Ole Miss sat at 7-1 on the season going into the Alabama game on November 12th. Ole Miss finished the season at 8-5. Bowl Grade: D

Gator Bowl: South Carolina lost to Notre Dame in an exciting game 45-38.

Both teams acted like they wanted to be there. Carolina finished at 8-5

Bowl Grade: B+.

Orange Bowl: Tennessee finished the season with 11 wins for the first time since 2001 by beating an overrated Clemson team 31-14.

Clemson, under Dabo Swinney, is starting the decline from elite status to coming back to the pack. Tennessee dominated the ACC champs. Bowl grade: B

Sugar Bowl: Alabama missed the college football playoffs, landed in New Orleans, and beat Kansas State 45-20.

Bryce Young did not win a Natty at Alabama is the huge story here. Bowl grade: C

Music City Bowl: Kentucky got shut out in Nashville 21-0 by Iowa and for their crappy showing the Wildcats receive an F as a Bowl grade.

Reliaquest Bowl: The Mississippi State Bulldogs, in memory of Mike Leach receive an A+ from this writer for beating Illinois 19-10. Rest easy Pirate.

Citrus Bowl: LSU curb stomped Purdue 63-7. For doing their job LSU receives an A for their bowl game grade. Florida, Ole Miss, and Missouri take notes on how to take care of business.

Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal):

Georgia took down Ohio State 42-41 in an instant classic.

Dawgs trailed 38-24 in the 4th quarter and Stetson Bennett led UGA on the largest comeback in CFP history.

OSU hooked a 50-yard game winner and 2023 rang in. 1000 yards of total offense. Jacked up crowd and the finish you want in a playoff game makes this one a classic.

Bowl grade: A+++

Memorable Moments

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The city of Jacksonville will get its annual rowdiness booster this weekend when Florida and Georgia come to town.

About time Jacksonville gets excited about some football. If top-ranked Georgia wins, it will be a game closer from claiming the SEC East and continuing its unbeaten season.

If the Gators are able to spoil all of that momentum, it will make up for what I’m forecasting to be a mediocre season.

Here’s a look at the five best all-time moments from the World’s Largest Cocktail Party.

  1. THE TIMEOUT: Let’s start it off with one of the most controversial endings in college football history.

In a game which featured consistent rain, the Bulldogs were down 33-26 in the fourth quarter. But with the help of quarterback Eric Zeier, the Bulldogs drove into Florida territory with 1:30 left.

With five seconds left, Zeier threw what was thought as the game-tying touchdown to Jerry Jerman, but Gators cornerback Anthone Lott called timeout right before the ball was snapped.

Zeier’s next and final pass fell incomplete, and Florida held on to the victory and went on to win the SEC and Sugar Bowl.

  1. THE GATOR STOMP: After years of Gator wins, Georgia’s head coach Mark Richt decided to change things up.

To start, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno scored to give the Bulldogs the 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Then, the entire team came into the end zone to celebrate with Moreno, which is now referred to as the “Gator Stomp.”

That move gave the Bulldogs the motivation it needed to take down the defending national champions with a 42-30 win.

Moreno ended the day with 188 yards on the ground, and the Bulldogs defense sacked Florida’s Tim Tebow six times.

  1. HALF A 100: In 1994, the battle was moved to Gainesville because Jacksonville’s stadium was being used by the Jags and in return the battle took place in Athens in ‘95.

Georgia was 5-3 and limping through head coach Ray Goff’s final year.

Florida was undefeated and coach Steve Spurrier – at the height of his cockiness – decided he wanted the Gators to be the first team to “hang half a hundred between the hedges.” The Gators scored seven touchdowns and accomplished that goal with 1:21 left in the game.

  1. TIMEOUTS: Georgia had won the year before in a game where the entire team ran into the end zone to celebrate the first touchdown.

Although the Gators did not discuss their anger, they were seething and a picture of the celebration hung in every player’s locker.

Each team had one loss when they met in 2008 and the winner would be in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East and have a possible shot at the national title.

The Gators jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead and then Georgia imploded in the second half, turning the ball over four times.

Florida capitalized and scored 35 unanswered points. The vindicated Gators then went on to win the SEC title and national championship.

1.RUN LINDSAY, RUN:

The most memorable moment had to be when the Bulldogs went on their championship run in 1980.

The Bulldogs were down 21-20 in the fourth quarter, facing third-and-long at their own 7-yard line.

Backed up in his own end zone, Georgia quarterback Buck Belue found Lindsay Scott at the 25-yard line. Scott was able to blow past the Florida secondary and score the game-winning touchdown with seconds left on the clock.

The 93-yard touchdown pass kept the Bulldogs’ title hopes alive. They moved to No. 1 in the polls the following week and went on to win their second consensus national title.

All in all, this is a historical matchup that college football fans look forward to every year. There have been plenty of memorable moments from this series, but these are five that really stand out from the rest. Let’s hope for a safe and sportsmanlike battle- although no one ever anticipates it.

Proud Gator Hater

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I was born and raised in the United Methodist church.

In fact, I currently serve as Assistant Pastor at the very church I grew up in. My parents made sure that I was, among other things, raised with a strong sense faith.

Of course, they were responsible for raising me as a member of Dawg Nation, and thus responsible for one of the great incongruities of my life.

You see, in Mark 12:29-31, Jesus tells us that the Greatest Commandment is to ”love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.“ And to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

There’s the problem – I can’t completely do that. I just can’t do that for the sole reason that the Florida Gators exist.

I HATE the Gators. Always have. With every fiber of my existence, with every breath I draw, down to every quark, neutron, positron, electron, atom, and molecule that makes up my mortal form. Hate, hate, hate ‘em.

The host of one of my favorite Dawg-centric podcasts (and I listen to a lot of them), says that every good Dawg fan is first and foremost a Gator hater. Boy howdy, do I agree with him. Nothing but contempt for those lousy, stinkin’ Gators.

I hate their color scheme. To be fair, I have a distaste for orange-clad sports teams in general, but blue and orange especially (lookin’ at you, Mets…).

I hate their uniforms. I don’t care if it’s their standard home and aways, the word mark helmet kit, their ‘60s block letter throwbacks, those stupid alligator skin pattern monstrosities, or this year’s black helmets (“Oo! Black helmets? How CREATIVE! <end sarcasm>”).

I hate their mascots. Albert AND Alberta. Take a mascot, give him an opposite gendered partner, and you’re just half a step from parading Furries on your sideline for all the world to see. Ew. And they’re wearing orange and blue? Double ew. (Again, lookin’ at you, Mr. & Mrs. Met…)

I hate the Steve Spurrier years. I hate the Ol’ Bawl Coach and his stupid visor. Visors are for tennis courts and golf courses, and this deviant made them mainstream for football sidelines. I hate that painful 11-1 streak he put up against us in the ’90s.

I REALLY hate the fact that after that, he had the audacity to give the Gamecocks hope. That’s just cruel.

I hate the Urban Meyer years. I hate that he was able to ride Spurrier’s coattails (well, at least what coattails were left after Ron Zook) and get Gator fans two more Nattys, making them even more unbearable than before (I know, I didn’t think that was possible either).

I REALLY hate the fact that after that, he had the audacity to give the Jaguars hope. Again, just cruel.

I hate what coaching there did to Will Muschamp. I know it was that swamp water still sludging through his bowels that made him disrespect the hedges the way he did when he was at Carolina (again with the giving hope to the Gamecocks…YOU MONSTERS!).

I hate Gator fans. I actually dated a girl once who went to UF during the Spurrier era. She admitted that the students didn’t care about the actual game at the WLOCP since they knew they were going to win anyway and just wanted the excuse to drink off campus.

I still regret that one.

Regardless, there are still some things I love about UGA’s biggest rival (definitely NOT lookin’ at you, Tennessee…). I love the fact that Georgia still leads the series all time 54-44-2.

I love the fact that UGA is coming into this year’s matchup ranked #1 in the nation for back-to-back years.

I love the fact that Florida keeps hiring booger-eatin’ morons as head coach like Dan Mullen & Billy Napier, pretty much guaranteeing that the numbers on my “Days Since Florida’s Last National Championship” calendar keep going up (5,034 as I write this, in case you were wondering).

And I love that my mama raised me right. She raised me to be a Gator hater.

 

 

SEC Pulse

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC football season is now a month old. Those who follow football have come to consensus about every single team in the best football conference in the country which is the SEC. Here are my thoughts a month into the season on every team.

SEC East:

  1. Georgia: The defending national champions looked like a beast for the first three weeks of the season. Stetson Bennett looked like a Heisman front runner. UGA was lighting up scoreboards. Over the past two weeks UGA has looked very beatable with struggles against Kent St. and Missouri. Wide receivers need to get healthy, and the defense needs to stop the run better. November is looking brutal now with the recent struggles with Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Kentucky in consecutive weeks down the stretch.
  2. Tennessee: The Vols look like a scoring machine with Hendon Hooker at QB. LSU this week and Alabama next week will tell us what we need to know about Tennessee. Will the Vols be able to stop any offense with a pulse moving forward? Right now, Tennessee looks like a contender for the SEC title.
  3. Kentucky: The Cats gave one away in Oxford last weekend. But isn’t that what Kentucky does when the pressure is on? Still in contention in the east. Probably will need to beat both Tennessee and Georgia later in the season. That is not going to happen. They might get one of those big games, but they will not win both. Odds are they lose both.
  4. Florida: The Gators are in a rebuild. Billy Napier will get 6-7 wins out of this team and make a bowl. Florida will be back soon.
  5. Missouri: The Tigers played UGA down to the wire last week. Can they take that same intensity to Gainesville this week? The answer is no.
  6. South Carolina: This is a bad football team folks. End of story here.
  7. Vanderbilt: This team plays hard, and I respect that. Not a particularly good football team.

SEC West:

  1. Alabama: How hurt is Bryce Young? The running game looked impressive at Arkansas last week. Defense is solid. Wide receivers are down from previous years. This is still the team to beat right now in the SEC if Bryce does not miss considerable time. The TSIO (Third Saturday in October) next week in Knoxville with Tennessee could be the game of the year in the conference.
  2. Ole Miss: Running game and defense. That is the recipe in Oxford in 2022. 5-0 sounds good. Alabama comes to Oxford soon.
  3. LSU: Will the real LSU Tigers stand up? Jekyll and Hyde Tigers right now. Alabama comes to Tiger Stadium in November….
  4. Mississippi State: MSU is one of the surprise teams this fall. This is a dangerous team to play right now. Are you listening UGA? The November 12th trip to Starkville looks like a beast on the schedule right now.
  5. Arkansas: The Razorbacks are horrible on defense. They cannot stop a dripping faucet right now.
  6. Texas A&M: I called this before the season. This team is a fraud. No QB, no imagination on offense, and are about to get run out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama this weekend. The real loser is CBS who used a primetime 8PM slot for this game against Alabama.
  7. Auburn: If the Tigers lose on Saturday to UGA will Bryan Harsin have a job on Sunday? Auburn has QB issues and have not won in Athens since 2005. It is safe to say that Auburn has hit rock bottom. Recruiting is down and the boosters at Auburn are running and ruining the athletic department.

I Have The Power

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

1)Georgia (1-0): Did everyone enjoy the Duck hunt in Atlanta? The Georgia faithful sure did. UGA dismantled Oregon 49-3. Could have been a lot worse. After week 1 Georgia is the best team in the country.

The defending national champions looked as if they could repeat. I am not going to say it but #13 looked like the best QB in the country last weekend. Yeah, I did say it.

2) Alabama (1-0): Alabama beat Utah State 55-0. Good solid opening day win for Alabama. Alabama and Georgia are the class of the country now.

The Tide is preparing to issue a beatdown to the Texas Longhorns on Saturday in Austin, Texas.

3) Florida (1-0): Yes, Florida goes right here after week one. The Gators playing in front of a raucous Swamp crowd on Saturday night beat the team everyone said would blow them out in Utah.

Utah was never coming into Gainesville and getting a win. BTW, I called this outcome.

The Gates land here. Billy got snubbed by LSU in the hiring process after building the best program in Louisiana. They called him Sunbelt Billy in LSU circles. Bet the power brokers in Red Stick are kicking themselves now after the Brian Kelly debacle against FSU.

Anthony Richardson looks like a Heisman front-runner.

4) Tennessee (1-0): The Vol offense looked world class, but can they stop anyone with a pulse. But today they land in the four spot. Look at the SEC East rising to the top of the current power rankings…

5) Arkansas (1-0): The Hogs beat a College Football Playoff contestant from a year ago at home last weekend in Cincinnati. That is enough to land in the top five of my initial SEC power rankings for 2022.

6) Mississippi State (1-0): The Air Raid is in full effect in year 3 of the Mike Leach era in Starkville. This could be a dangerous team in 2022. Alabama and Georgia are you listening?

7) Kentucky (1-0): The Cats looked ok in week one. Business picks up this weekend in Gainesville. I mean business really picks up. The Cats will not be ready to handle Anthony Richardson and the Gators.

8) Ole Miss (1-0): The Ole Miss defense looks solid. The offense will come around soon. Lane Kiffin will see to that.

9) Texas A&M (1-0): I am not a believer. Do not get upset by Appy State at home this weekend Aggies.

10) Missouri (1-0): The Tigers looked like you would expect Mizzou to look and that is the look of an SEC bottom feeder.

11) South Carolina (1-0): The Gamecocks had to block two punts for TDs against Georgia State to pull away.

Spencer Rattler looked rusty. Carolina better get better quick with Arkansas and Georgia coming up during the next two weeks.

12) Auburn (1-0): Auburn should never be in this position which is a formal accusation on everything associated with Auburn at this moment in time. This is unacceptable.

13) Vanderbilt (2-0): This may be the high-water mark for Vandy in 2022. Vandy looks good on offense currently. Enjoy it while it lasts.

14) LSU (0-1): What in the blue hell LSU?

You looked like hot garbage against Florida State. Offense was horrible. Players were unmotivated, coaches lacked emotion.

The culture in Baton Rouge right now is rotten. For week one you land right here where you deserve.

Florida looked impressive with Billy Napier in his first game. LSU looked awful under Brian Kelly in his first game.

Absolutely no reason for LSU to look this bad with the talent on that roster.

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.

Gator Goals

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

A year ago, Florida fans were questioning the program’s coaching decision (Dan Mullen), but Florida football was fresh off an SEC title game and the program seemed to be trending in the right direction.

As you can see, things change. Quickly.

Florida finished the 2021 season with a 6-7 record. As a result, Mullen was let go. The Gators rebounded with one of the hottest names on the market- Billy Napier. The move was a home run in the coaching world and it showed that Florida is serious about winning.

With spring ball starting up, it’s time to take a glance at our new-looking Gators. What storylines should I be following? Easy, it all starts with recruiting!

During Napier’s Signing Day press conference, he made it clear: there’s plenty of work to be done. For example, the Gators signed only six players from their talent-rich home state.

While the Gators shifted their focus to the upcoming class paired with Napier’s first full season UF’s head coach — the coaching staff made it clear: Florida plans to scour the talent from the Sunshine State.

“That’s the approach that we will take and certainly with the ’23 group, which we’ve already started on,” Napier said. “That will be the mentality, for sure.”

It’s not as if Napier underestimated what Florida has to offer in the first place. Rather, he’s looking to forge new relationships in the final two months of a player’s recruitment; historically, the Gators relied on previously established connections.

Evidenced by his previous team’s (University of Louisiana Lafayette) improvement from year one to year two, there’s tangible reason to believe the Gators will make a massive leap in the recruiting rankings next season under Napier.

The University of Louisiana Lafayette improved 28 places in the team rankings from Napier’s first season to his second. After finishing fourth in the Sun Belt conference his first year, the Ragin’ Cajuns would rank atop the conference in recruiting for each of the next three seasons.

The blueprint looks to already be in place.

“I think you build your schedule based off of the ’22s. And then maybe the ’23 players in that area. You try to do the best job you can,” Napier said. “And certainly, each assistant coach kind of is taking the same philosophy.”

Katie Turner, Florida’s newly hired assistant athletic director of recruiting strategy, may not technically be a coach, but she’s a vital part of the team’s talent acquisition efforts.

Napier and his coaching staff know they’ll have to maintain the intensity on the recruiting trail if they hope to have a stress-free National Signing Day in 2023.

“We’re hopeful that we won’t be doing this much business in February next year, and we’ll be able to be a little bit more strategic about our time on the road relative to the next group,” Napier said. “But I think we made the most of it, for sure.”

Florida can be a pressure cooker, but that may be said of every high-level Division I football program. The expectations across the country have risen, along with budgets and coaches’ salaries. You’re expected to win fast or die young.

The 2023 recruiting cycle is well underway, and the Florida Gators have several goals in mind as l Billy Napier puts together his first full class of signees after a transitional 2022 haul.

One of those goals, simply put, is to recruit more effectively than the Gators’ past, which consistently missed opportunities and underwhelmed year after year on the trail.

The second goal is to put a fence around the state of Florida, being able to keep elite talent home rather than allowing non-locals to tap into Florida’s top talent and prospects as they please.

Florida has the most blue-chips of any other state (and the most 5-stars) by leaps in 2023. We’ll see if new head coaches in Florida’s Billy Napier can make some progress getting in-state prospects to stay closer to home.

In my review, Napier will be evaluated by this first class. He needs a top 5 class or this may be another short tenure for Coach Napier.

Prove It To Me

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It is that time of the year that is dreaded and that is the official ending of football season.

Football, the greatest game on the planet, is in hibernation until August. However, it is never too early to discuss SEC football in the South. Here is a look at my top five teams in the SEC with the most to prove in 2022:

 

1: Texas A&M: All the talent money can buy. They need a good season this year, and need to prove they can win.

Can Jimbo get it done in College Station? Yes, they beat Alabama last season, but they found a way to lose 4 football games.

The Aggies must find a QB that can lead this team to the SEC title game. The new NIL landscape favors the Aggies, who have very deep pockets. If this team can’t win 10-11 games this fall, then the heat starts mounting on Jimbo Fisher.

 

2: LSU: When you think LSU, you think contenders.

LSU will have a new coach, and will have to prove they are making progress.

I think Brian Kelly is a pretty good hire. Talent is never an issue in Baton Rouge, but right now the QB position is a big question mark. If the Tigers can figure that out quickly, they could be factor in the West.

 

3: Tennessee: The Vols have not been relevant since 2007, when they last won the SEC East.

Tennessee has not won a national title since 1998.

Skill position talent is much improved, but Tennessee does not have the offensive or defensive line talent to be a serious SEC contender yet.

Tennessee has lost 15 straight to Alabama and is 1-16 against Florida in the last 17 years.

Since Philip Fulmer was forced out in 2008 the Vols have whiffed on 4 straight head football coaches. Josh Heupel hopes to reverse that trend.

Tennessee went 7-6 in 2021. In the last five years Tennessee is a combined 0-15 against Alabama, Florida and Georgia, which are the 3 biggest games on the Vol schedule. Tennessee needs to beat one of those three teams in 2022.

 

4: Florida: Florida also has a new head coach.

They must prove they can compete in the SEC East. The East is way better when Florida can challenge UGA for that top spot.

Billy Napier was a great hire for UF. There is talent on the roster, but it is undisciplined talent. If Napier can change that culture in Gainesville and recruit then Florida will be back soon.

If Florida can win 8-9 games in 2022 then things should take off quickly in Gainesville.

Since Steve Spurrier retired Florida has missed on 4 of its last 5 football coaches. Only Urban Meyer has had consistent success since 2001.

Florida has not won an SEC or National Title since 2008. Too much talent in the State of Florida for the flagship university not to be a national player and to top it off you just lost to UCF in a bowl game.

 

5 Ole Miss: Ole Miss surprised a lot of people last season by being a top 10 team. Was it a fluke? They must prove they can maintain solid seasons with Lane for years to come.

I don’t think 2021 was a fluke for Ole Miss. If Matt Corral can be replaced then I think this team will finish right behind Alabama, and Alabama does come to Oxford in 2022.

The defense is improving, and we know a Lane Kiffin offense will produce. I think this will be the surprise team in the SEC next year. I believe Ole Miss is here to stay and 2022 will prove that.

I did not mention Auburn because Bryan Harsin is dead man walking on The Plains of Auburn. Of course, it has all been self-induced by Auburn, who set this man up for failure.

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