Texas A&M Aggies

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.

Omaha!

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

One of the underrated sporting events in the country starts today and ends on June 27th.

It is the College World Series. The field looks balanced this year with no clear favorite after Tennessee, the self-proclaimed greatest team of all-time, choked at home in the Super Regionals losing to Notre Dame in grand fashion.

The field includes four SEC teams and two others, Oklahoma and Texas, who will be joining the SEC by 2025.

The SEC is dominant in most sports these days. The College World Series is played annually in Omaha, Nebraska. There should be plenty of SEC chants going on over the next 10 days. The CWS is a double-elimination tournament.

 

2022 COLLEGE WORLD SERIES Round 1

All Times Eastern

 

Friday, June 17

Oklahoma vs #5 Texas A&M 2 pm ESPN: A match-up of two SEC teams. One current and one in future in Oklahoma.

This was a huge rivalry when A&M was in the Big 12 so these programs are familiar with each other.

In his first year at Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle has reached the College World Series. He took TCU to Omaha five times in his 18 years at TCU. The Aggies are hot currently, so give me Texas A&M in this contest.

Notre Dame vs #9 Texas 7 pm ESPN: This should be a great contest. Texas lost game one in the Supers at East Carolina. Then come back and walked off with a win in game two and blew ECU out in game three to earn a trip to Omaha.

The Longhorns hit the long-ball frequently and will be a tough out in the CWS. Notre Dame, like I mentioned earlier, is riding high after beating Tennessee in Knoxville to earn a berth.

This is a tough gritty team that is dangerous in an environment like Omaha.

Give me Texas in this contest because the Longhorns have made the CWS field 38 times since the inception of the CWS.

The 2022 tournament marks the 75th playing of the CWS. Texas has been there more than half of the time. No other program has more than 25 appearances. Give me Texas in this match-up.

 

Saturday, June 18

Arkansas vs #2 Stanford 2 pm ESPN: Stanford always has good pitching, and this year is no exception. Arkansas was the Top overall seed in 2021 and did not make the CWS but went to Chapel Hill and beat a tough North Carolina team in three games to earn a spot in 2022.

Arkansas is peaking at the right time. Watch out for the Hogs. Give me Arkansas in this game.

Ole Miss vs #14 Auburn 7 pm ESPN2: Ole Miss may be the hottest team in college baseball right now. They were Preseason #1 that slumped badly in the middle of the season, only to get hot at tourney time.

The Rebels were the one of the last teams (probably last) selected to the field of 64 and have gone on a run and won a Super in Hattiesburg by sweeping Southern Miss and not giving up a run.

Auburn got sent to Corvallis, Oregon for a Super Regional and beat Oregon State.

Auburn has been a major surprise in 2022. The Tigers have a good power packed line-up. The SEC goes head-to-head in this one. Give me Ole Miss in this contest.

Teams with deep pitching staffs will rise to the top during the tourney. When it is all said and done, here is how I see it playing out:

 

Bracket One:

Notre Dame

Oklahoma

Texas

Texas A&M

 

Winner: Texas

 

Bracket Two:

Arkansas

Auburn

Ole Miss

Stanford

 

Winner: Arkansas

 

College WS Final:

Arkansas vs Texas

Winner: Arkansas

 

Arkansas is your 2022 National Baseball Champions.

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.

The Crystal Ball Of The SEC

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Labor Day weekend is upon us and that means the greatest game of all, College Football kicks off.

I love many sports, but college football is just special. In this part of the world, you have SEC football; which is the best brand in college athletics.

Others try and duplicate it, but they simply come up short.

Oklahoma and Texas are moving over probably next season instead of 2025. Some critics say conference expansion is bad using excuses like geography, and any other reason they can find.

We live in a generation of participation trophies as it relates to sports, and quite frankly the SEC has an ‘iron sharpens iron’ kind of mentality and that keeps them ahead of the rest in the college football world.

Here are my 2021 SEC Predictions:

Most Overrated Team: Texas A&M: The 2021 hype train has the Aggies picked by some to knock of Alabama to win the West.

I don’t think defensively A&M is there yet, and will Jimbo Fisher open up the offense to the Alabama and LSU levels of the past two seasons?

I don’t think the Aggies have those types of weapons and will come up short in the West. What happens if they lose at home to Alabama? Well, they are and I think they end up losing to Ole Miss and possibly LSU.

Most Underrated Team: Ole Miss: Ole Miss may end up having the best offense in the conference. So, when you line up against this team you better be prepared to score a lot of points.

Everyone harps on the Ole Miss defense, but I ask the question they can’t be worse than they were last year, right? I expect improvement out of the unit in 2021. This team could sneak up into the double-digit win category.

SEC West:

Alabama: Until someone knocks them off, they are the pick here.

Nick Saban is the best head coach in the history of the conference and he has the national championships to prove it in the playoff era of college football.

Ole Miss: This team is dangerous. Sleep on them if you want to.

Texas A&M: I’m just not buying the hype. This team is too conservative on offense, and do they have enough defense to be championship elite? The answer is no.

LSU: Coach O it is starting to slip away. Fix it in 2021 or your seat is going to get very hot.

Auburn: New coaching staff that wants to go from a spread offense to more of a pro type offense. Going to take some time Aubbies.

Arkansas: I love how the Hogs are building this roster, but you are in the best division of the best conference in college football.

Mississippi State: Not a terrible team, but you have six bowl teams ahead of you.

SEC East:

Georgia: This is an elite football program that gets the underachiever label by folks who don’t hold everyone to the same standard they judge UGA by.

Could it be they know UGA is about to knock the National Title door down in the near future and what that may mean? Cue the 1980 jokes haters.

Florida: Gators will be good, but a different kind of good. One that starts with better defensive play. Florida lost 6,600 yards and 79 TDs to the NFL draft from last year.

Missouri: A much improved Tiger squad could challenge for 2nd in the East.

Kentucky: Nope, I’m not buying what you are selling Cats. Your offense is like watching paint dry.

Tennessee: Vols are building back the roster. It is going to take a couple of years.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are starting a Graduate Assistant at QB. Ouch!

Vanderbilt: We love the Dores during baseball season, but they are an instant win during the fall.

SEC Title game will be Alabama against Georgia.

How The West Was Won

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Why don’t we take a look at the toughest division in all of College Football and that, my friends, is the SEC West.

Here are my SEC West Predictions for 2019:

Alabama 12-0: Tua will be the frontrunner for the Heisman, and Najee Harris may be the best overall running back in the SEC when it is said and done production wise.

The Alabama receiving corps with headlined by Jerry Jeudy are the best in college football.

Nick Saban is the best in the business, and the Tide has the best starting 22 players in the country.

LSU comes to Bryant-Denny, but dangerous road trips to Texas A&M and Auburn seem to be the only hurdles on the regular season slate. Alabama heads to Atlanta for another epic showdown with Georgia for the SEC Title.

LSU 9-3: Coach O has got the Tigers headed back in the right direction.

Joe Burrow is back under center for a second straight season. John Emery is coming in at running back, and LSU has the best defensive backfield in the conference.

With that said this team is not going to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. A tough road game at Texas in week 2, and dangerous SEC road trips to Starkville and Oxford in mid-season. I think the Tigers drop one of those Magnolia State road trips.

Texas A&M 8-4: This schedule is brutal with the SEC West slate plus Clemson and Georgia. Is this team ready for primetime?

The Aggies lost their leader rusher and tackler from 2018. Is Kellen Mond an elite SEC QB? Jimbo Fisher is an elite coach, but it’s still too early to proclaim the Aggies as great in this division.

The Aggies will lose to Alabama and LSU in the West this year.

Auburn 8-4: Gus Malzahn is sitting on the hottest seat in the conference.

Who is going to be the starting QB? Will a running back up to Auburn historical standards surface? The front seven on defense will be solid and Derrick Brown may be the best defensive lineman in the conference.

Who knows about this team? Georgia and Alabama come to Jordan-Hare. Brutal schedule with the opener in Dallas against Oregon and a trip to Florida make it hard to predict big things for the Tigers in 2019 which usually means they play in the National Title game right?

A lot of questions right now in Auburn, Alabama. Gus is feeling the heat.

Ole Miss 8-4: This is my SEC West sleeper team. Yes, I see 8 wins on the schedule.

This team has some talent on offense with Matt Corral at QB. Ole Miss always has productive wide receivers. Can this defense hold up is the question?

I think the Rebels come back in 2019 after the probation period and go bowling.

Rich Rodriguez may have struggled as a head coach, but he is one of the best offensive coordinators in the business. This offense will cause problems in the SEC.

Mississippi State 6-6: The Bulldogs are going to struggle in 2019.

How do you lose three first round draft picks on defense from 2018 and improve on that side of the ball?

MSU gets in a bowl at 6-6 and the heat starts getting turned up on Joe Moorhead in 2020. Keytaon Thompson has talent at QB. The jury is out on the Bulldogs.

Arkansas 4-8: Chad Morris is in a total rebuild in Fayetteville.

It is going to take a couple more recruiting classes for Arkansas to be competitive again. Proud program that let a Big 10 coach come in and drive it over a cliff. Hog fans need to be patient with Chad Morris.

Bowl Teams: Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State

Division upset of the year: Ole Miss over LSU in Oxford on 11/16. LSU suffers a letdown after losing to Alabama on 11/9.

SEC Championship Game: Georgia over Alabama

Coach Em Up

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

At the end of every season, regardless of the sport or the level of competition, there is turnover within the coaching ranks.

While a school like UCLA, who fired Steve Alford over three months ago, is still searching for his replacement, SEC schools have been hiring coaches as if they were contestants on “Supermarket Sweep.” In the span of basically two weeks, they filled their four vacant positions.

Alabama: Nate Oats. I don’t follow the inner workings of the Alabama basketball program, so unless there was some sort of internal dysfunction taking place, I was a bit surprised to see them let Avery Johnson go.

Putting my initial reaction aside, I think the Oats hiring has been the best hire, up to this point. The two time MAC Coach of the Year exceeded expectations at Buffalo and has already made an impact in Tuscaloosa, convincing John Petty to take his name out of the transfer portal and stay at Alabama.

His biggest task though is being just as persuasive with All-SEC player, Kira Lewis, whose name is still in the portal. If he can convince Lewis to return, Oats’ inaugural season with the Crimson Tide could be a very successful one.

Texas A&M: Buzz Williams. The former Hokies coach is certainly an upgrade from Billy Kennedy. In his eleven years at Marquette and Virginia Tech, Williams’ teams only twice failed to win 20 games, and only missed out on the NCAA Tournament three times.

It may take a year or two for that success to transfer to the Aggies, but there’s nothing in his past to make you think it won’t ultimately happen.

He doesn’t always have the best demeanor with fans and the media, and while that has absolutely nothing to do with his team’s on the court performances, it should make for some interesting columns in College Station.

Vanderbilt: Jerry Stackhouse. This was an interesting hire just because Stackhouse hasn’t been a name thrown around in the college circles that much, but I have to give Vanderbilt credit for thinking outside the box.

Stackhouse has minimal head coaching experience- he had a short stint in the D-League where he did win Coach of the Year in 2017- and I have no idea how he’ll do on the recruiting trail.

He does have a very good reputation on the NBA level though, and obviously did a good job developing his players in the D-League; hence the COY award.

Personally, I’ve always liked Stackhouse- as much as a Duke fan can like a Carolina player- so I hope he’s able to succeed.

Arkansas: Eric Musselman. Musselman’s a decent coach, but besides Nevada’s Elite 8 run in the tourney last year, I’m not sure there’s anything in his coaching past that makes you think he’s going to be the answer.

I guess when you haven’t made the Sweet Sixteen since 1996 you’re kind of forced to take whomever you can get. I’m not wishing for the guy to fail, but if you were to ask me which of these four will be the first to go, my money would be on Musselman.

The level of play within the SEC has drastically improved over the past few years, so all four coaches have their work cut out for them.

The question now is “Will they make the grade, or will they be forced back on the shelf, waiting for the next coaching cart to swing by and pick them up?”

The Big Boys Play Here

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2018 National Signing Day was earlier in the month. Now we know how each of your favorite teams did. Let’s look at the SEC recruiting classes. There are 9 SEC Schools with top 20 recruiting classes.

Surprisingly, Georgia tops the list. The Bulldogs almost won their first national title since 1980 and that success on the field is translating in recruiting. Out of the 26 recruits signed there are seven 5 stars and fifteen 4 stars.

Quarterback Justin Fields headlines the class. He was the #2 overall recruit in the nation and he’s a dynamic dual threat.

Fields is 6’3, 221 pounds and I expect him to gain another 10 pounds once he arrives in Athens. He will be sitting behind Jake Fromm for at least the next two years but we will see how that plays out.

UGA is becoming Running Back U over the past decade, so of course they signed another stud in Zamir White. He was the top ranked RB in the country and #9 national recruit. I expect him to step on campus and rush for a thousand yards immediately.

Alabama’s class was ranked 6th which is the worst it’s been since Nick Saban’s first year in 2007. The Crimson Tide are coming off of another national championship but I think their nervous about Georgia’s success. Bama only signed 19 recruits, two 5 stars, twelve 4 stars and five 3 stars.

They struggled on defense the last two years and they heavily addressed the defensive line. Eyabi Anoma is the 4th ranked national recruit and #1 defensive end.

Stephon Wynn also signed and he’s the 3rd ranked defensive end. The pass rush should be lethal in Tuscaloosa for the next few years.

The other five-star recruit is the best cornerback, Patrick Surtain Jr. If you recall his father played in the NFL, most notably for the Miami Dolphins. Clearly, Surtain Jr. has the pedigree to be successful.

Auburn’s class is ranked 12th but they don’t have any 5 star recruits.

They have sixteen 4 stars and eight 3 stars. Auburn is an interesting program because they have trouble sustaining a high level of success on the field. The Tigers normally have a breakout season every 4-5 years. Maybe this class will provide stability and help them build on their 2017 season.

One notable signee is defensive tackle Daquan Newkirk from East Mississippi Community College. If you watch Last Chance U then you’re familiar with that program.

Newkirk originally was in the Tigers 2016 class but his academic status forced him to go to community college. At 6’3, 282 pounds and two years of playing experience I expect him to be a key contributor in 2018.

“[Auburn’s commitment was] very important because through my journey a lot of schools turned their back but Auburn didn’t. That’s very special to me,” Newkirk said. “As you can tell no one really knows about me. Every time I got offered by a big school I didn’t post it on Twitter. I was just a humble guy throughout my whole process.”

Florida is ranked 14th which is impressive considering they did not hire new head coach Dan Mullen until November 26, 2017.

They signed several four-star recruits on offense, which has been weak for several years. Some of the signees are receivers Jacob Copeland, Justin Watkins, running back Dameon Pierce and tight end Kyle Pitts.

LSU is ranked 15th, Texas A&M 17th, South Carolina 19th and Tennessee 20th. That means we can expect to see some very good games over the next 3-4 years.

 

 

SEC Hardwood

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We’re starting to get close to conference play in college basketball.

The SEC is the deepest it has been in years. There are currently four teams ranked in the top 25 and at least two more that may join them. I’m going to take a look at these teams.

#8 Kentucky: The Wildcats (8-1) have the same story year after year. They’ve been the gold standard in the conference since the 1920’s. Ever since coach John Calipari came to Lexington in 2009 they’ve been the poster child for the ‘one and done’ players. They reload every season with a top 5 recruiting class and this year is no different.

The 2017 recruiting class was ranked second in the nation with six 5 star recruits. The only loss was to #12 Kansas by four points. The next three games are against Virginia Tech, UCLA and in-state rival Louisville.

SEC play begins December 31st at home against Georgia. I expect Kentucky to be the best team in the SEC again. They should make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

#9 Texas A&M: The Aggies (8-1) are off to their best start since the 2006-07 season.

They have some pretty impressive wins thus far. They beat #11 West Virginia 88-65 and #10 USC 75-59.

The only loss was against Arizona by three points. The Wildcats were ranked in the top five earlier in the season. They begin conference play Dec. 30th at Alabama.

The remaining non-conference games are easy wins against Savannah State, Northern Kentucky and Buffalo. A&M should be the best team in the SEC West.

#20 Tennessee: The Vols (7-1) had a well-documented awful football season. Fans in Knoxville need something to cheer about so it’s good to see the basketball team playing well. They beat #17 Purdue in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

The lone loss came against top ranked Villanova. Other than those two games the schedule has been pretty weak. They’ve played Mercer, Clemson, High Point and Presbyterian to name a few.

I think they may not be as good as the schedule suggests. We will get an idea of how good they really are when they play #7 North Carolina at home Sunday December 17th. I expect them to lose that game but they should handle Furman and Wake Forest. Then the Vols will play at Arkansas to open conference play.

#22 Florida: The Gators (6-3) were ranked as high as fifth before going on a three game losing streak. It’s hard to tell if they were overrated or just inconsistent. Their best win is against #12 Gonzaga.

They lost to #4 Duke by three points, which is respectable. But they followed that with loses to Florida State and Loyola Chicago.

They snapped the losing streak by beating Cincinnati. We won’t learn much about them before SEC play begins because they play Clemson, James Madison and Incarnate Word. I’m curious to see how Florida will develop as the season progresses.

There are a few teams right outside of being ranked in the top 25. They are: Arkansas (7-2), Miss State (8-0) and Mizzou (8-2). Missouri signed the #2 recruit in the 2017 class; 6’10 forward Michael Porter Jr.

Alabama (6-3) signed the #7 recruit in the 2017 class, guard Collin Sexton. The Crimson Tide lost to #14 Minnesota by five points. They played with three players, which makes that more impressive. Teams like that with future lottery picks are dangerous because they have a chance to beat anybody.

Making The Grade In The SEC

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The regular season is over in the SEC for the 2017 football season. Nine SEC teams are going to bowl games, and two are going into the college football playoff.

Overall Conference grade: C

Ole Miss tried to cheat their way to a title and big 6 members Florida and Tennessee are dumpster fires is ultimately what kept this grade from being higher.

For the first time in the new playoff format two teams from same conference, Alabama and Georgia made the final four while the Big 10 and PAC 12 champions got passed over.

Individual Team Grades:

Alabama: B+. The loss at Auburn kept the Tide out of the SEC title game but sitting at 11-1 Alabama will play Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in a national semifinal game.

The LB corps have been decimated by injuries, and Jalen Hurts needs to throw the ball better. Nick Saban is still the best coach in football.

Arkansas: D-. Bret got fired and the Hogs looked awful for most of the season. No bowl and a 1-7 record in the conference and 4-8 overall. Enter Chad Morris to fix this mess.

Auburn: B+. The Tigers beat two number one teams Georgia and Alabama at home in November, but blew a 20-point lead at LSU who lost to Troy.

Kerryon Johnson was the SEC Offensive player of the year and the defense played well all season. The blowout loss to UGA in the SEC Title game kept this from being an A grade.

Florida: F. Worst Florida team I have seen since the late 70’s. The offense was offensive with no QB play and this team mailed it in after the LSU game. Dan Mullen has been hired to fix this huge mess. Mullen has to change the culture in Gainesville.

Georgia: A. 2017 SEC Champions. Roquan Smith is SEC Defensive Player of the year, Kirby is SEC Coach of the year, and Jake Fromm is SEC Freshman of the year. In year two Kirby has won a title and gotten a Rose Bowl against Oklahoma in National Semifinal on NYD. Could be a really special year in Athens.

Kentucky: B. A seven win football season in Lexington does not come often. The Music City Bowl game against Northwestern upcoming. Nice season for the Cats.

LSU: B-. A loss to Troy and getting blown out in Starkville won’t cut it in Red Stick but the season turned with the Auburn win and the Tigers outplayed Alabama everywhere but the scoreboard in Tuscaloosa.

A win over Notre Dame in Citrus Bowl would get the Tigers to 10 wins and set them up for an SEC title run in 2018.

Mississippi State: B: Nice season in Starkville. The loss to Ole Miss was a fluke with the Nick Fitzgerald injury 5 minutes into the ball game.

Missouri: B. Most improved team in the SEC in the last half of the season and a Bowl game against Texas. Drew Lock throws the best deep ball in the league.

Ole Miss: F. Matt Luke will clean up that stinking cheating culture in Oxford.

South Carolina: B+. I like where Coach Muschamp is taking this program. The Gamecocks will beat Michigan in the Outback Bowl to get to 9 wins.

Tennessee: F-. 0-8 in the SEC and it has taken almost a month to find a coach. This program has hit rock bottom. May take 3-4 years to recover from this train wreck. Phil Fulmer is on the job as AD now and that is good unless Steve Spurrier takes an AD job in the conference. Spurrier owns Fulmer.

Texas A&M: C. Kevin Sumlin got fired with a 51-26 record in College Station. Enter Jimbo Fisher at a price tag of $75 million.

Vanderbilt: C. About what I expect from Vandy. Derek Mason is a very good coach who deserves a better opportunity to win at a bigger program.

What if we have a Bama/UGA national title game? The national media will want to blow up this current playoff format.

Chief-less Noles

By: Alex Mathis

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It looks like the Jimbo Fisher and Florida State relationship has come to an end.

Jimbo Fisher took over for the legend Bobby Bowden in 2010. Jimbo has been pretty successful while being the head man in charge. His record was 83-23 with a national championship to his name.

He has turned a program that was somewhat struggling into a program that is in the top 25 every year and a program that has a top 10 recruiting class yearly.

So, what happened? There are a lot of rumors going around Tallahassee the last few days. Those rumors range from problems with administration, booster members, and also assistant changes.

Whatever the reason is, Jimbo Fisher will be in College Station next year coaching the Texas A&M Aggies.

This breakup has not been a pretty one. Coaches, players, and recruits have been out of the loop.

Florida State will always be Florida State. A program that is expected to compete for an ACC Championship. A program that is expected to compete for a National Title every year as well. The next head coach will have to come in and expect to achieve these same goals.

At this time there have been a few names that have been thrown around for potential replacements for Jimbo Fisher.

The name that you will hear in every conversation is Oregon’s Willie Taggert. Coach Taggert has proven that he can turn programs around and recruit at the highest level.

He was able to turn around a struggling Western Kentucky football team, a struggling University of South Florida team, and a struggling Oregon football team.

Coach Taggert is from Florida and has several connections when it comes to recruiting in Florida. Taggert is supposedly at the top of the list for FSU. Fisher and Taggert both share the same agent.

Surprisingly, another name being thrown around is the once Texas A&M coach, Kevin Sumlin. This one be an interesting move if it were to happen.

Coach Sumlin is a good coach. The expectations at Texas A&M maybe were a little high for him. His Aggies played in the SEC West. It is hard to compete with Alabama, Auburn, and LSU every year. Maybe a change of scenery would benefit Coach Sumlin.

The last name that is floating around is Bob Stoops. Coach Stoops stepped down at Oklahoma this year.

Coach Stoops is a proven winner. He is also a proven recruiter. Maybe Coach Stoops was tired of being in Norman and is looking for a new challenge. Tallahassee could be that challenge for Coach Stoops.

At the end of the day, the Florida State job is a good job. The team is loaded with talent and can compete each year for a championship. Florida State is also a school that recruits tend to gravitate to. Whomever comes in to be the next head coach has to salvage a diminishing recruiting class.

The next coach will have to build a staff quickly in order to get on the road and prove to recruits that Florida State is still Florida State.