Thoughts of the Day: January 17, 2020

A DECADE OF SEC FOOTBALL: 2010-19 The decade that was 2010-19 ended the same way the decade that was 2000-09 ended and that was with an SEC team winning a national championship. In the 2000-09 decade, the SEC won five of the 10 national championships including the last four (Florida 2006, LSU 2007, Florida 2008 and Alabama 2009). The college football decade that ended this past Monday night saw the SEC claim six more national championships – Auburn 2010, Alabama 2011-12, Alabama 2015, Alabama 2017 and LSU 2019.


There is no end in sight to SEC dominance, either. Just check the all-too-early preseason top 25 picks from the major media outlets and in every one you will find Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU in the top 10 with Auburn and Texas A&M lurking.


From my perspective, Alabama and Florida will be trending toward the SEC Championship Game while Georgia and LSU have sustained too many losses in both player personnel and coaching staff. Georgia and LSU will both be good, but they’ll be taking a step backward. Alabama is reloading. Dan Mullen has restocked the Florida roster to the point that the Gators will have the fewest holes to fill of any year since 2009, plus the Gators will have the league’s top returning quarterback in Kyle Trask operating behind a vastly improved offensive line and throwing to one of the nation’s top receiving groups headed by tight end Kyle Pitts.


SEC First to worst 2010-19

(1) ALABAMA: 124-16 National championships: 2011-12; 2015; 2017 National runner-up: 2018 College Football Playoff: 2014-2018 SEC championships: 2012, 2014-16, 2018 SEC West championships: 2012, 2014-16, 2018 Bowl record: 8-2

Coaches: Nick Saban 124-16 (2) LSU: 103-28 National championships: 2019 National runner-up: 2011 College Football Playoff: 2019 SEC championships: 2011, 2019 SEC West championships: 2011, 2019 Bowl record: 6-4 Coaches: Les Miles (2010-16): 63-19; Ed Orgeron (2016-19): 40-9 (3) GEORGIA: 100-36 National runner-up: 2017 College Football Playoff: 2017 SEC championships: 2017 SEC East championships: 2011-12, 2017-19 Bowl record: 5-5 Coaches: Mark Richt (2010-15): 55-26; Bryan McClendon (2015): 1-0; Kirby Smart (2016-19): 44-12 (4) AUBURN: 87-45 National championships: 2010 National runner-up: 2013 SEC championships: 2010, 2013 SEC West championships: 2010, 2013, 2017 Bowl record: 4-5 Coaches: Gene Chizik (2010-12): 25-14; Gus Malzahn (2013-19): 62-31 (5) FLORIDA: 81-46 SEC East championships: 2015-16 Bowl record: 6-2 Coaches: Urban Meyer (2010): 8-5; Will Muschamp (2011-14): 28-21; DJ Durkin (2014): 1-0; Jim McElwain (2015-17): 22-12; Randy Shannon (2017):1-3; Dan Mullen (2018-19): 21-5 (6) TEXAS A&M: 84-46 * 2010-11 Texas A&M was in the Big 12, 15-10 record Bowl record: 5-4 Coaches: Mike Sherman (2010-11): 15-10; Kevin Sumlin (2012-17): 51-26; Jeff Banks (2017): 0-1; Jimbo Fisher (2018-19): 17-9

(7) MISSISSIPPI STATE: 79-51 Bowl record: 6-4 Coaches: Dan Mullen (2010-17): 64-39; Greg Knox (2017): 1-0; Joe Moorhead (2018-19): 14-12 (8) SOUTH CAROLINA: 78-51 SEC East championships: 2010 Bowl record: 5-3 Coaches: Steve Spurrier (2010-15): 51-21; Shawn Elliott (2015): 1-5; Will Muschamp (2016-19): 26-25 (9) MISSOURI: 75-53 * 2010-11 Missouri was in the Big 12, 18-8 record SEC East championships: 2013-14 Bowl record: 3-3 Coaches: Gary Pinkel (2010-15): 50-28; Barry Odom (2016-19): 25-25

(10) TENNESSEE: 63-62

Bowl record: 4-1 Coaches: Derek Dooley (2010-12): 15-21; Jim Chaney (2012): 1-0; Butch Jones (2013-17): 34-27; Brady Hoke (2017): 0-2; Jeremy Pruitt (2018-19): 13-12 (11) OLE MISS: 60-64

Bowl record: 2-2 Coaches: Houston Nutt (2010-11): 6-18; Hugh Freeze (2012-2016): 39-25; Matt Luke (2017-19): 15-21 (12) ARKANSAS: 58-67 Bowl record: 3-2 Coaches: Bobby Petrino (2010-11): 21-5; Bret Bielema (2013-17): 29-34; Chad Morris (2017-18): 4-18; Barry Lunney Jr. (2018): 0-2 (13) KENTUCKY: 57-68 Bowl record: 2-3 Coaches: Joker Phillips (2010-12): 13-24; Mark Stoops (2013-19): 44-44 (14) VANDERBILT: 53-72 Bowl record: 2-3 Coaches: Robbie Caldwell (2010): 2-10; James Franklin (2011-13): 24-15; Derek Mason (2014-19): 27-47


THE SEC HOOPS DECK HAS BEEN RE-SHUFFLED

What happened Wednesday night in Southeastern Conference basketball should put Florida’s roller coaster season in perspective. The Gators certainly aren’t as good as they were hyped in the preseason but they are certainly far the disaster many have claimed. Evidence of that was South Carolina’s last second win over 10th-ranked Kentucky in Columbia and Alabama’s hosing of previously unbeaten and 4th-ranked Auburn. That is the same South Carolina team that Florida beat by 13 in Columbia and the same Alabama team that blew a 21-point lead to lose to the Gators in double overtime at the O-Dome.


The Gators are 11-5 overall, 3-1 in the SEC and while they are still searching for answers and consistency, they’ve shown what they can do when they get everyone on the same page at both ends of the floor. The win over Ole Miss Tuesday night was encouraging because the Gators played very good defense and showed enough patience on the offensive end to find the holes in a surprise 2-3 defense from a team whose staple is a 1-3-1 trap. The Gators will have to play better than they did against Ole Miss Saturday when Auburn (15-1, 3-1 SEC) comes to the O-Dome (1:30 p.m., CBS) but they are certainly capable of elevating their game and Auburn showed its vulnerabilities in the loss to Alabama.


There is still plenty of basketball to be played, but the Gators are every bit the contender to win the SEC that they were when the season began. What happened Wednesday night proved that. Saturday’s games #4 Auburn (15-1, 3-1 SEC) at FLORIDA (11-5, 3-1 SEC), CBS South Carolina (9-7, 1-2 SEC) at Texas A&M (8-7, 2-2 SEC), SEC Network Missouri (9-7, 1-3 SEC) at Alabama (9-7, 2-2 SEC), SEC Network #10 Kentucky (12-4, 3-1 SEC) at Arkansas (14-2, 3-1 SEC), ESPN Tennessee (10-6, 2-2 SEC) at Vanderbilt (8-8, 0-3 SEC), SEC Network LSU (12-4, 4-0 SEC) at Ole Miss (9-7, 0-3 SEC), ESPN2

Georgia (11-5, 1-2 SEC) at Mississippi State (10-6, 1-3 SEC), SEC Network


A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO BASTE: FRIDAY EDITION

(1) Adam Schefter of ESPN has suggested that now that they’ve landed Joe Brady as their offensive coordinator, the Carolina Panthers could possibly trade up to reunited Brady with LSU quarterback Joe Brady. Perhaps Mr. Schefter flunked geography back in his school days. If he had made an A in the course then he would have checked his map to see that Burrow is from Athens, Ohio, 156 miles from Paul Brown Stadium where the Cincinnati Bungles play. The Bungles, by virtue of years of mismanagement and going cheap, have the number one pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Even though they’ll have to pay through the nose to sign Burrow to his first NFL contract, the Bungles are smart enough – I can’t believe I used the word smart and the Cincinnati Bungles in the same sentence – to realize there would be rioting in the streets and all their executives would be in danger of getting tarred and feathered by the mob if they were to draft anyone but Burrow.


(2) There are a lot of college football experts who consider Urban Meyer’s 2008 Florida coaching staff one of the best in the modern history of college football. That staff included future head coaches Dan Mullen (Mississippi State, Florida), Charlie Strong (Louisville, Texas, South Florida), Steve Addazio (Temple, Boston College, Colorado State), Dan McCarney (North Texas) and Kenny Carter (Delaware State). Two years later, Meyer’s coaching staff was missing Mullen, Strong and Carter as well as 2008 assistants John Hevesy, Billy Gonzales and Vance Bedford. The replacements weren’t nearly as good which had plenty to do with Florida’s fall from consecutive 13-1 seasons (2008-09) to a struggle just to get to 8-5 in 2010. Meyer learned his lesson from that experience and made certain he always had quality replacements ready to go when there was turnover at Ohio State. I point this out because Ed Orgeron is going to have to make some critical hires at LSU now that Joe Brady has taken the job as the OC with the Carolina Panthers and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is the new head coach at Baylor. LSU is losing Burrow, a handful of seniors and several outstanding juniors to the NFL but every program that gets to the championship level faces those kind of challenges. Replacing coaches is a totally different animal. Just ask Nick Saban. Staff turnover is considered one of the chief reasons 2017 national champ Alabama lost to Clemson in the 2018 national championship game then failed to win the SEC in 2019. With the right hires, Coach O and LSU won’t be down too long. With the wrong ones, it can take a long time to get the program back to where it was in a championship year.


(3) Mark Dantonio was paid a $4.3 million longevity bonus by Michigan State after a mediocre 7-6 season. Combined with his $4.4 million salary, that means he will make $8.7 million next season which means he will likely be making a little bit more than $1.45 million per win. Michigan State has been barely average the last two seasons and might be worse in 2020. As the late, great Bill Veeck once said, “It isn’t the high price of stardom that is expensive, it’s the high price of mediocrity.”


GOOD QUOTE FOR FRIDAY

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, who believes that if Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose are banned for life from Major League Baseball, then so should Alex Cora, who helped manipulate the outcome of the 2017 and 2018 seasons (and World Series) through an elaborate electronic sign stealing scheme:

“Yes, it is a different America these days than when Rose or Jackson were busted. The culture doesn’t find cheating, lying and manipulating as socially unacceptable as in the past. It can even be celebrated and rewarded. So What? That shouldn’t excuse MLB from not taking this with all the severity it ever did in trying to protect its sport. Cheating is cheating. Or it should be. So either Alex Cora should join Jackson and rose on the permanent banishment list, or Jackson, Rose and the others should be freed at last.”


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Carlos Beltran’s New York Mets career has ended before he ever managed a game. Beltran and the Mets mutually agreed to part ways Thursday after he was implicated in the 2017 sign-stealing scandal with the Houston Astros … With Trevor Lawrence returning for another year and stud prep QB D.J. Uiagaleilei part of the nation’s top recruiting class, Clemson backup QB Chase Brice doesn’t plan to stick around. He’s entered his name in the NCAA Transfer portal … Super agent Drew Rosenhaus won’t represent troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown until Brown seeks professional counseling … I like the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC championship game over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. In the NFC, I like the Green Back Packers with a road upset over the San Francisco 49ers.

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