One story we neglected to cover too much in-depth last week: LSU's dismissal of Ryan Perrilloux, one of those "shocking" stories that turned out to be all t00 predictable.
The aspect of the story nobody's covered yet, however, is exactly what this news does to the balance of power in the SEC West. Honestly, the favorite in the West was going to be difficult to pick out anyway -- LSU's got to rebuild and suffering the year-after malaise, plus they've got a tough, tough schedule (at Auburn, at Florida, at South Carolina, home against Georgia, at Arkansas).
But now? Prior to last season, I foolishly wrote that there were "cracks" starting to appear in the Les Miles Foundation at LSU, using that as the basis for picking them to finish third in the division. It was dumb, and I was letting my biases cloud my better judgment (that LSU team was stacked).
Now it's 2008 and I'm wondering if those ominous portents are coming true. It's unfair, of course, to think that Perrilloux's complete failure to mature as a person is a signal of unrest in the program, just as it is ridiculous to point to the misfits at Alabama staying out too late and getting into trouble as a symbol of undisciplined pandemonium in Saban's program. Still, Miles' goofy play-calling and blustery demeanor nearly submarined LSU's title chances last year -- and actually it would've, but Miles got luckier than Bryant was in 1965. And so he won the title, didn't go to Michigan and looks like a genius.
Anyway, getting back to what we were talking about: the favorite to win the West in 2008. Here's what the quarterback situation looks like at the QB position coming back this fall, in reverse alphabetical order:
Miss St.: Judging by the offense's epic performance in the Maroon-White Game, Jesse Carroll's going to be handing off to his tailbacks a lot for another fall.
Ole Miss: After Ed Orgeron spent the last three seasons yanking around his quarterbacks, Houston Nutt is likely to go with Jevon Snead, the highly-touted QB. He's talented, obviously, but you never what you're getting out of a young guy.
LSU: No idea.
Arkansas: All indications are that this fall's offense will belong to Casey Dick, currently in his 9th consecutive season starting behind center, this year running an offense that drew high marks from springtime observers. Again, hard to know what you're getting from Casey -- who, by all accounts, is closing in on 40 very quickly -- since he's spent much of the last decade handing off to whomever is lined up behind him in Houston Nutt's Mal Moore-esque offense.
Auburn: Assuming Chris Todd can't solve his bizarre arm issues, the show's going to belong to Kodi Burns, whose redshirt was foolishly (repeat: foolishly) squandered in 2007 for the sake of two exciting quarters against Mississippi State. Burns looked good in a limited role last fall, but was gradually phased out following the win at Florida, then re-appeared in scrub duty against Tennessee Tech, where he (and I'm quoting a fellow writer who covers the team) "basically (bleeped) himself." Tony Franklin seems like enough of an outside-the-box thinker to put his guys in position to succeed, so the question remains whether Burns can be an every-down guy running the show.
Alabama: On paper, the most experienced and successful QB belongs to the Tide -- John Parker Wilson will start his third season this fall, he owns several single-season passing records and he's shown a penchant for coming through in clutch situations (Arkansas, Georgia, Florida St., etc.)
Unfortunately, JPW was a basket-case mentally by the end of 2007, after basically being neutered in the State and Auburn games, and playing like a JV quarterback in a ghastly loss to La.-Monroe. And he's on his third OC in as many seasons. And it's hard to know if his offensive line will protect him.
Anyway, we'll delve into this question more in-depth when I have more time (softball, unfortunately, is going to occupy most of my day). In the meantime, who's YOUR favorite to win the division? I'm always up for reader input here -- who do you like?