1. We have a poll up at RBR about what was the biggest SEC upset from last season. What is your pick and why?
The easy answer, of course, is Kentucky over LSU. And it's easy because it's correct. There's no way on God's flat earth that Kentucky had any business being anywhere in LSU's stratosphere — unfortunately, LSU was aware of that as well, and let Kentucky hang around, until suddenly the game was tied and we were in the second overtime. Even the UK radio guys are so shocked when the game ends, they barely know what to say.
That was also the game that revealed a) LSU's ugly side (they have a very nasty streak of dirty, borderline-cowardly hitting) and b) Les Miles' bizarre tendency to make winning harder for his team than it actually should be. I'm telling you, the best thing that could've happened to the rest of the SEC West happened when he announced he wasn't going to Michigan. National championship coach be damned.
2. Looking ahead to this season's schedule, what games do you see as being the deciding factors in who will win the SEC?
Tennessee's visit to Georgia in the middle of October has a chance to be a huge, HUGE game with major title implications. For Georgia, this season has the chance to be similar to a journey through the NCAA basketball tournament -- the longer you survive undefeated, the bigger each game gets. Remember: the Dogs were on top of the world back in '04, after throttling LSU at home. Then Tennessee came to town the next week and basically let the air out of the balloon. If they don't take care of business against Tennessee on October 11, the Florida game won't matter.
As for the West, it should take shape after Sept. 20. That's the day when LSU visits Auburn and Alabama travels to Arkansas. The West has almost always taken its shape from those two games.
3. Phil Steele and Athlon have Florida ranked #1 in the country with UGA coming in at #9 and #5, respectively, while Lindy's likes the Dawgs at #1 and Florida at #6. Obviously both teams can't represent the East in Atlanta, so which team do you think will wind up playing for the title and a berth in the Sugar Bowl (or National Championship Game), or do you think it's possible neither team will be there at the end of the season?
I don't see an SEC team winning a national title this fall. The 12 are going to do way too much beating up on one another for it to happen. Sorry, but no.
What's interesting about the Florida-UGA matchup is that Georgia, like everyone else, couldn't stop Tim Tebow in '07. They basically turned the game into a track meet, and won by a nose. Which, of course, makes this year's version as interesting -- can they continue to play offensively at such a high level? And if they can't, can they make a defensive adjustment to at least slow down the invincible 15?
4. It's a little early for a "traitor's draft" since we don't know who the starters are going to be until the fall, but since football is a year long affair let's go ahead and have one. If you could trade two Alabama spring starters, one offensive and one defensive, for their counterpart on any other SEC team, who would you trade and why?Can I trade Nick Saban for someone who's an actual human being? I guess not.
On offense, I know it's cliche to say Tebow, but I'd love to go to war with a guy like that. Everyone knows what he's going to do before he does it, and somehow it doesn't matter. As much as I love John Parker — and it's a week-to-week thing with the two of us, but I do respect him for the abuse he's absorbed — he's not a freak of nature like that guy.
On defense, speaking of freaks, I'll trade any linebacker on my roster for Auburn's Tray Blackmon. The guy gets into way too much trouble off the field, but he's scary good on it. Plus, I think Glen Coffee would prefer having this guy on his side, don't you?
5. Finally, and just for fun, give me one non-Alabama game you'd love to attend this season (there's a list of the "Top 40" non-con games of the season here if you need a little help).
I thought about saying Tennessee-UCLA, but I'll go with Auburn-West Virginia. Because of the way the game was re-scheduled, for a Thursday night later in the season, both teams should be hitting their stride offensively, and you'd have one of the ideal spread-option quarterbacks (Pat White) matching up against a defense that has dominated spread teams over the past two seasons. Also, it's a mix of two fearsome fan bases, plus you could be home in time to watch the full complement of Saturday games, as well.
Runners-up in this category: Army-Navy, Texas-Oklahoma.