Without further ado ...
will: Since the Braves are quickly slip-sliding away for another summer and the College World Series isn't providing a ton of entertainment — more of Erin Andrews' butt shots, ESPN! — I figured this would be the best way to while away the hours until camp gets here in August.
Since the first text you sent me several weeks ago, a number of people have jumped on the "this-rivalry-is-getting-too-nasty" meme, with even Mike Bolton penning a column on the subject this week. Those opinions, of course, have spawned an equal tidal wave of opinion the other way, also — this is the way the Internet works, and that's why we love it, obviously. It seems we've really hit on something here.
So let's not belabor that point any further if we can help it. What about actual football? Since the Chiz was officially announced as Auburn head coach, opinion of the fan base (I'm using conjecture here since I'm not actually one of them) has gone from "oh-no-holy-crap-we-effed-up" to "maybe he's not all that bad" to "y'all keep sleeping on us guys — we'll bust your asses this fall."
So I'll ask: in your opinion, what is a (and here I invoke a word too often thrown around for Alabama fans) reasonable expectation for Auburn in 2009?
I tend to look at them the way we looked at Georgia Tech in 2008: at first glance, they don't appear all that dangerous, but you don't want to really play them on a bad day, either. Like Tech, they have an offensive system nobody really wants to prepare for; and also like Tech, they could pull a complete no-show on a bad day and get beat 41-0. The wild card here is that defense: they could carry them through some of those early-season nailbiters and set the stage for an upset or two down the stretch.
But then there's that whole "first-year head coach" problem: basically, when you have a first-year head coach, everybody on the team is a freshman. And freshmen tend to fail in clutch situations because they don't totally trust themselves/the system they're in. You'll probably also see some personnel oddities in '09 too, like how Saban's unit buried Jimmy Johns with little to no explanation in 2007 (and oh, how right he turned out to be).
How do you see it?
— Do you have a sleeper picked out for 2009 in the SEC? Mine right now is UGA, a team that everyone (including me) is burying for '09 because they don't have Stafford/Moreno (even though they never won much with either of them). Certainly, playing in the same division as Florida will hurt them, but ... what if AJ Green flourishes as the new focal point of the offense? What if they get by South Carolina (a traditional pest for them) and start rolling? What if Mark Richt does what Mark Richt always does: win 10 relatively unremarkable games and beat all the teams he's supposed to beat? What if they're undefeated (or close to it) going to Jacksonville in November? I think that team has more potential than people realize.
— Like every offseason, this one is filled with talk about cream-puff scheduling. Who are your top 5 dream matchups for Auburn in non-conference regular season? Any old rivalries (a la Ga. Tech) you'd like to see renewed?
— Finally, what's your vision for the ideal postseason college football postseason format?
Jamie: Since we are slow, I'll jump right on. As for reasonalbe expectations for Auburn, I think 7-5 is a reasonable W/L projection. We had one of the worst 2 teams last year since Doug Barfield and had 4 plays inside the 10 to beat Ark, 2 inside the 10 to beat UGA (though that would have been a once in a hundred win), were on our way to trouncing Vandy until we decided to stop running the ball, were up on Ole Miss in the 2nd half, and lost to LSU in the last 1:43. We were also tied with Tenn Tech in the 4th quarter, beat UT by 2, MSU by 1 so it goes both ways. I feel confident that Malzahn actually has a plan rather than calling plays like you're playing playstation (although I feel Tony Franklin got a raw deal in some ways) so I have confidence we can score enough to be competitive, but will depend heavily on the QB play. Defensively we'll be fine on the first line. Late in the game or late in the season depth could be an issue that loses a game or two. So, I say we bottom out at 7-6 (bowl loss) and top out at 10-3 (bowl win). We are really only outmanned by LSU, AL, UGA and maybe Ole Miss. On par with Ark, WV, UT, and UK and better than MSU
and the OOC's.
Sleeper pick is Arkansas. Ryan Mallet > Casey Dick and Petrino can move the ball on most anybody. Their defense got better after the Bama game last year which was the single worst defensive performance I can remember. If the D can be competitve, I think they could finish in the upper half of the division.
Dream Matchups: I am really anticipating the Clemson series and I think it that would be a fun one to continue. Others would include Georgia Tech, Texas, and Penn St.
Ideal postseason is a 4 team playoff. If you are the 5th team, you likely lost at some point at which case you have no argument to be in. Also having only 4 teams still gives high priority to the reg season. Your locations for possible BCS games would be Rose, Cotton, Sugar, Cap 1, Whatever is in Detroit (I'll explain) and a location with a dome on the east coast and maybe Seattle. The top 2 seeds play at the venue closest to campus i.e. #1 seed USC would play #4 seed Ohio St in Pasadena, Florida would play in Orlando you get the picture. If your venue does not host a playoff, it would revert back to the natural bowl. I just made this up in the last 17 minutes, so I'm sure there are holes, but it's only an email right?
- SEC coaches: How many are still at their current jobs next year?
- Who will be the POST season All SEC Offensive and Defensive players of the year?