It’s never too early for this pair of SEC prognosticators to pick the parties to poop their pants this season and here they are for you to enjoy.
Larry’s Losers in the SEC – Preseason SEC Picks – Eastern Division
By: Larry Burton
Well sports fans, it’s never too early to make early picks in the pecking order of the unpredictable SEC conference. With Alabama climbing back to the top of the mountain in all of college football again last season, all eyes will be in the SEC again this season to see if leader of this pack will go forth to place another claim on yet another national championship.
With all that glare on the SEC, the bright lights are going to show some terrific teams and prominent players. Unfortunately, there also going to shine of terrible teams and pitiful players that didn’t live up to expectations. I expect at least one SEC coach to be shown the door at the end of this season and a few more with seats so hot that next season will be a do or die scenario.
While the wife and I have been vacationing pretty heavily, the pigskin pickin’ pooch has been perusing periodicals, player profiles, delving through depth charts, studying the schedules and more. I on the other hand have studied on airplanes during long flights, days at sea on cruise ships train trips, but when we compared notes and predictions, we were both pretty much on the same page. For well over a decade, we have picked the losers of the SEC and that’s how we do it here too.
The SEC East
So starting in the East because it’s the toughest to pick from bottom to top, here we go with the likely losers in the SEC’s second tier conference.
Vanderbilt – When you think vanquished teams you have to think Vanderbilt. Coach Derek Mason’s Song City Sailors actually had a good year last season even though they only won four games, they played valiantly in some others. What’s worse is that the two SEC teams they did beat last season won’t roll over as easy this season.
As hard as it is to say a four win team was lucky, they does sum up the Captain Crunch bunch last season. They got a tiny bit hot while Missouri and Kentucky were just a good bit sucky.
So Larry’s Loser in the SEC East is the team that has resided there the most, so much so that it just feels like home. Larry’s loser – Vanderbilt
South Carolina – Last season these feathered footballers flopped so bad the farmer flew the coop rather than watch the last of these feathered footballers frickasied. Winners of only 3 games and just one in the SEC, a win over Vanderbilt. With Spurrier gone mid-season and the coaches left to challenge the chickens crummy, the Carolina Cluckers went looking for a big name to keep them from laying rotten eggs. Instead they got coach BOOM! ,otherwise known as Wil Muschamp.
After winning less than 60% of his games at Florida and barely going over 50% in his SEC games, why in God’s name do they think he’d do better at South Carolina than he did at Florida? Did Spurrier do better in the Carolina coop than the Gainesville Gator pen? South Carolina is where good coaches go to play out their last years. So what will it do for a mediocre coach?
There’s lots of things to patch before these pack of pecker heads get back to respectability and they could easily end up on the bottom before this coach gets the boom lowered on himself again.
Kentucky – These Kentucky Kitties started off last season looking like they may turn the corner and ended it in the gutter of the curb. I’d like to say they got something started, but with only four of defense returning from a bad defense and a new quarterback coming in, whatever was started has stopped.
These clawless Kitties aren’t just bad, but they have a brutal schedule too. Last season they won 5 games, this year could dip to 3.
You could almost throw a net over these bottom three teams as they all could wind up on the bottom. Look for Stoops to be one of the coaches on the hot seat at the end of this season. In three seasons he’s lost twice as many games as he’s won and a fourth season of that kind of work won’t win you a fifth but may make you want to drink a few fifths.
Missouri – A new era begins in Missouri’s Tiger Town as new coach Barry Odom takes over from a beloved Gary Pinkel. While these ‘tween coast Tigers have some holes to fill, the new staff has some valuable pieces returning. These returning pieces and some new talent won’t get them back to the top of the SEC East, but it seems like enough to keep them off them bottom.
This clan of Kitties is the SEC East’s biggest mystery, in that no one really knows just how the new staff will fare. This 40 year old first time head college football coach knows Missouri football after playing there and two tours of coaching there, returning last season to be the defensive coordinator. Josh Heupel comes in as a big name offensive coordinator and he should transform one of the SEC’s worst offenses quickly.
I’ve been surprised for years for what this team can pull off and while they could prove us wrong and take this season, I suspect that they’ll do better than most think, they usually do and we both think this team could wind up back in a bowl game this season and be a step ahead of the three losers below them.
Tennessee – The troubled tribe from Tennessee has been waiting for next year for over a decade now and many think this is the year that it all comes together for the Volunteers. But Bacardi and I aren’t buying it as we are used to seeing these mountain musket men let their powder get wet in too many big games to know how to be winners when it counts.
The other thing that troubles us about Tennessee is the bad vibe in Volunteer country when it comes to coaches turning a blind eye to players who do vile things. We think things in Hardkocksville will keep spewing bad news and more players will fall out of the program. We’ll admit we just don’t like this coaching staff and the morals they don’t have and hope that head coach Butch Jones will soon go back to being a band geek and get out of molding young men.
So while others can jump on the big orange band wagon, we’ll just wait for the usual flat tire to trouble Tennessee once again and we bet we’re the only ones who pick this correctly. But don’t worry Vol fans, there’s always next year.
Florida – Last season this gaggle of Gators garnered great goals getting to the SEC championship in Jim McElwain’s first year as the new Lizard leader and with a new quarterback they could be back in the hunt again this season.
Yes, there were three losses to end the season and some big names missing on that great defense, but this is a group who believes in each other and believes in their new coach so this is a group of Gators that you better keep an eye on.
There are tough games in the SEC with LSU and Arkansas from the West and Georgia and Tennessee are going to be tough too, but I don’t think any team will go through this division without a blemish and this is a team that pulled off some miracles last year, so we have them as a team to watch. That fourth game when the 3-0 green Gators take on the 3-0 big orange of Tennessee will tell us much.
Georgia – With Kirby Smart, the new dog trainer in the Dog pound, from Alabama, the folks in Athens are hoping that he also brings in some of the Saban magic between the hedges. While departed Mark Richt left a good legacy of regular winning, the dogs could just never get the big bone they wanted and Smart ain’t stupid and knows the pressure is on to get his Dogs a big blue ribbon at a dog show soon.
If the befuddling Bulldog running back Nick Chubbs can stay healthy and one of many quarterback contenders come through, then with this schedule and a great group of returning players, this just looks like this will be a coach and program that has that “first year magic” that Florida had last year.
If they do indeed wind up atop the SEC East, then Alabama coordinators will be the prescribed solution for every team who wants a fast turnaround and Bulldog fans around the country will be wondering why the heck they waited so long to pull the trigger on a new Dog trainer.
Well that’s it to inform you who to expect to be the least in the East and likely laughable loser for much of the season on the upcoming lists of Larry’s Losers in the SEC.
Next we’ll delve into the jest of the West and we’re sure to have some surprises there too, so stay right here at Touchdown Alabama and learn what’s going on from the most knowledgeable noggins in sports news.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter
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