The championship games are now in the book as well as a few straggling regular season games. Army-Navy remains. That being said, let’s do some housekeeping and tidy up a few odds and ends concerning the SEC.
First, we’ll saunter back to SEC Media Days and review how the scribes’ picks turned out.
As you see in this article, Alabama was picked to win the SEC West and Tennessee was the choice to represent the SEC East in Atlanta. Alabama, obviously, held up their end of the deal but the Vols did not. The Florida Gators managed to take the division by default. The Crimson Tide steamrolled the West in dominant fashion. They won their division by three games over who? The Auburn Tigers.
Auburn was picked not second, or third, of fourth, or fifth. They were picked sixth in the West behind LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Arkansas.
Bravo for the Tigers! And they were rewarded with a trip to the Big Easy and the Sugar Bowl. They will take on Big 12 champion, Oklahoma. It could be one of the better games of the entire bowl season. More on that, and other bowls, in later columns.
What about the cellar dwellers? South Carolina was the choice to bring up the rear in the East, but the Gamecocks, modestly exceeded expectations and came in fourth. Missouri had the distinction of finishing last in the “Easy.”One of the Mississippi teams was tagged by the media to sink to the bottom in the grueling West. But it was the Bulldogs of Mississippi State that was chosen for that “honor.” Ole Miss, much to the surprise of most every football fan in the country, plummeted to the number seven spot while predicted to come in third.
Glaring discrepancies on the first team offense? Chad Kelly at quarterback, Leonard Fournette at running back, Nick Chubb at running back, Calvin Ridley at wide receiver, and O.J. Howard at tight end.
Jalen Hurts, Kamryn Pettway, Derrius Guice, ArDarius Stewart, and Evan Engram took those slots.
Defense? As you peruse the lists you will note that things went pretty much as expected. Good job media!
The coaches individual award winners on offense, defense, and coach went to Jalen Hurts, Jonathan Allen, and Nick Saban. As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!”But, in all fairness, who’d a thunk Jalen Hurts would walk off with the offensive player of the year? No one could have seen that coming.
In this interim, between the regular season and bowl season, and beyond, there are some questions we look forward to seeing answered.
What will the NCAA decide in the way of punishment for Ole Miss?
Will Nick Saban retire? (Wishful thinking)
What underclassmen might surprise us by succumbing to the lure of dollars and the NFL?
How hot is Butch Jones’ fanny?
Will Lane Kiffin take a head coaching position? (More wishful thinking)
How about Rhett Lashlee?
Will Jim McElwain ever find a quarterback?
Will Gus Malzahn?
Will Kirby Smart be a bust?
Will Barry Odom?
Who might be the next Jalen Hurts or Kamryn Pettway?
Is anyone capable of bridging the gap between Alabama and everybody else?
And… is the SEC still the top of the heap in the world of college football.
The bowl games are upon us and, with their conclusion, the season of 2016 will be but a memory.
What does 2017 hold for us as college football fans?
In the words of a wise man… we shall see.
E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.