Published July 30, 2011 - 9:00am
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The SEC East starts our series on the “Best Of” the SEC. The East can be defined right now as fallen greatness, but it certainly has a rising newcomer.
Florida, Tennessee and Georgia all have very questionable outlooks this year; so in one sense, the East can be seen as fallen greatness, with the numerous SEC Championships between the three. However, with South Carolina building so much talent in Columbia, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion the Gamecocks are a rising newcomer. Football is cyclical, and the East will be back again.
Here is the best of the SEC East:
Tailgating – Florida vs. Georgia – Jacksonville
I’m going with a wildcard pick on this and not go with an actual stadium, but the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville is the best tailgating around. Both Georgia and Florida fans parked right beside each other, and they even share the same decorated Port-O-Lets. It’s incredible. Fans are there at 8:00 AM, ready for the 3:30 PM start, hammered by 10:00 AM. Dawg fans with their Herschel Walker jerseys are barking at one another, with some Florida fans dressing up in their “Florida attire” – fake jorts and mullets. It’s truly a sight to be seen, no matter who you pledge your allegiance to in the SEC.
Mascot – Georgia Bulldogs
There is just something about a real mascot that gets fans excited. UGA and Hairy have to be the logical choice here, followed closely by Smokey from Tennessee. If you will remember, UGA is the mascot that tried to physically bite the Auburn player. Even UGA recognizes the South’s Oldest Rivalry.
Uniforms – Florida Gators
The best uniforms in the SEC East belong to the Florida Gators. The orange and blue are one of the leading brands in the SEC and in the country. The best uniform combinations, I believe, are the blue-on-blue and white-on-white. We’ll see if the Gators roll out in the all-blue combination because South Carolina kicked their butts at home in that same combination. Could it be my blue shaded sunglasses?
Helmets – Vanderbilt Commodores
The best helmets in the SEC belong to the Vanderbilt Commodores. There is just something about the black and gold colors with the star on the helmet that symbolizes prestige and honor. Hopefully James Franklin can get these helmets winning!
Fan Base – Kentucky Wildcats
You have to hand it to the Kentucky Wildcats. Fans show up to football games wanting to see the product on the football field each and every game. Kentucky is deemed a basketball school. While that is true, Kentucky has had some very good football players choose to attend there who have made themselves good players. They might not have been the best coming in, but some have been great exiting. And fans continue to support the Big Blue Nation through thick and thin. No matter the product they are putting on the field, fans continue to support their team.
Facilities – Tennessee Volunteers
The Tennessee Volunteers are currently renovating Neyland Stadium, and it will be second to none from a facilities standpoint. The Vols also have a beautiful indoor practice facility at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. You can see the master plan here. I love Neyland Stadium and the setting on the river. It screams SEC Football.
New Kids On The Block – South Carolina Gamecocks
When Steve Spurrier went to South Carolina to be the head coach, Gamecock fans were dreaming of the day when Spurrier would have this program competing for Eastern division championships. Well, that day has finally come. South Carolina is stockpiling talent right now in Columbia, and they look suited for a future run, with great talent on both offense and defense. Last year, the Gamecocks won the East, albeit a weak East, but nonetheless, they had to prove it. This year, they are the preseason favorite by most, and 2011 could be the year this program gets 10 wins.