Published August 10, 2011 - 9:10am
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Who’s ready for some football? If you’re like me, you’ve seen every team dissected and examined from every angle imaginable. There’s little about the upcoming season that should surprise any of us. To give us a break from the upcoming 2011 season, I thought I’d take a look ahead… to the 2021 season.
After the wild 2020 season, we now know anything is possible. Many are expecting Vanderbilt to once again dominate the conference in 2021. Since his arrival in 2011, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has built a dominant force not seen in the modern-day Southeastern Conference. Vandy will be competing for their 5th consecutive SEC Championship. Sadly, Vanderbilt did end the SEC’s 14 year run of BCS Championships when they had to forfeit the game because finals were the same day as the bowl game.
Down on the Plains, Auburn is still awaiting word from the NCAA whether the investigation into the recruitment of Cam Newton is over or not. Meanwhile, Coach Chizik has just assembled his 12th consecutive top five recruiting class, and the team is looking to contend for the title again this year, narrowly losing to the Commodores in the inaugural SEC Championship Game played in Orlando in 2020.
Alabama head coach Les Miles is looking to improve on Alabama’s lackluster 12-3 record. Alabama will feature one of the premiere backs in the nation this year, when 2020 signee Mercury Watkins takes the field. Watkins, 6-8, 345 lbs. and with 4.1 speed is expected to contend immediately for playing time at the tailback position.
At Georgia, Head Coach Gus Malzahn is trying to take that next step with the Dogs, and knock off Vanderbilt for the SEC East. Since Malzahn took over the team in 2012, Georgia has been a contender every year, especially once they broke their Gator jinx. Amazingly, this will be the first year since becoming a college coach that Coach Malzahn will have a starter returning at the quarterback position.
Speaking of Florida, everyone is anxiously awaiting the return of former, and new Head Coach Steve Spurrier. After seeing their fortunes decline over the past decade, Spurrier is coming back to try and rekindle the old flame. Everyone is hoping for the return of fun and gun, but some are expecting fade and fizzle.
South Carolina replaced Spurrier with one of his disciples, and a Gamecock legend. After finally living up to his potential in the 2011 season, taking South Carolina to their first ever SEC Championship and BCS Championship, and a short stint with the NFL expansion Birmingham Boll Weevils, Stephen Garcia was added to Coach Spurriers staff in 2016. Pleasing many alumni, he was formally named the new head coach when Spurrier returned to his alma mater.
At Tennessee, fans are anxious for Coach Dooley to finally end their nine game skid to the cross-state Commodores. They’ll be counting heavily on senior quarterback Bucky Prichard to provide the offense to push them to the top of the SEC East. After a stellar season where he passed for 5,436 yards and 63 TDs, the Vols are expecting even more from him this year.
At Ole Miss, the Rebel Black Bears will be looking to finally break out of the SEC cellar. With third year coach Mark Richt calling the shots, the fans finally have something to be excited about. The new Mark Richt era shocked many in this laid back community in 2019 when Colonel Reb ran to midfield before the Mississippi State game, and urinated on the Mississippi State emblem. The Bulldogs have had this game circled ever since.
At Mississippi State, Dan Mullen is once again hoping to live up to the expectations of following up another 9-6 season. A heartbreaking loss to LSU late in the season was soothed somewhat by a bowl win over Penn State. By winning this game, they ascertained that Coach Joe Paterno would be back on the sidelines in his Hoveround for the 2021 season, still seeking that elusive 500th win.
LSU Head Coach Chris Petersen will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 2020 season. After losing four games in 2020, Petersen was heard to say he’d eat the Tiger Stadium grass if he knew that would help his team win more games. Expect LSU to concentrate a lot of their offense behind their twin towers on the offensive line; Samson O’Neal 7-1, 425 lbs. and Stanley Robertson, 6-11, 412 lbs.
At Arkansas, Hog fans are hoping to finally remove the tag of “Only SEC Team Without a Conference Championship”. Their throwback to the golden years of Woody Hayes, known then as “Three yards and a Cloud of Dust” has now been dubbed “Slop and Wallow” in Fayetteville. Though not a very glamorous name, this ball control offense has proven effective in holding many high-scoring offenses to a fraction of their average.
With Joker Phillips surprisingly successful presidential run in 2020, Kentucky was left scrambling for a new coach. Returning to Kentucky as head coach, Andre Woodson is expected to call upon his many years of experience as a journeyman professional player. When accepting the job, Woodson stated that there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, and he has a few things that he thinks will work in this league. We shall see.
In closing, let me say that it’s hard not to pick Vanderbilt to win it all again this year. It has even been suggested that the BCS would reschedule their game if Vanderbilt wins a bid again, and there is once again a conflict between school exams and the bowl.
Go ahead and call in your bets now. Nostradamus ain’t got nothing on me.