Published August 9, 2011 - 11:32am
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The countdowns started in early January, just about the time the clock expired on Oregon as Auburn brought home the fifth straight BCS Championship to the Southeastern Conference. College football fanatics across the country began thinking about what might have been and what could be to come, when “next year” rolled around. With just over three weeks before the pigskin is teed up, fans throughout the South are burning up in the heat with anticipation of another fascinating season in the SEC.
The start of the SEC season in the South is somewhat like the premiere of a Hollywood blockbuster film, only bigger, Opening Day in MLB, only bigger or Speedweeks at Daytona in NASCAR, only bigger. I can think of no other opening day, so to speak, in all of sports that quite measures up to the beginning of the SEC football season.
Football has become, “the” sport in the United States and the SEC has become the center of the universe that is known as college football. With five consecutive BCS Championships and seven total of the 13 overall, it’s easy to understand the fanaticism surrounding SEC football. Only one other conference, the Big 12 with two, has even won more than one BCS Championship. Furthermore, the SEC has spread it around with five teams taking home the AFCA National Championship Trophy. Tennessee went 13-0 winning the inaugural event in 1998, LSU and Florida have brought home two each, and Auburn and Alabama have won the last two, both finishing with undefeated seasons. All that being said, SEC football is without question, the best in all the land. The question remains, who’s playing for second? While football is certainly the sport of choice for many Americans, for most SEC football fans, it’s a way of life.
So as the tailgating gear gets dusted off and weekend plans are being made, the faithful followers of the SEC combatants from Gainesville to Fayetteville, from Lexington to Baton Rouge and all points in between, have visions of grandeur as the renewed season is set to open with a clean slate. Each team is even with a record of 0-and-0. It’s the time of year when each team’s dreams have yet to be shattered and optimism abounds, anything can happen. Whether you’re in Columbia, Nashville, Knoxville, Tuscaloosa, Starkville, Auburn, Athens or Oxford, it’s a fresh start once again. Along with the optimism surrounding each team, every new season brings about change. With change, many questions arise that must be addressed. Thus, the drama begins.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Will Trent Richardson cement his legacy among the all-time greats at Alabama? Can the Tide once again become the magnates of the Iron Bowl? Is Nick Saban’s team ready to make another run at a national championship?
Will Tyler Wilson make Razorback fans forget about Ryan Mallett? Is Knile Davis ready to prove he’s the conference’s top running back? Can Bobby Petrino’s Hawgs pull off the upset and take the SEC West?
Will Gene Chizik quickly rebuild his defending BCS Championship team into contenders? Can Auburn once again defeat archrival Alabama in the Iron Bowl? Will the NCAA investigation into AU’s football program finally come to an end?
Do the Gators have enough offensive weapons to compete for the SEC East crown? Can Charlie Weis provide the answers to help John Brantley become a top tier SEC quarterback? Is Will Muschamp the right fit to lead Florida in the post Urban Meyer era?
Can the “Dream Team” live up to the hype? Is Aaron Murray really the best quarterback in the conference? Will Mark Richt lead the Bulldogs back to the top of the SEC East?
Are the Wildcats moving up in the SEC pecking order under the leadership of Joker Phillips? Who will step up to replace the big three of Hartline, Cobb and Locke from a year ago? Can Kentucky finally break their 26-game losing streak to Tennessee?
Will the offensive struggles continue for yet another season? Who will rise to the top of the depth chart to lead LSU at quarterback? How many rabbits will Les Miles pull out of his hat this season?
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Will quarterback Chris Relf develop the consistency that the Bulldogs need at quarterback? Can Dan Mullen continue State’s rise in the West? Could Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins be the top rushing duo in the SEC?
Ole Miss Rebels
Can the Ole Miss defense improve enough to compete in the tough SEC West? Will Brandon Bolden continue to run through, over and around SEC defenses as he did in 2010? Will Houston Nutt become the first SEC coaching casualty of the new season?
South Carolina Gamecocks
Can Marcus Lattimore enter into the Heisman Trophy race? Can Coach Spurrier keep Connor Shaw on the sidelines? Will Stephen Garcia show the maturity to lead the Gamecocks back to the SEC Championship and beyond?
Will Tauren Poole become just the second running back in Tennessee history to log back-to-back 1000 yard rushing campaigns? Can Tyler Bray silence his critics and prove he was not just a one-hit wonder? Can Derek Dooley elevate his young Vols into the thick of the battle for the SEC East crown?
Can new head coach James Franklin turn the Commodores around? Will Vandy pull off a stunning upset this fall?
Will the SEC make it six straight BCS Championships? Can the conference put out another Heisman Trophy winner? Which conference is ready to challenge the SEC’s supremacy?
These are just a sampling of the many questions that will be answered as the upcoming season unfolds. Don’t look away for a minute since things happen fast in the SEC. It all gets started on Thursday, September 1st when Western Kentucky and the Kentucky Wildcats collide at Nashville’s LP Field. The rest of the conference begins play on Saturday, September 3rd.
The time is near SEC fans, let the drama unfold. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for and there ain’t nothing better than Saturday Down South in the SEC.