One reason every SEC West team will suck in 2016
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your team is going to suck this year. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Look, fall camp just got underway. This is when you’re supposed to be the most optimistic. The roster is relatively healthy. Those freshmen seem like they can play a little bit. You’ll be tough to beat, right?
Wrong. Murphy’s Law will rear its ugly head. That quarterback battle you’ve been watching? Your coach will pick the wrong guy. That senior coming back from a knee injury? He’ll spend more time in the training room than on the practice field. That five-star you signed? He won’t make grades and is off to the JUCO ranks.
Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. And if things start to go wrong in this league, your dreams of the College Football Playoff will turn into a nightmare at the Belk Bowl. Nobody wants to go to the Belk Bowl.
So without further ado, here is one reason every team in the SEC West will suck in 2016. All of them.
Note: The overwhelming majority of this column was written with my tongue planted firmly inside my cheek.
WHY ALABAMA WILL SUCK: Quarterback is kind of an important position
One of these days, the lack of a difference maker under center has to come back and bite the Crimson Tide.
‘Bama is stacked annually at every other position, on offense and defense, but not once during the Nick Saban era has he produced an NFL starter at quarterback. It hasn’t stopped him. How, I don’t really know.
The Tide just won a national title with Jake Coker at the controls. While he played some terrific football down the stretch, for the most part he was mediocre at best in 2015. If not for Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart doing a Cirque du Soleil act every Saturday, he might have been benched once and for all.
The season before, Blake Sims set passing records in Tuscaloosa on the way to an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Two years later, Sims couldn’t find a job throwing a football in the Western Hemisphere.
And please don’t say AJ McCarron. His greatest professional achievement so far is marrying Katherine Webb.
WHY ARKANSAS WILL SUCK: Bielema is cast on Season 34 of ‘Survivor’
“Being Bret Bielema,” a web series featuring the quote-worthy Arkansas coach, was just picked up by ESPNU.
Taking over for the recently retired Steve Spurrier as the resident Mouth of the South, Bielema added some much-needed color to the hopelessly drab proceedings last month at SEC Media Days. For that, we thank him.
The suits at CBS have apparently been paying attention. Since Arkansas games aren’t much of a ratings draw like traditional powers Alabama and LSU, the network will take advantage of Bielema’s outspoken personality by sending him to the Sinharaja Jungle for “Survivor: Sri Lanka.” He’ll be coaching up the #WoooPig tribe.
Bielema is voted off the show when he skips chopping firewood in favor of retweeting a four-star tailback.
WHY AUBURN WILL SUCK: That deep run back in 2013 was a total fluke
Tigers coach Gus Malzahn looked like the next great coach in America when he took Gene Chizik’s players to within seconds of a BCS Championship his first year on The Plains. The rest of the West was put on notice.
Since then, Auburn has gone 15-11 overall and 6-10 in the SEC. No backfield combination has been able to recapture the magic of Nick Marshall and Tre Mason. Malzahn’s fast-paced offense has sputtered ever since.
Let’s be serious: In 2013, that win over Georgia was a miracle. That win over Alabama was a miracle, too. A team destined for the Peach Bowl was suddenly playing for all the marbles. Now Malzahn is out of miracles.
WHY LSU WILL SUCK: Fournette bursts into flames on his 400th carry
Out to prove that Leonard Fournette is indeed a better runner than that straight-line stiff Derrick Henry, Tigers coach Les Miles ditches the passing attack entirely. At the season’s midway point, Fournette is already past 1,700 yards on the ground. His weekly workload is somewhere in the vicinity of 45 carries.
But just five attempts after breaking Henry’s record of 395 in a season, Fournette spontaneously combusts in Week 10 after being tackled by Alabama’s Reuben Foster. With the Heisman front-runner reduced to ash at Death Valley, Brandon Harris delivers a four-game losing streak and a pink slip for the beleaguered Miles.
WHY OLE MISS WILL SUCK: Alabama isn’t the only team on the schedule
We get it, Rebels fans. You’ve beaten Alabama two seasons in a row for the first time in history. The Tide may have their rings, but they haven’t gotten the best of Ole Miss. That has to be worth something, right?
However, in 2014 you followed that all-time triumph by losing to LSU, Auburn and Arkansas. Then this past year, there were losses to Florida and, again, Arkansas. Beating ‘Bama isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Hugh Freeze and Co. own the rarest of commodities in the SEC: tangible evidence that they can defeat Big Al. The rest of the league isn’t getting the message, though. Those wins haven’t made the Rebels scarier.
WHY MISSISSIPPI STATE WILL SUCK: Prescott is totally irreplaceable
Why was Dan Mullen so eager to bring Jeffery Simmons into his family? He’s going to need a lot of help on D.
Dak Prescott, perhaps the greatest Bulldog of them all, is now battling to be Tony Romo’s backup with the Dallas Cowboys. No longer will he remain in Starkville as Mullen’s primary passer. And rusher. And leader.
Put aside the sparkling touchdown-to-interception ratio of 29-to-5. Prescott ran the ball more times (160) in 2015 than running backs Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert combined (151). Supposedly his best wide receiver, De’Runnya Wilson, skipped his senior season to enter April’s draft. He didn’t even get selected.
You know who thought Prescott carried too much weight on his shoulders? Atlas, the Titan god of endurance.
WHY TEXAS A&M WILL SUCK: Garrett comes down with Clowney Disease
“Yo, Myles. It’s Jadeveon. Just stepped off my yacht and into my other Maserati. You must be at practice.
“Been wanting to catch up with you. We got a lot to talk about, you feel me? You’re coming off a monster sophomore year, just like I had. Got to give you some advice for how to live your last season of college.
“Look, in the NFL, they’re desperate for guys like you and me. These candy-ass quarterbacks are throwing it all over the place. DBs basically can’t cover anymore due to the rule changes, so it’s all about that pass rush. That’s what I did better than anyone in the SEC. That’s what you’re doing now. You’re straight.
“You know how many sacks I had my last year in school? Three. Didn’t matter. I came to camp out of shape. Didn’t matter. I was gonna be that first pick no matter what. Listen to your handler. Take it easy, dog.
“Once you’re in the league, you get paid to watch J.J. makes all the plays. And buy Maseratis. Want one?”