SDS Mailbag: How many more titles Nick Saban will win, SEC Tournament dark horse and most wins for first-year SEC coach
Happy Super Bowl weekend, y’all!
The final game of the 2020 NFL season will be played on Sunday in Tampa, with the hometown Buccaneers taking on the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs. There will be plenty of former SEC stars on the field in the game. I even wrote about the 8 ex-SEC standouts most likely to win the game’s MVP award.
I’ll give you my official Super Bowl prediction later on in the Mailbag. We’ll also discuss some SEC football coaches and some dark horse threats to win the SEC men’s basketball tourney.
Here are your questions for this week’s Mailbag:
Nick Saban just put together a perfect season to win his seventh title (sixth at Alabama). How many more do you think he’ll win before he retires?
The answer? As many as he wants. He is 69 years old now and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. And, to make things even better, he just signed the best recruiting class any school has ever signed. Do you realize how insane that is?
He has a knack for making the right hires on his staff, even though his staff gets raided every offseason. He just reloads and keeps winning. When you’ve sent as many coordinators on to head coaching jobs as he has, you can hire pretty much whoever you want.
I think he’ll get to 9 before he heads off into retirement. This incoming recruiting class will help the Tide win another one either in 2021 or 2022, in my opinion. Then, I think he’ll have 1 more in him before all is said and done.
However, if you told me he’d have 10 or 11 before he calls it quits, I wouldn’t think that’s too ridiculous of a prediction.
There are 4 new football coaches in the SEC. Who will win the most games in 2021?
OK, so my candidates are Josh Heupel at Tennessee, Shane Beamer at South Carolina, Bryan Harsin at Auburn and Clark Lea at Vanderbilt.
Well, right off the bat, I’m going to eliminate Lea. Vanderbilt’s program needs at least 2-3 years before we can even start using the word “respectable” to describe it at this rate. I think Lea is a good coach, but I’m not sure that program is salvageable at the moment.
I’m also going to eliminate Beamer at South Carolina. He has some talent to work with, including QB Luke Doty and RB Kevin Harris, but that’s another school that needs a couple of years to regroup. That’s not to say South Carolina won’t be competitive in 2021, but I just don’t think they’ll win more than 2-3 SEC games.
So, the decision comes down to Heupel and Harsin. I’m going to go with the “safe” option and say Harsin. I know Auburn lost a few players this offseason, but it was nothing compared to the exodus at Tennessee. Plus, the looming cloud of NCAA sanctions might keep some top players away. Give me Harsin, who I think will win 8-9 games this season.
Who is your pick to win the Super Bowl on Sunday?
Well, I’m a Green Bay Packers fan, so I’m still not over the NFC Championship Game. It was one of the more painful losses of my Packers fandom, so I’m really against this year’s Tampa Bay squad. I respect everything Tom Brady has done in the NFL, but I’ve always rooted against him. As they say in movies and on TV — this time, it’s personal.
Plus, I went to college in Missouri (have I ever mentioned that?) and have been to a couple of Chiefs games and have watched Mizzou play at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are fun to watch, especially when Patrick Mahomes is on top of his game.
I want the Chiefs to win big, but I think it’ll be a closer game on the scoreboard. I’ll take the Chiefs to win a 33-27 showdown in Tampa.
Outside of the 6 teams currently being included in most NCAA Tournament bracketology projections — Mizzou, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU and Florida — which SEC team could make a run at the SEC Tournament title?
Honestly, South Carolina would terrify me. The Gamecocks in their past 3 games have mopped the floor with Georgia, lost at Vanderbilt and won impressively at Florida. Literally anything can happen when South Carolina takes the floor.
When AJ Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant are playing like stars, this team is hard to beat. While I don’t think the Gamecocks would be able to sustain success long enough to win the SEC Tournament, I certainly wouldn’t want to see them sharing a bracket with me if I were an SEC coach.
Once again, credit coach Frank Martin for always having his teams among the toughest in the conference. I’m pretty sure the SEC Tournament champion will be 1 of the 6 teams currently projected to be in the NCAA Tournament field, but don’t sleep on the mercurial Gamecocks.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.