SDS Mailbag: SEC bowl confidence pool picks, Jeremy Pruitt’s future and Bryan Harsin’s fit at Auburn
Merry Christmas, y’all! We’ve got a loaded Mailbag for you today! Stay safe, have a great Christmas and we’ll see you on New Year’s Day!
Oh, and while you’re here, check out our Christmas-themed Starting 5 video, where we give out a Christmas gift to each SEC men’s basketball team:
My beard may not be as long and white as Santa’s, and yes, I’m only wearing a Santa hat because I can’t get a haircut right now, but I hope you enjoy it, anyway!
Now, time for some Mailbag questions:
If you were in one of those bowl confidence pick ’em leagues, where you not only had to pick the winner of each SEC bowl game, but also assess your confidence in each team’s ability to win (1 being the least-confident prediction, 10 being the most-confident), how would you rank them?
Interesting. I’m not in a bowl pick ‘em league this year, unfortunately, but this will be fun! There are 2 SEC teams that were selected for bowls that can’t play (Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl and South Carolina in the Gasparilla Bowl). As of now, though, 10 SEC teams are still on track to appear in their scheduled games.
OK, here’s how I’d make my confidence picks:
- 10 points: Alabama over Notre Dame in Rose Bowl
- 9 points: NC State over Kentucky in Gator Bowl
- 8 points: Northwestern over Auburn in Citrus Bowl
- 7 points: Texas A&M over North Carolina in Orange Bowl
- 6 points: Tulsa over Mississippi State in Armed Forces Bowl
- 5 points: Georgia over Cincinnati in Peach Bowl
- 4 points: Arkansas over TCU in Texas Bowl
- 3 points: Indiana over Ole Miss in Outback Bowl
- 2 points: Florida over Oklahoma in Cotton Bowl
- 1 point: Mizzou over Iowa in Music City Bowl
I think Alabama to the CFP title game is a lock. Can the Tide beat Ohio State or Clemson in that game? That will be much closer, but I’m confident they’ll get by the Irish. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t know how Iowa is a 2-touchdown favorite over Mizzou. I’m obviously going to pick the Tigers to win. I don’t know if they will, but I’m confident they’ll at least cover that huge spread.
Feel free to use those picks in your own betting pools! I’d like a 25% cut of any winnings you might accrue, though.
Will Tennessee have a new head coach this time next year?
I’m going to predict that, yes, Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure as Tennessee’s head coach will be over before we flip our calendars to 2022. Do I think that’s fair or a good approach by Tennessee? No, I do not.
But, when there’s as much smoke as there has been this offseason, it’s tough to recover from that. Many fans want him gone and there’s even a reported internal investigation going on. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum says it seems like someone is out to get Pruitt.
How do you come back from that? Unless Pruitt wins the SEC East in 2021 (which, I hate to break it to fans on Rocky Top, he isn’t going to do), the calls for him to get fired will only increase after every loss next season.
Who will the Vols hire to replace him? Who knows? It’ll be important to avoid a debacle like the one in 2017, though.
Break down Auburn’s new coaching hire. What does Bryan Harsin bring to the table?
Well, let’s start with the basics. He’s not Gus Malzahn, and that’s perhaps the best thing he brings to the table. And, fans really seemed to turn against the rest of Malzahn’s staff, too, as evidenced by the negative reactions to the Kevin Steele rumors.
There are concerns about Harsin’s lack of SEC experience, of course, but he has coached at Arkansas State before. Plus, and most importantly, his track record of success speaks for himself. He’s a good coach. That should be all that matters.
In my opinion, it doesn’t matter who Auburn hires (or who anyone else hires, for that matter) until Nick Saban retires. Harsin should continue to bring in plenty of talent to Auburn, but if fans are expecting a 15-0 record and a national championship in 2021 or 2022, they’re going to be disappointed.
Give Harsin a couple of years to show who he is as a coach and judge him on that. I like the hire and think it makes the Tigers interesting for 2021 and beyond.
In the 90s the key to unseating FSU’s dominance of the ACC was breaking up Bobby Bowden’s coaching staff. That ultimately happened with the exits of Mark Richt and Chuck Amato. Does anyone pull Brent Venables from Clemson?
As you mentioned, Bowden won the 1993 and 1999 titles with Richt as a key part of the offensive staff and Amato on the defensive side. But, Amato left for the NC State head coaching job after the 1999 season, and Richt left to take over at Georgia a year later.
We’ve already seen one of Dabo Swinney’s top offensive assistants leave, as Jeff Scott took over the USF program this year. I do think we’ll eventually see current Clemson DC Brent Venables and OC Tony Elliott leave for head coaching jobs.
There are a lot of similarities to the Florida State situation, interestingly enough. Neither Richt nor Amato had been head coaches before. Neither have Venables and Elliott. I personally think that to be a coach at a high level like this, you have to be a really competitive person. Thus, the challenge of running their own program will eventually become too much to pass up for Venables and Elliott.
It might not be this offseason, but when the time is right, I think both will make the jump to the head coaching ranks and it will have an impact on Clemson. The Tigers will continue to be elite as long as Swinney is there, but we’ve seen how coaching staff turnover impacts other elite teams like Alabama, LSU and others.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.