The Women’s College World Series began on Thursday and the NCAA Baseball Tournament begins on Friday. The SEC is well-represented in the baseball tournament, with 9 teams still alive.

Meanwhile, only Florida remains for the SEC in the WCWS. Can the Gators take on heavyweights like Oklahoma and bring home another title for the league?

Enjoy the baseball and softball action while you can, because the month of July is going to be a long one without any college sports on your televisions.

Then, we’ll just be marking off the days until college football season finally arrives. Speaking of football, let’s dive into this week’s football-heavy Mailbag!

Alex:

What’s the toughest schedule in the SEC this season?

While I appreciate Alabama playing Texas and Georgia taking on Oregon in nonconference play, the answer to this question isn’t going to be the Tide or the Bulldogs. Why? Simply put, Alabama doesn’t have to play Alabama and Georgia doesn’t have to play Georgia.

So, we have to look elsewhere for the toughest schedule. Arkansas is definitely in consideration, as the Hogs face Alabama, Cincinnati, LSU and others in Fayetteville, take on Texas A&M in Dallas and head to BYU.

South Carolina is also in consideration, as the Gamecocks have a trip to Arkansas and a home game against Texas A&M as their crossover games. They also host Georgia and travel to Clemson.

Then, there’s Tennessee. The Vols have road trips to Pitt, LSU and Georgia this year and also host Alabama.

But, my answer to this question for 2022 is Auburn. The Tigers host Penn State in nonconference play and have road trips to both Alabama and Georgia during SEC action. Oh, and they also travel to Ole Miss and host Texas A&M, LSU and Arkansas.

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That’s a brutal schedule that Bryan Harsin and the Tigers are going to have to navigate. We’ll see if they can pull off a few upsets along the way!

Jacob:

Which SEC quarterback do you think will lead the conference in rushing yards this year?

Emory Jones of Florida led all SEC QBs with 758 rushing yards in 2021. Seeing as how he is now at Arizona State, I feel confident in predicting that he won’t lead the league’s quarterbacks in rushing this fall.

Of all returning SEC quarterbacks, Arkansas’s KJ Jefferson led the way with 664 rushing yards. Hendon Hooker had 613, Anthony Richardson had 401, Mike Wright had 376 and Will Levis also had 376.

I’m going to pick Jefferson to lead the way this year. He’s built like a linebacker and is no fun to tackle at all. I think he can get up to around 750-800 rushing yards if all goes well.

But, the guy who worries me is Richardson. He’ll be the full-time starter for Florida and is one of the most dynamic players in the entire country when he’s on his game. If he stays healthy and Florida’s offense is strong under first-year head coach Billy Napier, Richardson has the ability to eclipse 800 yards on the ground.

For now, though, until I see more of the Florida offense, I’ll pick Jefferson to be the best SEC rushing quarterback.

@SChinni12:

A fan offered Nick Saban $5,000 to retire or come back to LSU during SEC spring meetings. Obviously, that’s not enough to get the job done. How much do you think it would actually take before Saban would leave Tuscaloosa?

Yeah, $5,000 isn’t even in the ballpark for getting the greatest college football coach of all time to retire. But hey, you can’t blame the kid for trying!

I’d say he needs to add 4 more zeros onto the end of that number before we’re even in the neighborhood of what it would take. You get to $50 million and that’s roughly 5 more years of Saban’s coaching salary.

But, Saban is “only” 70 years old, and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Based on those who know him, 10 more years of coaching isn’t out of the question. So, I think it would take $100 million to get him to call it quits on his legendary career.

Really, though, I think he loves coaching and competing too much to retire for any amount of money. Non-Alabama SEC fans are going to have to live with the possibility he’s around for another decade patrolling the sidelines in Tuscaloosa.

@Dobbe8:

What’s the best sporting event to host a party for? Super Bowl is the obvious answer, but what about New Year’s Day bowl games, Labor Day weekend college football, the Kentucky Derby, the Final Four or something else?

First and foremost, let’s get this out of the way – the Super Bowl is the best sporting event to host a party for. There’s a halftime show, which is entertaining about half the time. And, while the commercials weren’t great this past Super Bowl, usually companies bring their “A” games.

Then there’s the actual game. This past year, Matthew Stafford led the Rams on an incredible game-winning drive to beat Joe Burrow and the Bengals (though Burrow was an Aaron Donald sack away from potentially hitting Ja’Marr Chase for a game-winning TD pass of his own).

So, Super Bowl is my pick for the No. 1 spot. After that, though, I’ve got to go with Labor Day weekend college football.

Pick whatever day during the long weekend you want! There’s no NFL action to split your attention, so you can do an all-day cookout on Saturday with wall-to-wall exciting games. Or you can choose to host a party for the primetime games on Sunday and Monday (which this year are LSU-Florida State and Clemson-Georgia Tech, respectively).

It’s a great weekend to fire up the grill and have a bunch of friends over for the start of the college football season.

Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.