What we've learned in the SEC through 9 weeks
Heading into the last four weeks of the Southeastern Conference season, there have been some interesting developments. Players have stepped into the spotlight, coaches are being rumored for other jobs and, yes, we still have games to play. Some very big games, too.
Here’s what we know so far (we think):
MAYBE HE DID KNOW A THING OR TWO: When Will Muschamp left Florida, may Gator fans applauded thinking not only could he not coach, but he also couldn’t recruit. It appears Jim McElwain would disagree. With a win against Vanderbilt, Florida wins the SEC East with a roster recruited by Muschamp and his Gator staff.
Many coaches say they need five years at a program so they can fill it with their own recruits. But Terry Bowden did it at Auburn with Pat Dye’s players, so why couldn’t McElwain do it with Muschamp’s?
SPEAKING OF COACHES: We learned there are other jobs outside the SEC. There has been widespread speculation that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is destined to replace Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. But is there another job he might like better? Frank Beamer has announced his retirement at Virginia Tech and that might be a better fit for a first-time head coach.
Competing in the ACC is easier than in the SEC. If Smart went to Blacksburg and rebuilt the Hokies, then when other SEC jobs come open that might be more attractive than South Carolina, he would be a prime candidate.
TOUCHBACKS ARE IMPORTANT: We learned not to kick off to Tennessee. Against Kentucky, Evan Berry returned a kick 100 yards, tying the school record for the longest return.
It was his third kickoff return of the season, which also tied a school record. The record, held by Willie Gault, stood for 35 years.
ALABAMA STATE CHAMPS: We learned Ole Miss does not mind traveling to the Heart of Dixie. With their wins at Auburn Saturday and at Alabama in September, the Rebels now have beaten both of those teams on the road in the same season for the first time in history.
On only one other occasion had Ole Miss defeated the Tide and Tigers in the same season. That year was 2003 when the Rebs were led by Eli Manning. Coincidentally, Manning and current quarterback Chad Kelly both wear No. 10.