This should be a fascinating season for Southeastern Conference football for a variety of reasons. With the league’s annual media days completed, it won’t be long until coaches and their teams are out on the practice fields again and I am looking forward to see some live football again.
It was enjoyable for me to keep up with the coverage of this year’s SEC Media Days featuring 14 head coaches and 42 players. The league did a very smart thing years ago in coming up with the idea of the annual media days event. It has gotten bigger and better through the years.
The amount of attention the conference receives because of the huge coverage of the event is significant. Events like media days are one of the reasons the SEC is the most watched conference and the top overall league in college sports. As SEC Commissioner Mike Slive pointed out, SEC programs won nine national championships during the 2011-2012 season, which continues a trend that has been going on for a long time now.
The biggest story lines for the conference this year are how will newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri do and can the conference produce the BCS champion for a seventh year in a row?
Missouri’s Gary Pinkel was impressive at media days and has a reputation in the business as being a good coach. His team opens its SEC schedule with a home game vs. Georgia, which should be very interesting, particularly since it looks like the Bulldogs are going to be short-handed for that game with key players suspended. Georgia’s Mark Richt didn’t look like he was a very happy coach at media days. That could be a reason why.
Coach Kevin Sumlin
Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin seemed nervous to me, which isn’t a real surprise considering he just made the move from Houston in Conference USA to the big stage that is SEC football. That can be a bit overwhelming.
Like Missouri, the Aggies also will open their SEC schedule with a home game vs. a team from the East. Florida, which is trying to bounce back from a disappointing season in Coach Will Muschamp’s first season in Gainesville, will visit Kyle Field in September to welcome the Aggies to their new league.
Other interesting story lines for the 2012 football season is how will what was expected to be an outstanding Arkansas team do under the leadership of interim head coach John L. Smith? The man he replaced, Bobby Petrino, was excellent at preparing his teams to play and that will be tough to match. Smith’s personality is obviously very different than Petrino’s, but like the former coach he has a strong background in the game.
The other new head coach in the SEC West is Hugh Freeze, who made the move from Arkansas State to Ole Miss. I was impressed with what he had to say at media days, but I don’t think there is much doubt he has a daunting task ahead of him trying to get the Rebels competitive in the SEC West.
Coach Gene Chizik
One of the most difficult teams to get a handle on for the 2012 season is the Auburn Tigers. I think the team is going to be more talented and deeper than last year’s was. I also think Gene Chizik will do an outstanding job coaching this team, but the big X factor with the Tigers is who is going to be the quarterback and how well he will perform.
If Kiehl Frazier or Clint Moseley step up and perform at a high level, the Tigers are going to win more games than a lot of people are predicting. If the Tigers struggle with consistency at the position, they will have issues competing against the tougher teams on their schedule.
One thing I know for sure is that Coach Chizik does an outstanding job of representing Auburn University. That was apparent again SEC Media Days this week.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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