Buy, Sell, or Hold SEC Football 2011

Alabama - BUY - The Tide are going to be tough to beat this year, they have an incredible defense coming back,  Trent Richardson is back at running back, and they have a solid line on both sides of the ball.  Right now, they look like the team to beat in the SEC.  Of course the success of the Tide is nothing new, Nick Saban has put together a monster of a football team and we wouldn't look for them to falter anytime soon.  Anything less than a BCS game or a national championship would be a failure for a team with this much talent and this kind of coaching.

Auburn - SELL - Auburn had an outstanding year last year, but that was last year.  Arrest, accusations, and players leaving for the pros have taken a toll on this team. The Auburn football team is a shell of what it was last year.  The weakest point on this team looks to be the lines on both sides of the ball.  It really doesn't matter that Auburn seems to be trying to bring in some new hired guns in the running back and quarterback positions.  Whoever is in the backfield on offense better have their chinstrap on tight, cause that line of freshman is going to have a hard time protecting them. On top of all this Auburn has a tough schedule this year, playing most of their major games away. With Alabama, MSU, LSU, and Arkansas all looking to be great this year Auburn could be looking at the quickest fall of any reigning BCS champion in history.

Arkansas - HOLD - This Arkansas team is being highly touted around the SEC and media circles.  They do have some great receivers, but those receivers can't win all by themselves.  The Hogs will have a new quarterback coming in and I would like to see how he performs before I am ready to crown them champs.  Arkansas was highly touted last year to because of Ryan Mallet, and as we saw Mallet was good for some wins, but couldn't do it alone.  It seems like every year there is a new position that Arkansas is the "best in the nation" at, problem is they can never get any of these years to coincide.  I like Arkansas this year, but I don't think they can beat what I see as the best three teams in the SEC this year: Alabama, LSU, and MSU.

Florida - BUY - Florida struggled this past year, there were problems right from the start of the season.  Most of those problems can be traced back to Urban Meyer and the fact that he wasn't fully coaching the Gators.  No one blames Urban Meyer for needing to step away, being a college head coach is an extremely stressful job.  However, you have to be in or out, you can't be half and half.  Meyer should have hung it up before last season ever started, but he pushed on because of pressure from Gator fans and the administration.  The past is the past however, and Meyer is gone, the Gators made an absolutely outstanding hire in Will Muschamp.  Muschamp is a defensive guru and will turn the pitiful Gator defense into a machine to be reckoned with.  Don't expect this years Gators to be giving up 30 points in a half.  The offense, on the other hand, will take more work.  A Muschamp offense also won't be the run and gun trick plays of Urban Meyer,  you can expect to see a much more traditional offense.  I don't think the Gators can win it all this year, but I do think they have a shot at an SEC East title and a trip to Atlanta to face Alabama, MSU, or LSU.

Georgia - SELL - Georgia's stock is already pretty low, they had a dismal season this year and it only looks to get worse.  Georgia is over-hyped almost every year, they are constantly considered to be one of the elite teams in the SEC, yet they have never really done anything to prove they are an elite team.  Other than a yearly beat down from Florida what has Georgia done?  Last year was probably the low water mark for Florida in the past 5 years, and Georgia still couldn't get it done and beat them.  Georgia plays a determined and fierce Boise State team in the opening game of this years college football season.  The T.V. talking heads will paint a picture of a top SEC school playing Boise to determine if Boise should get a shot at a National Championship, this picture is a lie.  Georgia is a middle of the road at best SEC team, if they were in the SEC West they would be a bottom of the barrel SEC team.  Georgia is going to go in to the Boise game trying not to lose, because it would be embarrassing. Boise is going into that game playing for a shot at a national championship.  Who do you think has more to play for?  Also, Georgia is going to have anemic and limp head coach Mark Richt to try to inspire them with his tales of moral superiority and celebration planning.  While Chris Peterson is a highly motivated, highly inspired, highly creative head coach.  Georgia is going to lose to Boise and they are going to be slaughtered by  former Georgia Bulldog Will Muschamp's Gators. Their big hopes for SEC wins rest with Kentucky, Vandy, and Ole Miss.  In all likelihood after another dismal season Georiga fans will be forced to watch Mark Richt come back for yet another season, while Nick Saban steals all the Georgia recruits and Kirby Smart goes on to head coach another team.

Kentucky - HOLD - Kentucky is a basketball school, always has been, but Joker Phillips is trying to change that.  Last years Kentucky team showed moments of inspiration where they played like a real SEC team should, they also showed moments of ridiculousness that we have come to expect from Wildcats football.  Joker is trying to make something special at Kentucky, but he isn't there yet.  Kentucky has a brutal schedule this year, having to play some big hitters from the west and an improved Louisville team.  It's going to be close for Kentucky to make a bowl, could go either way.  But if Joker keeps up the good work for the Wildcats that won't be a question in a couple years.

LSU - HOLD - LSU will have a good season, but it won't be what they hope it will be.  LSU just doesn't have the personnel to make a drive for a national championship.  They are going to face some very tough opponents in Alabama and Mississippi State.  LSU beat an overextended Alabama last year, but this year's Tide is a different animal.  Add a much improved Bulldogs and a dangerous Arkansas and its a hard gauntlet to run.  I think LSU can beat Oregon right out the gun to take a jump in the national standings.  But they are going to have a very hard time beating Alabama, Mississippi State, and West Virginia at home.  If LSU does manage to run this monster schedule undefeated I don't think there is a person in the world who could deny they deserve a chance at a BCS title.

Ole Miss - SELL - Ole Miss may be the worst team in the SEC this year.  They have an abysmal talent level, their coaching is terrible (Houston Nutt, no shocker there), and they have taken on the old character of their rival Mississippi State  Ole Miss fans were known for making crazy claims, like the fact that they were due a National Championship.  They were a constantly optimistic and overly proud fan-base even thought their team has never done anything to warrant it.  Meanwhile, the fans of Mississippi State expected losses, never showed up for games, and were generally the most depressing group of SEC fans to be around ever.  Now, all that has changed.   Ole Miss had a whopping 4,000 show up for their spring game, and if watch the T.V. broadcasts of last years games the stadium is half empty half the time.  The Ole Miss fans have given up on their team, they expect to lose, and this year they will get what they expect.  If Ole Miss can pull off 5 wins this year I would consider it a minor miracle.   The problems for Ole Miss are compounded by the fact that Houston Nutt has a ridiculous buyout and so do his assistants.  Ole Miss may want to get rid of him this year, but they may not be able to afford it.  As for hanging their hopes on the annual rivalry game with Mississippi State, I wouldn't count on it.

Mississippi State - BUY - This is the best Mississippi State team in ... well ... ever.  Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has taken a team that was a joke of the SEC and turned them into a contender.  Many fans as well as media types want to dismiss this team based on the fact that it is Mississippi State, that is a mistake.  This team has real talent, and a lot of veteran players coming back.  Chief among them is quarterback Chris Relf, who has size, speed, and a throwing ability that are scarily similar to Cam Newton.  Relf improved dramatically over the course of last season,  no doubt due to his being coached by the man who helped create Tim Tebow.  If Relf improved that much last season, how good is he going to be this season?  Mississippi State has a once in a generation level talent, a once in a generation coach, and a once in a generation opportunity.  Mississippi State may not be able to keep Dan Mullen when the big schools come knocking, which they will.  But they have an opportunity to do something this year at Mississippi State that State may not see again for another 50 years.  If Mississippi State can beat LSU or Alabama, I would expect them to have a real chance at a Sugar Bowl appearance. I think the November game between Alabama and MSU will be a game of two undefeated, highly ranked SEC teams.  This is a team to watch.

South Carolina - SELL - I think South Carolina's chance at greatness was squandered last year.  Tennessee was down, Florida was down, and they pulled off an amazing win against then number one Alabama.  Then they went on the road and lost to Kentucky like a bunch of punks.  They went to the SEC championship game expecting to lose and they fulfilled that expectation. South Carolina will have a decent year by their standards and will go to a bowl game, but don't expect anything special this year.  I would expect them to fall back into their usual pattern of losing to Florida and Tennessee very soon.  This years South Carolina could serve as a warning tale for Mississippi State, don't squander your big chance, or this is your future.

Tennessee - BUY - Derrick Dooley has had his hands full in Knoxville trying to clean up the ridiculously dirty mess that was Tennessee football.  But he has done a commendable job,  Tennessee is righting the ship.  I think Dooley can beat Georgia, South Carolina, and a few others this year to make Tennessee a real SEC contender again.  Will Tennessee be in the BCS hunt, no.  But, they will be in the bowl hunt, and they will matter in SEC football once again.  Well done coach Dooley!

Vandy - HOLD - Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt, they are the enigma of the SEC.  They are a private school with incredibly high standards and an amazing and rich history, they also stink at football.    On the bright side Vandy has a new head coach and a real shot at beating Ole Miss.

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