Hobbs Column: A second look at what SEC media days proved

By By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

OK, it’s been a week now since SEC Media Days closed its doors and enough time has passed to take a second look at what it

all proved.

These are far too important of matters for definitive predictions this early but it wouldn’t hurt, with some reflection now

available, to revisit the scene.

Anyway, with time now to let it settle in here’s a quick tour around both divisions and the knee-jerk generalfeeling you’d

get about each team if you’d had the luxury of attending media skull sessions in the hotel lobby.

Sort of like word association.

Alabama rules the world and is in

danger of lapping the rest of the greatest football conference ever

known to man or beast.

And it can’t all be the sweetheart schedule. The best hope for the

rest of the league is that the media picked the Tide overwhelmingly

to win the whole thing again — and the media’s track record is

awful, having been right only four times in the last 21 years.

Auburn won’t be down much longer and

new head coach Gus Malzahn has fans gulping down the up-tempo, no-huddle

Kool-Aid. But

any team expecting to rely on its offense has a problem when, as

Malzahn said, he isn’t sure which contestant among four hopefuls

— four! — will be his starting quarterback. More than a tight

battle, a situation like that usually means a lot of mediocrity.

Arkansas also has a new coach, and Brett Bielema was a breath of fresh air yacking away on the podium, maybe a worthy runner-up

to perennial podium best of show Steve Spurrier. He’s not a fan of the hurry-up offense, all but equating it to communism.

He should have been at Arkansas a year earlier when the Hogs still had a lot of good players.

LSU is the great unknown in the SEC

race, and not only because it takes more than a mere week to decipher

and translate exactly

what Les Miles says at these affairs. The Tigers are promising

more offense, but will probably still live by defense. That

could be a problem. But even with most of last year’s defense

headed to NFL training camps, nobody really trusts the Tigers

to disappear or even have an “off” year. Les working with less has

all kinds of exciting possibilities, and not just for the

Australian language.

Ole Miss was probably the SEC’s most

improved team last year, which is not as impressive as it sounds when

you consider how

historically inept, how biblically flat the Rebels were the season

before. The quarterback is there in Bo Wallace, with plenty

of toys to play with. The question is can Ole Miss, which really

came on in the second half of last season, do it without

sneaking up on anybody this time.

Mississippi State keeps talking about

this rejuvenation under head coach Dan Mullen, now going on five years.

But this “miracle”

turn-around, for all its’ thrilling conquests of the Middle

Tennessee States and Kentuckys of the world, still hasn’t really

produced a signature victory over one of the SEC’s big boys or a

truly contending season that got anywhere near Atlanta.

Texas A&M did not get asked this

year how it might fit in with the SEC. The big debate was the Johnny

Manziel party train

factor and whether the Heisman winner’s active social calendar

will allow him enough time to concentrate enough to recreate

the season he had a year ago. The scuttlebutt seemed to be split

on whether he can pull it off. But everybody was absolutely

convinced that, either way, Alabama is just going to dismember and

gut the Aggies in College Station in the third week of

the season.

Florida could easily be better and

probably will be this season. But the Gators left media days without

even sufficiently

explaining how it was, exactly, that they went 11-2 last season

with such a train wreck for an offense. So the consensus is

that, while better — maybe even much better — Florida could easily

have a worse record. Crazy as it sounds, it does happen

from time to time.

Georgia coach Mark Richt continues to

be the nicest guy in the mean SEC and did you know the Dawgs were one

play and five

yards from beating Alabama in the SEC Championship game last

season? Those five frustrating yards only came up about 23,000

times during Georgia’s visit.

Kentucky is threatening again to at

least try to be relevant, even has accumulated a few recent recruiting

scalps to back

it up. Let’s just say the jury is awaiting more tests. New coach

Mark Stoops recited an almost-reasonable scenario that could

at least get the Cats bowl-eligible. Nobody is holding their

breath.

Missouri is a better program than what it showed during its first year in the SEC. The Tigers did a lot less big talking this

year in Hoover and might be primed to let their play speak for them.

South Carolina was basically sending

out advance warnings that offenses will set foot on the same field with

man-beast defensive

end Jadeveon Clowney at their own risk, and that the Gamecocks

can’t be responsible for any collateral damage incurred. The

season really needs to start before this legend grows any scarier.

He is pretty good.

Tennessee will join the up-tempo

madness, even if for all the wrong reasons. New coach Butch Jones is a

defensive guy, but

said it could be a great equalizer (against superior talent),

which isn’t the kind of charity offense the Vols tradition was

built on. But you do what you have to do.

Vanderbilt really, really wants to be taken seriously, and head coach James Franklin brought along paper work proving the

Commodores have been to back-to-back bowls and — for the first time since 1915 — won nine games. He has a point. And we’re

all trying. Really. But this is going to take some more getting used to.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com