Wednesday, January 11, 2012
When will the SEC's reign end?
By Edward Aschoff
One day, we'll look up and see an SEC team not covered in national championship confetti.
It's hard to tell, really. It's not like there aren't capable teams outside of the SEC that can end the streak. And it's not like the SEC teams can't beat each other up too much and eliminate the conference from another national title run.
The problem is that the top teams in the SEC don't seem to be going anywhere.
The new national champs? Don't expect Alabama to sit by and watch others compete for a shot in Miami. Yes, the defense will take a few hits and everyone expects running back Trent Richardson to leave for the NFL, but it's not like the talent pool has been drained in Tuscaloosa.
With the way Nick Saban has recruited, Alabama will still compete for the SEC title in 2012 and beyond. If Alabama is competing for the SEC title, recent history tells us its competing for the national championship.
LSU will have something to say about next year's national championship, too. LSU has the bulk of its dominant defense returning. Tyrann Mathieu, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Michael Brockers, Bennie Logan and Eric Reid were only sophomores in 2011. Plus, the offense will return all four of its running backs, its top receivers and will get a much needed upgrade at quarterback with Zach Mettenberger taking over.
LSU might be a favorite to win it all next year and it's not like coach Les Miles hasn't been recruiting his tail off. LSU has a slew of young, gifted players that will fit right in when some of the veterans depart. LSU is on a reloading path.
Georgia and South Carolina have recruited their way to the top of the SEC East. Both possess outstanding defenses and have what it takes to compete for the conference title in 2012. Beyond that? Absolutely. South Carolina has put a special emphasis on defense and it's paying off. Georgia has owned the state of Georgia in recent years and seems to have a pretty stocked cupboard.
Don't forget Arkansas. The Hogs will lose some pretty good talent in 2012, but coach Bobby Petrino has done a very solid job recruiting and molding his talent. It might be tough for Arkansas to compete nationally in 2012, but don't count out a team with Knile Davis in its backfield.
Also that young talent at Auburn, Florida and Tennessee, won't be so young players soon.
There certainly are schools with the talent to take down the SEC in 2012. USC looks primed for a title run with 19 starters, including star quarterback Matt Barkley, returning.
Michigan State has the talent on both sides of the ball to make a run. Also, the schedule isn't so bad. Can the Spartans finally inch the Big Ten out of the SEC's shadow?
Oklahoma had a rough 2011 season, but with quarterback Landry Jones returning with some solid receiving talent, the Sooners should be the favorite in the Big 12. However, winning BCS games has been, well, tough.
Florida State is stocked with talent and should be favored in the ACC, but don't expect the same result we saw in 2011. Improvement is coming and if Jimbo Fisher can get that talent playing as consistently as it should, watch out.
In a couple of years, keep an eye on Ohio State. Urban Meyer is in charge now and he knows a little about winning in the SEC.
The SEC's championship winning streak will come to an end at some point (unless the Mayans were right). It has to. But ending it next year will be hard, so the national pouting could continue.
Or, the other conferences could form a super team. Surely, that would work.