Even in the fiercely competitive SEC, it’s good to spread a little love.
OK, maybe just once a year. And that one day is today … Valentine’s Day.
So just as we did a year ago, we’re going to set aside all the bitter rivalries, feuds and finger-pointing for a day and hand out some very deserving Valentine’s Day cards.
Sit back and enjoy.
Alabama coach Nick Saban,
Your football program is without peer right now, and I mean anywhere in college football. A lot of people were shocked when they heard that Alabama was paying you $32 million over eight years – a financial package that has since been sweetened. I’d say it’s been money well spent when you look at the Crimson Tide’s trophy case over the last few years. Everybody wonders what your secret is. Here’s one: Great football players who are also high-character kids in the mold of Trent Richardson, Barrett Jones, William Vlachos, Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw.
Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt,
Hated to see you go out like that. But regardless of what anybody says, average coaches don’t make it 14 years in this league at two different places. The same goes for your defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix. Both of you are better coaches than the last two seasons would suggest. There’s an entire body of work out there that says so.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore,
Can’t wait to see you back on the field, and here’s hoping you’re as good as new. Your sense of team, combined with your incredible work ethic and awesome athletic ability, make you the kind of player coaches and fans dream about.
Arkansas running back Knile Davis,
Probably should have sent you and Marcus the same card. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that you’re healthy again. Your unbreakable will to keep coming back from so many injuries is an inspiration to all of us, and we're eager to see the version of you run the ball again that we saw in 2010 when you led all SEC running backs in rushing.
LSU coach Les Miles,
I’m not one of those who writes off what you and your team did for the first 13 games this past season simply because of that one forgettable night in New Orleans. It was a remarkable run against a killer schedule. But do everybody on the Bayou a favor and trash that offensive game plan from the BCS national championship game.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray,
Your arm strength and ability to make all of the throws is unquestioned. You’re equally fearless in the pocket. But now it’s time to become a true quarterback and raise the level of play of all the guys around you. The great quarterbacks take it upon themselves to lead their entire team, and they do so as much off the field as they do on the field.
Arkansas receiver/punt returner Joe Adams,
Do you really have eyes in the back of your head? We’re still dying to know how you broke all of those tackles (somewhere around eight) on that 60-yard punt return for a touchdown against Tennessee? It’s as good a punt return as I’ve ever seen.
Vanderbilt defensive end Tim Fugger,
There are a lot of underrated players in this league, but you were right there at or near the top this season. You were invaluable to that Vanderbilt defense with your 13.5 tackles for loss, including eight sacks, and three forced fumbles. It wasn’t just your numbers that set you apart, but the way you played the game with precision, passion and grit on every snap.
Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan,
We’re not supposed to have favorites in our business. But how can you not pull for a guy like Trevathan? Kentucky coach Joker Phillips used to joke that he found Trevathan up under a rock down in Florida during the recruiting process. Well, Trevathan turned out to be a rock, racking up nearly 300 total tackles during his last two seasons and playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played no matter what the scoreboard said. We'll miss you, Danny.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham,
The entire Bulldog Nation thanks you for bringing a mental toughness to that defense (and to the program) that was lacking at times in past seasons. Your defense was the backbone in Georgia’s turnaround and 10-game winning streak this season, and even though your fire might have burned a little too brightly a couple of times, it’s exactly what the Bulldogs needed.
Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer,
Not even the great Bo Jackson rushed for 1,000 yards each of his first two seasons on the Plains. It was a joy to watch you play. Just wished it didn’t end on such a sour note.
Former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain,
Congrats on the new gig at Colorado State. You were destined to be a head coach, and I’ll make sure everybody remembers that they did play a little offense at Alabama this past season, too. In fact, your Tide offense was the only one in the SEC to average more than 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game. That’s saying something when you consider the level of defense played in the SEC.
Florida coach Will Muschamp,
You made some tough decisions in Year 1, notably sending star cornerback Janoris Jenkins packing following his second drug arrest. You’ve also got your coaching staff more to your liking, and your players understand unequivocally now what you expect from them. The 2012 version of the Gators will more closely reflect you as a football coach, and I’d be surprised if the results weren’t markedly better.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen,
I really like the way you’ve helped yourself with junior college talent. I also like the way your 2012 schedule looks through the middle of October. With five home games and two very winnable road dates, a 6-1 or even 7-0 start is very possible. I’m not trying to jinx you, Dan, but maybe Year No. 4 in Starkville is going to be that magical season everyone was predicting this past year. The bottom line is that you’ve led the Bulldogs to back-to-back winning seasons, and the last time that happened was 10 years ago.