SEC mailbag: Absolutely, Alabama has a chance
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
We've still got two more weeks of football remaining before Alabama and Florida clash in what has to be the most anticipated SEC Championship Game since its inception in 1992. Think Atlanta will be rocking the weekend of Dec. 6? Let's empty out the SEC mailbag as we count down the days:
Will in Pittsburgh writes: Chris, would it be possible for you to put something together on why Alabama is getting absolutely no respect. It seems that most in the media think the SEC Championship Game is over before it has even started. No doubt Florida is playing great right now, but Alabama has done something that Florida has not and that is beat everyone that they have played. Bama has never been a team to line up and put 50 on teams week in and week out. But you ask the common teams that Bama and Florida have played this year who is the toughest and most physical, and I guarantee that most, if not all, will say Bama. Has this ever happened before where the No. 1 team this late in the season is not seen by the media as a serious contender for the national championship?
Chris Low: Will, I've gotten a bunch of letters like yours. I wouldn't worry about what respect you think Alabama is or isn't getting. The ultimate respect right now is being ranked No. 1 in the country, and Alabama is in every poll. As for the SEC Championship Game being over before it starts, who cares? The great thing about Alabama and Florida this season is that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the game is going to be decided on the field. I'm the first to admit that Florida seems to be playing better than anybody in the country right now, but that doesn't mean that the Tide can't beat the Gators. To me, Alabama just has that look about it this season. It's a team that knows how to win and has the offensive line to jump on teams early and then finish the game late. So, yes, I definitely think Alabama is a serious contender for the national title and controls its own destiny as far as getting to play in that game. My advice to Alabama fans: Sit back, enjoy the ride and know that it's probably only going to get better from here with Nick Saban at the controls.
Darrell writes: In your SEC bowl predictions, you have South Carolina rated ahead of Vandy in getting to the better bowl. Why?
Chris Low: Keep in mind that bowl invitations aren't always based on who beat who or even final records sometimes. But to answer your question, Steve Spurrier is still a big draw in the state of Florida, and South Carolina fans are renowned for how well they travel to bowl games. If the Gamecocks finish up 8-4 with a win over Clemson, I think you can pencil them into the Outback Bowl. Now, if South Carolina should lose to Clemson and Vanderbilt wins out over Tennessee and Wake Forest, then I think the Outback Bowl would be very interested in the Commodores. Either way, what Vanderbilt has accomplished this season is a great story.
Tyler of Auburn, Ala., writes: Hey Chris! I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the future of Auburn. Do you think Kodi Burns has progressed enough to step into the role of a true SEC quarterback?
Chris Low: The first thing that has to be answered about Auburn's future is whether or not Tommy Tuberville will be back next season. It sounds like he may have to make some changes on his staff, some guys who've been with him for a long time, in order to be back. Assuming Tuberville is back (and I certainly think he should be given that opportunity), what route does he go this time for an offensive coordinator? The experiment with Tony Franklin and the spread didn't work. I still say that Auburn was awfully successful on Tuberville's watch as a power, tailback-oriented offense. As for Burns, he certainly has the arm to make all of the throws and has shown his ability to run. It's probably not fair to evaluate him this season with everything that's happened. It's pretty obvious that Franklin didn't have much faith in him. Get him in a system he's comfortable in and with a coordinator that believes in him, and yes, I think he has a chance to be a solid SEC quarterback.
Michael from Anchorage writes: Do you have any inside information on who the next Tennessee football coach will be?
Chris Low: Some of my inside sources are drying up because Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton is making all of his closest aides sign affidavits promising not to leak any information about the coaching search. What he doesn't know is that his office is bugged. I still think the leaders (alphabetically) are Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly, former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin and Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is off the board now that he's agreed to remain at Texas and take over for Mack Brown in a few years. I'd say there's another candidate or two whose names really haven't been out there, maybe Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Air Force's Troy Calhoun, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Buffalo's Turner Gill, some NFL assistant. Hey, Hamilton hit a home run with basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Here's his chance to hit a grand slam with the football coach.
Mark in Atlanta writes: Steve Spurrier calls himself the "Old Ball Coach," not the "Head Ball Coach."
Chris Low: I suggest you take a look at the Head Ball Coach's web site: http://www.spurrierhbc.com.