SEC: Ray Goff
No, it had nothing to do with his customary visor, and he wasn't drawing up ball plays on a napkin or looking at his watch and wondering if he'd make his tee time.
"I got to thinking, 'Where are all the guys who played football in this league over the last 30-some years?'" Spurrier recounted. "You don't see many former players from the league coming back [to the SEC] to be head coaches anymore."
Over the past decade, there have been a few such as former Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom (Alabama), former Kentucky coach Joker Phillips (Kentucky) and former Auburn coach Gene Chizik (Florida). And before Nick Saban took over at Alabama, former Alabama quarterback Mike Shula headed up the Crimson Tide's program.
Currently, though, Spurrier and Florida's Will Muschamp are the only two. Matter of fact, more of the current SEC head coaches played their football in the Big Ten -- Arkansas' Bret Bielema and Kentucky's Mark Stoops at Iowa, LSU's Les Miles at Michigan and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin at Purdue.
An SEC pedigree was once a must for becoming a head coach in the SEC, but times have changed.
Click here to read my entire column on the changing guard in the SEC.
The Gators and Bulldogs were both left out of The Sporting News preseason rankings. The only Eastern Division team ranked was South Carolina at No. 19.
The Associated Press preseason poll won't come out until August, but I did some digging on the last preseason AP poll that didn't include either Florida or Georgia.
The year was 1990, Steve Spurrier's first season at Florida and Ray Goff's second season at Georgia.
In fact, that was the last time that one of the two teams didn't start the season ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll.
The last time the Gators weren't ranked among the top 10 nationally in the AP preseason poll was 2004, which was Ron Zook's final season in Gainesville. However, the Bulldogs opened that season at No. 3 in the AP poll.
It appears that top 10 streak will come to an end when the 2011 AP preseason poll is released in a few months.
Of course, Auburn started last season No. 22 in the AP poll and was still able to carve out an unbeaten national championship season.
But since the league expanded in 1992 and split into two divisions, no team that started the season unranked in the AP poll has gone on to win the SEC championship.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Thanks for the input on some of the other surprise teams in the SEC from the last 25-30 years.
|AP Photo/Rob Carr|
|Coming off a 6-6 year, Mike Shula led the Crimson Tide to a surprising 10-2 record in 2005.|
In particular, two from Alabama deserve to be included on our list, which was spawned after seeing Vanderbilt go to 5-0 and move up to No. 14 in the latest rankings.
The 2005 Crimson Tide were coming off a 6-6 record and unranked to start the season, Mike Shula's third season in Tuscaloosa. But they won their first nine games and rose to as high as No. 4 in the polls. Their 16-13 overtime loss to LSU cost them a chance to play for the SEC championship that year, but they capped the season with a win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl to finish 10-2. As fate would have it, Shula was fired following the next season.
The 1991 Alabama team is another one a lot of people forget about, perhaps because the Crimson Tide won the national title the following season. Alabama was coming off a 7-5 season, Gene Stallings' first as head coach. They opened the 1991 season ranked 20th, but were blasted 35-0 by Florida in the second game and quickly fell out of the rankings. That wound up being Alabama's last loss, as the Tide reeled off 10 straight wins to finish 11-1, ranked in the Top 10 in the final polls and paving the way for the 1992 national title. That run in 1991 also triggered a 28-game winning streak by the Tide extending into the 1993 season. Those wins in 1993 were later forfeited because of NCAA issues.
The 1991 Georgia team was also one that came out of nowhere to have a good season. The Bulldogs were unranked to start the season, Ray Goff's third in Athens, and hadn't been ranked since early in the 1989 season. They finished 4-7 in 1990, but rebounded to go 9-3 in 1991, which included a win over defending national champion Georgia Tech and an Independence Bowl victory over Arkansas. The Bulldogs finished No. 17 in the final Associated Press poll.