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Many readers respond via e-mail and Twitter to columns and blogs demanding accountability. I get the same phrases peppering my inbox all the time. “If you're wrong, I expect an immediate apology,” “How can you think that Team A will lose to Team B? It's just not possible,” and my personal favorite, “you're just showing your bias,” appear in my inbox every week. Well if you sent an e-mail like that this year (or just thought about it), this column is for you. It's time to step up to the plate and examine the good, the bad and the ugly predictions and prognostications I made during 2010.
South Carolina’s Success
Before the season started, one of the biggest questions bouncing around the SEC was whether or not South Carolina was worthy of its preseason hype. In my preseason predictions, I predicted that the Gamecocks would go to the Swamp in mid-November with a chance to win the SEC East. At the time, that was viewed as borderline insane. As it turned out, the Gamecocks did play a de facto SEC East Championship Game in Gainesville. Good job self. (granted, I said that they’d lose that game and that Florida would be undefeated heading to Atlanta, but we’ll get to that later)
Auburn wins the SEC
In part four of our SEC Roundtable Discussion, we were posed the question, “aside from Alabama and Florida, what team has the best chance of winning the SEC?” My answer was Auburn, and needless to say, that was a good call. Honestly, I had no idea that Auburn would be this good and that Cam Newton would turn into a Heisman Trophy winner, but considering that virtually all of Auburn’s tough games were at home, the Tigers were set up to have a big season. I don’t think anyone thought it would be this big though.
Mallett’s Heisman hype
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was the recipient of quite a bit of preseason hype this summer – to the point where he was considered a legitimate Heisman candidate. In part three of our SEC Roundtable Discussion, I said that the Heisman was a bit too lofty of a goal for “The Family Arm” considering that the Heisman is as much of a team award as it is an individual award. If Mallett was going to strike the pose, Arkansas would have to compete for the national title. The Razorbacks certainly had the ability to contend, but the tough SEC West was too much for them. If Arkansas was in any other conference (or even division), Mallett would have been in New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Before the season, Marcus Lattimore turned some heads on the Proving Grounds, running over D.J. Swearinger in what was deemed a “Herschel Walker moment.” Here’s what I said at that time:
Spurrier has already said that Lattimore will be ready for the first game of the season. Will he be the feature back? Probably not right off the bat. He will probably split carries with Giles and Miles. But Lattimore is going to make an immediate impact for a Gamecock team that finished last in the SEC in rushing offense in 2009.
Final stats: 248 carries, 1,198 yards and 17 touchdowns. Beast.
Miles saves his job
Remember a few months ago when everybody (including me) had lost faith in Les Miles? The LSU head coach was still on the hot seat in early October after the Tigers skated by Tennessee. They were UNDEFEATED at the time. Well, the Mad Hatter parlayed Tennessee’s coaching error, a perfect bounce on a fake field goal at Florida and a reverse on 4th and short vs. Alabama into a 10-2 regular season and a spot in the Cotton Bowl. Before the season started, I thought Miles would be looking for new employment during the holiday season. I was wrong.
When I ranked the top five SEC games back in August, it was a no-brainer what game topped that list. Alabama and Florida were top five teams, winners of three of the last four national championships and squaring off in Tuscaloosa in what many thought would be one of two meetings in 2010. Well, Alabama showed up anyway. This game was a total snoozefest from the opening gun. Nick Saban totally outcoached Urban Meyer, and it was apparent on Florida’s first drive when Trey Burton's ill-advised fourth down jump pass was intercepted in the end zone.
Psst, Urban, Tim Tebow graduated.
Nutt ranked WAY too high
Apparently, I thought way too much of Houston Nutt in August. In my ranking of SEC head coaches, I ranked Nutt as the fifth-best head coach in the SEC ahead of Les Miles, Gene Chizik, Bobby Petrino and Dan Mullen.
Are you serious, Clark?
Considering the ridiculous late signing of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, the opening day loss to Jacksonville State and the population of a small country that the Rebs were forced to replace on both sides of the ball, Ole Miss wasn’t going to contend. But the coaches listed above overcame the shortcomings of their teams, while the Rebels couldn’t get out of their own way all season long.
A different kind of successful? Really?
In part four of our SEC Roundtable Discussion, I sang the praises of Florida’s offense. Here’s a quote:
”The offense is going to be a different kind of successful. John Brantley can't do the things that Tim Tebow did, and Tim Tebow didn't do the things that John Brantley will be able to do. Will the Gators get the same kind of pure production out of the quarterback position that they enjoyed when Superman was taking snaps? Of course not. But the offense will be just as successful as it was with Tebow.”
By “just as successful,” I really meant to say “inept, lacking identity and an abject disaster.” Florida’s offense was the epitome of ugly this year, and that’s why my prediction is in this category. John Brantley shared time with Trey Burton and Jordan Reed at quarterback, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio become more of a punch line than a coach and Meyer resigned – again. This is the same team that I predicted would go undefeated in the 2010 regular season and lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Yikes.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
2010/2011 Off-Season Column Archive:
End Of The Season Accountability – December 27, 2010
Pryor Can’t Be Compared To Newton – December 23, 2010
Ranking The SEC Bowl Games – December 19, 2010
Malzahn Makes The Right Move – December 14, 2010
Five Thoughts on Muschamp – December 12, 2010
CFN Analysis: Florida Hires Muschamp – December 12, 2010
CFN Analysis: Cam’s Heisman Landslide – December 11, 2010
Five Thoughts On Urban Meyer – December 9, 2010
Meyer Leaves Legacy, Question Marks – December 8, 2010
Click here for the 2010 regular season archive
Click here for the 2010 Three & Out archive