Dye-Gest: Lots of Tests For SEC Teams

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye gives his take on the SEC race.

Coach Kevin Sumlin (above) and his Texas A&M Aggies are one of the teams that could be much improved this season in the SEC.


I have no doubt this is going to be another entertaining year for Southeastern Conference football, but I have a lot of questions about how the season is going play out because it looks like there is a lot of parity in the league.

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The conference may not produce a dominant team this year, but as a whole I think the SEC has gotten stronger in recent seasons because even the teams near the bottom of the standings can be dangerous to play. Even the top teams can be taken down any weekend if they don’t show up ready to perform at a high level and of their opponent gets a break or two along the way.

Looking at the 14-team league as a whole I think Tennessee and Kentucky will definitely be improved in the SEC East and I think Auburn, Arkansas and Texas A&M will be stronger in the West than they were last season. LSU certainly has the potential to be better if things work out with their new defensive coordinator and if they get their quarterback problems solved.

The Tennessee Vols are hoping Joshua Dobbs develops into a star quarterback this season.

One of the reasons the league will be difficult to win this year is because the SEC has a lot of quality coaches. I was impressed with what I heard from that group during SEC Media Days.

The only coaches in the league I don’t really have a feel for right now are the ones at Vanderbilt and Florida because I don’t know a lot about them.

Derek Mason is starting his second season at Vanderbilt and is trying to get that team heading in the right direction. At Florida newcomer Jim McElwain hasn’t coached a game yet, but he landed a job at a place where he is certainly going to get talented players to put in the lineup.

McElwain and Mason face the challenge of competing in a league loaded with coaches who have proven they can win. I enjoyed listening to the comments from all of the SEC’s coaches and their comments reminded me that it won’t be long until players are back on the field for preseason practice looking to earn spots in the starting lineup.

I thought it was strange that the media picked Alabama to win the SEC West, but Auburn was selected to win the SEC Championship Game despite being picked to finish second in the division. That doesn’t make any sense to me, but what does make sense is that whoever emerges as the league champion will have earned it and will have picked up plenty of bumps and bruises along the way.

I am not a betting man, but I think that I would be willing to wager that there isn’t a single SEC team that makes it through the regular season without a loss or two in conference games.

Take Auburn for example, the team picked to win the overall league title. I think there are a lot of teams on the Tigers’ schedule that will be capable of beating Auburn if Coach Gus Malzahn’s team doesn’t perform well on a particular Saturday. I believe that is the case with any other team in the league so that is why this has the potential to be a very competitive season for SEC football.

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