The 2004 Larry Awards: Saluting the SEC's Best

With only the SEC mismatch…oops, I mean Championship Game to be played, it's time to salute those outstanding performers in SEC football for 2004. It was a good year in the league, particularly in the East where four teams finished at .500 or better. It was particularly a good year in Alabama where Tommy Tuberville survived an attempted coup and led Auburn to its best season since 1957 --- sorry Terry Bowden, but your 11-and-0 doesn't measure up because it was under the cloud of probation.


1. Jason Campbell, Auburn
2. David Greene, Georgia
3. Ciatrick Fason, Florida

Campbell has the best title there is, the quarterback of the best team. His leadership and poise was crucial to Auburn's season and rallies against LSU and Alabama. Despite four offensive coordinators in four years, he still progressed and made his senior season incredibly special. And he led the SEC in passing efficiency. Greene had a remarkable season with 18 TD passes and only two interceptions, but didn't make the plays in the biggest games. Fason was superb, leading the SEC in rushing while being a dangerous receiver and effective blocker for the league's best offense.


1. Jason Allen, Tennessee
2. Thomas Davis, Georgia
3. Stanley McGlover, Auburn

It's probably sacrilege to leave out David Pollock, but what the hell. I thought his play was sporadic anyway. Allen led the league with 112 tackles including several TD savers that became game/season savers down the stretch. Davis seemed to be everywhere while McGlover was a force with 7.5 sacks and controlled the line in every game I saw. There certainly was no Al Wilson, Jamie Duncan or even an Alex Brown in the SEC this year.


1. Eric Ainge, Tennessee
2. Thomas Brown, Georgia
3. Marcus Monk, Arkansas

Nothing tougher than being a freshman quarterback, but Ainge did a fine job with 1,452 yards and 17 touchdowns. His play against Florida in the fourth quarter, officiating not withstanding keyed Tennessee's season. Brown and Danny Ware should be in there together, but Brown gets top billing with 764 yards and seven TD. Still I'd bet on Ware having the better career. Monk was a big threat for Matt Jones and was tied for second in the SEC with six TDs.


1. Ko Simpson, South Carolina
2. Quentin Groves, Auburn
3. Brandon Siler, Florida

Simpson was a star for the Gamecocks with 61 tackles and six interceptions. With hands like that, S-O-S might make him a wide receiver in '05. Groves had ten tackles for loss including 7.5 sacks for Auburn while Siler was a stud for the Gators especially when Channing Crowder was unavailable.

SEC Coach Of The Year

1. Tommy Tuberville, Auburn
2. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee
3. Sylvester Croom, Miss State

Could not be an easier choice. Tuberville was dead man coaching entering 2005, now he's within range of the National Championship Game. Auburn has not taken a day off and might be the nation's most solid team top-to-bottom. Fulmer needed three quarterbacks including two true freshmen to win the ultra-competitive East while Croom gets the nod over Houston Nutt for getting people in Starkville to talk about integrity and doing things the right way. He also posted the biggest upset of the year in beating Florida.


BEST MOVE OF THE YEAR: Hiring Sylvester Croom gave MSU credibility in terms of integrity and ended a disgraceful stretch for the SEC in race relations.

WORST MOVE OF THE YEAR: Firing Ron Zook in mid-season made Florida a national punch line. No amount of explanation can change the perception he was fired for losing to Miss. State.

PLAYER I'LL MISS MOST: Matt Jones of Arkansas is the most entertaining player in the league. Plus he's turned stereotypes upside down. Who ever dreamed the best passing QB in the SEC (Chris Leak) would be black while the best running QB is white?

PLAYER I'LL MISS LEAST: Fred Gibson of Georgia got on my nerves with his last minute switch from Florida which appeared to be orchestrated to do maximum damage. He showed flashes of brilliance for four years but never developed consistency. Perhaps he'll be better in the pros, perhaps not, but I'm tired of hearing about him.

COACH ON THE HOT SEAT FOR 2005: Obviously Rich Brooks of Kentucky, but David Cutcliffe (assuming he survives today's review) will need to show progress next year to prove he can succeed without a Manning. Brooks was an odd hire from day one and seems destined to be the former Wildcats coach in a year. The coach at Florida qualifies too. <p> OFFENSIVE PLAYER I'D STEAL FOR UF 2005: Robert Felton, freshman offensive tackle from Arkansas would be a nice addition to a talented, experienced offensive unit and the Hogs develop their linemen faster than anyone else.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER I'D STEAL FOR UF 2005>: Roshaun Fellows, freshman cornerback from Tennessee would slide in nicely to answer perhaps the biggest question facing the Florida defense.


Kenneth Darby, RB Alabama: While Chris Leak is the most obvious choice, Darby won't have to deal with changes in terminology and style in terms of his coaching. Darby gained a thousand yards this year and could get 15-hundred or thereabouts next season. Change this vote to Leak if Florida somehow can keep Larry Fedora around.


Channing Crowder, LB Florida: While Leak could suffer from a defensive change I believe Crowder would flourish in a more wide-open system where he can freelance from the weak side with Siler holding forth in the middle. He'd end up the big-play specialist from sacks to interceptions and everything in between. This vote switches to Tennessee pass rusher Parys Haralson if Crowder turns pro or UF stays safe and vanilla on "D".

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