Three SEC Coaches Need Big Years

The overblown media orgy that is SEC Media Days has come and gone and now we can turn our attention to the upcoming start of fall practices and the key storylines in and around the SEC.

One of those storylines involves a trio of SEC coaches who really need to have something special happen this year. I'm not saying any of the three is in danger of being fired, per se, but I do believe that support and confidence in their stewardship of their respective programs will be very weak if they put their fans through another four (or more) loss season.

Les Miles, LSU ----- Three years ago the Tigers won the BCS National Championship. It appears that reservoir of good will and support has been drained. Miles is 17-9 the last two seasons with a painful 8-8 mark in SEC play. While Florida and Alabama have dominated college football the past two seasons, LSU is fading from the upper echelon and there's growing suspicion that Miles' early success (34-6 first three years) was due more to the talent Nick Saban left behind than anything else. LSU opens the season in Atlanta against North Carolina and also has a tough non-conference test at home against West Virginia. The real key though is when Saban and Alabama comes to town on November 6. Another loss to Saban and things will get even steamier on the Bayou.

Mark Richt, Georgia ----- Things started out well for Richt in Athens. He won two SEC Titles and made it to three SEC Championship Games in his first five seasons. However the last four years have not been as productive. Georgia has missed the game in Atlanta four straight years and last season Georgia lost five games for the first time during Richt's tenure. Richt rebuilt his defensive staff after the Dawgs gave up almost 26 points a game and is hoping a veteran offensive line can make life easier for redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray. Another so-so season, and another loss to the Gators in Jacksonville (where Richt is 2-7), will have Richt solidly on the hot seat after his 10th season.

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina ---- We never thought we'd see the Head Ball Coach toiling into his mid-60s, let alone posting mediocre results in the process. Still, that's exactly what's happened at South Carolina over the last five years. Spurrier is 35-28 with the Gamecocks, which amazingly enough is the most wins in any five year period in school history. In those seasons, Carolina is below .500 (19-21) against SEC opponents. They are coming off a 7-6 season that included an embarrassing loss to Connecticut in a bowl game. This is the best chance they've had to try and win the SEC East with Florida and Georgia breaking in new quarterbacks and Tennessee simply a mess. The problem is the unpredictability of Carolina QB Steven Garcia and a brutal schedule. Spurrier and his charges have to play Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas out of the Western Division and has difficult non-conference games against Southern Miss and Clemson. The goal is nine wins and a trip to Atlanta, but everything will have to go right for that to happen. If the Gamecocks can't win the SEC East this year can they ever?

Sorta makes the September 11 game between South Carolina and Georgia one of the biggest of the first month of the SEC season. The Gamecocks have the home field advantage for that one and two extra days to prepare since they open on Thursday night (Sept. 2) against Southern Miss.

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