SEC insiders know the SEC has never
been deeper or more competitive, but outsiders tend to look at the standings and
see an absence of great teams beyond a championship
The SEC entered last week with 11 of its 12 teams in the top 99 of the NCAA's most recent RPI release, with Florida seventh, Kentucky eighth, Tennessee 15th, Alabama 23rd, Vanderbilt 33rd, Arkansas 43rd, Georgia 53rd, Ole Miss 63rd, Mississippi State 68th, South Carolina 92nd, LSU 99th and Auburn 115th.
Yet, with one week left in the regular season followed by the SEC Tournament, some SEC teams still have a case to make and are running out of time to prove their NCAA Tournament worthiness.
If the NCAA Tournament were
starting this week, the only teams that appear to be assured of spots are
Entering this past weekend, ESPN's Joe Lunardi had five SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament, with Florida a No. 1 seed, Kentucky and Vanderbilt a 5, Tennessee a 9 and Alabama a 10.
CBS Sportsline's Gary Parrish had
five SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament. His teams aren't seeded, except for
Jerry Palm of Collegerpi.com has
six SEC teams in his NCAA Tournament bracket, with
Here's a look at what each team needs to do to reach the NCAA Tournament:
After clinching the SEC
championship earlier in the week, "They looked like a team that just won a
championship, and competing maybe wasn't the most important thing on their mind
"And I think what happens is that level of edge and concern starts to disappear the more you win. We've got to get to that point where that concentration level on block outs and rebounding is where it needs to be."
Vanderbilt – If there was any doubt
about Vandy, the win over
"We needed a road win, guys," said
Alabama – Nothing hurts a team like
a poor finish in the regular season, and that's exactly what the Crimson Tide
has done by losing four of its past five games, including last Saturday's home
loss to Auburn. The Tide's best argument is its high RPI, but its situation can
still improve or sink with this week's games against Ole Miss and
Win both games and the Tide will be
in with an 8-8 SEC record. Split those games and
"We don't feel like we're out of it," hobbling point guard Ronald Steele said. "We still have a shot. But we set ourselves back tonight. We have two games left. We just have to play well, and hopefully it's good enough."
Ole Miss – While Palm might have
Ole Miss in his bracket, the Rebels still have a lot of work to do. Losing at
Mississippi State – Losing to
Georgia on Saturday elevated Georgia and hurt Mississippi State, but the
Magnolia state Bulldogs are still 7-7 in the SEC and capable of winning the
For what it's worth, both Ole Miss
"The problem for Ole Miss and
"All three of these teams are about
the same. I could see none of them getting in.
There isn't much Ole Miss and
"We've just got to keep winning games," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. "We're just pleased to be in the conversation. A lot of times when you hear the bubble term, people get offended. I'm flattered. I'm glad we're in the conversation, and I think it's a reflection on these kids for getting us into this situation."
"When it comes to who's selected
and how they're selected when it's this close,"
Was it really a sign of support or
the kiss of death when
White responded to what he called "rampant speculation" about Nutt's future, issuing a written statement in the wake of Nutt's aggressive decision to spread his message to various print and broadcast media outlets in an attempt to thwart the perceived turmoil surrounding the program.
Despite going 10-4 and winning the SEC West last season, some vocal Arkansas fans are focusing on the way the Razorbacks closed the season with three consecutive losses, the controversy surrounding Gus Malzahn, Mitch Mustain and Damian Williams, and the revelation that a booster's e-mail spewing critical remarks about players had been forwarded by Nutt's wife, Diana.
"I want to be abundantly clear —
Nutt declined comment, but his
future remains a topic of active speculation among
If the Razorbacks fall apart this season and the decision is made to dismiss Nutt, who will make it? If the Hogs match last season's success, who will offer Nutt an extension? Who will really be in charge this fall if any big decisions need to be made?
For now, all we know is what White told us all in his statement.
"The university and athletic department administration stand firmly behind the leadership of Houston Nutt as the head coach of the Razorback football team," White wrote. "While some have attempted to cloud the record by offering persistent and even personal attacks on Coach Nutt's character and integrity, the remarkable accomplishments of our football program in his tenure can't be overshadowed.
"In nearly a decade as the head coach, he has enhanced Razorback football both on the field and in the classroom. Last year's championship season was truly a team effort under the guidance of the SEC coach of the year. Houston Nutt has been and remains the right man to lead the Razorback football program."
While highly touted South Carolina quarterback signee Stephen Garcia is considered an excellent passer, it turns out he's not very elusive – at least when he's trying to outrun the police in Columbia, S.C.
Garcia, who is already enrolled in
school and will participate in spring practice, was recently arrested outside
the Knock Knock Club where he had attended a private party thrown by former
Garcia was charged with drunkenness and failure to stop on police command. An officer on the scene reported that Garcia ran away from him and tried to hide in an alley, then turned toward the officer "in a threatening manner."
Think that will work against the SEC's best defensive linemen?
Maybe Garcia is more elusive than he first appeared to be. After all, Coach Steve Spurrier originally suspended Garcia from participating in team activities such as team weight lifting and running sessions until further notice, a punishment many athletes might consider a break instead of a bust.
Less than 24 hours later, Spurrier reversed field and allowed Garcia to rejoin the team.
"He made a mistake, no question about it," Spurrier said. "We hope he's learned his lesson. ... He's told everyone it was the worst day of his life. Getting handcuffed and taken into jail and spending the night there and about all the next day also — hopefully it was a good scare for him and he won't get himself in that kind of position again."
Richard Scott is a Birmingham based sports writer, author and featured columnist in Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.