SEC icons

I admit being intensely partial to Southeastern Conference football, having grown up in an era when the SEC produced some of the greatest players and coaches in NCAA history.

Many of the coaches and players I watched as a teenager are now viewed as icons. With that in mind, I decided to take on the imposing task of selecting one coaching icon and one playing icon for each of the 12 SEC schools.

My SEC West picks are as follows:

Alabama coach: Bear Bryant. Could there be an easier starting point? No figure is more closely identified with one football program than The Bear is with the Crimson Tide.

Alabama player: Ken Stabler. Bama has produced greater players but "The Snake" is the guy who always comes to mind when I think of the Tide's glory days. John Hannah was more talented and Joe Namath was more famous but I'm sticking with Stabler.

Arkansas coach: Frank Broyles. The Razorbacks weren't in the SEC when Broyles was running the show, but when you consider the coaches the Hogs have had since joining the SEC in 1992, Broyles becomes the clearcut choice.

Arkansas player: Billy Ray Smith. He was an All-America defensive end in 1981 and '82, plus he has an absolutely terrific name.

Auburn coach: Shug Jordan. This one was almost as easy as picking Bear Bryant. He was the top Tiger from 1951 to '75 and won a national title in 1957.

Auburn player: Bo Jackson is 1A but Pat Sullivan is 1B. Both won the Heisman and both were magnificent college players.

LSU coach: Charlie McClendon. Paul Dietzel won a national title but stuck around just seven years, whereas Charlie Mac stayed put for 18. He took the Tigers to 14 bowl games at a time when earning a bowl bid was a significant accomplishment. He finished 137-59-7 with six top-10 finishes.

LSU player: Billy Cannon. How many other SEC players have been the subject of a Hollywood movie?

Ole Miss coach: Johnny Vaught. In 25 years at the helm he won nearly 74.8 percent of his games at a school that now struggles mightily to win 50 percent.

Ole Miss player: Archie Manning. The greatest player in SEC history, for my money.

Mississippi State coach: Allyn McKeen. You probably haven't heard of him but they know who he is in Starkville. All he did was go 65-19-3 between 1939 and '48 with an Orange Bowl bid in Year 1.

Mississippi State player: Linebacker D.D. Lewis (1967) and back Jackie Parker (1953). Both earned All-America recognition and both earned enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame.


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