SEC! SEC! SEC!
Oh, wait, what? I picked Texas? Ah, well, never mind.
I wrapped up bowl season with a 10-24 record against the spread, which I think is pretty darned impressive. I'm like the Leon Lett of picking college games. I'm so bad that, at the very least, I'm memorable.
As for the game itself... meh. It wasn't a bad game, I suppose, but when Colt McCoy went down in the first quarter, we all knew what was coming after that. It was either going to be a fairly easy win for 'Bama or something they'd make an awful Disney movie about in 10 years... and the former was far more likely than the latter, which became quite apparently by halftime.
So now we're at four straight BCS titles for the SEC from three different teams, which is something that has never happened before by any conference. And although Alabama has a few players with NFL decisions to make, I see no reason why the Tide won't enter 2010 as the favorite to repeat as national champs. (Hey, remember at the beginning of the year when people downplayed Alabama's chances because Nick Saban had never enjoyed back-to-back 10-win seasons?)
Of course, Alabama won't be the only title contender. So, here's my VERY early handicapping of the SEC's chances in 2010 (because, after all, my handicapping has been exceptional)...
Mississippi State -- Love the direction of the program, think highly of Dan Mullen, but this is a middling West team at best.
Ole Miss -- Jevan Snead, what were you thinking? Twenty interceptions and you're still turning pro? The NFL already has one Jay Cutler. It'll be a big step back for the Rebs next year.
Arkansas -- Even if Ryan Mallett returns for 2010, what evidence is there that Bobby Petrino can turn this defense into a decent unit? So, no significant running attack and no defense = no SEC title.
Auburn -- Made a lot of progress in Year 1 under Gene Chizik, but I'm still not entirely sold. I think 8-4 or 9-3 is probably the high end.
LSU -- The talent will be there yet again, but so will Les Miles. LSU didn't beat a high-end opponent all year in '09 and probably should have lost to MSU and Georgia. On paper, they could be a 10-win team, but in reality, probably less.
Alabama -- They'll be good. Very good.
Kentucky -- I'll be interested to see how this team looks without Rich Brooks. The East is wide open, but I'm just not thinking Kentucky has the talent to take advantage of the opportunity.
Vanderbilt -- You heard it here first, Vandy will win at least one SEC game in 2010.
Tennessee -- Seems crazy to say this, but Jonathan Crompton was a good QB in 2009 and he's gone. So is Montario Hardesty, who was the anchor on offense. And, of course, Eric Berry. So even with a strong recruiting class in Year 2 for Kiffin, it's hard to see how this team is any better than last year's... at that team finished 7-6.
Florida -- This is what will make the East so wild next year... every team is flawed, but there are at least three with high ceilings. It's understandable that everyone expects Florida to take a step back, but I'm guessing the Gators have quite the "fall off the face of the earth" season some are hoping for. Best guess? A repeat of 2007 when they finished 9-4.
South Carolina -- Put up or shut up time for the Gamecocks, who finally have an open window if Steve Spurrier can still manage to crawl through it. I don't think he can.
Georgia -- Huge question marks on D and at QB, but based on the combination of talent and experience, is there a better team in the East in 2010? But between the DC, Aaron Murray, finding replacements for Reshad Jones, three senior DTs and maybe Rennie Curran... seven wins wouldn't shock me and 11 wins wouldn't shock me.
Before the '09 season, the expectations were that Florida, the reigning national champs, would win the East easily and the West would be up in the air with as many as four teams having a shot to win it. Seems like 2010 will be more of the same, only it'll be Alabama the heavy favorite in the West and the East could be a complete free-for-all.
Anyway, some links...
-- First off, I wanted to point you in the direction of the Diamond Dawgs First Pitch Diamond Gala. It'll be held at the Classic Center on Jan. 16 and proceeds go to help Chance Veazey. If you can go, I highly recommend.
-- B.J. Butler got his scholly yanked after publicly stating his intentions to bolt for Louisville while another UGA commit is wavering.
-- And Louisville is pretty excited to be getting Butler.
-- The UGA Blog is excited about the upcoming QB battle between Georgia's three freshmen. I think there will be lip service given to the "battle" but I'll be very surprised if someone other than Aaron Murray is taking the first snap of the 2010 season.
-- Senator Blutarsky puts a bow on the national championship game with some thoughts on how it played out.
-- Remember how I wrote the other day about the big advantage it would be for Georgia to have a DC with NFL ties? Looks like someone was listening.
-- Denver's Peyton Hillis thinks Knowshon Moreno got special treatment this season and now Hillis wants out. Quite an operation they're running out there in Denver.
-- Congrats to Andy Landers and the Lady Dogs, who set a school record by going to 15-0 with an overtime win over Kentucky last night.
-- Sundiata Gaines got off to a strong start in his NBA debut with the Utah Jazz.
-- The Red & Black take a look at the improvement of Ebukah Anyaorah so far this season on the hardcourt.
One other hoops note: I got a note yesterday from UGA informing the basketball beat writers that Mark Fox is limiting media availability this season. We will have just one opportunity to interview players per week (which lasts about 10 minutes) and beyond that, the only time players will be available is after games (for about 5 minutes).
I understand where Fox is coming from. He's building something in Athens, and given the skill level on the court, it's a delicate foundation. But I just don't get how on Tuesday he complained that there weren't enough fans in the stands for Georgia's win over Tech, and Thursday he essentially ensures that the news coverage of his team will be cut in half.
It's one thing for the football team to do this. People are going to show up at Sanford Stadium on game day regardless of how much I -- or anyone else -- writes about the Bulldogs. But the hoops team is playing to a half-empty arena far too often, and the media interest in the program is already pretty mild.
Yes, I have selfish reasons for wanting more availability. But this just strikes me as yet another instance of people looking at the media as the enemy rather than the conduit between a program and its fans. This is a relationship that desperately needs to be cultivated, not cut short. How many of you have complained already this year about the lack of basketball coverage?
To be clear, this isn't a knock of Fox or the way he's running his program. Clearly the team is making huge strides. But I do know how the media works, and the vast majority of reporters aren't going to take the time to dig for basketball stories that they already weren't particularly interested in reporting when it's easier to just write more about football and most fans will happily eat up the coverage. When football casts such a big shadow in Athens, the first step in coming out from that shadow shouldn't be making yourself less accessible.
-- FOX no spell good or talk pretty fur futbull games.
-- NBC is shaking up its late-night schedule yet again, with Jay Leno going back to 11:35 and Conan moving to 12:05. Seriously, NBC is the Baltimore Orioles of TV networks.
-- Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the big 100th episode of "How I Met Your Mother."
-- Here's a special link for all of you with the sense of humor of a 13-year-old boy (like me!)... it's the sexual innuendo all-name team for baseball. (h/t C-Nati)
-- And finally, I absolutely love this... it's "The Big Lebowski" rewritten as if it were a work of Shakespeare. "This befalleth when thou firk’st a stranger ‘twixt the buttocks, Laurence! Understand’st thou? Dost thou attend me? Seest thou what happens, Laurence? Seest thou what happens, Laurence? Seest thou what happens, Laurence, when thou firk’st a stranger ‘twixt the buttocks?!"