Today is Friday, June 23, 2017

Questions abound in the SEC

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Joe Biddle

The annual Southeastern Conference Football Media Days have always been met with excitement by the media that covers the most successful league in college football.

The SEC Network will go live next month. Fans can get their fill of all-SEC, all the time. This is also the first season where the national championship will be decided by a four-team playoff. A committee will select the participating teams. It doesn’t include any media, any current coaches or computers. All of those components went into attempting to choose the top two BCS teams to play in a national championship game.

But while SEC teams pretty much owned the BCS championship in recent years, it doesn’t appear the league will be as strong as usual. Yes, you have Alabama and last year’s runner-up Auburn.

Both of those teams have significant holes to fill this season. Media is used to meeting in Hoover, Ala., and interviewing former Heisman winners, Heisman candidates, other players who were household names to SEC fans.

Last week, the SEC meetings had a record contingent of media scratching their heads. The most asked question became, “Who’s he?"

Take this test at home.

Who is Serderius Bryant? Deshazier Everett? Anyone know Arie Kouandjio?

The first team All-SEC quarterback was Auburn’s Nick Marshall. He was absent at the meetings because of acquiring a citation for marijuana possession.

The second team preseason All-SEC quarterback is Dak Prescott. Who’s he?

You get the drift.

After four days of sleep inducing interview sessions, at least one columnist changed the name of the SEC Football Days to SEC Football Daze.

The SEC likely will place Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia and LSU in the preseason polls Top 25. Some of that is more due to history than anything that makes voters believe all those teams will be there at the end of the season.

And if you think the SEC will send two of its teams to the inaugural championship playoff, seek professional help.

Closer to home, Vanderbilt and Tennessee aren’t predicted to put their fans in preseason frenzy. More likely, a coma would be more likely.

Vanderbilt had three straight bowl appearances under James Franklin. SEC voters don’t have that much confidence in his replacement, Derek Mason. The Commodores were voted to finish sixth in the seven-team Eastern Division.

Tennessee’s recruiting classes also failed to move the needle with voters. Coach Butch Jones has received verbal commitments from what he calls legends recruits. If the sons of those former players can measure up to their fathers, they will be a big help.

But the Vols have to replace their entire offensive and defensive lines. Everyone knows that’s where games are won and lost in this league. Not to say some green recruits will not ripen during the season, but another season under their belts would help more.

It promises to be a season where SEC unknowns will have to make a name for themselves.

The two most discussed SEC players at last week’s meetings were former Texas A&M Heisman winning quarterback Johnny Manziel and South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.

Aggies Coach Kevin Sumlin grew weary of the life without Manziel questions, even though he hasn’t named Manziel’s replacement.

“Is this the SEC?," Sumlin asked good naturedly. “That’s a question for the Cleveland Browns. Anybody else got something?"

At least Manziel was Johnny Football. Casual fans followed his off the field exploits.

I can’t say that about Dak Prescott.

Contact TSWA Hall of Fame Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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