1. We have a poll up at RBR about what was the biggest SEC upset from last season. What is your pick and why?
As far as sheer "holy crap, that JUST happened?!", jumping up and down and cackling with glee magnitude, I'd want to go with Arkansas over LSU. The Hogs were unranked at the time and just about everyone figured LSU would coast their way into a national title game, but arrogance and befuddling decision making cost them a second game and what appeared to be their shot at the national title. But since Rich Rodriguez and the ever reliable choke job Mountaineers screwed the rest of us over by losing to Pitt to close out the regular season and put the Tigers back into the title game, I'm going with South Carolina over Georgia instead. That should have been an easy win for the Dawgs, but Bobo's insistance on calling screen after screen after screen against a 'Cock defense just waiting for them cost them that game, and eventually a shot at facing LSU for the SEC and, should they have won that game, a one loss SEC representative in the title game instead of having to hear a bunch of coonass verbal diarhea about how they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, penicilin, and the iPod combined despite being the only team to ever be crowned national champions while having suffered two losses during the regular season (one of which, again, was to an unranked opponent).
2. Looking ahead to this season's schedule, what games do you see as being the deciding factors in who will win the SEC?
The other usual suspects (Auburn/LSU, Florida/UGA, UT/Bama-UGA-Florida) are all in contention, but as far as what contest could completely shake up the SEC, I'm going with Alabama at Georgia. Not to get all homer-tastic here, but that is a key early season contest for both teams; Alabama, to see exactly where we stand relative to player development and Georgia, who can't afford any blunders if they want to get to the national title game. Clemson has the makings of a beatdown for our beloved Tide, but after that test we get two relative cupcakes to do some fine tuning before heading to Athens, and if year two of the Saban experience yields the kind of positive results we think they will, the Tide will be a team that can play with anyone. I'm not saying we'll win that game, because UGA will rightfully be the favorite there and Alabama will have to have had some serious improvement in a very short time, but if Alabama pulls the upset it could easily derail Georgia's chances at representing the east in the SCCG, and if it's coupled with a loss at Arizona State the week before, goodbye national title hopes.
3. Phil Steele and Athlon have Florida ranked #1 in the country with UGA coming in at #9 and #5, respectively, while Lindy's likes the Dawgs at #1 and Florida at #6. Obviously both teams can't represent the East in Atlanta, so which team do you think will wind up playing for the title and a berth in the Sugar Bowl (or National Championship Game), or do you think it's possible neither team will be there at the end of the season?
I think it's very possible that neither one will be in Atlanta come December. Whoever wins in Jacksonville will be the odds on favorite, of course, but the kind of scenario where Tennessee sneaks in the backdoor like last year could happen again. Florida has the easiest row to hoe, playing at Tennessee, Vandy, and Arkansas while getting Ole Miss, LSU, Kentucky and South Carolina at home, while UGA is on the road against SC, LSU, Kentucky, and Auburn. Either one could end up a two loss conference team, and as far fetched as it might sound, Kentucky could actually be a spoiler here. They play at Alabama, Tennesse, Mississippi State and Florida but get SC, Arkansas, Georgia and Vandy at home. If the 'Cats can upset one of UGA/UF and Bama/UT and win out the rest (which they should), look out Atlanta. And yes, I am aware that I just said something ridiculous like "Kentucky could be in the SEC title game this year!," but I did say State would get to a bowl last year, too, so suck it.
4. It's a little early for a "traitor's draft" since we don't know who the starters are going to be until the fall, but since football is a year long affair let's go ahead and have one. If you could trade two Alabama spring starters, one offensive and one defensive, for their counterpart on any other SEC team, who would you trade and why?
To start with, whoever is at right tackle for Tennessee's Ramon Foster. Yeah, yeah, I know there are guys like Michael Oher, Lee Ziemba, and Ryan Pugh out there, but Oher and Ziemba are LTs and I'm trying to be as literal in my draft as possible, while I wouldn't trade the gum off the sole of my shoe for an Auburn player (they cause diabetes in rats*). Besides, Foster helped anchor a line that allowed only four sacks in 534 passing attempts last season, and damn do we need that.
On defense, I'm taking Greg Hardy of Ole Miss for Bobby Greenwood. I don't think Greenwood is bad, per se, but after watching Hardy maul our offensive line last year in Oxford...yeah. We need that, too.
5. Finally, and just for fun, give me one non-Alabama game you'd love to attend this season (there's a list of the "Top 40" non-con games of the season here if you need a little help).
I was going to say UGA at Arizona State, but ASU put a stop to the sexy hijinks of the Sun Devil Cheerleaders, so who cares about that game anymore? I'm going to go with something not on that list, though, and instead say Utah at New Mexico. My reasoning is fourfold.
1) I am absolutely fascinated by "smaller" rivalries. Everyone knows about Alabama/Tennessee, Michigan/tOSU, USC/UCLA and so on and so on, but the fact that somewhere in New Mexico there's a guy thinking to himself "I just can't #&@*ing stand those #$(!*& Utes!" (and vice versa in Utah) just kills me! I want to meet that man.
2) It's called "The Bowl," and the origin behind that nickname is pretty cool:
If there's one thing I love, it's sarcasm!
3) It's at New Mexico, which is in Albuquerque, a city I'd like to visit. Some of you may recall me making a cross country trip from LA to Birmingham to help a friend move the week before the '06 Iron Bowl, and on that trip we passed through Albuquerque but didn't actually stop within the city since manuevering a U-Haul box truck with a car trailer attached is hard enough without adding city traffic to the equation. Anyway, I'll never forget driving through the desert at night and seeing this kind of glow over the horizon before finally cresting a ridge and seeing the whole city spread out before us. It was quite an impressive sight, and ever since then I've wanted to go back and actually see the city instead of just the malls and Applebees closest to the interstate.
4) Lobos is just an awesome name for a team and you know it!
Sure, "Wolfpack" sounds all intimidating, but "Lobos" just has that extra latin flavor that makes it a winner. Plus, that thing just looks mean.