WARNING! EMERGING MEME ALERT!
Is the SEC West too good for its own good? The muttering on that topic grows ever more steady.
Here’s Stewart Mandel, from his Mailbag:
Hey Stewart. I like to judge the strength of a conference or division by the quality of the weakest teams. That said, the SEC West is absolutely loaded, with Vegas currently predicting Mississippi State and Texas A&M to finish near the bottom. Do you think this could be the year where all the SEC West teams finish the regular season with three-plus losses? If this were to happen, and if the West champion wins the SEC championship, would the SEC be shut out of the playoff?
— Jeff Pretzel, Houston
Instead of the phrase “absolutely loaded,” let’s go with “unusually deep and competitive.” That’s why this year’s SEC West is fascinating. I could see as many as five teams (all but Arkansas and Mississippi State) winning the division, and I could see all but two (Alabama and Auburn) finishing seventh. Which means some coach that makes $4 million a year, regularly recruits top-15 classes and whose fans genuinely believe right now they can win the division is in fact going to finish seventh.
The operative word here is “parity.” In fact, the SEC West has become a lot like the NFL, where essentially three-fourths of the league could finish anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6, which itself can be the difference between one or two last-second plays going for or against you. Most of the SEC West teams are similarly bunched together talent-wise, and the difference between 10-2 and 7-5 will come down to who stays healthy, who doesn’t fumble at the 1-yard line in the closing seconds, etc.
I could definitely see everyone finishing with at least two losses.
This, from a piece with the header “SEC West is so deep it could ruin league’s playoff shot”. Heh. Stewart’s not sayin’. He’s just sayin’, if you know what I mean.
But he’s subtle with that in comparison to ESPN’s Alex Scarborough, who’s looked in every shadow and sees scary things for the SEC everywhere. Including in the SEC.
But the biggest threat to the SEC might not come from the Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12, but within. The East is a mess right now, with Georgia as the only clear contender, while the West might be too strong for its own good. Alabama, Auburn and LSU are the clear front-runners in the division, but the separation between them and Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Arkansas is minimal. Should John Chavis coax some improvement out of Texas A&M’s defense, the Aggies will be right there, too. If Georgia can’t make it to Atlanta unscathed and the West beats up on itself too much and doesn’t produce at least a one-loss team, the SEC might be shut out by the playoff selection committee altogether, which will already have a hard enough time getting over the West’s failure in last year’s bowl season.
Ooh, yeah. Last year’s bowl season is incredibly relevant to this year’s selection committee’s analysis.
Expect this shit to grow exponentially if there are a couple of early season “SEC West eats its own” results. I guess we’ll find out soon enough how good a salesman Greg Sankey is.