1. Alabama, (A+) – They are incredible. Their linebackers and safeties are the best in the country, Upshaw and Barron probably being the best at their position in the country. D Line is good, corners are excellent. I think their coaching is a little better than LSU.
2. LSU, (A+) – They are incredible. The defensive line is stacked. They are stacked at linebacker. The secondary is second to none. Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne make up the best cornerback duo in the country. They have speed everywhere, and I think they have a little more of it than Bama.
3. Georgia, (A) – They have a lot of playmakers on defense, and they are evenly scattered throughout, with an underrated D Line. They’ve come a long way from ’09 and even last year. Todd Gratham should be assistant coach of the year.
4. South Carolina, (A-) – The Gamecocks have the best defensive line in the SEC. That’s lead to a great passing defense certainly helped by Antonio Allen and Stephon Gilmore. They’ve been the backbone of USC’s 10-win season.
5. Mississippi State (B+) – Outside of the second week, and second to last week of the season the defense played great all year. They held everyone else including LSU and Alabama to under 25 points. Losing Manny Diaz figured to be a big blow, but Chris Wilson held the D up to the same level statistically.
6. Florida, (B) – The Gators had a solid defense. They held it together which Charlie’s Weis offense looked for itself, and never found it either.
7. Vanderbilt (B-) – They have played well all year, keeping Vandy in all their games but one, and in that one they held Bama close until the 2nd half.
8. Arkansas (C) – The Hog’s D was touted as Bobby Petrino’s best defense since he’s been at Arkansas. Whether it was or not is up for debate. In the end, it was just good enough.
9. Tennessee (C-) – The Vol’s have some talent here but they are young like the rest of the team and have struggled at times. They play hard, but don’t have much depth right now.
10. Kentucky (D+) – Danny Travathan and Winston Guy willed this unit to a strong finish, that gets them a ‘+’.
11. Auburn (D) – They got whipped a number of times. But they’ll be better next year.
12. Ole Miss (F) – It’s not even close, they were horrible. Tyrone Nix gets the award for the worst assistant in the SEC.
1. Arkansas (A) – Everything is good about the Hogs offense, until they play Alabama and LSU. This is a good example of what would happen to Oklahoma State or any other high-powered offensive team when they play a super defensive team.
2. Georgia (B+) – Aaron Murray came on late and will lead a quality group of SEC QBs in 2012. UGA has plenty of talent, although they can’t keep anyone healthy in the backfield.
3. Alabama (B) – Trent Richardson, a great offensive line, and decent quarterback and receivers. That’s all they need with their defense.
4. LSU (B) – The Tigers philosophy is run the ball and punt if their in their own territory. If not, air it out. But in either scenario play really physical and once the 2nd half comes around there will be plenty of yards for everyone to gain.
5. South Carolina (B-) – Conner Shaw played pretty well down the stretch. Despite losing Marcus Lattimore, they were able to beat Florida and Clemson for a 10-2 record. Nice job by Steve Spurrier.
6. Vanderbilt (C+) – Once Jordan Rodgers took over this unit played really well. Zac Stacy had a great season and was probably the 2nd best tailback after Lattimore got hurt.
7. Auburn (C) – Michael Dyer is a stud. McCalleb is fast. Emory Blake is good. But Gus Malzahn is having major problems with his quarterbacks. Frazier isn’t ready, but Trotter and Mosley can’t do the job.
8. Mississippi State (C) – The O line was injury-proned in the first half of the season, Chris Relf lost his confidence, but Tyler Russell came in and the Dawgs finished pretty strong. Vick Ballard was the constant throughout. Chad Bumphis had a disappointing year, only coming up big in non-conference games.
9. Florida (D+) – Charlie Weis is beyond over-rated.
10. Tennessee (D) – Injuries hurt really bad, but things were not good in Knoxville.
11. Kentucky (D) – They were pretty awful all year, they had to use a WR at QB vs. Tennessee. Morgan Newton getting hurt probably saved this grade from being an ‘F’.
12. Ole Miss (F) – It was probably just a ‘D’ for most of the year but they tanked once Nutt was fired. A pretty big waste of talent this team was.
Best Coaching Jobs
1. Les Miles, LSU – In year’s past it seemed like LSU was winning in spite of Miles. But this year it seems like he has elevated their play. LSU has had a ton of distractions but they only seem to make the Tigers better. Miles hasn’t done many tricks or gadgets at all…he knows what to do for this team to win.
2. James Franklin, VU – Vandy is a hard place to coach, but Franklin got the most out of this team. They could’ve easily been 9-3…or at least better than 6-6. Vandy played with a different swagger this year, and they are going to a bowl again.
3. Mark Richt, UGA – Georgia could have easily folded after being 0-2 and everyone calling for Richt’s head. But they won 10 in a row behind a stout defense and a solid offense.
4. Steve Spurrier, USC – The last 5 games could’ve fallen apart for USC with the loss of Garcia and Lattimore but Spurrier held them together and now they can reach 11 wins for the first time in their history.
5. Gene Chizik, AUB – He may have won the national championship last year, but he lost an unprecedented amount of players off that team. Still, he managed to win some close games and get back to a bowl.
6. Nick Saban, UA – Saban is the best coach in the SEC, be it recruiting, X’s & O’s, or motivation.
7. Bobby Petrino, ARK – No one likes Petrino, but everyone agrees he can coach. The question is, can he get over the hump with his ‘offense first’ approach in the SEC?
8. Dan Mullen, MSU – Things didn’t work out the way everyone in Starkville had hoped
this year. But the team never quit, won the Egg Bowl for the 3rd straight year and a bowl for the 2nd. Four of MSU’s six loses were against top 10 BCS teams, the other two were against # 16 UGA and #25 Auburn.
9. Joker Philips, UK – Kentucky got off to a horrible start this year. They looked awful in two non-conference wins and were not competitive for the first half of the season. After their bye week (Week 7) they came out and beat Jacksonville State, played better vs. MSU, then pulled out a solid victory vs. Ole Miss. After getting smashed by Vanderbilt they fought hard and barely lost at UGA, and then Philips was able to lead the Cats to their first win over Tennessee in 27 years. For that alone he should keep his job.
10. Derek Dooley, UT – The mess he inherited at Tennessee was a tough job. He’s got good players but no depth, then the injuries to key players really put a damper on the season. Still, the Vols should have lost to Vanderbilt and they did lose to Kentucky….just a sniff away from a winless SEC season. He should get another year in Knoxville, but if he doesn’t win at least 7 games he’s out.
11. Will Muschamp, UF – 2010 was one of the worst season’s for recent Florida football, and Muschamp has brought them down from that. Charlie Weis has been a disaster at O.C., everyone’s just afraid to say so. How can they not win with all the talent they have on the roster? This was a really bad coaching job.
12. Houston Nutt, UM – Ole Miss was absolutely awful this year. Nutt deserved to be fired. He has completely burnt their program to the ground and threw in the worst season in Ole Miss history to boot.
Top 25 SEC Players:
1. Trent Richardson, UA
2. Courtney Upshaw, UA
3. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
4. Donta’ Hightower, UA
5. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
6. Danny Trevathan, UK
7. Jarvis Jones, UGA
8. Ben Jones, UGA
9. Melvin Ingram, USC
10. Morris Claiborne, LSU
11. Aaron Murray, UGA
12. Alshon Jeffrey, USC
13. Sam Montgomery, LSU
14. Brandon Boykin, UGA
15. Fletcher Cox, MSU
16. Mark Barron, UA
17. Barrett Jones, UA
18. Bacarri Rambo, UGA
19. Zac Stacy, VU
20. Tyler Wilson, ARK
21. Jadaveon Clowney, USC
22. Dre’ Kirkpatrick, UA
23. Jerry Franklin, ARK
24. Johnthan Banks, MSU
25. Da’Rick Rogers, UT