The old saying that “beggars can’t be choosers” applies to the Razorbacks as Bret Bielema and his gridiron Hogs await their bowl assignment from the Southeastern Conference office.
The Razorbacks will learn for sure Sunday exactly where they will be bowling, but it wouldn’t be surprising if word doesn’t leak out on their destination before then.
It’s doubtful that the Razorbacks will slip as low as the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. It seems more likely Arkansas will head to the Music City Bowl in Nashville or back to the Texas Bowl in Houston, despite the fact they played there two years ago.
However, if the Hogs are sent to Shreveport, or Birmingham, Ala., the Razorbacks and their fans need to suck it up, make the most of the trip and win the game. That needs to be the attitude wherever the SEC office sends them.
If the Razorbacks do fail to win the bowl game, fans that are characterized as angry now might become irate or even worse apathetic. Apathy at the box office is the bane of all coaches.
With winning in mind, I’m hoping the Razorbacks head to the TaxSlayer or Music City bowl and get a matchup with a Big 10 school. Why you might ask? I think the Razorbacks would match up better against a squad that doesn’t run the spread.
We’ve all seen the Razorbacks abused enough by mobile quarterbacks, operating out of the spread. It would be nice to avoid that in the bowl game.
LSU’s New Hire
Meet the new coach; same as the old coach. After whiffing on poaching Jimbo Fisher from Florida State and then being used as a bargaining chip by Tom Herman in his quest for the Texas head-coaching job, LSU settled on hiring interim coach Ed Ogeron.
Now LSU is paying Ogeron handsomely, reportedly over $3 million a year, but where I sit, the guy has the worst job in college football.
His predecessor Les Miles was basically fired because he didn’t beat Alabama enough. So that means for Ogeron to stay in good stead with the Tigers fan base that he’s going to not only win at a rate at least as high as Miles, but also beat Alabama on a regular basis.
Good luck with that, Ed, whether you’re able to hire Lane Kiffin away from the Crimson Tide or not.
My guess is that Nick Saban will still be coaching at Alabama after Ogeron fails to meet expectations at LSU.
Ugly Season, Ugly Title Game
The parity beneath Alabama in the SEC standings has football pundits calling this a down season for the SEC. Some are saying the SEC has slipped as far as being the fourth best conference in the nation.
I guess you can interpret the SEC that way if you like. I wouldn’t necessarily argue that the SEC is better than the top heavy Big 10 or even the ACC or Pac-12, whose teams have fallen conventionally in line.
Line the top four of those three conferences up against the SEC’s top four, and unlike most of the last decade, the SEC might not win the most games.
However the strength of the SEC has always rested with its depth, and that hasn’t changed despite the fact that Alabama stands head and shoulder above the rest of the SEC this season.
This truly is a year in which the SEC has cannibalized itself. It’s hard to say exactly which team is best in the logjam that exists under the undefeated Crimson Tide in the league standings. Eight teams have seven or eight wins.
Late-season quarterback injuries had teams like Auburn and Texas A&M, not to mention Ole Miss, hobbling to the regular-season finish line. Quarterback play has been an issue for Eastern Division champion Florida all season.
Tennessee with eight wins and Arkansas with seven are two of the biggest disappointments in the conference. The great expectations of the summer have led to ill tidings for coaches Butch Jones and Bret Bielema whose teams underachieved based on expectations.
The perspective of most onlookers is that there is no power in the SEC’s parity this season, and an inevitable Alabama slaughter of Florida in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game will do nothing to improve critics thoughts on the league. I’m personally more interested in what Bielema might say off the cuff on the pregame show Saturday than the game itself.
What would change the SEC’s postseason storyline?
A bevy of SEC victories in the forthcoming bowl season would do the trick.
With a month for players to heal up from the grind of the SEC regular season and for league coaches to plan, plot, and prepare for their bowl opponents, the SEC could turn the tables on the storyline of its demise.
I’m not saying that is what is going to happen; I’m just saying it could.
However, the biggest hit the SEC could take would be for Alabama to lose to its eventual semifinal opponent in the Peach Bowl.
Again, I’m not predicting anything, but if what analysts believe about the SEC being down is true, Alabama, which really hasn’t been challenged this season, could have a hard time dealing with getting punched in the mouth and facing a late-game deficit.
Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has performed stunningly well all season, but he hasn’t had to do so under pressure. It would be interesting to see what he is made of under late-game duress. He might be stunning or just be stunned.
However with as strong as Alabama’s defense has been all season, I kind of doubt that we’ll see him in that position. Pundits are saying the SEC is down overall, not that Alabama is down.