by Titletown

As we look ahead to the 2014 college football season, our guest columnist sheds some light on the blather coming from lazy mediots telling us who’ll win it all.

1. The old adage “the best team doesn’t always win” is true. We all know it.

Tennessee was not better than South Carolina last year, but it won. Appy State was not better than Michigan a few years ago, but it won. Stanford was not better than USC a few years ago, but it beat top-ranked USC. Purists will say “they were the better team on that day,” and while that sounds good (and it’s what any good sport will say if he participated in the game), even THAT is not true.

A familiar example is the regular season game between Alabama and LSU in 2011. Alabama dominated that game in all phases save one. We missed 72 field goals. In addition, we threw that crazy as interception on the goal line — a brilliant play by Reid, but nevertheless a very odd thing to have happen in a game where a team also misses 72 field goals. Most objective observers, including Colin Cowherd, insisted that the better team lost the game. And we left no doubt about it when we beat the ever lovin hell out of them in NOLA two months later.

2. So, despite the mindless ramblings of the Mizzou softball coach, who wrongly insisted that the “best team lost” when our girls took two of three from his team, it is true sometimes that the best teams didn’t win.

That’s part of the reason why the NBA’s system is much better at finding a true champion than is the NCAA hoops tournament. Now, the NCAA tourney is the best thing going in the sports world as far as “television drama” goes. I love it, as I’m sure many of you do. But it does not produce a “true champion” with nearly as much frequency as does the NBA tourney. It’s not designed to.

3. Having said all that, I’ve noticed that the media, as well as many fans, tend to take the illogical, “easy” road when it comes to predictions of the upcoming season.

They will quite often say “so and so team won so and so league last year, and they have a lot of starters back, so they are the best team and should win it again.”

In the case of Florida State, that line of thinking works just fine. The ACC is a rather sad display of football talent, and the only other team in that pathetic league who has a good program — Clemson — lost their starting QB and their best receiver. Picking FSU based on last year, although lazy, gets you to the correct answer. But …

4. The SEC is different.

With apologies to our pessimistic fans, as well as the posers on this and other message boards who would rather make out with Gus Malzhan than shake hands with Joe Namath, the better team lost the Iron Bowl last season.

That was not the case, in my opinion, in 2010. I thought two remarkably EQUAL teams played that day, and someone had to lose. But in 2013, Alabama was the better team all year. And based on the game that was played in boogtown, the better team was wearing crimson. Bama outgained them. We controlled them for the most part. But like the LSU game in 2011, we missed a thousand field goals. That was not normal. That was an anomaly for Cade Foster who had a great season in 2013.

Give the boogs credit for hanging in there and being gritty. I mean damn. They WERE gritty. They DID play tough. They did NOT give up. But they also tied the game on a play we all know was illegal. And they won it on a play that’s only happened three times in college history. So the better team lost the game, which is why all you pessimists out there — and all you posers — need to clear your heads, take a deep breath, and see the truth.

5. Alabama is not only the best program in America. It has the best talent in America. Today. Right now. In 2014.

You knew it a year ago, but evidently you only knew it because we won it all the year before. The trick is knowing it now, even though we lost two games. The media and some reading this now…really needs to stop basing the future (or the present) on the past. It’s absurd.

Sure, FSU might be close to Alabama in talent. And because they play in a high school league, they’ll almost certainly get a shot at playing some real teams in January. LSU is close, too. Even the boogs at this point may be the third or fourth most talented team in the SEC, which puts them at least in the same zip code as Alabama.

But Alabama has more talent than all of them. It also has more depth, which means injuries won’t affect us the way it does a lesser team. The Tide also has the best coach in the business. And it gets the boogs at home this season. There is no way a rational, thinking, objective human being can predict the boogs to win the SEC in 2014. It MIGHT happen. It COULD happen. Because the best team doesn’t always win.

But to actually say the boogs are the FAVORITE is illogical; even laughable. They are not the favorite except in the minds of those who:

(A) think the best team always wins, which means (illogically) that the boogs were the best team last year; and

(B) think last year has a bearing on this one.

6. Alabama is the clear favorite in the SEC this year.

If Bama played in any other conference, Las Vegas would have Alabama as the favorite for the national title as well. Mark it down. The minute Vegas releases theoretical betting lines, Alabama would be the favorite over Oregon — who at the moment has better odds of winning the national title than does Alabama.

This is about schedule, not about individual team strength. There’s only one team who might — MIGHT — be a Vegas favorite over Bama, and that’s FSU. And I’m here to tell ya. Winston is only marginally more nimble in the pocket than Mettenburger was. We would beat that team. Well, unless the better team happened to lose.

33 thoughts on “Think you know who the SEC favorite is next year? You may need to think again”

  1. The play that tied the game was not illegal. The head of officials even came out and explained why that play was 100% legal. Alabama fans just refuse to acknowledge the truth because they cant accept the fact that Auburn won that game.

    Also, playing at home against good Auburn teams doesn’t tend to work out for Alabama (or playing good Auburn teams anywhere). In their history Alabama has never beaten Auburn in Tuscaloosa when Auburn finished with a winning record. EVER.

    And being the favorite in Vegas is irrelevant. Alabama was the favorite last year. They were favored in the Iron Bowl. They were favored in their bowl game.

    Auburn wasn’t even favored to have a winning record.

    1. Peachy, the problem with arguing over that play is it’s a one-way play. In other words, if Auburn played man-up football and did the exact same thing the refs simply would have noticed and flagged it, but the issue is then nobody would be saying it was the wrong call. It’s one-way, a side effect of the distraction inherent to the HUNHNS.

      As for playing against good Auburn teams not working out well for Alabama, I suppose it’s a good thing Auburn is rarely any good.

      Being the favorite in Vegas is irrelevant? What makes you say things like that?

      Vegas is money. You haven’t thought about this, maybe because you don’t know about the gambling side of sports. Vegas is in the business of making money; not picking the right favorite can cost tons of it, and that decision is made by a conglomerate of experts not for bias but for damage control. You could make an argument Vegas is more relevant than even the BCS polls, but saying Vegas is irrelevant is misguided.

      AJ McCarron, CJ Mosley, Kevin Norwood et. al. didn’t miss ten field critical goals in their careers, but making any two of those ten would have changed college football history. Maybe it’s for the best they didn’t, but then again, that’s exactly what the playoff series was created for. Don’t forget that. Talk about relevant.

      Auburn wasn’t the best team last year. I doubt we’ll ever see such luck, chance, and circumstance in a single season in our lifetimes. That’s not to say Auburn didn’t have talent or that they don’t have talent this year, but yes, Alabama is a better team heading into 2014, just as they were in 2013.

      1. Is the HUNH illegal is college football? Seriously! All I hear is that the “boogs” are breaking the rules with that offense. This type offense has been around for a long time. But it wasn’t an issue until it arrived in Auburn and it beat Bammer. Whether it was an illegal play or not (it wasn’t by the way) is irrelevant. Was Bammer the better team? Probably.

        As for 2014, is Bammer the better team?

        I’ll ask you a question. Who will be the starting quarterback?

        If you can tell me right now, then maybe we can decide who will be better. As for now, you have no idea who will be the quarterback. I know there is a guy that you “want” to be the quarterback. But you have no idea whether he is any good or not.

        So, tell, with 100% certainty, who the starting quarterback for Bammer will be, then we can discuss the upcoming season.

        P.S. Nick Marshall “will” be the starting quarterback at Auburn, barring injury. 100% certainty.

        1. @Gibson

          2008 isn’t that long ago. It’s not.

          Who will be the quarterback at Alabama? Chris Martin from Coldplay. Alabama too much talent and depth this season to chalk it up to the QB alone.

          After all, you can’t say AJ McCarron was so successful simply because he was surrounded by incredible talent and then say it doesn’t matter whatsoever for the next QB. Nick Saban builds football teams, not just football players.

          If you can’t discuss the 2014 season without “100% certainty” of Alabama’s QB, doesn’t that say it all? After all, saying we have “no idea” who will be QB isn’t accurate, either. It sounds like deliberately missing the point for bias.

        2. @Gibson

          Macauley Culkin will be Alabama’s next QB.

          Now discuss the upcoming season.


        3. I think the Barnrat’s knew who your QB would be in 2009 and Bama had a never start 3* junior. I think you knew who was your QB in 2011 and Bama had a 30 play red shirt sophomore. I don’t think you knew who would be your QB in 2010 and Bama had a returning National Champion QB. I don’t think you knew who your QB would be last year and Bama had a 2 time National Champion QB returning. So there you go, fool. Four excellent examples of just how stupid your opinion is. Coker brings more experience from a similar system, than any of the four unknown QB’s above did. And he brings it to the most talented team in the nation. Besides, you illegitimate retards – Bama plays your butts in the 12th game. There will be no inexperienced QB in that game, unless of course Marshall gets killed running the ball all year.


        Without the touchdown pass in the final minute of the game, there would have been no 100-yard field goal return to give the Auburn Tigers a dramatic 34-28 victory over two-time defending national champion Alabama on Saturday in the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

        That 39-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Sammie Coates with 32 seconds to go, tying the game at 28, came on a play that Auburn sold as an option run, with Marshall pulling up at the last second to deliver the ball to Coates, who was running free with no defender even close.

        Whether the play should have resulted in a penalty for one of two possible infractions, however, became a subject of discussion after the game. At issue is whether Marshall crossed the line of scrimmage before releasing the pass, and whether Auburn linemen were downfield — either of which could have nullified the play had Auburn been flagged.

        By rule, the pass would have been illegal if Marshall had completely crossed the line of scrimmage. Replays show that Marshall was partially across the line, but he did not appear to have completely crossed it before the ball left his hand.

        The Southeastern Conference does not customarily comment on specific plays, but SEC Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw did clarify the rules in question Sunday in an email response to The Tuscaloosa News.

        “It is an illegal forward pass if it is thrown by an offensive player whose entire body is beyond the neutral zone when he releases the ball,” Shaw said. “Key words are entire body.”
        Screen shots of the play show at least three Auburn linemen — ineligible receivers — past the line of scrimmage as Marshall makes his way toward the left sideline. Under Rule 7, Article 10 of the NCAA football rules manual, ineligible receivers downfield on a pass play can result in a penalty, although linemen can block downfield on a running play.

        The issue is how far downfield they progressed before Marshall released the pass.

        “No originally ineligible receiver shall be or have been more than 3 yards beyond the neutral zone until a legal forward pass that crosses the neutral zone has been thrown,” Shaw said. “The key word is thrown — it is where the players are when the pass is released.”

        None of the Auburn linemen are past the 3-yard zone in a screen shot that has been circulated online among Alabama fans.

        As long as those blockers players meet a specific criteria, they are also not guilty of pass interference, according to Shaw.

        “It is not offensive pass interference when after the snap an ineligible receiver immediately charges and contacts an opponent at a point not more than 1 yard beyond the neutral zone and does not continue the contact more than 3 yards beyond the neutral zone,” Shaw said.

        Alabama coach Nick Saban said after the game that UA’s defensive scheme on the play called for Coates to be bracketed in coverage by a cornerback and a safety. Both ran toward Marshall, defending the play as a run and leaving their coverage responsibilities, resulting in Coates being able to catch the ball undefended and run unimpeded to the end zone.

        Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said after the game that the Tigers ran the same play — which has an option for the quarterback to hand off up the middle, carry the ball around the end or pass — on the preceding snap, and that Marshall had noted that the cornerback was biting on the run.

        1. And making any one of 5 missed field goals an Alabama takes a knee for the last 100 seconds, no crazy ending. One of five, not to mention a displaced sixth in range on 4th-and-1. Good grief.

          1. And yet the statement that Auburn tied the game on an illegal play is wrong. The officials even explained it for you.

          2. The tainted explanation was the SEC’s effort to save face. No one believes it. You can’t have blockers engaged downfield when a forward pass is thrown, nor have you ever.

            Auburn cheated, again.

          3. and its FIVE missed field goals now? That number keeps getting bigger and bigger.

            Missed a 44 yard attempt in 1st Q.
            Missed 33 yard attempt in 4th Q.
            44 yard attempt BLOCKED in 4th quarter (not a missed field goal. A BLOCKED field goal).

            And if you want to count the 57 yard Hail Mary attempt then go ahead.

            Alabama missed 3 field goals. They had one field goal blocked.

          4. Hey peach, I just got up. D’yall add any self-proclaimed natty’s to your trophy case while I was asleep?

    2. Sorry Boog, but it’s not Bama’s fault the Barnrat’s have so few great teams that Bama get’s very few chances to beat one. Fact is, when the Boogs have a good team they still don’t get any respect and that works heavily in their motivational favor when playing against their tormentor. And I am not one of those who claim the TD play was illegal. I’ll take the officials opinion for that – the same stupid officials who made two horribly bad calls earlier in the game and took 10 points off the scoreboard from Bama. The real score was Bama 38-28.

      1. Ive posted the officials explaining that the play was legal. I guess you’ll have to accept that now since in your own words: “I’ll take the officials opinion for that”.

        1. You’ve also posted Auburn doesn’t claim 5 national titles, even though we can read them right now on Auburn’s official web site.

  2. Alabama has to be the favorite–the secondary and LBs are expected to be the best in the country; then, the Oline and Dline should be at least average(Dline is leaning towards at least good; if either is great, then crown them); Alabama has RBs and pass catchers that in combination would be top 5 in the country; last, whoever wins the QB battle is going to be pretty darn good(haven’t seen much from the new Sims, but in 2 perfomances from Coker(A-day a year ago) and Bateman(A-day this year)–that were televised–both showed excellent QB skills against good defenses.

    Bateman made precise throws when he had them(ocassionally making an errant throw, but making the right decision about where to go with the ball–those balls aren’t intercepted much). Coker lit the field ablaze last year in FSU’s A-game! I must say that he looked every bit the starter; precise and mobile(which Winston is not very mobile)! Winston is a precise passer, too, but maybe Fisher was looking getting black recruits over other schools when he named Winston the starter. Or maybe Fisher overlooks details when picking the greatest QBs. Or maybe Coker’s body of work was as inconsistent as Bateman’s or had ebbs and flows to his game. Or maybe Fisher liked Winston’s RAH-RAH leadership.

    Even though the bright lights got to him, Sims showed flashes on the precision that he didn’t have last year. For as bad as he looked in the spring game at times, he looked more like a QB than ever before! He has improved! Plus, Saban will probably trust Sims to run more than the other 2; he has played RB and not gotten a boatload of hits(fresh). Whoever wins the job will be good enough; trust me! SO, YES, ALABAMA SHOULD BE FAVORITE!

    1. Or maybe Winston was the better quarterback. He did win the Heisman in a runaway. Is that what kind of person Coker is? Get passed over and then leave? What does it say about the quarterbacks already on campus? All I know is that the Bammers better pray that one of them works out.

      And yes, it did say alot about the quarterbacks at Auburn when they brought in Newton in 2010 and Marshall last year. It said that they sucked.

      1. You do know Winston and Coker both wanted to play at Alabama, right? They were considered “big gets” by FSU.

        So what does it say if a QB like Coker transfers, you ask? Think about the question; I think we’d come to the same conclusion.

  3. Question for ” The Conduit” , I follow recruiting and do not remember Winston wanting to come to Alabama. If he wanted to go to Alabama, why didn’t he? He wanted to go to Texas , but Mack Brown dropped the ball. We also need to give thanks to Trooper Taylor and the NCAA not allowing Trooper to recruit off campus for a short period of time. Winston started showing interest in Auburn , and the lack of communication gave FSU time to step in and sign JW.

    Now as far as Coker goes, do we really know what type of QB he is? All I know about the young man is he followed in A.J.’s footsteps at St.Pauls and very well could do the same at Alabama. I am just not ready to crown him Starter, or All SEC caliber just yet.

    1. @Riptide

      Fair question.

      Jameis Winston grew up an Alabama fan (he’s from Bessemer, not far at all from Tuscaloosa), his coaches said they were steering him towards Alabama and he was being recruited in a time where nobody outside of the state of the Yellow Hammer state was winning national championships.

      So why didn’t he go to Alabama?


      He wouldn’t have been the starting QB right away at Alabama which was one of his priorities, but more importantly he wanted to play baseball and Saban said no to that.

      For what it’s worth, Winston going to FSU was probably best for everybody—–he got to play football early, he gets to play baseball, and FSU’s style of offense under Jimbo Fisher is a better fit for his style to shine. Besides, can you imagine is Jameis Winston was the next Alabama QB the way he grew up wanting it to be? It’s scary. Everyone was worried about a 3-peat, but…

      I don’t know what kind of QB Coker is. But I’m apparently a terrible judge of QB talent. I thought AJ McCarron didn’t look great at his first A-Day, next thing you know he wins back-to-back national championships. Then the NFL experts say he has some specific flaws, but the trick is allegedly Coker doesn’t have them, particularly with arm strength (albeit I don’t know how many deep bombs to ever expect under Saban who is known for his clock control versus massive points spreads).

      Also, Coker already graduated (from FSU) and still has two years of eligibility at Alabama. Crowning anyone as starter probably won’t happen right away (Sims and McCarron competed into the regular season), but, at least from a talent perspective, the people who seem to be more accurate about QB’s than me say he’s got the talent.

      Talent is something either have or you don’t. You can’t take it away. Skill, on the other hand, is learned. Alabama teaches fundamental skill, plus a focus on discipline.

      But when you’re like Coker and the only skill you’re focused on learning is football as a result of already graduating college, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to suggest he’s good enough to be a starter this season. Greg McElroy and AJ McCarron won championships with talent flaws and while earning their degrees.

      A caveat here, Alabama’s new offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, works notoriously well with QB’s of Coker’s style and talent level. It’s not unrealistic to have doubt of Coker or who the starter might be, but the recipe is also there for Coker and Alabama to be an elite force in the SEC. Again, imagine if Winston was the QB at Alabama last year—-even if Coker isn’t as good as Winston, it’s not that crazy to imagine the possibility of enormous success, especially considering the talent, depth and health at WR, RB and the offensive line.

  4. Since Bama was his second choice according to all the recruiting services, I think it’s safe to say that he also wanted to come to Bama. The deciding factors according to him were what he considers the ridiculous hate between the Bama and Aubie fans, the fact that FSU has a top ranked Baseball program and Bama Baseball sucks, and that when he was recruited Bama was not open to dual sport athletes as they are now and FSU was. And you are wrong. We know exactly what kind of QB Coker is. He is a QB who now is playing at the University that was his childhood dream – and that makes the first QB of that type that Saban has had at Bama.

  5. Having a dream to play for Alabama does not mean he will be great. A fan favorite, sure. Then the whole Saban likes him so he must be good angle can be said about every QB on the Alabama roster. If Coker would have transferred to Tennessee, Auburn , or LSU would your opinion on him be just as high? Just going off what I have seen on his High School film , and limited snaps at FSU , My opinion is still up in the air. He will be surrounded by 4 and 5 star players at Bama , but he also had that at FSU. You could even argue he had better WR while at FSU , and only looked average at best. If we are to believe all of this Pre-Season hype on Coker , are we now to believe that LSU really has the next Johnny Manziel as they have been saying? Are supposed to believe that Auburn is now going to be an efficient passing team ? I think everyone needs to pump the brakes just a little and lets see how the season plays out.

    1. I don’t believe I made any kind of assessment of Coker’s abilities. I simply said what kind of QB he is. And if you had really looked at his recruiting films and know anything at all about football, you would damn sure be impressed. I was, and I watched them with a critical eye. Jimbo didn’t bring him to FSU just for the hell of it. In Jimbo’s own words, “He pushed Winston to the very limit in their competition”. Coker was pissed, because he felt he was better, as did some of the team. Whatever. We’ll see.

      1. This is where some fans blur the lines a little bit . Coker was not even offered by Alabama, so was it really that big of a deal that he chose FSU over Alabama?

        I did watch his highlights and all I can say is he made good plays against lesser teams, Throws off the wrong foot, and floats passes to wide open receiver. He looks average at best. First play on his highlights is a long run against Spanish Fort. He will not use his feet much in the offense at Alabama.

        Kid might end up being great , But I can not say that just by watching his Highlights.

        1. @Riptide

          I agree, we can’t say Coker will be great just from his youtube highlights alone.

          But I’m also basing it on what the people who have seen much more than his highlights have said. Still, it sounds like until you see him play in actual games at Alabama there won’t be a change in perceptual opinion, so you’ll just have to wait and see, even if that means he’s on the sidelines.

    2. Yes, it would.

      Coker always wanted to play at Alabama. When FSU got him to sign it wasn’t just seen as a coup for FSU, but a big loss for Alabama to let an in-state guy (a QB, no less) escape to the same school as the top-rated high school player (Winston) from the same state. It was perceived as a recruiting embarassment, despite Saban having the top-rated recruiting class.

      When Saban re-recruited Coker, part of the perception was to not let him “get away” again and go somewhere else for the sake of attrition.

      But you’re right, nobody knows anything. The games haven’t been played, and the games determine wins, and wins determine success. So why talk about it?

      Because there’s no football. We have 7 months without it. Talk is all we can do, and the speculation was McElroy and McCarron weren’t championship-caliber while Coker may be. It’s not Saban alone saying Coker is good, but is it really that much of a stretch to think Saban really does recruit top talent? They seem to go hand in hand if you ask me (and the people who grade recruiting classes).

      You’re right to have your opinion still up in the air. I never would have suggested McCarron would be able to help Alabama win consecutive titles just from the A-Day game and the mop-up duty under McElroy the previous season, but my opinion is it seems like a good time for Alabama fans to be optimistic.

  6. “Alabama is the clear favorite in the SEC this year.”
    …and was in 2013, but how did that work out??

    1. Well dumbass, it worked where if Aubie hadn’t made a miracle play that has only happened three times in 125 years of football, Bama WOULD have been SEC Champions and probably national champions. Doesn’t get any closer than than that, fool!

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