SEC – 2012
Each year that passes, I await the time that the most talented conference in the country finally catches up to itself. 2012 marks the most balanced talent within each division in the past decade. Couple that with the most consistent coaching effect in college football and the possibility of several teams at the same conference record starts to grow. Schedule is a major factor in the SEC, except for Bama and LSU which are better on the road. The biggest enemy to end the SEC run in 2012, besides a handful of teams, could be itself. So much talent could result in teams knocking each other out of the top 2. However, I believe that the numbers show there is too much talent for it to happen to every team. The CFB Matrix was ranked the #1 national publication for pre-season game and conference finish picks for the SEC in 2011. If I do it again this year, then there are certainly some surprises below.
SEC West: The most talented division in the country. No one matches the talent team for team anywhere in college football. It is also the most consistent division for coaching and predictions. No team has won the West in the last 9 years with a 4 year Matrix adjusted recruiting ranked under #10. That puts the odds squarely in the laps of Alabama, Auburn and LSU. I know what you’re thinking….Auburn. Yes Auburn. The same Auburn I had in the BCS NC teams mix to start the 2010 season at 75:1.
Anyone that says they are rebuilding is full of it. Anything under 9-3 is a failure for 2012. We could see those three all at 11-1, but the odds of finish go Alabama, LSU, Auburn. The edge goes to Bama as they get to go on the road to LSU. For most, Arkansas at 7-5 would be a shock. But as I noted in the John L Smith profile, anything ABOVE 7-5 would be a very solid year. A&M has huge potential but all I know of Sumlin in the Matrix is that he won with superior talent at Houston. He no longer has superior talent but they are very good. But the Aggies have been underdeveloping kids at College Station for nearly a decade. Until I see his results for 2012, it is impossible to give A&M anything but a straight up prediction on FARR. Mississippi State is in the mix with A&M and Arkansas for that 4th place position. Those three have nearly identical SOS metrics but State has a much larger SPG (schedule power gap) making them the least likely to get that 4th place spot. Ole Miss in the scope of the SEC West is just out-manned and any SEC victory should be savored.
SEC East: Now this division could really cause problems for one another. The scheduling is crazy, talent is more evenly balanced and the coaching effect is worse than the West. The numbers show that the East title is being played in Columbia when Georgia comes to town. Georgia has the talent, but it is in Columbia and Spurrier has a much better coach effect number over the last four years. The dark horse is Florida. While Muschamp had one of the biggest negative game effects as a head coach in 2011, they are still very talented. Their loses last year were to talent teams and they could challenge if Muschamp can get them focused. But he is a Tier III hot seat coach so if he can’t turn it around, he is likely not the right fit. On the media hot seat in the SEC is Derek Dooley. But the reason is not just the one bad season in 2011 (-1 game) but the fact is he has NO upsets in the Matrix. No other head coach in AQ schools with 2 seasons under his belt, that still has his job, has never beat a pre-season CFBMatrix pick to lose. Want an upset win, don’t look to Tennessee. Missouri has a solid coach so that plus the schedule could push them in to 4th, but there is no shock if they are in the bottom three with Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Coach Franklin did have a very solid 2011 and recruiting has improved, but I expect the results to be about the same as last year. The schedule is a bit harder for Vandy but they are better coached to this point than Kentucky. The bottom 4 in the SEC East will be hard pressed to combine for 10-12 conference wins in 2012. – Dave Bartoo, The CFBMatrix & your Anti-Homer Follow @cfbmatrix