Les Miles was just voted AP Coach of the Year in the SEC. Congrats to him, I think it was completely justified. The only other coach in the SEC who could have made a case for the award was Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. At least that’s the result you reach if you use 2011 over/under’s provided to us by Todd Fuhrman of Caesar’s Las Vegas. Remember how I told y’all that every sports fan needed to be on Twitter? Todd’s one of the guys you should be following.
So how did the 2011 teams and coaches perform relative to expectations?
Let’s dive in and see. (Note this performance does not include post-season games).
Also, don’t worry, there’s a close-up of the SEC coaching class picture. We’re going to have some fun with that at the end.
From best to worst against expectations:
1. LSU + 2.5
The Tigers were expected to win 9.5 games this year.
They won 12 in the regular season. (This becomes even more impressive if you consider that once Jordan Jefferson’s suspension was announced LSU dropped to 8.5).
1. Vanderbilt + 2.5
The Commodores tied for best performance with LSU, as Vegas set the over/under for the Dores at 3.5 entering the season. James Franklin won six and came awfully close to winning several more games. It will be interested to see where Vegas sets the Commodore over/under this year. My guess is around six games. Which will probably be the highest expected win total for the Commodores since Vegas started setting over/unders for Vanderbilt.
3. Georgia + 2
Mark Richt entered the season on the hottest of hot seats and the Bulldogs were expected to win eight games. Instead the Bulldogs put up ten wins and removed, at least for the moment, Richt from the hot seat. Now the question is this, will Richt follow the Fulmer path? Hot seat to SEC title game followed by firing the next season? Or is Tennessee the only school in America that would fire a head coach a year removed from a ten win season?
4. South Carolina + 1
If you’d told South Carolina fans they’d lose Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore halfway through the season and still win ten games, they’d have been in shock. (Especially since they knew they had a fat Alshon Jeffery to deal with.)
The Gamecocks slipped under the radar, but this is one of Steve Spurrier’s best coaching jobs. The Gamecocks were actually better in conference this year than they were last year when they won the SEC East.
4. Alabama + 1
When the over under is set at ten wins, it’s hard to exceed expectations. But the Crimson Tide did just that, posting an 11-1 record that beat Vegas by a full game.
Fun fact, Nick Saban and Alabama have been favored in 26 consecutive football games. That streak came to end when LSU opened as the favorite in the BCS “title” game.
4. Arkansas + 1
The Razorbacks had an over/under of nine wins and Bobby Petrino still managed to exceed expectations.
I’ve said it for a while, but Arkansas’s athletic department should be the model for all universities who have no idea how to compete in the 21st century. (I’m looking right at you Tennessee).
7. Auburn + .5
Vegas nailed Gene Chizik’s returning team, setting an over/under at 6.5. That’s the lowest over/under for a defending national champ in decades. The Tigers pretty much performed to expectations. Although it appeared that early in the season the Tigers were going to smash expectations, they just managed to beat them.
By the way, if you’re an Auburn fan you narrowly dodged disaster. Change one play in Utah State, Mississippi State, and South Carolina and you’re sitting at 4-8 in 2011.
8. Kentucky -1
The Wildcats were expected to go 6-6 in Vegas. Instead Joker Phillips bunch finished 5-7 and it took a late season win over Tennessee to get even close to the line.
8. Mississippi State -1
Dan Mullen’s team wasn’t expected to be stellar in 2011, but they were expected to win seven games. Instead close losses to Auburn and South Carolina doomed those chances.
10. Tennessee – 1.5
The Vols were expected to win 6.5 games in 2011. Instead they won five. It will be interesting to see what the over/under is for the 2012 Volunteers. I’m thinking it will just be 7, which means Vegas is basically telling us that Derek Dooley is favored to be fired in 2012. (That’s assuming you believe Dooley needs to go at least 8-4 to keep his job).
11. Florida – 2
Thank God for Ole Miss, the only team that kept Will Muschamp from the ignominy of performing worst in the SEC in his first season.
Looking back on it, eight games was a big number for a Florida offense with no playmakers and a brutal schedule.
12. Ole Miss – 2.5
Vegas thought Ole Miss would be bad, it just didn’t think the Rebel Black Bears would be this bad. The over/under was only set at 4.5. Yet Houston Nutt managed to go 2-10, falling beneath the 4.5 mark by a full 2.5 games. Ole Miss was the anti-LSU in 2011.
Rather than comment on the column, how about commenting on this picture, the greatest SEC photo of all time, below? This thing is just a comedy pyramid. Your elementary school photo meets the SEC. Some thoughts: Did Gene Chizik really wear the leather jacket for this photo? Yes, yes he did. Biggest photo upset? How did Les Miles not wear his hat? Look at the gap between Chizik and Saban. (TWSS, drink).
Other observations, unlike the five other seated coaches Dan Mullen wanted his groin fully visible. Who sits with their palms on their knees like that unintentionally?
Houston Nutt, bright red Nike sweater vest? Really?
Also, why is Nick Saban standing? He’s 5’6″.
The shortest kids always had to sit. Always.