Friday Q&A: Best SEC Coaching Staff; B1G Contenders


Which is the best SEC coaching staff? That’s how begin this week’s Q&A, so be forewarned: You are diving headlong into an open can of worms.

Here’s my arbitrary ranking of the week.

Tarantino-Directed Movies

1. Pulp Fiction

2. Django Unchained

3. Kill Bill Vol. 2

4. Kill Bill Vol. 1

5. Reservoir Dogs

6. Jackie Brown

7. Inglorious Basterds

8. Death Proof

It’s got to be LSU, what with the Super Bowl-winning Cam Cameron calling the offense and well-tenured SEC defensive coordinator John Cha…ooooh, that’s right. A&M pilfered Chavis. Nevertheless, I loved the addition of the above Twitter handle’s namesake, Ed Orgeron. Orgeron is a top-notch recruiter and a coach players love.

Alabama is certainly in the running for best SEC coaching staff: Nick Saban. ‘Nuff said. Kirby Smart is also one of the most celebrated assistants in the nation for a reason. But then there’s Lane Kiffin. Oh, Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin is to No. 1 wide receivers what Dusty Baker is to starting pitchers. Kiffin puts guys through the meat grinder, which made Amari Cooper a Heisman finalist last season and could very well have done the same for Marqise Lee in 2012. But Kiffin does so at the expense of other talented players, like O.J. Howard.

The best SEC coaching staff is in the state of Alabama, but it’s Auburn. Gus Malzahn may not yet have Saban’s trophy case, though his offensive acumen was integral in the Tigers winning the national championship in 2010.

What puts Auburn over the top is adding Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator. That was the coup of the offseason, save maybe A&M’s hire of Chavis. Muschamp may have flopped as Florida’s head coach, but not because of the defense. The Gators routinely put one of the better defenses on the field

You have to start with Wisconsin: new head coach, quarterback problems, loss of Melvin Gordon and all.

Wisconsin’s infrastructure is such that the Badgers can endure issues that would doom other programs to sub-.500 seasons and still make the Big Ten Championship Game.

The coaching change isn’t a huge deal because Barry Alvarez is still behind the curtain Wizard of Oz style Paul Chryst is a former Badgers assistant, thus understands how Wisconsin football works. Chryst’s staff also brings a considerable upgrade at offensive coordinator with Joe Rudolph replacing Andy Ludwig. Ludwig’s conservative style cost the Badgers at least one game: the season opener against LSU.

Losing Gordon will affect Wisconsin in the same way losing Montee Ball, John Clay, P.J. Hill and so forth previously impacted the Badgers: negligibly, if at all. Corey Clement should carry the banner for stud Badger ball-carriers just fine.

A steady run-based offense complementing a stout defense is quintessential Wisconsin, and the Badgers have eight returning starters on that side of the ball.

There’s absolutely zero doubt Wisconsin is the team to beat in the Big Ten West, and getting into the conference championship game is a pretty essential path to a New Year’s Six bowl. Just don’t lose 59-0 and you’re golden, Pony Boy.

Isaac Whitney looked good in the spring game, and he’s going to get better the more acclimated to the Div. I game he gets. Whitney is exactly the piece USC needs in its receiving corps: a big body (6-foot-4) with some speed. Aside from JuJu Smith, who goes about 6-foot-2, much of the Trojans wide receiver grouping is made up of smaller, speedier players like Steven Mitchell.

Having that long frame should make Whitney a red-zone threat, but his foot-speed means he’ll get some chances on deep balls. He and Ajene Harris are the two guys I see as being X-factors for that group. If both reach their potential, USC is going to be a much more versatile passing offense than it was a year ago — and last year, Cody Kessler tied the program’s single-season record for touchdown passes.

Naw. If anything, the draft could be shorter. A player is just as likely to get on with a team as an undrafted free agent as he is getting selected very deep into the draft.

That said, I’m surprised the NFL hasn’t yet explored the possibility, just for the sake of television. Last year’s draft garnered 45.7 million viewers over the course of all three days. That’s insane!

The NFL’s popularity has reached such a point that I genuinely believe NFL Network could air an artist painting team logos, and a live feed of said logos drying would attract a few million viewers.