Take a moment this weekend to rejoice, because there was a time as recently as July where we feared this headline would never come: SEC football is back.
With an unprecedented 10-game conference schedule and plenty of the usual angst and coaching churn taking place I decided to focus this week’s Mood Tracker on a few SEC fan bases.
From Knoxville and Athens to Baton Rouge and Gainesville, hop aboard and head south.
Tennessee Mood: Toes a-Tapping
It’s the moment every southerner has experienced a time or 10. When that last ounce is draining from the politeness reservoir, but for the moment that outburst is being held in check — as the only “talking” coming from a nervous toe-tapping of the ground. If you’ve felt this way over a lunch order taking a few minutes too long, imagine playing the role of a Tennessee fan. Lane Kiffin was gone before anyone learned to properly spell his last name. Derek Dooley is remembered more for poor game day fashion choices than signature wins. Butch Jones left some bricks and a garbage can, but zero trophies. It may just be Year 3 for Jeremy Pruitt but you’ll have to excuse the Volunteer faithful if they expect more than just promising signs and hope for a brighter tomorrow in 2020.
Georgia Mood: Ready … Come What May
The same attitude fit for a Sunday sermon has a place on Saturdays this fall in Athens. The championship-caliber roster has been built and the culture has been instilled. Kirby Smart has his thumbprint firmly pressed against the Georgia football program and Dawg fans love what they see as a potentially historic defense and familiar power rushing attack have them squarely in the College Football Playoff mix. Sure, quarterback has been in a state of preseason flux and new offensive coordinator Todd Monken is attempting to debut a new offense without the benefit of spring practice, but it’s far too late to turn back now for a fan base starved for a national championship.
LSU Mood: House Money Swagger
Hangovers of the figurative and literal variety are still said to be prevalent amongst Tiger fans after a season for the ages in 2019. And why not? The purple and gold confetti that rained down that January night in the Superdome as Ed Orgeron & Co. hoisted the trophy was college football’s version of hitting the jackpot. Can LSU repeat this year? What about all the departing talent? Did you hear about the opt-outs? Have you checked out Alabama’s preseason odds to win the SEC West?! Feel free to ask your questions — just be ready to watch an LSU fan smile in your face as you do. There’s a swagger that can only belong to those playing with house money. In 2020 it figures to be on full display in Baton Rouge.
Florida Mood: Ready Yesterday
There isn’t much joking to be done here. For Florida fans the groundwork has been laid, the patience has been invested, and the time is now to win the SEC East. Consider how radical this concept would have seemed a few short years ago, and then snap back to reality where just this week the SEC media predicted the Gators to win the East and face Alabama in the SEC Championship Game this December. Dan Mullen has been a household name in southern football circles for quite a while now. It’s time for that name and this brand to matter once again on the national stage.