I wanted to talk briefly about SEC basketball. It appears to be a down year in the SEC. I see only four sure NCAA Tournament invitations for the SEC, with two teams on the bubble.
Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee appear to be shoo-ins in the East and LSU in the West. Kentucky and Ole Miss are on the bubble.
Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina are all at +2 in conference play and have respective RPIs of 45, 66 and 46. Tennessee is +1 and has an RPI of 22. In the West, LSU's RPI is 40 and Ole Miss' is 64.
Two schools have fired their coaches, Alabama and Georgia. Both will probably hire African-American replacements. My early prediction is Alabama will hire Mike Anderson of Missouri and Georgia will hire Anthony Grant of Virginia Commonwealth.
Today, I thought I would start a series on spring football. I wanted to start with Alabama. The Crimson Tide made a run at the BCS title in coach Nick Saban's second year. They suffered what I consider a 14-round knockout at the hands of Florida in the SEC Championship game. And although the Tide was whipped by Utah in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama fans are plenty excited about the future.
I look for Alabama to slip this season, but starting in 2010, the Tide will likely be a serious contender for the national championship every year Saban is there.
Alabama will have a lot of rebuilding to do with its offense, having lost its quarterback, a 1,000-yard runner, its top two tight ends, its center and left tackle. Greg McElroy, who played at Southlake Carroll, is the heir apparent at quarterback. Sophomore Mark Ingram and super freshman Trent Richardson are the likely running backs. Mike Johnson, who moved from right guard to left tackle for the bowl game before being injured, will likely start at left tackle.
With Travis McCall and Nick Walker gone at tight end, look for Alabama to use more four-wide receiver sets. Sophomore Julio Jones should catch even more passes at wide receiver. Alabama lost little on defense and should be strong on that side of the ball.
Two players, reserve receiver Earl Alexander and running back Roy Upchurch will miss the beginning of spring drills because of respective shoulder and neck surgeries.
Saban has oversigned each of the past two seasons and is 11 players over the limit, so there will be a lot of whittling between now and August. There are 18 seniors on the team, so look for Alabama to sign another large class next season.
There were rumors that offensive coordinator Jim McElwain was going to leave for an NFL job, but that has not happened.