Early Top Five for 2011: Oklahoma is No 1

New York–Trying to tie up the loose ends of the 2010 season and get home.  Here is my (ridiculously) early Top Five for 2011:

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners return 35 of the top 44 players including quarterback Landry Jones. Two guys I thought would turn pro–wide receiver Ryan Broyles and linebacker Travis Lewis–also return. The schedule becomes easier because the Big 12 no longer has a championship game. This will be the first year of the nine-game Big 12 schedule. Oklahoma has five home conference games and four on the road. A Sept. 17 trip to Florida State could be interesting.

2. Oregon: After losing to Auburn in the BCS championship game, Oregon coach Chip Kelly said “we’ll be back.” And I think the Ducks will. Running back LaMichael James decided to come back for his senior season. Quarterback Darron Thomas did not have a good BCS championship game (two interceptions) but he is only going to get better in Oregon’s offense. I don’t see who in the Pac-10 is going to beat Oregon because USC is down and Stanford, even with QB Andrew Luck returning,  will take a dip with head coach Jim Harbaugh leaving for the pros.

3. LSU: The Tigers are going to lose three studs on defense in CB Patrick Peterson, who will turn pro early, LB Kelvin Sheppard, and DT Drake Nevis. But when LSU gets decent to good quarterback play, like Jordan Jefferson gave the Tigers in the Cotton Bowl, they are hard to handle. The quarterback position will only get better with the addition of Zach Mettenberger, a junior college transfer who started his career at Georgia. LSU has a chance to be the Auburn of 2011.

4. Florida State: I’m taking a little bit of a flyer on the Seminoles because they are going to have to rebuild their offensive line. It may be a year too early to make this call but I think the offense will be more versatile with E.J. Manuel at quarterback and that the defense is going to be pretty good because of the talent Jimbo Fisher and his staff as recruited. This is a reach pick. So what do you think?

5. Alabama: You saw how good Alabama could be when the Crimson Tide just beat down Michigan State in the Cap One Bowl. Yes, they’ll miss Greg McElroy at quarterback but I think AJ McCarron or Phillip Simms will fit right in and run the offense. Yes they will miss RB Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. But Trent Richardson just might win the 2011 Heisman Trophy. LB Dont’a Hightower, who missed most of the 2009 season with a knee injury, started regaining his old form in the second half of 2010. He will come back and become an All-American in 2011. And if safety Mark Barron comes back, that’s two guys that coach Nick Saban thought he might lose. After playing six teams after they had open dates this season, the schedule will be much kinder in 2011.

In case you’re wondering, LSU comes to Alabama on Nov. 5, 2011.

Who am I leaving out? Boise State returns quarterback Kellen Moore (74 TD, only 9 INT) over the past two years. TCU will be good again even without quarterback Andy Dalton. Does Florida bounce back big under Will Muschamp?

Give me your Top Five for 2011.

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342 comments Add your comment

Terry

January 13th, 2011
2:36 pm

I don’t have a problem with you ranking FSU the way you did. They have improved drastically under Jimbo Fisher, Mark Stoops, Eddie Gran, Rick Trickett, etc. I wouldn’t worry about the O-Line, they have to replace two and it isn’t like the replacement players haven’t had any game time experience. As for others comments concerning Ohio State, let them not forget that IF Pryor comes back he and three others will have to sit the first five games along with a fifth that has to sit the first game.

Patrick Romano WAR DAMN EAGLE

January 13th, 2011
2:43 pm

Steve, I hope you realize how much of a pea brain you are as much as any good SEC Fan would. If you really think that AU is /was a one man team going 14-0 you are a bigger moron than we think you are!

You may want to get to the neurologist when the snow/ice melts or better yet get to a rubber room b/c you can’t handle the truth…or sharp objects. Your skull is soft pea-brain,,,

WAR DAMN EAGLE, great to see ALL the AU haters but just remember these stats, what other SEC team haz gone undefeated twice in 6 years???

AU Tigers are the only ones, check the record 2004 & 2010 Auburn Tigers Undefeated, Untied…

WAR DAMN EAGLE, Steve pick you nuts up and go get inthe corner & sulk…little bitch.

Ted Brogan

January 13th, 2011
2:49 pm

“Kenny Rogers Is A Known Liar
January 13th, 2011
12:57 pm

Nice try “Huh” but the trophy’s already been shipped and it’s staying in Auburn. It won’t be on
display at Wal-Mart either….”

First of all congrats to auburn from a bama fan as hard as it is to say it. BUT I remember how much hell we caught for the Wal-Mart display last year from auburn fans. Well guess what Auburn fans:
http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/01/auburns_bcs_trophy_coming_to_a.html

So I guess were all in-bred red necks as you called bama fans last year, ha ha….

do-dah do-dah

January 13th, 2011
2:49 pm

You are leaving Stanford out. Both LSU and Alabama will NOT be in the top 5- one maybe but not both!!!

Zachary

January 13th, 2011
2:59 pm

I love the Noles at 4. Jimbo has that team turned around and going straight for the top. Blowout wins againt uf and miami show that they are the far superior team in the state of FL. They also completely shut down South Carolina’s offense, which were the SEC East Champs. Obviously the SEC is a tougher conference, but next year Jimbo will definately be eating some Oranges in South beach on January 1, 2012

Hank

January 13th, 2011
3:02 pm

I think FSU’s defense can take them there. Defense wins championships, right? The win against South Carolina was just their intro to potential!

BAMA dude

January 13th, 2011
3:06 pm

Yep. The Barn’s crystal football is on display at Wal-Mart. At least ours had a nice shine to it. Theirs looks a little dirty.

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
3:15 pm

BAMA dude—-Thanks for thinking of our boys, but I think the Gators deserve to be ranked somewhere between 22nd and “also receiving votes” to start the 2011 season. The 2010 Gators were an 8-5 team (4-4 SEC), and the 2011 Gators will have a new head coach, new OC and DC, and a new offensive scheme in 2012. There’s plenty of young talent, but it will take at least a year to have the Gators back in serious SEC/BCS contention.

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
3:18 pm

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
3:20 pm

I hate when this blog software eats my posts for no apparent reason and then tells me “You’ve already said that” when I try to repost. @#$%

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
3:21 pm

Bama and LSU will contend for the SEC Western Division. Auburn will finish no better than third in the West, and are more likely to play the spoiler role with Arkansas that they are to contend for the conference championship; the Tigers will have too many losses on both sides of the ball to repeat.

dap01

January 13th, 2011
3:22 pm

Alabama should be very good. They now how 109 on their roster.

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
3:26 pm

The blog software won’t let me post anything with more than four lines. Apparently the AJC now thinks I’m BuLLdawg. @#$%

gdawginkalamazoo

January 13th, 2011
3:41 pm

Atlanta Gator, I can only predict that there will be a football season next year and that Coach Richt will be in the library studying football. He starts with Andy Griffith’s “…football is what is was..” to get the fundamentals down. Then he goes fishing with Coach Bowden on Lake Lanier.

Polly Wolly Doodle All Day

January 13th, 2011
3:47 pm

Stanford will be lucky to break the Top 25 next year. How many times will the Ducks have to be Plucked in post-season before we stop pretending that they belong in the Top 10?

Polly Wolly Doodle All Day

January 13th, 2011
3:50 pm

Atlanta Gator,

Make sure that your post don’t include a word with a syllable that contains these four letters in sequence: C O C K

AJC has a zero tolerance policy for such words.

Chickens!

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
3:57 pm

gdawg~zoo—-As a Gators fan, it may not be my place to say it, BUT . . . You get to be a 51-year-old man and ten-year veteran head coach in the SEC, you’re not supposed to be learning football fundamentals or questioning the program’s management. You may tweak and evolve, but here, I see a crisis of confidence in Athens, and whether it’s Richt’s fault or not, there may need to be a change. The Dawgs have been going in reverse for the last two seasons, and that’s in spite of the fact that SEC East competition has never been weaker since we went to the two-division format in 1992. Richt will get another season, but if he doesn’t improve to at least 8 or 9 wins in 2011, the long knives will be out.

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:00 pm

Yup. You’re right. The software just ate the following:

“South Carolina Gamec@#$ks.”

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:02 pm

With all of the trashy nastiness that gets posted on the AJC’s blogs, that’s kinda funny. If I were a South Carolina fan, I would be miffed.

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:03 pm

On the other hand, Gators fans don’t wear t-shirts that say “Super C@#$k” on them. I suppose there’s obnoxious, and then there’s obnoxious. LOL

gdawginkalamazoo

January 13th, 2011
4:04 pm

Atl Gator, IMO Richt does get it turned around. Grantham gets some great recruits to come and contribute right away, we get a couple of great kids for Murray to throw to and a solid RB that can take time off the clock. We are not as bad as it appears.

How do you like the Wei$$ hiring? I don’t think it will work out due to Wei$$’s ego. Didn;t hear a lot of positive things out of SB when he was up here.

gdawginkalamazoo

January 13th, 2011
4:04 pm

Enter your comments here

AUGUYinATL

January 13th, 2011
4:06 pm

WAR EAGLE to the AUBURN family. It was a great trip to Glendale that I will never forget. Finally, a BCS Championship in my lifetime. We took over Phoenix, and Sedona the next day, and I’ve never been prouder of the way we represented Auburn and the SEC. And props to my home state of Alabama..back to back Heismans and BCS Titles… that won’t happen again.
Next Year Top 5:
Oklahoma
Oregon
Alabama
Standford
LSU

gdawginkalamazoo

January 13th, 2011
4:07 pm

ATL Gator, good thing you said miffed and didn’t put an L in there. Your post would have been banned.

NewnanDawg

January 13th, 2011
4:08 pm

Surely Auburn will pay somebody to get them in that top 5, right?

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:12 pm

gdawg~zoo—-I think hiring Charlie Weiss as the new Gators OC was probably a good move. Complements Will Muschamp’s biggest weakness. Biggest complaint I’ve heard about Charlie Weiss as Notre Dame’s head coach is that he was a so-so recruiter. Big difference between being the head coach and OC, though. Just ask CMR.

Teasing aside, who would have been a better pick for a pro-style offense? Foley, for whatever reason, apparently decided he didn’t want Dan Mullen. Maybe he thought only Urban Meyer and the right recruits could really make the spread offense win SEC championships. Dunno. Based on the relative pay scale, Foley is apparently a lot smarter than I am.

= )

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:13 pm

You mean like MILFed?

Big Gator Fan

January 13th, 2011
4:13 pm

My breath is really nasty.

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:15 pm

MILF! MILF! MILF! MILF! MILF!

Take that blog software filter!

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:16 pm

BGF—-

Drink less alcohol, and remember to brush and floss after snacking on Dawgs canal-side.

UF Alum 06

January 13th, 2011
4:16 pm

I expect us to win the SEC Champship next season!

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:18 pm

gdawg~zoo—-

There are apparently still a few holes in the filter. But definitely no “Gamec@#$ks.”

Big Gator Fan

January 13th, 2011
4:20 pm

It has been too cold lately to wear jean shorts. Aw, heck I have been wearing them anyways.

Blog Software

January 13th, 2011
4:21 pm

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
3:20 pm

I hate when this blog software eats my posts for no apparent reason and then tells me “You’ve already said that” when I try to repost. @#$%

___________________________________________________________________________

You’ve already said that … too

Big Gator Fan

January 13th, 2011
4:21 pm

I am unfamiliar with the concept of “deoderant”.

BAMA dude

January 13th, 2011
4:27 pm

So, if I read this correctly, we’re all disappointed that the blog eats C0Cks?

Why Did Rogers Change His Story?

January 13th, 2011
4:29 pm

First he said that he hadn’t had contact with John Bond in 20 years, that he had no contact with Auburn and that the Newton’s never asked him to solicit money from MSU. Here’s his interview.

Kenny Rogers, the man at the center of accusations surrounding Cam Newton’s recruitment last year, spoke on ESPN Radio 103.3 FM in Dallas tonight, trying to clear his name.

Rogers’ former MSU teammate John Bond told ESPN.com Thursday that an ex-teammate — which ESPN identified through unnamed sources as Rogers — asked for $180,000 from Mississippi State to sign Newton last year when he was coming out of Blinn (Texas) Community College.

Rogers said he has not seen or spoken to Bond in at least 20 years.

Rogers said he has never had a school pay him money for a player. Asked if he ever had contact with Auburn, he said: “No. No. No. None at all. None at all.”

Here’s the full radio transcript of what Rogers said:

(Have you ever received money for a recruit)

“Heck no. I’ve never done that. A school has never paid me for a kid. An alumnus has never paid me for a kid. Period. Point blank. That why when all this stuff was coming out like this, it was crazy. No. 1 it’s crazy to me because they’re making me seem like I was the person that called John and talked about it, but I hadn’t talked to John in over 20 years. Now I’m asking for money on behalf of my own school. That’s just kind of … I don’t know. That’s just kind of crazy.

(On working for Elite Football Preparations, where parents can help him place students to better situations)

“Exactly. It’s Elite Football Preparations. I help find schools for kids. Most of my kids are junior college kids. Some will go D-I, some I-AA, but most of them are junior college kids.

(Why do you think your name came up?)

“I have no idea where my name came up in this. I was at the game, I had been talking to Mr. Newton, because he had been asking about Mississippi State. And I was telling him. He was asking about the culture of Mississippi State because that’s a small town. We would just talk back and forth about Mississippi State. … But I have no idea. I’m just[..]uming because I was there with him and I was talking with him. I had never met Dan Mullen before. So when I was there that night, actually Mr. Newton introduced me to Dan. So that was my first time meeting coach Mullen in person. So I have no idea how my name jumped out there.”

(Any contact with Auburn?)

“No. No. No. None at all. None at all.”

(Any idea of what former teammate of Bond’s it might have been?)

“No. I don’t even want to go there. Noooo. Hell no.”

(Anything you want to say about this situation to get off your chest?)

“I help kids get in school. The only thing I was doing is just like every other kid. Cam Newton left Florida, I would try to get in touch with that kid. When I see a name go across the screen, I try to get in touch with that kid to see if he has any opportunities to see if I can help him. That’s pretty much it. That’s how I do things with the kids. The parents will call me and say, ‘Well, I’ve got a kid.’ OK. I get some film. I look at the film to see what I can do. I let them know what level I think they can play on and then we go from there.

“These last few days (exhales), that’s hard to explain. Especially in the state of Alabama, because that’s where I’m from. So that really hurt me. That hurt me bad right there.”

So why did he change his story? And can he be trusted knowing that he’s basically a liar? And why has no one else asked this question?

gdawginkalamazoo

January 13th, 2011
4:29 pm

Atlanta Gator, When the ice gets cleared off the roads down there the blog police will be knocking on your door. Oh wait I forgot they fly the black helicopters so listen out for those.

The Wei$$ thing had nothing to do with running an offense or recruiting. It had more to do with personality and ego than anything.

“Drink less alcohol, and remember to brush and floss after snacking on Dawgs canal-side”.

Did you just say that you eat dawg a $ $?

Saban Looks Like Willie B

January 13th, 2011
4:32 pm

BAMA Dude eats C0cks too I believe….

uga is last in the sec

January 13th, 2011
4:33 pm

Not Georgia, they suck big tyme…..

BAMA dude

January 13th, 2011
4:37 pm

Maybe the long winded poster should ask why Cecil changed HIS story?

Al Barber

January 13th, 2011
4:38 pm

Tony please look at the schedules. Alabama will have the tough ones coming to their place. I would place them at least at number two. I expect their defense to be awesome.

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:39 pm

gdawg~zoo—-

I am a Gators fan, an alumnus of that fair university, a human being. Real alligators eat dogs in Florida all the time. Personally, I prefer sushi over Dawg a $ $.

Saban Looks Like Willie B

January 13th, 2011
4:45 pm

How many chance meetings with players do you think Saban had the last two years?
My favorite up till now is when Saban arrived in an RV flying an Alabama flag showed up for the Foley spring practice. He then walked across the field with an entourage that included former Alabama stars Lee Roy Jordan and Kenny Stabler walking with him as he “indirectly had contact” with Julio Jones.

This leads into the SEC’s top seven infractions . One guess of which school is #1. No one will replace Saban in a couple of years when he leaves because that “barrel of a gun” the NCAA warned them about will shut them down for a few years.

The Red Elephant Club is brazenly passing around pre-paid credit cards to high school kids in Alabama, it is said. Win at all costs is the biggest part of “The Process”. It’s going to bite them in the a$$, and the whole country is going to laugh even harder at these rednecks.

It’s just a matter of time.

do-dah do-dah

January 13th, 2011
4:45 pm

Why Did Rogers Change His Story? Cam in the SI story said that his Dad made the decision for him to go to Auburn. After the Heisman ceremony he told Chris Fowler that HE ALONE made the decision to go to Auburn. Why did he change his story?? Now that we know that he is a liar can we expect to believe anything that he says; now or in the future?

gdawginkalamazoo

January 13th, 2011
4:46 pm

Atl Gator, I know it’s just a figure of speech. One of my favorite movie lines from Happy Gilmore is when Shooter McGavin says “I eat pieces of sh ! t like you for breakfast” And Happy says ” Really you eat sh ! t for brekafast?” Or something along those lines.

Big Gator Fan

January 13th, 2011
4:48 pm

Jean shorts and a sport coat is perfectly acceptable to wear to an afternoon wedding.

Atlanta Gator

January 13th, 2011
4:53 pm

gdawg~zoo—-So, what do you think of the Wei$$ hire?

Saban Looks Like Willie B

January 13th, 2011
4:56 pm

Sports Illustrated writer Lars Anderson on December 2nd. “Sources inside the NCAA say the Cam Newton case is closed. It’s over, done, dead. People need to move on.”

ESPN writer Joe Schad on December 3rd: “The NCAA is happy with the Cam Newton investigation. The case is closed and the files are put away. It’s over”

Good Picks

January 13th, 2011
4:56 pm

I agree with stanford. I see FSU as a top 10 team. They will be favored in all of their games except for oklahoma because UF is going to struggle for a few years. It will be a fresh year for new teams to rise though.