We’ve finally hit the midsummer milestone of SEC Media Days, which, let’s face it, have become much more about the media than the actual SEC at this point. An excuse for a few days of exclusive ESPN/SEC Network content and more hours of Paul Finebaum on TV than any doctor would recommend.
Between Touchdown Alabama magazine, AL.com and every podunk radio station between Merdian, Miss. And Valdosta Ga. on hand, there’s only one thing that’s in a larger supply than Dr. Pepper and greasy sub-par potato chip crumbs – and that is piping hot takes.
Your coach is on the hot seat! That coach is on the hot seat! Could a team be on the rise? Will they disappoint? WHO KNOWS!
But you’ll hear about it.
And then at Big 10 Media Days. And Big 12. It may take a while for it all to get relayed from PAC-12 media days with the current state of their network but rest assured – over the next few weeks you’re going to be BOMBARDED with hot takes.
And a lot of them will be predictable and stupid.
There are a set of themes to every offseason’s hot takes, and at this point they’re largely predictable. And those themes are going to extend into the season as well. So in honor of that, with the help of some of my old friends from the EDSBS comments, here are our best hot take odds on some of the many dumb sports columns, tweets and blog posts that you will see over the next seven months.
In the last 10 to 15 years or so, almost any program has gotten the BACK label at some point. Sports Illustrated ran a BAMA IS BACK headline in the Mike Shula Era. And for most of the last half of the Aughts, Florida State and Miami took their turns being BACK, before Jameis Winston eventually took the Seminoles back to the 90s in more ways than one in 2013. So who’s on the list to get that designation this year?
- Texas 3-1
- Miami 4-1
- Florida 7-1
- Nebraska 9-1
- Tennessee 10-1
- USC 12-1
- Michigan 15-1
- FSU 25-1
- Syracuse 50-1
Texas would tell you they’re already back, and the odds on this one all come down to the matchup with LSU in week two. But don’t be surprised if we see a little premature BACKtion in the lead up to that one. Florida and Miami will settle this one in week one, but for the rest, things may wait until later in the year. Scott Frost has enough good pub already that a solid winning streak at Nebraska will start drawing plaudits. For Michigan, its all about that Ohio State game.
The only preseason content more popular than #BACK predictions are gauging who is or is not on the proverbial coaching hot seat. Sure, there will be the obvious underachievers, but those takes are rarely hot enough for the average columnist, so the rest come down to #narrative perception – see Ed Orgeron in 2018 – or any recent hire at a name program who hasn’t won a championship.
- Clay Helton 3/2
- Willie Taggart 7/1
- Brian Kelly 12/1
- Tom Herman 12/1
- Jim Harbaugh 12/1
- Ryan Day 18/1
- Nick Saban 35-1
The epitaphs for Clay Helton have already been written, so there’s no money in that bet. And frankly, with USC’s schedule, he’s probably the safest midseason firing bet. A few people seem to understand that Willie Taggart inherited a mess at FSU, but it’s still a pearl program that needs a lot more refinement, and people are rarely patient for those types of jobs. Tom Herman has the curse of expectations after that Sugar Bowl win, but his roster is still probably a year away – and the wait for that final jump is usually excruciating. Jim Harbaugh will be expected to break through and win the Big 10, and if he does, Ohio State fans will have absolutely no chill for Ryan Day.
As for Nick Saban? Look, Alabama fans ran off Bill Curry after he won the SEC, even his holiness can be vulnerable if they lose enough games. But frankly, that has no business happening with a glut of talent and a cake schedule.
As man does not live on bread alone, so must a sports takesperson diversify their heat with more than just BACK declarations and hot seat talk. There’s also Big Questions™. The kind of Big Questions that only THEY have the guts to ask.
- Gus Malzahn is the right/wrong man to lead Auburn football 2-3
This column is drafted, right now, in shell form for at least one writer for AL.com, with open spots for the relevant details of whichever game is Auburn’s first loss this season. And at least one more columnist has its opposite number on draft as well, waiting for a big win to justify it. There is no way any reasonable bookie would ever let you win money on this bet.
- Can Tom Herman bring Texas back to ELITE status? 3-1
This one will probably come down to the LSU game. If the Tigers come out on top, that’s a high-profile failure that will likely bring some knives out.
- Has Brian Kelly taken Notre Dame as far as he can? 4-1
- Can Kirby Smart win championships at Georgia? 10-1
- Can Lincoln Riley win games in the college football playoff? 15-1
Once again we have two questions tied to one game – Georgia and Notre Dame square off in Athens in week four – and the loser will be in the take crosshairs. Frankly, nothing spoils success like success, and while Brian Kelly’s been the most consistent winner at Notre Dame in about 25 years, he’s never been all that well-liked. Probably because he’s kind of a jerk. And he killed a kid.
In general, coaches always get that “yes, and…”Kelly’s success at Notre Dame is hitting that wall. Likewise, getting to the playoffs twice in two years (plus once as a coordinator) is great for Lincoln Riley, but its only a matter of time before people get bored with one and done.
- Can Nebraska ever find glory again? 4-1
Nothing makes the media establishment thirst like a blue-blood powerhouse trying to rediscover glory, and Nebraska is on nearly twenty years and four coaches of the quest. Scott Frost seems like a sharp coach, and there were some positive signs in year one, but he’s got his work cut out for him.
- Should [player] sit out this season to prepare for the draft? 5-1
This is another one that’s already in draft, possibly ready to roll next week at Media Days regarding Tua Tagovailoa. Look for it to be a staple for any player expected to be a high draft pick for the foreseeable future. And it will draw plenty of clicks every time.
- Is the Bama dynasty over? 25-1
Every time they drop a game, especially if it’s regular season. And the answer isn’t changing anytime soon either. But their fans are easy marks so you might as well go for it.
- Should [insert program] drop football? 20-1
Realistically, this isn’t as far-fetched as it should be for some programs, but between conference arrangements and TV contracts, it isn’t really going to happen. But when have football columnists ever lived in the real world?
These odds may not be available at your local sports book. But they should be.