Peter Bean at BurntOrange Nation recently asked his readers to swallow their pride and name the players from their rivals' squads whom they would most like to see on Mack Brown's team. Paul Westerdawg picked up the mantle, naming his own five, at which point I picked up the scent and joined in. Orson also listed his own All-Traitor Team, then left the keyboard to search for a pair of jorts big enough to fit LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. Methinks he may still be looking. What's the point of all this?
Well, Peter's idea went over so well that I thought I'd explore it a little further. I'm going position by position, and asking myself (and Dawgsports readers, by extension) to name the SEC players you would replace our guys with if you were forced to. What, like we have something better to do?
Now, I'm not a big fan of utopian speculation as a general rule. However, as a business attorney, I can tell you that I absolutely love contingency planning for fun and profit. So, I'm going to lay down some groundrules:
I'm going to stick to the system. There may be guys who are better "pure" ______'s than the guys I choose. But I'm trying to keep an eye on who fits in our schemes and on our depth chart.
I'm not going algorithm crazy. I know somebody will ask me to just look at the stats. But this isn't Athletics Nation and I'm not Billy Beane, so no money ball. So sometimes it's just going to come down to gut reaction. I'll look at some numbers, principally touchdown to interception ratio and completion percentage, which I think are really far more significant than pure passing yardage. But I'm not doing any difficult statistical analysis.
Finally, I'm mindful of the butterfly effect. In other words, I'm willing to consider snatching an impact player from one of our rivals just to crush their collective souls, even though there may be other better players at other less loathsome schools.
Welcome to the SEC. Your numbers mean little to us. Oh, and Earl Eeverett wants to know if the Big Ten Network will have a call-in show for high character student athletes from Illinois and Penn State to ask Bob Delaney and Alan Dershowitz legal questions.
With no further ado, I offer a hypothetical question. What are the Georgia Bulldogs going to do if Matt Stafford gets crushed by an empty keg or run over by some Auburn fan's Travellodge at his next raceday appearance? We could start Joe Cox. He did after all have the highest completion percentage on the team last season. But it would be so much fun to steal someone else's quarterback.
Tim Tebow, Florida- An obvious option. Highly touted. Throws a mean jump pass. Owns a pimped out Myspace page (or at least has 27 pimply-faced admirers impersonating him on pimped out Myspace pages). Plus it would be fun to hear all the whining and gnashing from the unwashed and jortclad masses to our south. Alas, Baby Rhino Tebow is still a relatively unproven commodity. We had enough first year starter hijinx last year. Tebow will be a great quarterback, but not this year. I'll pass.
Blake Mitchell, South Carolina- I wouldn't take him in a bar fight. I wouldn't take him in a dance-off (Double hat tip to EDSBS and Joel of RockyTopTalk). I wouldn't take him as my starting quarterback. But if the SEC ever sponsors a Jar-Jar Binks lookalike contest (HT: DeepSouthSports), he's my #1 draft pick. For now though, I pass.
Quarterback X, Miss. St.- Seriously, does anybody outside of Starkvegas know who Sly Croom will trot out against LSU to open the season? Also, does anybody know why Missy St. opens with LSU, even at home? Might be Michael Henig, if they can keep him upright long enough. I'll pass, even though Croom won't.
Quarterback Y, Ole Miss- Will it be transfer/turnover machine Brent Schaffer? Will it be former walk-on Seth Adams? I don't know, and I don't really care. If the Orgeron is smart, he'll just have someone hand it to BenJarvusTimLarryEnochBocephus Green-Ellis and get the heck out of the way. Oh, and get Jevan Snead a coke while you keep his seat warm.
Darren McFadden, Arkansas- You think Humanity Advanced is not the Razorbacks' quarterback? You tell him, I'm not about to. Seriously, Houston Nutt's best shot at saving his ample hindparts is to run McFadden left, McFadden right, and McFadden for the 2 point conversion. Other than that it's just two Dicks, a Johnson, and one Nutt (at least for now).
John Parker Wilson, Alabama- The junior signal caller from Hoover had an undistinguished sophomore campaign, with a decent completion percentage (55%), but abyssmal numbers against the SEC (that 10/8 touchdown to interception ratio is a dealbreaker for me). However, I think Wilson will benefit from having the reins to himself, though some of his worst football was played toward the end of the season. I'm cautiously bullish, just not bullish enough to want him in red and black. Pass.
Chris Nickson, Vanderbilt- The rising junior had a solid sophomore campaign, leading the 'Dores to some near-upsets, and one nightmarishly real upset of which we still do not speak in these parts. However he bested even Brent Schaeffer in the charity department last year, throwing 13 picks. And Jay Cutler only graduated in 2005. I simply cannot coutenance the possibility of Vanderbilt having two excellent quarterbacks in the same decade. I'm fairly certain that there's some principle of organizational dynamics that prohibits it. I pass.
Brandon Cox, Auburn- Gets frightened and defensive when confronted by helmet-clad midgets. Amusing, but not effective. I'll pass, because if I let Brandon Cox pass Tra Battle will appear out of nowhere and pick it off.
Erik Ainge, Tennessee- Will the real Erik Ainge please stand up? I'm still not sure if Ainge's stellar junior season was the result of David Cutcliffe's steady hand or having the best corp of receivers in the SEC. I tend to think it was a little of both. The fact remains however that Ainge completed 67% of his passes in 2006 for a shade under 3000 yards. I'm a little bearish on him though because he threw 9 interceptions to only 19 touchdowns (and I think 12 of those came against Jeff Tedford's incredible disappearing secondary).
Seriously, Ainge threw 8 of his 19 touchdown passes against Cal and Memphis. Against SEC competition, his decision-making looked mediocre, as he threw only 7 touchdowns versus 5 interceptions. That included the Vols' near miss against Alabama when he threw 3 picks at home, thereby nearly making Mike Shula look competent. Add a knee injury that kept him out for much of the spring, and you have a guy who may have hit his ceiling last year with a group of talented receivers. I'd like to see Phil Fulmer have to rely on Jonathan Crompton, who's about as untested as a backup can be. But Ainge just hasn't shown he can consistently produce against SEC competition. I'll pass.
Matt Flynn, LSU- Many have forgotten that Flynn was actually pushing JaMarcus Russell for the starting job before 2006 began, and that he was the one who led the Bayou Bengals in their (figurative and literal) beating of Miami in the 2005 Hooligan Bowl sponsored by Crazy Larry's Bail Bonding. That said, he's still a Senior quarterback who's thrown fewer than 100 passes in live competition. He may be this year's D.J. Shockley Memorial Out of the Shadows Award Winner, but I'm not betting the mortgage money on it.
Andre Woodson, Kentucky- Excellent pocket presence? Check. Rifle arm? Check. Senior experience? Yup. No discernible backup capable of toating his jockstrap? Affirmative. Woodson is my choice to be our substitute signal caller, after completing 63% of his passes for a shade over 3500 yards in 2006. Also compelling is his 31/7 touchdown to interception ratio. Woodson really only played one bad game all year for the Wildcats (a 49-0 blowout at LSU where he went 14-37 with a pick and no touchdowns) and got better as the year progressed.
When you put up these kind of stats throwing to Keenan Burton and Dicky Lyons, Jr., you deserve some attention. I also like the fact that at 6'5 and 230 pounds, bringing down and/or injuring Woodson is a lot like hunting Wildabeast. Woodson is, in my humble opinion, the frontrunner for All-SEC honors again this year.
Anybody got a better idea? If so let me know in the comments section.