Let's see... has something been done more than twice on the internet? Yes? Then it's a tradition. And one of my favorite traditions here at Dawg Sports is combining my early-preseason SEC predictions with a comparison of those teams to soccer teams around the world. It allows me to combine an analysis of my two favorite sports, and the comparisons between the squads can be really uncanny at times. (Take, for example, Tottenham Hotspur and South Carolina. And don't let RedCrake tell you any differently.)
This year, the biggest non-World-Cup tournament in international soccer is beginning a week from today: the 2012 UEFA European Championship tournament, known colloquially as Euro 2012. Euro 2012 is a lot like the SEC: Virtually every team is very good, and would be a strong competitor in almost any other confederation/conference. This means that no matter how you group the teams together, virtually every group/division is a proverbial "group of death." Every game is a match between solid teams, and every game is worth watching.
Therefore, I have ranked all of the SEC teams according to my estimation of how they will finish in 2012, and have assign them a corresponding team from the Euro 2012 tournament. These predictions and comparisons follow after the jump.
- Missouri - Russia - A lurking power that has seen glory in the past, but has also suffered embarrassingly down years recently. They have great resources at their disposal, and finally seem to be really getting their act back together. Also, geographically, they aren't totally the best fit for the confederation/conference they're in, but it's close enough that it's not completely ludicrous, either. Unfortunately, their talent isn't super deep, especially at key positions, so if they have eligibility or injury issues, it could all come crashing down, and could result in a very poor finish.
And while Russians have their vodka, Missourians have their meth. (This picture has been lawya'd)
- Georgia - Spain - For literally decades, they always seemed to have the tools, but just couldn't put it together on the field and win the championship. They've both had some success recently, though, and are going into this year as one of the favorites for their division/grouping. And they'll be good... but chemistry will probably be their downfall, for different reasons. (For Spain, the same old regional and Barca/Real divisions that creep in amongst the players, and for Georgia, the loss of the whole friggin' secondary for at least 2 games, the inexperienced O-line, and a pair of true-freshman kickers.)
They've got quite a handsome red and black motif going on there, too. (This picture has been lawya'd)
- South Carolina -
Tottenham Hotspur England - Awww, their fans are so cute. They are really passionate and get belligerent when you point out that haven't won any titles since the '60's, and probably won't in the near future. Also, it's not that anybody really hates you, per se (other than the historical rival on your back door that's not even in this tournament/in your conference)... we just don't really like you because you're wankers. (See what I did there?)
- Florida - Holland - High as f*** right now, and just don't care. Yeah, hash is technically illegal, but they're chill about that, bro. And all of that orange... oh, God, all of that orange. They also both have a recently-aquired reputation for thuggery on the field on the defensive side of the ball. (And I have Florida ranked this low because even though Muschamp's defense should be significantly improved this year, you don't just bring in an offensive coordinator with a brand new scheme and expect a seamless transition... even if he's a star from Boise State.)
Ugh... the orange, it burns the retinas. (I hate Florida. And Holland's uniforms.) (This picture has been lawya'd1) and (This picture has been lawya'd2)
- Kentucky - Denmark - You know, they're ok in these "off season" sports and all, but the winter sports are really their thing. They're also both located in the northern part of their confederation/conference, so they do have the home field advantage when it's snowing and cold as all crap. They've both had some surprising success, given how they're generally perceived, and they could still get some positive results if all the cards fall correctly for them. They have no chance of winning the whole thing, though.
- Tennessee - Czech Republic - What happened, dude? This team always seemed to be a juggernaut, reloading with powerful teams year after year. Now, though, they're just a thin shell of their old selves. They won't be horrible (they are in the Euros/SEC, after all), but they're not a contender.
- Vanderbilt - Ukraine - They're only here because their given position entitles them to a spot at the table. They'll make some noise, but at the end of the day they're still the same old team with inferior talent.
Also, one team's coach is Oleh Blokhin, and the other team's coach is an Ole Blockhead. (This picture has been lawya'd 1) and (This picture has been lawya'd 2)
- Alabama - Germany - The odds-on favorite. They're known for meticulously following a process and being unerringly efficient in their game preparation and plan execution. Defense has historically been their hallmark, but their offense has quietly become a strength for them this year, too. It gets kind of old to see the same team making the finals every year... but they're just that good.
I could post football-related pictures.... but hey, I know my audience. (This picture has been lawya'd 1) and (This picture has been lawya'd 2)
- LSU - France - The cultural parallels are obviously... uh, obvious, but there are significant on-field parallels, too. Their rosters have historically been loaded, but their results over the last 5-10 years have been maddeningly inconsistent. They've had coaches that seem to be incompetent doofuses (doofi?), but somehow have still managed to win big. A lot of people are overlooking them this year, but they have the tools to sneak up and win the whole thing. (Also, LSU surrendered in a very French fashion to Alabama/Germany on their home turf last year.)
All the French fans are missing is a corn dog in each hand. (This picture has been lawya'd 1) and (This picture has been lawya'd 2)
- Auburn - Italy - You can't deny that they've had success in the past... but they are rampant cheaters, and have been throughout history. Everybody hates them for this, and also just in general. Also, Nick Fairley and Gennaro Gattuso are two of the most reprehensible on-field thugs in recent football memory, so there's that, too.
- Arkansas - Portugal - A small state from the corner of their confederation/conference's geographic footprint. They are probably the third-best team from a talent standpoint in their group/division, but that's not good for pretty much anything other than bragging about how you were basically the best team that didn't really accomplish anything this year. They also both have a reputation for beautiful, finesse-driven offense and virtually no defense whatsoever. (Also, for Arkansas, I slipped them down a spot because Johnelle Smith simply isn't Bobby Petrino, and that's going to cost them some games.)
Third place in your group/division is just the second place loser, yo. (This picture has been lawya'd 1) and (This picture has been lawya'd 2)
- Mississippi State - Greece - I ain't getting anywhere near either of their home towns. Their coach is fine, and their team is competitive, but it's highly unlikely they'll be able to string together enough victories to make a real run.
- Texas A&M - Poland - Welcome to the Euros/SEC. You might want to cover your head, because this won't be pretty. Also, both sets of their fan bases are rabidly loyal (like, maybe literally rabid) and quite possibly insane. (As for A&M specifically, I've ranked them this low because even if Kevin Sumlin is as good as advertised, he will still be a first-year head coach, and the SEC West is the kind of gauntlet you only see in your nightmares. They'll be better than this in years to come.)
- Ole Miss - Ireland - They will win the party, but that's about it.
Let me know what you think of these predictions and comparisons in the comments below!