Meyer will be class of newcomers to the SEC

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2005

It wouldn't be college football if there weren't some turnover in the Southeastern Conference.

This season we welcome three new coaches to the league and welcome back the ole ballcoach to a new team. After a failed return to the professional ranks, Steve Spurrier is back where he belongs. The visored one is back to humble each defensive coordinator in the league.

Spurrier's arrival to South Carolina is somewhat similar to his arrival at Florida in 1990. The Gamecocks are facing NCAA sanctions and possible probation just as the Gators did when Spurrier returned to coach his alma mater.

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And the talent pool in Columbia is only ankle deep compared to the ocean of talent he had in the Sunshine State.

Joining Spurrier in the conference are newcomers Les Miles to LSU, Ed Orgeron to Ole Miss and Urban Meyer to Florida.

So who will make their mark on the SEC, and whose first year will be one to forget?

It's pretty easy to say that Meyer is coming into one of the best situations in the league. The Gators have an explosive quarterback in Chris Leak, and this bunch is just plain loaded with talent top to bottom. Typical Florida.

There's no doubt that Ron Zook didn't leave the cupboard bare when he left the Swamp for Illinois. If there are any looming questions for Meyer in his first season in the SEC, it would have to be Florida's offensive line.

Can this young line give Leak enough time to work his magic. With the offensive package that Meyer brings in, that answer has to be a resounding yes. It's quite possible that Meyer could lead these Gators to the SEC Championship game.

But that means Florida will have to get by conference favorite Tennessee in the Swamp and win key matchups at Alabama and LSU.

Miles also is walking into a dream job.

Like Florida, the Bayou Bengals are loaded with talent. The only difference between the two is that Leak is a proven quarterback, whereas probable starter JaMarcus Russell of Mobile has been mediocre at best under center.

If Miles can find a way for LSU's offense to click, the Tigers will win the West once again. If not, then it could be a bumpy first year for Miles.

So look out for Meyer to have a breakout to championship season, while Miles eeks into the SEC Championship game only to get whallopped in the title tilt.

While Miles and Meyer could have great first-years in the conference, look for Orgeron and Spurrier to struggle.

It's debatable as to which of these two coaches have less to work with this fall.

Given Spurrier's incredible offensive mind, it looks like Orgeron may decide not to take the wheels off his mobile home just yet in Oxford.

As for Spurrier, South Carolina fans will give the visored one a couple years to yield a conference contender. Better said that done in Columbia.

As for Orgeron, his firey attitude will only last so long. Then when the Rebels get creamed by 20 or 30 points, we'll see where that fire is then.

Orgeron already had two assistants get in trouble for drinking while driving.

Hopefully this Rebel squad won't resort to holding its final team meeting after a miserable season at an AA meeting.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. E-mail him at or call (334) 383-9302 ext. 122.