On this Tax Day 2012 we thought it might be fun to take a little look at what the 14 SEC football programs are due in terms of returns this year and what each can “deduct” from their past year’s gains.
Alabama’s Due: A brand new start from scratch. The Tide lost three games the season after their last national title proving that it’s not as easy to repeat in real life as it is on paper.
Alabama Can Deduct: The price of some fans’ souls that were sold to insure that Oklahoma State would lose to Iowa State last year. As crazy as it seems now, if OSU doesn’t lose to ISU, Bama fans would still be grumbling that Nick Saban had lost two years in a row to LSU… ’cause there would have been no rematch with the Tigers and no BCS crown otherwise.
Arkansas’ Due: A break. The Razorbacks had everything rolling their way on the football front until Bobby Petrino rolled off the roadway with his mistress. A nice, quiet week or two would be A-OK for most Hog fans.
Arkansas Can Deduct: Take your pick — the price of Petrino’s motorcyle, the price of Jessica Dorrell’s Acura, or the price of a brand new football facility that Petrino helped get underway before his crisis.
Auburn’s Due: A prove-it kind of season. Gene Chizik’s gang has bookended a BCS title-winning season with a pair of 8-5 campaigns. Will the real Tigers please stand up?
Auburn Can Deduct: The cost of new offensive and defensive playbooks. With Scot Loeffler and Brian VanGorder in, the old systems of Gus Malzahn and Ted Roof have already been scrapped.
Florida’s Due: A return to the Top 10. Or else. Gator fans are used to winning and even though plenty of fans now realize the problems Will Muschamp inherited, UF needs to return to the top of the mountain to silence any grumblers.
Florida Can Deduct: Bail costs. There have been double-digit arrests in Gainesville since Muschamp’s arrival, but the vast majority of trouble-makers were brought to Gainesville by Urban Meyer.
Georgia’s Due: Another SEC East title with that easy schedule. On paper, everyone says the Dawgs have a cakewalk lined up for 2012. In reality, the SEC rarely provides a truly easy path for anyone.
Georgia Can Deduct: The cost of its drug testing program. UGA’s system is as thorough and tough as any in the SEC and the powers-that-be aren’t planning to change it. That doesn’t help Mark Richt when it comes to his thinned-out secondary, but it sends the right message about the school.
Kentucky’s Due: A return to a bowl game. Joker Phillips has got to have one. The coach is on the hot seat entering 2012 and it will be hard for him to hang on to his job if he can’t manage a 6-6 regular-season record.
Kentucky Can Deduct: The cost of winning the NCAA Tournament in basketball. From the recruiting budget to the travel costs, UK’s hoops program helped put Cat fans in a lot better mood heading toward the fall.
LSU’s Due: More success. As crazy as Miles can sometimes be, the guy has proven to be a winner. Sure he lost that rematch to Alabama in January and that left Tiger fans fuming, but he had toppled Saban in their two previous meetings… including one win on Bama’s home field in Game of the Century Part I.
LSU Can Deduct: The price of Bobby Hebert’s press pass. LSU fans were steamed about their school’s offensive gameplan in the BCS Championship Game — They had a gameplan? — but Hebert likely cost himself some love around the Tiger football facility with his postgame peppering of Miles.
Mississippi State’s Due: A win over any SEC West team other than Ole Miss. Dan Mullen has brought excitement to Starkville and beaten The School Up North three times, but he’s never beaten any other SEC West foe. Not one.
Mississippi State Can Deduct: The price of cupcakes. In the hopes of securing six regular-season wins and bowl eligibility, the Bulldogs have lined up gimme games this fall against Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama and Middle Tennessee State.
Missouri’s Due: To prove that they can compete in the SEC. The program has taken some guff from old-guard fans who look down upon a Tiger program that hasn’t won a conference title since 1969. Playing in the weaker — at least on paper — SEC East should help.
Missouri Can Deduct: The cost of their new uniforms. Some love ‘em. Some hate ‘em. But they’re definitely all Nike. Where you come down on Nike will determine whether you’re part of the love group or the hate group.
Ole Miss’ Due: For some baby steps to help prove that UM’s decision to go with Hugh Freeze over someone like Mike Leach was a wise move. If Leach lights up the Pac-12 with Washington State before Freeze makes progress in Oxford, even Archie Manning’s halo might take a dent.
Ole Miss Can Deduct: The price of halftime entertainment because most Rebel fans will likely be back out in the Grove by the time first halves end at UM this fall.
South Carolina’s Due: A breakthrough season. Steve Spurrier has built a program from the ground up. They’ve won an East title. They’ve won 11 games. They’ve thumped a traditional power like Nebraska in a bowl game. Now it’s time to win the league. Don’t think that’s not Spurrier’s goal.
South Carolina Can Deduct: The cost of the Whitney Hotel. A number of players got discounted rates at the hotel and drew major attention from the NCAA, but it appears the Gamecocks have avoided any major penalties on that front.
Tennessee’s Due: An 8-win season. Sources close to Derek Dooley say the coach knows he needs to win at least eight games this year in order to keep the wolves from his door. His roster is no longer thin or young and the Vols’ schedule is a bit easier. Eight’s the goal at UT in 2012.
Tennessee Can Deduct: The cost of interior decorators in the UT football complex. Seven Dooley assistants out of nine departed after last season. That’s a lot of redecorating.
Texas A&M’s Due: A launching pad. While the school talks about upgrading or replacing Kyle Field, we say go ahead and put in a launching pad. ‘Cause if Kevin Sumlin turns out to be the right coach, the recruits in the state of Texas plus the SEC’s drawing power will make for a heckuva program moving forward.
Texas A&M Can Deduct: The pain that Aggies will feel — though they won’t admit it — when Thanksgiving rolls around this year. A&M made the right move by jumping to the SEC, but the loss of the school’s rivalry with Texas should be a blow to both schools and to college football.
Vanderbilt’s Due: Forward progress. James Franklin won six games and reached a bowl game in a year when most expected VU to win just two or three games. Now he’s recruiting like never before. The trick at this point is not to backslide.
Vanderbilt Can Deduct: The cost of Clint Eastwood impression lessons for Franklin. Vandy’s fiery coach played the tough guy role after losses to Georgia and Tennessee last year. He’s already made himself a bit of a nuisance to fans around the SEC… and that’s music to the ears of Music City Dores’ fans.