By Jay Coulter
In today’s edition of Buy, Sell or Hold we look at the Eastern Division of the SEC. If you don’t know how the game is played, please read yesterday’s column first. For the record, the Dow Jones was down more than 146 points today. Let’s hope these guys fare better.
Tennessee – Sell – We’re still not sold on the Volunteers. Despite bouncing back from a disastrous 2005 season last year, Tennessee is still a big question mark. David Cutcliffe should stabilize the offense even more this year with Eric Ainge returning at quarterback. The defense still has some questions to answer, specifically how to stop the run. Mix in a schedule that opens with road trips to Cal and Florida and you have a recipe for potential disaster.
Florida – Hold – There’s no need to sell this stock. Florida has all the resources it needs to rule the SEC for years. With arguably the best recruiting state in the country surrounding it, the largest athletic budget in the SEC and one of the best young coaches in America, Florida has everything going for it. It makes you wonder why it took Florida all those years to finally begin to play big boy football.
Georgia – Buy – A lot of people began jumping off the Mark Richt band wagon last year as it became apparent the season was lost. Then a funny thing started happening; they began winning. After embarrassing Auburn, beating in-state rival Georgia Tech and then finishing Virginia Tech off in the bowl game, Richt seemed to get a whole lot smarter. A lot of that had to do with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who found his groove down the stretch.
This season there are more hurdles to overcome including a still improving offensive line and a defensive front seven that lacks experience. But overall, Richt looks to have a solid team heading into the season. Strengths include a stable of solid running backs, speedy linebackers and defensive backs. Look for them to finish second in the East.
South Carolina – Hold – This is a tough call. If you own stock in South Carolina, hold on to it. The Ol’ Ball coach and his team are not getting worse. The Gamecocks problem is they must compete against Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in the East. Solid recruiting classes should start paying dividends, but not this year. With Blake Mitchell returning for his senior year, look for Spurrier’s offense to start resembling more of the Fun-n-Gun we saw at Florida. Now if he can only get the players to execute it.
Kentucky – Buy – If you are a day trader, scoop this stock up. But don’t hold it long. Rich Brooks managed a winning season at Kentucky in 2006. Make this man coach of the year. If he’s smart, he’ll dust off the resume and get out of town while the getting is good. This year’s team is loaded with upper classmen. Don’t be surprised to see the Wildcats bowling again in December.
Vanderbilt – Sell – Sure Vandy returns all of its offensive line and most of its playmakers from last year’s team. But that team went 4-8 and won one conference game. There’s no question that Bobby Johnson is a fine coach. If he can’t win at Vanderbilt, then nobody can. That’s why he should have never taken the job. Will the Commodores surprise everyone and go bowling? Yeah, right after Alabama admits they don’t have 12 national championships.