The time is now for Auburn to seize control of the SEC West.*
About that asterisk.
That’s the “Alabama Asterisk.” When I write “seize control of the SEC West,” I mean, “seize control of second place in the SEC West behind Alabama as long as Nick Saban is there.”
Nick Saban has Alabama at a different level from not only Auburn, but every other SEC program as well. While Auburn aspiring to the level of excellence he’s attained at Alabama is fine, setting that as an expectation – or even a goal – is unrealistic and would be counterproductive.
There’s no shame in that.
Contrary to the belief of many outsiders, Auburn fans – of which I’m one – are not obsessed with Alabama. We’re obsessed with Auburn. What Auburn should be obsessed with is becoming the second-best team in the SEC West for the next several years and the landscape of the division allows for that.
I think Ed Orgeron is an inferior head coach for a job as prominent as LSU. I do not believe he’s a championship-caliber coach and I expect the LSU program to backslide.
Kevin Sumlin is on the hottest seat in the conference and I think there’s every reason to believe he’s fired if Texas A&M doesn’t win nine games this fall. Winning nine games would be a stretch for them. Whether he stays there and continues winning eight games a season or is fired forcing the program into upheaval, the Aggies, despite their resources, will not be running on all eight cylinders for years.
Mississippi State doesn’t have the recruiting base to match Auburn’s, Ole Miss may be headed for a decade of misery and as much as I like what Bret Bielema has done to the Razorbacks’ academic standing and character, there’s a limit on how far he can take that program.
Second place in the SEC West is there for the taking and Auburn is best positioned to take it.
And second place in the West is a good place to be. You can win 10 games and finish second in the West. You can go to New Year’s Six bowls and finish second in the West. You can even beat Alabama occasionally and be first in the West, but you’re not going to do that every year. What Auburn can do every year is at least be second in the West.
Auburn finished second in the West a season ago. If Jarrett Stidham is close to as good as advertised, second in the West is its to lose again this season. Stidham has three years of eligibility remaining and even if he leaves early, the Tigers have one of the most highly-prized 2018 quarterbacks verbally committed.
The future looks bright at Auburn, a notion Tigers fans would second.
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(You can follow Chadd Scott on Twittter @ChaddScott)
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