Editor's note: The spectacle that is SEC media days ended earlier this week. But with the newly-expanded four-day media event over, we're at a bit of a loss. Fall camp is still weeks away; the regular season is even further, with the 2014 campaign kicking off at the end of August. So what better time to roll out the preseason power rankings among teams in the SEC?
With that in mind, we'll count down the teams from worst to first. The format will involve a "best-case/worst-case" scenario for each team, taking our a page out of former War Eagle Extra beat writer Andy Bitter's playbook from 2010. (One final note: Please, as Bitter said four years ago, remember all scenarios "are meant to be hyperbolic.")
No. 10: Florida
No need to make this more complicated than it is. Will Muschamp is sitting on an unbelievably warm seat heading into the 2014 season.
One has to think he'll have to win at least eight games in the regular season — and possibly a bowl victory, too — to keep from getting the ax. If not, the Gators will likely be looking for a new coach come December (or possibly sooner if they struggle mightily).
Best-case scenario: The Gators hit the number on the nose, getting to eight wins in the regular season. They jump out to a 3-0 start with one of the easiest slates you'll ever see: Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky. Of course, the Gators are dropkicked on the road by Alabama in Game 4, but hey, no one was expecting them to win that contest, anyway. Florida alternates wins (Tennessee and Missouri) and losses (LSU) in the next three games before it's off to Jacksonville, Fla., for the annual meeting with Georgia.
After dropping three straight games versus the Bulldogs for the first time since the late-1980s, the Gators reverse the streak, knocking off the Bulldogs 24-20. But the win against Georgia sends Florida into another topsy-turvy routine, as they once more switch between wins (Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky) and losses (South Carolina and Florida State) to close out the regular season. But with eight wins doubling up 2013's four-win tally, Muschamp's job is safe. While the Outback Bowl is far from the biggest postseason contest the Gators have been involved in since the turn of the century, it's still something positive for the players, fan base and program as a whole.
Once Florida gets down to Tampa, Fla., it's locked in a tight contest with Iowa. In the fourth quarter, however, senior Jeff Driskel makes his final collegiate game a memorable one, running it in from the 6-yard line to lift the Gators to a 27-24 victory.
With Muschamp proving to have the program back on the right track, the Gators land a top-10 recruiting class. Elsewhere, the Gators revel in the Bulldogs' struggles. With Aaron Murray gone and a patchwork offensive line in front of Hutson Mason, Georgia limps to a 6-7 finish after losing its bowl game for the second straight year. And while Florida State lands in the initial four-team College Football Playoff, it is upended in the semifinals by No. 4 Oregon.
Worst-case scenario: The Gators hit eight on the nose — in losses, that is. They start out 3-0, beating Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky (barely). But when the Crimson Tide lays a 59-10 loss on them in Tuscaloosa, it's a sign of things to come. Florida only wins once more all season, topping Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 22. By that time, Muschamp has already been informed his services won't be retained. Upon his dismissal, he lands on his feet at Alabama, rejoining Nick Saban and becoming the team's new defensive coordinator after Kirby Smart finally decides to leave to take over his own program.
But the second straight losing season — the first time that's happened at Florida since 1978-79 — isn't made any better by the success of its arch-rivals. Both the Seminoles and Bulldogs land in the College Football Playoff, meeting for the national championship. A two-touchdown underdog, Georgia shocks FSU, giving the Bulldogs their first national title since 1980. Florida fans can only grimace and hope that, somehow, someway, both the Bulldogs and Seminoles lose.