I have a lot of things to be thankful for today. I have a beautiful wife who loves me. I have great family on both sides. I live in the greatest country on earth. I have a job. I have no complaints whatsoever today.
Beyond that, I just want to go over one thing I'm thankful for in relation to each team in the conference.
Alabama: The Process
I really think Nick Saban is ahead of the curve in emphasizing how things get done over what the results are. You can't ever control results 100%, but you can control what you do to prepare for things in life. There's a lot of wisdom in that sentiment.
Arkansas: Keeping the downfield passing game alive
I grew up on Steve Spurrier football. I love seeing a team take shots down the field. Bobby Petrino subsumed a lot of Spurrier's Fun 'n Gun into his offense, and I delight every time I see Ryan Mallett hit a receiver who has no defenders within 15 yards of him. I get flashbacks, and they're the good kind.
Auburn: Seeing Cameron Newton play
Put all the off-field garbage away for a second. Watching Cam Newton operate a spread option offense is awe-inspiring. I'm glad that we got to see him run Gus Malzahn's attack this year, because there aren't many programs where he would have the freedom to do what he's doing at Auburn. He also has a 0% chance of doing that in the NFL, where he'll likely be next year. We only got to see him do his thing for one season, but what a season it's been.
Florida: Inventing a functional three-quarterback system
It's not been nearly the year I thought it would be for the Gators, but there is one bit I've enjoyed. I never thought I'd see a team employ a successful three-quarterback system, but here we are. It hasn't performed well against a really good defense yet, but the fact that it worked at all is half a miracle. Catch it while you can, because chances are we'll never see it again.
Georgia: Keeping Mark Richt around
As a Gator fan, I should hate Richt. He was a quarterback at Miami, assistant coach at FSU, and is head coach at Georgia. What, you couldn't work in a gig at Tennessee, Mark? But, he's a good man and a good guy to have in a league of coachbots and lunatics. He's generally all class, and I'm glad Greg McGarity is keeping him around next year. Bonus: how 'bout that A.J. Green guy? Seems to me he can play a little.
Kentucky: Randall Cobb's brilliance
It's not often you see a player who can legitimately throw, run, catch, and return. You'll see guys forced into that role who can't pull it off, but Cobb can. He brings excitement to every snap and gives Kentucky a chance to win nearly every week. He can truly take over a ball game, and when he does like he did against Vandy not too long ago, you can only shake your head that he didn't end up at a bigger-name school.
LSU: Les Miles's wild ride
I know too much ink and pixels have been sacrificed in Miles's honor this year, but here go a few more. He's not as daft or as much of a gambler as most say he is; he's just really aggressive with his team. And why not? He's got great players, so pushing the envelope is appropriate. Even as I watched him in person steal the game in the Swamp away from Florida, I couldn't be mad at him. It's just what he does, and no one does it better.
Ole Miss: The most interesting season in the conference
I know the results aren't the greatest, but no one has had a more interesting year in the SEC. Of all the games I've picked incorrectly this year, more have involved Ole Miss than any other team. I never know what to expect from the Rebels, who despite their record, still look like a team to me that could beat anyone else in the conference on any given day. That makes the season more fun, at least from an outside observer's standpoint.
Mississippi State: A resurgence story
This won't surprise anyone, but I like Dan Mullen. I've always seen him as a less mature version of Urban Meyer, but in a good way. He takes more chances and talks some trash. I like that. He also took Sylvester Croom's leftovers, added some new players of his choosing, and ended up with a team that's a few bounces of the ball away from being 9-2 right now. He's surpassed everyone's expectations to date, and it's a nice story to see someone do that.
South Carolina: Spurrier's division championship
Spurrier is still my favorite Florida coach, despite all the good Meyer has done. When you're on his side and he's winning and grinning, nothing else in sports feels better. I'm glad to see him break through and do what a lot of people said he'd never do: win the East. Yeah the division is down, but that's a culture-changing feat. This opens the door for him to do it in better years for the East, separating the Gamecocks from Vandy and Kentucky and bringing them close to where Arkansas is.
Tennessee: Replacing Lane Kiffin with Derek Dooley
I like coaches who are instigators because they like to have fun. I got the feeling that Kiffin was an instigator because he's a jerk. Good riddance I say, and welcome to Dooley. He's been good for some great quotes this year, whether he's complaining about his team's depth by saying he only has first and third string players or drawing analogies to Rommel. Plus, his mother Barbara is one of the most entertaining personalities in the whole southeast, and I wouldn't have known if Tennessee didn't hire him. I have zero idea what his long term prospects are, but it's been good so far to me.
Vanderbilt: Robbie Caldwell's authenticity
I would have liked to see it come under better circumstances, but I've had fun with Caldwell getting his shot coaching this year. He's a folksy, genuine, humble guy just living the dream being a head coach in the SEC. He'll tell you that too, which is a pleasant change from other coaches who say as little as possible. I don't know how long the ride will last, but I support Robbie Caldwell for as long as he's around.