It's game week. Welcome to the 2013 season of SEC football.
Welcome to the season of offense. Does your team not return its starting quarterback? Or did it not lose a significant chunk off of the defense? Congratulations! You're the exception, not the rule. The 2013 campaign looks to be one in which the offenses are ahead of the defenses thanks to a lot of quality signal callers and inexperience on defenses. SEC recruiting being what it is means that the defenses won't be too far gone, but offense figures to have the upper hand this fall.
Welcome to Alabama versus the world. More so than any other season under Nick Saban, this year is national-championship-or-bust for the Crimson Tide. It's the preseason No. 1 team. It returns the quarterback who hasn't yet failed to win a title as the starter and most of the skill position players on offense. The defense is missing some pieces but still has players like C.J. Mosley and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and is still a Saban defense. The last team that had this kind of pressure was 2009 Florida, which nearly cracked a hundred times before exploding spectacularly in Atlanta. How will this Alabama team fare with the heaviest possible weight of expectations?
Welcome to a conference of potentially two Heisman winners. The SEC has produced four of the last six Heisman Trophy winners. The league has never produced them at a higher rate. And, given that JFF now stands for Johnny Football Fatigue, it probably won't be Manziel again in 2013. Toss in the trend of ever-more nationally obscure winners, and we can't rule out the phrase, "Bo Wallace, 2013 Heisman Memorial Trophy winner". You're welcome, America.
Welcome to the Johnny Show. Just because he won't win the Heisman again, it doesn't mean that this season won't in some way be largely about Johnny Manziel's exploits both on and off the field. The ever increasing tabloidization of sports means that Johnny Football's Halloween costume will probably get more page views around the Internet than any individual breakdown of his play in a given game. We'll do our best not to feed that side of things around here, but if you want to avoid celebrity coverage of Manziel, I suggest not going online pretty much ever.
Welcome to the new definition of SEC speed. We saw it some last year. We'll see more of it this year. The trend of uptempo offenses is overtaking the league. True believers Kevin Sumlin and Hugh Freeze came in last year. This year, Gus Malzahn returns, Butch Jones is here, and Mark Stoops and Neal Brown at Kentucky will go with it too. The SEC is still home to the loudest critics of the fast break offense, but those critics will have to deal with it more than ever.
Welcome to the quest for eight. The SEC's streak of national championships went to seven last year. How much longer can it last? Will anyone outside the league finally take one home?
Welcome back, my friends, to SEC football, the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend; come inside, come inside.