After each college football season, players, coaches and fans always go back and, in their minds, take a look at what went right, what went wrong and what could have been if one play or game had gone differently.
SEC Network sideline analyst Cole Cubelic had that on his mind on Friday on Twitter, and we thought we would join in the fun and list our own “what-ifs” for the 2017 season. As they say, it is never too early to look back at what could have been.
What if … Tennessee had stuck with Greg Schiano?
The entirety of Vols Twitter would have certainly melted down, and the job of athletic director John Currie would have still been up in the air. Jeremy Pruitt, and the recruiting success he has already brought the Volunteers in such a short time, would still be in Tuscaloosa. Tennessee fans would not be as excited about the future as they are now.
What if … Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason had stayed healthy?
The Bulldogs starter went down in the first game of the season, clearing the way for Jake Fromm and his magical run as Georgia made the National Championship Game. Would the Dawgs had been in that position with Eason at the helm? No one knows, but what is certain is that he would still be in Athens.
What if … Gus Malzahn had left for Arkansas?
It seemed that Malzahn was extremely close to returning to his home state to become the coach of the Razorbacks, but wins over Georgia and Alabama, along with a spot in the SEC Championship, made Auburn pony up, with Malzahn deciding to stay. Arkansas would have made an extremely popular hire, while Auburn would be stuck looking for someone to continue the momentum that Malzahn had built.
What if … LSU doesn’t lose to Troy?
It was a good season in Baton Rouge, La., with the Tigers winning nine games, but that loss to the Trojans definitely put a damper on it. That seems to be the moment when the tension between coach Ed Orgeron and Matt Canada started to build, and now the offensive coordinator is gone after one season.
What if … Nick Fitzgerald didn’t get hurt against Ole Miss?
Does Matt Luke get the permanent head coaching position if the Rebels lose to the rival Bulldogs? Doubtful. The administration listed the job opening in October, and nothing from Ole Miss had pointed toward Luke getting hired.
What if … Jarrett Stidham had enrolled at Texas A&M and not Auburn?
Malzahn is most likely at Arkansas, coach Kevin Sumlin might still be in College Station, Auburn would not have beaten Alabama or Georgia and Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk would have been even more dangerous than he already was. Phew! That decision by Stidham changed a lot of paths.
What if … Nick Saban had started Tua Tagovailoa earlier?
Sure, it worked out for the Crimson Tide in the end, but with Tagovailoa in charge, that Iron Bowl loss to Auburn, in which Jalen Hurts struggled, might not have kept the Tide out of the SEC Championship Game and wouldn’t have made their inclusion into the playoff as controversial. Also, the Tide fan base wouldn’t have had much to gripe about.
What if … Jim McElwain didn’t claim he received death threats?
Despite the Gators struggles on the field, there’s a 99.9 percent chance that McElwain would still be in charge of the Florida program had he not made the claim of receiving death threats. For such an odd season, this is the moment when it hit peak weird. Oh, and Dan Mullen would likely still be at Mississippi State.
What if … Texas A&M had held on to beat UCLA?
No matter what happened for the rest of the Aggies season, the loss to the Bruins in the opener clinched Sumlin’s fate as much as anything else. If A&M had held onto the 44-10 lead, would the Aggies have been able to rally around the victory?
What if … Ohio State had earned the Playoff berth over Alabama?
Saban’s head would come close to exploding, Danny Kanell would celebrate Christmas early, and Georgia fans … poor Georgia fans. The national title trophy would likely be in Athens right now.