So, early this morning, let's peer into the Crystal Ball of Auburn Football and the SEC and make some predictions about what the future holds. You may notice this same topic popping up in some fashion on almost every SB Nation football blog this morning. It's almost like they asked us to write something about it, isn't it?
Auburn In The Next Five Years
I could spend days talking about the possible tangents that happen, here. Auburn could be very successful this year and Chip Lindsey leaves and we're right back where we were with wondering what the offense will look like. He could stay and Auburn could build a powerhouse until he leaves after the next year and we're back in that spot. They could both struggle this season and the coaching staff gets fired and we're looking at a whole new coaching staff getting 4-5 years to figure things out once again.
What do I think will happen, though? Here's what I think will happen.
1) Auburn will be on an upward trend over the next few years. I think a good QB and an upgraded passing game is all Gus Malzahn has needed over the last two seasons. Yes, even 2015. We saw what Sean White was capable of when he learned the offense and how things were going last season when everyone was healthy. Now, imagine that with a QB who is an upgrade. I love Sean White, but Stidham is, without a doubt, an upgrade.
2) I think Auburn has a very good 2017. I'm not prepared to say how good, though. I think because of that, Chip Lindsey is going to get some offers to possibly be a head coach next year. Will he leave? It depends on the offers. After a year at Arizona State, he wasn't getting the phone calls he wanted. A successful year at Auburn would change that.
3) Chip Lindsey will get a new job in 1-2 years and we'll be coordinator searching again. If he leaves, then I look for Gus Malzahn to go the same route. He may bring a young offensive assistant back or someone he's familiar with. Or, he may branch out even more. The future depends on what kind of coach Gus wants to be. He's been learning on the job here at Auburn and has evolved a whole lot. He's making changes and decisions he knows he needs to if he wants to stick around, now.
Of course, he could eventually decide that he's learned enough new concepts that he's ready to take over play calling again.
4) If the QB situation doesn't work out, we're coach hunting very soon. I think Auburn under Gus Malzahn is on the edge of a precipice right now. All of the pieces are now in place for the Tigers to have a year on the order of 2013. If that happens, then Gus will be around for a few more years. Whether or not we're looking for a new head coach in 2-3 years after that remains to be seen. If he fails this season, though, then he's gone. And, five years from now, we're right back here evaluating the next head coach on his first 4-5 years.
5) We're in for quite a ride no matter how it goes. It could be a ton of fun and it could be a ton of misery. It's going to be interesting either way.
Where is the SEC in Five Years?
1) The Power 6 will always be the Power 6. We've seen teams attempt to break through that, but no one has been successful. Ironically, Missouri has come the closest to being the first non-Power 6 team in almost half a century to win a SEC title outright.
2) The most likely team to make that breakthrough is Texas A&M if they can get the right things going. However, they weren't particularly strong in their final years of the Big XII, so there's also reason to believe they'll remain in the Arkansas role of someone who is always just on the edge but never quite there.
3) The SEC East will never change. In the SEC East, Florida and Tennessee will get things turned around. UGA will always be UGA. They'll start a year with high expectations and maybe even win some things on occasion, but overall they're going to disappoint their fans. I don't know what the future holds for them under Kirby Smart, but past experiences say that Nick Saban assistants don't do that well as head coaches. At least not at their first job.
4) Will Muschamp could challenge that. That's where Will Muschamp comes in. He's ahead of schedule at South Carolina and could build them into something. It may be the perfect time to do just that, too. In five years, he may have the Gamecocks playing at the level that Spurrier did.
5) Who replaces a legend? Perhaps one of the biggest questions for the SEC will be who is coaching Alabama in 5 years. I have a hard time believing that Nick Saban will want to keep coaching that long. It's hard to follow a legend - and, yes, he is very much a legend - so, it will be very interesting to see what the next coach (*cough*Dabo*cough*) can do there.
6) Will there be realignment? The other big question will be just who is in the conference to begin with. Will the conference expand again? Will it retract? Will Oklahoma and Oklahoma State abandon Texas and the Big XII? Will we reach a bubble where we go back to smaller conferences? Will we still have Divisional play or will we go to some form of pod system that will make fans a lot more happier because they get to see old rivals more often?
I'm guessing the pod system never happens. The conference stays as it is in terms of the number of teams. The Power 6 continue to rule and life goes on much as it has.
So, what do y'all think happens for Auburn and the SEC over the course of the next five years? Sound off in the comments below!