As the final games of the season approach for SEC teams, we thought we'd take a look at what stock is rising and what's falling in the conference:
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin: Before the season, Franklin promised that things would change when it came to Vanderbilt football. Boy, was he right. The Commodores were actually fun to watch this season, had some attitude and made it back to a bowl game for the first time since 2008. Along the way, the Commodores took Georgia, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee all down to the wire, and if not for some old Vandy mistakes, the Commodores might have won nine games this year. He's also doing a great job on the recruiting front, as his class ranks 22nd nationally.
SEC star power: It was pretty crowded at the top of the SEC's most outstanding list. Alabama running back Trent Richardson was an All-American, won the Doak Walker Award and was a Heisman finalist. Joining him at the top of the SEC -- and the country -- were LSU cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne. Both were All-Americans and Mathieu took home the Chuck Bednarik Award, while Claiborne earned the Jim Thorpe Award. Alabama's Barrett Jones won the Outland Trophy, LSU's Les Miles took home The Home Depot Award (coach of the year) and LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis won the Frank Broyles Award (assistant coach of the year). The SEC had 16 players named AP All-Americans in 2011.
The SEC: Not only did the conference rack up the accolades, but the SEC will be represented by both Alabama and LSU in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game. There is controversy surrounding this game, but those representing the conference could care less. LSU and Alabama were the two best teams in the country and the SEC is guaranteed to win its sixth straight national championship. Unfortunately, the league will also suffer its first loss in the BCS title game.
Auburn running back Michael Dyer: He was easily Auburn's best player this season and was one of the most productive running backs in the SEC. However, because he violated unspecified team rules, Dyer won't be playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia. This is a mistake by Dyer that could cost his team dearly. Auburn's offense hasn't exactly moved the ball well in recent weeks and not having Dyer won't help that. This will surely make Gus Malzahn's final offensive game plan with Auburn a little more interesting.
Tennessee: Despite a rough middle portion of the 2011 season, the Vols could have missed this list if not for an embarrassing 10-7 loss to Kentucky to close the year. A week after keeping their postseason hopes alive with a win over Vanderbilt, the Vols fell flat against a team that hadn't beat them in 26 years. It didn't help that star wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers is reportedly firmly in coach Derek Dooley's doghouse. Though, Dooley finds himself in the Tennessee fan base's doghouse as well.
SEC offenses: This truly is a defensive league (five teams rank in the top 10 nationally). SEC offenses didn't end the regular season well, with five teams -- Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Ole Miss and Kentucky -- finishing with offenses that ranked higher than 100th nationally. Only three teams -- Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia -- ranked in the top 50, and were the only SEC teams to average more than 400 yards of total offense per game.