The SEC East's struggles this year, outside of resurgent Georgia, have been well documented. The fall of traditional powers Florida and Tennessee have obviously hurt, while the regression of recent power South Carolina has made it a one-team division. Throw in the struggles of last year's champ, Missouri, and it has been a rough year in the East.
Fall of Meyer's Florida dynasty
Three days before winning the 2008 national championship is when Florida's downturn began. Quarterback Cam Newton announced he would transfer. Look to the sport's most important position if you want to know why the Gators have struggled so badly on offense since 2009. Florida was riding high with Tim Tebow, the perfect centerpiece for Urban Meyer's spread-option attack. His backup, Newton, was an all-world talent. But after Newton, Meyer stopped recruiting the position. No QB was signed in 2008. Jordan Reed from the 2009 class eventually became a tight end. In 2010, Trey Burton changed positions almost immediately, and Tyler Murphy was ignored for three years. Quarterback was one of many problems Will Muschamp inherited from Meyer. He also inherited a commitment from Jeff Driskel, the No. 1 QB prospect in the country. There have been other quarterback mistakes and misses since then -- picking Driskel over fellow 2011 signee Jacoby Brissett, signing Skyler Mornhinweg in 2012 and Max Staver in 2013. It adds up to Florida's relying on Driskel to pan out, something that hasn't happened in his first four years. -- Jeff Barlis
Post-Fulmer coaching stumbles at Tennessee
Phil Fulmer supporters use his departure from Tennessee as a cautionary tale about unseating a proven winner. Detractors say the program had taken a step backward -- the Volunteers endured losing seasons in two of Fulmer’s final four years -- and it was time for new leadership.
No matter which argument you believe, it’s clear Tennessee's post-Fulmer coaching moves were disastrous. First, it hired Lane Kiffin, who posted a 7-6 record in 2009 but also created negative attention with some questionable tactics and left behind a mess when he accepted the USC job a few weeks before national signing day in 2010.
Derek Dooley was also not the answer, going 15-21 in three seasons as the program became increasingly irrelevant. Vols fans hope second-year coach Butch Jones has Tennessee on the right path, but he clearly has a lot of work to do since Tennessee is 0-3 in SEC play entering Saturday's game against Alabama. -- David Ching
Regression at South Carolina
Even while Florida and Tennessee struggled over the past couple of seasons, South Carolina helped the SEC East pack a punch with three consecutive 11-win seasons between 2011 and 2013.
With stars such as Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney and Connor Shaw leading the charge, Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks finished ninth nationally in 2011, eighth in 2012 and fourth last year. But with those standouts now in the NFL, South Carolina hasn't come close to replacing their production.
It opened the season ranked in the top 10, but a 52-28 thrashing from Texas A&M in the season opener started a downward spiral. Now at 2-3 in SEC play, the Gamecocks need to win out to avoid posting their worst record in conference play since going 3-5 in 2009. -- David Ching