Watching reality TV is becoming one of America’s favorite pastimes. We all do it. From Jersey Shore to American Idol, everybody has at least one reality TV show that they enjoy watching. So needless to say I was actually watching my favorite reality show (Billy the Exterminator) when news broke that the SEC had released its 2012 conference football schedule. Immediately questions began racing through my mind like “Who has the toughest conference schedule?”, and “Which poor teams get to travel to Missouri to play in November?” just to name a few. However, the question that made me laugh was “Which reality TV shows would I use to describe our TAM teams SEC schedule?”, and that got me to thinking. Here are the results from that burning question.
Ole Miss: Tabatha’s Hair Salon Takeover
Here is a brief breakdown of this reality TV show for those of you who have never had to sit through an episode. Basically there is a hair salon on the brink of going out of business and Tabatha Coffey comes in, gives the owners new rules and guidelines to follow and saves the salon. If Ole Miss football was a hair salon, it would no doubt be on the verge of shutting down. The Rebels have missed a bowl for two straight years, and they are riding a 14 game SEC losing streak. However, here comes Tabatha in the form of new head coach Hugh Freeze. Coach Freeze turned a struggling Arkansas State program around this past season, and he is looking forward to doing the same thing at Ole Miss. The schedule is anything but easy for the Rebels. They play all four of the best teams in the SEC on the road with trips to Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and LSU. Fans are going to have to be patient in Coach Freeze’s first year as conference wins are going to be hard to come by. Yet you can expect Coach Freeze to save Ole Miss football, just like Tabatha saves salons.
Tennessee: The First 48
We all know about this particular reality show because it was based out of Memphis for a while. The show’s premise stems from the fact that if detectives do not get a lead on a murder case in the first 48 hours (or two days) their chances of solving the case gets cut in half. IfTennessee wants to return to a place of prominence in the SEC then they better win their first two conference games on the schedule. Otherwise, the Volunteers’ case of the missing SEC championship will remain open for another year. They play two important eastern division games against Florida and Georgia right off the bat, and if they do not show up in their first two Saturdays of SEC play, their chances for an SEC east championship will too be cut in half. After the season the Vols had last year, starting 0-2 in conference play will place Coach Dooley squarely on the hot seat.
Vanderbilt: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
This is one of those feel good reality TV shows that helps less fortunate families and communities by renovating their house or school, turning it into a splendid spectacle for all to behold. No school in SEC football has been less fortunate than Vanderbilt, as the Commodores have only gone to five bowls (including this year’s Liberty Bowl) in their 121 year history. However, the Commodores fortunes appear to be changing. They have a very manageable conference schedule in 2012 with no games against Texas A&M, LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas. So Vandy might get a chance to go to back to back bowls for the first time ever. Thanks to Coach Franklin and a favorable conference schedule, the house of Vanderbilt is getting some serious renovations and is beginning to look like a solid program.
Arkansas: Big Brother
The Razorback’s schedule reminds me of the TV show where contestants are confined to house with cameras everywhere, facing random evictions, and the winner gets a fabulous prize. No prize is more precious than an SEC championship and a trip to a BCS bowl forArkansas. Cameras will be all around the Razorbacks next season, who will face lofty expectations after coming off of a 10-2 season and finishing the regular season ranked in the top 10 of the BCS. The schedule shapes up nicely for the Razorbacks who avoid the best teams in the east (Florida,Georgia, andSouth Carolina), while playing their most difficult divisional games at home (Texas A&M, LSU, andAlabama). They should also bring back the best quarterback in the SEC (and the TAM player of the year) Tyler Wilson to lead yet another explosive offense under Coach Petrino. Arkansas must avoid being eliminated from the BCS house early on when they faceAlabama, but the Razorbacks should be position for an SEC west championship by the end of the year.
Mississippi State: Punk’d
This MTV hit takes me back to my younger days, when watching pranks being pulled on unsuspecting people made me happy (wait it still does!). The recipe for a great prank is to get the person being pranked to believe that everything is going better than it should, and then you pull the rug from under them, crushing their world with a series of mishaps and traumatic experiences. Mississippi State has an easy first three games in conference play facing off againstAuburn,Tennessee, andKentucky. The Bulldogs could very well be 3-0 in conference play, and feel comfortable talking about an SEC West championship. However, be warned Bulldog fans, Ashton Kutcher might not be in his van waiting to hop out and laugh at you for being foolish enough to believe that Mississippi State can win a SEC championship next year, but I am. After a relatively easy first three games in SEC play, the Bulldogs next four games will be against some of the best teams in the SEC, when they take on Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, and Texas A&M. I warn Mississippi State fans now do not believe the hype until after their October 27 game against Alabama when we should see what the Bulldogs are really made of. If you choose not to heed this warning Bulldog fans, you should get prepared to sit on a metaphorical whoopee cushion by the end of the season.
The Mid-South is full of fans with allegiances to different area college football programs. Which FBS program in the three states surrounding the Memphis area is the best? To help end some arguments and start others, every week MemphiSport ranks all the college football teams in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi . We call it the TAMs Rankings.
C.J. Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from games.