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July 19, 2012ALABAMA
Coach: Nick Saban
2011: 12-1 (7-1 SEC), second in SEC West
Offense (6), Defense (5)
Toughest question Saban faced: How do you address the perception, fair or unfair, that Alabama football and you, in particular, are too big and have too much power in relation to their institution?
Saban's reply: "Well, you know, it's not true if that's the perception."
You need to know: Alabama is returning four starters from last year's offensive line, which helped UA lead the SEC in rushing. The line will be instrumental in helping first-year starter Eddie Lacy in the Tide's 2012 offense.
Best player quote: "You know, me and (William Vlachos) from the old team are very good friends. He tells me I have big shoes to fill. But the way I see it, I don't he think he wears more than a 101⁄2, so they're not that big." - Barrett Jones on taking over as the center this year
Noteworthy: AJ McCarron will return as the SEC's most efficient passer from last year, turning in a 66.8 completion percentage. ... Alabama lost four defensive players in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft and seven overall. ... This year will mark the first time since 2008 Alabama doesn't have an open date the week before playing LSU.
Coach: Hugh Freeze
2011: 2-10 (0-8 SEC), sixth in SEC West
Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (7)
Toughest question Freeze faced: What are your realistic expectations for this season?
Freeze's reply: "I've said this from Day One. I think the reasonable expectation from our fans and our administration that they should have on us, our staff and our kids, is that we compete passionately for our university for 60 minutes. Whatever the scoreboard says, it says at the end."
You need to know: Freeze is entering his first year as head coach for the Rebels and hopes to take the Rebels to their first bowl game since the 2009 season.
Best player quote: "Everybody's going to move at their own pace. Some people have bought into it faster because they connect more with Coach Freeze." - linebacker Mike Marry on the team's adjustment to a new coach
Noteworthy: Ole Miss will take on Texas this year for the first time since a 19-0 loss to the Longhorns in 1966. ... No Ole Miss wide receiver eclipsed 500 yards receiving last year. ... Ole Miss is returning an offense that didn't rank higher than 10th in the SEC in any offensive category in 2011.
Coach: Mark Richt
2011: 10-4 (7-1 SEC), first in SEC East
Returning starters: Offense (6), Defense (9)
Toughest question Richt faced: In the aftermath of Penn State, the Big Ten has floated a proposal that would allow conference commissioners to fire head coaches not based on wins and losses, but extreme situations like that. Do you have any opinion on that?
Richt's reply: "We're in a world where there's rules that are associated with the business that you're in. If the rule says that the commissioner has the right to make that type of decision, then that's the way it is."
You need to know: Georgia will be trying to replace RB Isaiah Crowell, who was dismissed from the team by Richt after an offseason arrest. Georgia's leading rusher returning is Brandon Harton, who carried the ball only 53 times for the Bulldogs.
Best player quote: "Those guys are important. ... I'm out on the outer side by myself with the one-on-one with the tackle. They really do the dirty work; they're in the grind with 600 pounds on them every play." - linebacker Jarvis Jones on UGA's defensive linemen.
Noteworthy: Georgia has not missed a bowl game since 1996, under then-head coach Jim Donnan. ... The Bulldogs are returning all four starting linebackers from last season: Jones, Cornelius Washington, Michael Gilliard and Alec Ogletree. ... The previous time Georgia won the SEC East outright, as it did in 2011, was in 2005, when the Bulldogs went on to lose to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.
Coach: Derek Dooley
2011: 5-7 (1-7 SEC), sixth in SEC East
Returning starters: Offense (10), Defense (8)
Toughest question Dooley faced: Have you spoken to your father (former Georgia coach Vince Dooley) on a four-team playoff?
Dooley's reply: "It's interesting you say that because he was pushing a plus-one 20 years ago. We don't call it a plus-one, but it's one more game."
You need to know: Tennessee has not had three straight losing seasons since 1905-1907. ... Dooley is entering his third season as the head coach at Tennessee and has yet to have a winning season (6-7 in 2010, 5-7 in 2011).
Best player quote: "I don't think (Derek Dooley) is on the hot seat. I think the team's on the hot seat."
Noteworthy: Tennessee will be meeting Missouri for the first time in program history. ... Seven of Tennessee's nine assistant coaches are in their first year with Tennessee, including former Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri. ... The Vols must replace their leading rusher from last year, Tauren Poole.
-Brett Hudson and Zackary Al-Khateeb