After a (rather surprising) decent 2016 season the Kentucky Wildcats will play something other than basketball in December! in other words, they made a bowl game. This sets up well for the 2017 Champions of Life as the easiest way to win the award is to fall completely flat with high expectations. Kentucky fans will undoubtedly be excited for the 2017 season; however we’re counting on the more rational ones to tamp down any thought of an SEC East/SEC title. That sanity may cost them the Champions of Life title though.
4. Mississippi (The State of)
Normally the designation “Champions of Life” is given to a team that failed miserably after high expectations, but cannot cope with that failure. However, after finishing last in the SEC West, both Mississippi schools are set up well for 2017. Without a doubt in the offseason you’ll start to hear comments like “We expect a break out year” or some other BS that gets fans excited. Once the games get going though, we’re more likely to see results similar to this year.
Similar to Georgia, Arkansas really had a strong showing in the 2016 Champions of Life matchups. The real difference has been the fact that their fans understand their team is not an SEC powerhouse (compared to Tennessee where their fans feel like they just won the SEC last year – even though they didn’t). At 3-5 in the conference, their road to the Champions of Life is going to be a difficult. We cannot overlook our friends to the south though. They had high expectations going into the year and could have similar ones going into next year.
If not for Tennessee, Georgia may have been the 2016 Champions of Life. Lots of hype heading into 2016 with a new coach, followed by really bad football is usually an easy path to win the Champions of Life. They will have a tough road to the Championship though as, despite going 7-5 overall, their 4-4 conference record from this year may have the ability to be improved. That potential improvement, combined with an unrealistic fan base puts them in the number two spot for the pre-season 2017 Champions of Life.
With such a strong showing in 2016, Tennessee remains the early favorite for the 2017 Champions of Life. There is zero doubt in our mind that August 2017 will feature predictions from Tennessee fans and coaches for Tennessee to win the East and the SEC. That kind of hype can really put your team in a good spot to win the Champions of Life. Some real roadblocks lay in front of the Vols though, mainly their poor showing in 2016. It is difficult to win this award back-to-back for that reason. You really have to fall off your high horse to become the Champions of Life. We have every bit of faith in Tennessee though.