What SEC Football Program Has The Most ‘Juice’

Former Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley had many memorable quotes in his 3 years on Rocky Top, but a description that always stuck with me was when he described the need for a little “juice” when discussing a successful onside kick against Cincinnati in 2011. The Vols went on to win that game comfortably and ironically beat future Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones in the process.

Butch was a master of offseason “juice.” Just when Tennessee could use a little good news, he always seemed to provide it with a big commitment or announcement. Butch lasted only two years longer in Knoxville than Derek Dooley because that offseason “juice” couldn’t translate to more than a pair of 9-win seasons before a disastrous 2017 campaign ended his tenure as Tennessee head man.

I write this to not wax poetic about a couple of failed Tennessee head coaches, but instead to describe what I’m trying to quantify across the entire conference. “Juice” is the term I’m using to describe momentum, mojo, vibes, or whatever word you use to describe it. Some of these factors are intangible like the general feeling around a program. And others are tangible, like recruiting rankings, transfer portal +/-, injuries, and off field incidents.

So here are my highly subjective SEC juice meter rankings, as we prepare for SEC Media Days in Atlanta next week. I will go in alphabetical order and close with the rankings 1-14 with each team’s “juice” rated on a scale of 1-10. (247 Sports Composite Ranking)

ALABAMA
Recruiting Ranking: 5th in SEC (12th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 3rd in SEC (2nd in Nation)
Juice Meter: 8.5

Not that Alabama needed much juice, but they got some in the form of Jahmyr Gibbs, the transfer RB from Georgia Tech, and Jermaine Burton, transfer WR from Georgia. The only negative marks for the Bama offseason goes to Nick Saban, having to apologize for comments made about Texas A&M which is very un-Saban like.

ARKANSAS
Recruiting Ranking: 3rd in SEC (8th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 5th in SEC (10th in Nation)
Juice Meter: 9

I am drinking the Hog Kool-Aid and you should too. Sam Pittman knows exactly who he is and what he wants in his Arkansas program and it’s showing once again. Just look at their top 4 additions via the transfer portal and where they left for Fayetteville: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Oklahoma. That says a lot about what Pittman has cooking and Arkansas fans are ready to eat.

AUBURN
Recruiting Ranking: 14th in SEC (70th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 8th in SEC (23rd in Nation)
Juice Meter: 2

Auburn may be the only team to receive a negative number on the juice meter but I’m being generous and giving them a 2. When your program is dealing with a failed coup to take down your head coach after only one season, you can see how it’s difficult to gain much momentum. Auburn also managed to lose their Defensive Coordinator to what could politely be considered a lateral move and lost an OC after only 6 weeks on the job. Their lone offseason bright spot was convincing last season’s hero in Texas A&M’s upset of Alabama (Zach Calzada) to transfer in and play QB for a program in need of a big season if it’s going to retain its head coach.

FLORIDA
Recruiting Ranking: 6th in SEC (21st in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 6th in SEC (19th in Nation)
Juice Meter: 5

While recruiting has picked up a bit lately, Billy Napier’s first offseason as Gators head coach can mostly be described as “Meh.” Let’s sum it up this way, two of the biggest happenings this offseason was adding a pair of really good players in the portal from Napier’s previous school: Louisiana-Lafayette.

GEORGIA
Recruiting Ranking: 2nd in SEC (7th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: NR (0 additions or subtractions)
Juice Meter: 8

Unless you want to give high marks for Stetson Bennett’s ability to be interviewed early in the morning after being up late celebrating his team’s national championship, then there’s not a lot of additions or subtractions to point to this offseason for the Bulldogs.

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But recruiting keeps chugging right along at an elite pace and life is good when
you have this much time to soak in and celebrate a national championship.

KENTUCKY
Recruiting Ranking: 9th in SEC (50th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 9th in SEC (28th in Nation)
Juice Meter: 5

Landing Tayvion Robinson (WR) from Virginia Tech was big for Mark Stoops and the Cats, but other than that, it’s been fairly status quo for Kentucky this offseason which is definitely not a bad thing for a program that’s risen in prominence as Kentucky has. Points deducted for the DUI arrest of star RB Chris Rodriguez and uncertainty around his status this season.

LSU
Recruiting Ranking: 4th in SEC (9th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 2nd in SEC (3rd in Nation)
Juice Meter: 8

Everything but Brian Kelly’s dance moves are looking up in Baton Rouge.

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Brian Kelly was the most successful coach hired in the latest cycle and he hasn’t disappointed since arriving at LSU. They’ve done great work in the portal with the most notable addition being (QB) Jayden Daniels from Arizona State. And if you believe that any publicity is good publicity then Kelly’s newfound buttery southern accent has you believing in the Bayou Bengals in 2022.

Brian Kelly Apparently Developed A New Accent After Accepting LSU Job


OLE MISS
Recruiting Ranking: 13th in SEC (61st in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 1st in SEC (2nd in Nation)
Juice Meter: 6.5

Come To TheSip is the rallying cry for Ole Miss football and while it’s working big time in the transfer portal, it hasn’t quite latched onto high school recruits. But Ole Miss will always be juicy as long as Lane Kiffin is operating a twitter account, so it’s been another productive offseason in Oxford.

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MISSISSIPPI STATE
Recruiting Ranking: 10th in SEC (57th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 10th in SEC (39th in Nation)
Juice Meter: 4.5

All is quiet in Starkville which could definitely be considered a good thing but it’s not great for their juice meter. We need Mike Leach on a podium talking about dating ASAP. And lucky for us, we get that next week at SEC Media Days. Adding Marcus Banks (CB) from Alabama was nice for the Bulldogs but not enough to move up their number considerably.

MISSOURI
Recruiting Ranking: 12th in SEC (60th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 7th in SEC (22nd in Nation)
Juice Meter: 4.5

It’s hard to define Eli Drinkwitz’ program at this point and this offseason has done nothing to add to that lack of definition. Recruiting has been mostly blah at this point and outside of adding a nice RB and a couple of good defenders in the portal, this offseason hasn’t done much to get the Tiger blood pumping.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Recruiting Ranking: 7th in SEC (31st in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 4th in SEC (9th in Nation)
Juice Meter: 7.5

Landing Spencer Rattler is big enough but adding his Tight End at Oklahoma (Austin Stogner) and one of the best players in all of FCS (Antwana Wells-James Madison) has Gamecock fans ready to drink the juice, RC Cola, or whatever other refreshing beverage handed them by Shane Beamer. The offseason juice started with their impressive bowl win over North Carolina in Charlotte and hasn’t slowed down. Only a slight deduction for a middle of the pack recruiting ranking but given how Beamer is establishing a true program in Columbia, it doesn’t bring the number down too much.

TENNESSEE
Recruiting Ranking: 1st in SEC (5th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 11th in SEC (56th in Nation)
Juice Meter: 9

There’s been a lot of talk about a high school QB with an $8 million NIL deal but not a lot of direct references to the program. That exposure is worth a lot to Tennessee (wink,wink). Whether completely true or not, Tennessee’s NIL plan is top notch and their thinking is ahead of the curve in College Football and it has paid off by landing one of the top High School QBs in America out of California and a host of other top prospects ready to volunteer their services for Josh Heupel & Co. If I’m buying a tock low in an effort to sell high in a couple years, I’m buying Tennessee and Arkansas.

TEXAS A&M
Recruiting Ranking: 11th in SEC (59th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 13th in SEC (104th in Nation)
Juice Meter: 6.5

If not for Jimbo Fisher going scorched earth on Nick Saban, their juice meter would be a 4. A&M is bringing in maybe the greatest recruiting class in the history of the game so their arrival has that campus buzzing but the 2023 class is still very much a work in progress. It doesn’t help that the rival Longhorns recently landed Arch Manning.

VANDERBILT
Recruiting Ranking: 8th in SEC (49th in Nation)
Transfer Portal: 12th in SEC (61st in Nation)
Juice Meter: 5

I really like Clark Lea and what he is attempting to accomplish on West End Ave.
But it’s really hard to generate buzz at Vandy. It helps that it looks like there are
finally some improvements happening with on-campus athletic facilities and their
current 2023 recruiting class is a miracle when you consider what Lea inherited
and what their on-field product looked like in 2021. But I live in Middle Tennessee
and I feel very little excitement or juice around the upcoming Commodore
season.

SEC JUICE METER RANKINGS 

  1. Arkansas- 9 

  1. Tennessee- 9 

  1. Alabama- 8.5 

  1. Georgia- 8 

  1. LSU- 8 

  1. South Carolina- 7.5 

  1. Ole Miss- 6.5 

  1. Texas A&M- 6.5 

  1. Florida- 5 

  1. Kentucky- 5 

  1. Vanderbilt- 5 

  1. Mississipi State- 4.5 

  1. Missouri- 4.5 

  1. Auburn- 2 

Written by Chad Withrow

Chad Withrow hosts OutKick 360 and has covered Nashville sports, statewide, and SEC college issues and headlines since 2004.

2 Comments

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  1. I coined a phrase some years ago that has stood the test of time …
    .
    A Big Time College FB Program is only as strong as “It’s 3rd string O-Line”. The Big-uns up front are going to “go down” PERIOD. Trench warfare guarantees blown our legs and shoulders. Come late Oct / Nov if your school is playing 230 lbs walk-ons on the O-line …. you ain’t playing on New Year’sDay..
    .
    The Big Boy Programs have their superstars ….. but they also have DEPTH.

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