Looking at all the teams in the SEC East right now it would appear that going into next year Georgia and South Carolina are the favorites to battle it out for division title. Kentucky was awful this year and has never come close to winning the division. Tennessee lost to Kentucky. Vanderbilt is improving but still has a long ways to go and by the way they are Vanderbilt. Florida was a mess this season and will have a new offensive coordinator for the third time in three seasons as well as a new starting quarterback. Missouri is a bit of a wild card but they were a pedestrian 7-5 in the Big 12(-2) this past season. They have had some success as of late but will be adjusting to life in the SEC.
That leaves the race really down to the two favorites I stated above, Georgia and South Carolina. South Carolina's best player will be coming off an ACL tear and now losing a major part of their success. Despite Spurrier being the head coach at South Carolina they have been a team that has won by playing great defense. They are 4th in total defense and 12th in scoring defense this season. Losing Ellis,the guy who put together that defense, will hurt them. It will hurt them more because there are not many coaches of his caliber that run the 4-2-5. Here is an old but pretty good break down of his version of the 4-2-5, the players named don't fit but the scheme is still what they run today. With Ellis Johnson leaving South Carolina will have two choices: hire from within to keep the same defense or change schemes. Hiring from within runs the risk of a position coach getting in over his head as a coordinator, think Willie Martinez. Bringing in someone who runs a different scheme runs the risk of an adjustment period as the team adapts to the new scheme, think Grantham's first year at Georgia. These may not turn out to be huge issues for South Carolina but it should be expected to set the defense back at least some next year. That should give Georgia at least some advantage when playing South Carolina.