The juniors have declared their departure for the NFL draft, and recruiting is all done. It's an appropriate time for an early peek at the next SEC football season.
You won't have to look long to conclude that it won't look all that different from the last season. That's a testament to the staying power of Alabama and Florida.
National champion Alabama lost all but three starters from a defense that routinely overwhelmed its opposition. Florida lost five juniors to the NFL.
But both will be favored to meet for the third consecutive time in the SEC championship game.
That tells you something about the consistently top-flight recruiting of Alabama's Nick Saban and Florida's Urban Meyer. It also tells you something about the rest of the conference.
Georgia returns 10 offensive starters and has revamped its defensive coaching staff. It still looks more like a program on the wane than a championship contender.
South Carolina is inching its way upward under Steve Spurrier, but the offense still lags behind the defense.
LSU's Les Miles has come close to matching the recruiting of his predecessor, Saban, but - even after winning a national title just two years ago - his game-day management is drawing more comparisons to another former LSU coach, Curley Hallman.
Arkansas' Bobby Petrino might rank behind only Saban and Meyer among SEC coaches.However, for all the progress he has made in two years on the job, he doesn't have enough defense to win a championship.
Auburn gained ground under first-year head coach Gene Chizik, and Gus Malzahn worked wonders with its offense. But its depth of talent is still lacking.
Tennessee is rebuilding under a first-year coach. Sound familiar?
Ole Miss, which was a consensus top-10 pick last preseason, is headed south. Fast.
It's just hard to envision a championship contender among them, even though the favorites must negotiate more difficult schedules, highlighted by a mid-season Gators-Tide match-up in Tuscaloosa. Florida plays LSU the next week, followed by Mississippi State, a team that has traditionally given it trouble.
Alabama's SEC schedule is even tougher. Its game with Florida is sandwiched between trips to Arkansas and South Carolina.
But the rest of the SEC might tell you that stretch of schedule isn't as daunting as any Saturday against Alabama.
With way too much time between now and the next SEC football game, here's my first take on 2010:
Alabama: Never mind all its losses. The Tide has the two best running backs in the SEC (Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson) and three All-SEC-caliber players on defense (Mark Barron, who made all-conference as a sophomore safety; Texas-tormentor Marcell Dareus, who can play end or tackle; and linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who returns from last season's knee injury.)
Arkansas: The Razorbacks have future first-round NFL draft pick Ryan Mallett at quarterback, and plenty of playmakers at wide receiver and running back. But name two of their defensive starters.
LSU: Since winning the national title in 2007, the Tigers have looked better on signing day than game day. Expect more of the same.
Auburn: The Tigers appear headed in the right direction under Chizik, but the defense remains a work in progress, and an adequate replacement must be found for quarterback Chris Todd.
Mississippi State: The starters return in an underrated offensive line that helped the Bulldogs wreck the Rebels in Dan Mullen's first season as head coach. But a tough conference schedule, which includes Georgia and Florida from the East, could kill the Bulldogs' bowl hopes.
Ole Miss: A favorable SEC schedule and the home-field advantage in the regular-season finale against Mississippi State still might not be enough to keep it ahead of its in-state rival.
Florida: New quarterback John Brantley won't Tebow anybody on third-and-short, but NFL types won't be ridiculing his deliver, either. Despite all their losses, the Gators should field the best defense in the division.
South Carolina: I felt better about this ranking before watching the Gamecocks embarrass themselves in another bowl game. But they will have the division's most experienced quarterback in Stephen Garcia, an outstanding pass rusher in Cliff Matthews, another solid secondary and hope for a feeble running game with the signing of Marcus Lattimore.
Georgia: Three new defensive coaches at least indicates coach Mark Richt is no longer in denial. But the Bulldogs again will have to break in a new quarterback, and there are more questions than answers on their defense.
Tennessee: Too much schedule and not enough offense will make it difficult for the Vols to match last season's seven victories.
Kentucky: It's arguable whether first-time head coach Joker Phillips can continue what Rich Brooks started, but another soft non-conference schedule could propel the Wildcats to a fifth consecutive bowl game.
Vanderbilt: I'm trying really hard to find the Commodores' first SEC victory since 2008. I'll get back to you in August.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.