Whose idea was this S.E.C. Power Poll, anyway? Why did we have to pick a down year for the conference to do this? I mean, for crying out loud, we all know the Big 12 is the tougher league this year, but do we have to advertise it by running through the rogues’ gallery in such embarrassing fashion on a weekly basis? I never should have agreed to this, but, in for a buck, in for a bundle, I suppose. Here are the Southeastern Conference’s member institutions, arranged according to their present strength. As the name implies, this (unlike my BlogPoll ballot) is a power poll:
1. Florida: Yes, it was just The Citadel, but when’s the last time the Gators (or anyone else in the S.E.C., for that matter) hung 70 on someone? The Orange and Blue machine is set on "crush."
2. Alabama: How can the Crimson Tide be the last remaining undefeated team in the major conferences yet not stand atop the S.E.C. Power Poll? Simple; while the Florida team that waxed Georgia in Jacksonville was just getting warmed up, the ‘Bama squad that throttled the ‘Dawgs in Athens hasn’t been seen in weeks.
3. Georgia: Will 2008 go down in history as a disappointment on a level with 2004 or as a letdown on a par with 2000? That question will be answered this weekend, when a record-setting eighth straight win over the Yellow Jackets would lock up a sixth ten-win season in a seven-year span but a loss would mean that the Red and Black squad that entered the Georgia Southern game as the No. 1 team in the nation exited the Georgia Tech game as the No. 2 team in the state.
4. Ole Miss: If I were a Rebel fan, I’d really be giving the Arkansas people a hard time over the fact that they treated Houston Nutt as badly as, um, Mississippi treated David Cutcliffe. . . . Uh, nevermind. Anyway, the Rebs appear to have sewn up a Cotton Bowl berth, making them one of the feel good stories of the season.
5. Louisiana State: Anyone who blames the Bayou Bengals’ woes on their quarterback situation is making the same mistake as the Florida fans who blamed Tim Tebow’s sore shoulder for the Gators’ loss to the ‘Dawgs in 2007. Signal-callers don’t play defense. Unfortunately for L.S.U., neither do the Fighting Tigers.
6. South Carolina: A fairly impressive resurgence---or, given the Gamecocks’ history, surgence---by the East Coast U.S.C. was halted in the Palmetto State Poultry’s embarrassing loss to Florida. The coach whose nickname is "Darth Visor" stands a better than 50/50 chance of losing to a coach whose nickname is "Dabo." The former moniker was coined by opposing coaches who could not beat the Evil Genius; the latter moniker was coined by a slightly older brother who was too young to enunciate clearly when saying "that boy." Yeah, losing to Clemson this year would be more shameful than getting thumped by Urban Meyer, wouldn’t it?
7. Vanderbilt: You know, bowl-eligible and bowl-bound aren’t the same thing. Satisfying the minimum standard to qualify for postseason play really isn’t that impressive an accomplishment.
8. Kentucky: I guarantee you that the Wildcat faithful realized it was basketball season a good week before I did. This is not to their credit.
9. Auburn: The Plainsmen epitomize mediocrity with their 5-6 record and their unbroken string of close contests in conference play. The sad part is that the Tigers have at least a puncher’s chance of winning what is sure to be a tight, low-scoring Iron Bowl.
10. Tennessee: Does anyone else remember when a Volunteer win over Vanderbilt didn’t constitute an upset?
11. Mississippi State: The Western Division Bulldogs are so bad, they lost to Tennessee.
12. Arkansas: The Razorbacks are so bad, they lost to Mississippi State.
That is how the league breaks down, at least from my perspective. If you see it differently, feel free to say so in the comments below.