The final weekend of the SEC regular season left the conference picture clearer than ever, as I had no trouble whatsoever filling out my SEC Power Poll ballot. Frankly, it seems perfectly obvious to me that the only sensible way to rank the twelve teams of the Southeastern Conference is to do so in the following sequence:
1. Auburn Tigers (12-0): Am I the only one who is starting to think of this Auburn team as the college football equivalent of the 1997 Florida Marlins, who didn’t so much win the national championship as rent it for a season?
2. Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2): If the Hogs are going to get a BCS berth, it’s lucky for Bobby Petrino that this wasn’t the year the Sugar Bowl was moved to the Georgia Dome, because it would require some pretty complex math to figure out what 13/16ths of 60 minutes is.
3. LSU Tigers (10-2): Thank goodness they lost! I was beginning to think Les Miles’s sideline dice rolls were like the coin flips from "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead."
4. South Carolina Gamecocks (9-3): The typical late-season swoon never happened, so an autumn that produced wins over Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson made this year the "next year" Gamecock fans have been anticipating for generations. If a team that hasn’t won a conference championship since 1969 and didn’t win a bowl game for the first 100 years of its history can emerge victorious from either of its last two games to card the second ten-win season in school history, 2010 will end up being remembered as the greatest year of South Carolina athletics.
5. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-3): The good news for ‘Bama fans is that there is precedent for a Nick Saban-coached SEC team going 9-3 the year after winning the national championship. The bad news for ‘Bama fans is that there is no precedent for what a Nick Saban-coached SEC team does two years after winning the national championship.
6. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (8-4): Dan Mullen will never bring an SEC West championship to Starkville. That’s because he’s going to be hired away by a marquee program before he gets the chance to bring an SEC West championship to Starkville.
7. Florida Gators (7-5): On the plus side, there’s no risk that the stress of coaching in the SEC Championship Game will send Urban Meyer to the hospital this year.
8. Georgia Bulldogs (6-6): At least the ‘Dawgs have a stranglehold on the state championship. Well, until Mercer gets its football program up and running, anyway.
9. Tennessee Volunteers (6-6): Clearly, the key to being successful in November is to develop year-end rivalries with teams that suck.
10. Kentucky Wildcats (6-6): At some point, Dean Wormer is going to call Joker Phillips into his office and tell him, "Non-conference patsies, two or three SEC wins, and December 28 bowl games are no way to go through life, son."
11. Mississippi Rebels (4-8): I think it’s all been an elaborate conspiracy to defame black bears. Personally, I blame racist white bears.
12. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-10): This is what happens when you hire your head coaches from the turkey insemination crew.
As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments below, although, honestly, given the won-lost records and head-to-head results, I have a tough time believing there’s much room for improvement on that ballot.