After one week off duty as an SEC Power Poll voter, I am back in the saddle and exercising the franchise once more. Here, without further fanfare, are the teams of the Southeastern Conference, arrayed according to the authority with which they lately have been asserting themselves on the gridiron:
1. Georgia Bulldogs (9-1 overall, 7-1 SEC): Anyone who’s still touting the “soft schedule” meme can bite me. The fact is that Georgia has the same overall record as Alabama, who dodged Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina out of the East, and the Tide’s best win came against a team that lost to Florida, whom the Bulldogs beat. Three straight dominant defensive performances by the ‘Dawgs demonstrate that the Red and Black are for real.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1): On the plus side, ‘Bama is a win over Auburn away from making the Tide’s first SEC Championship Game appearance since 2009!
3. Texas A&M Aggies (8-2, 5-2): Kevin Sumlin is your SEC coach of the year, hands down. If he manages to parlay that into a Cotton Bowl bid to face the Longhorns, he could be looking at a 30-year contract extension.
4. LSU Tigers (8-2, 4-2): Remember when Mississippi State seemed like a good football team? Yeah, me, neither.
5. Florida Gators (9-1, 7-1): At first, I thought it was ludicrous that Will Muschamp broke out the orange jerseys for a game against Louisiana-Lafayette. It turns out he knew exactly what he was doing.
6. South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2): An 18-point victory over the Hogs is pretty impressive, at least based on what I heard in the preseason about the Garnet and Black’s difficult draw out of the West.
7. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3): Remind me why the Bulldogs who get lambasted for their inability to win the big one are the ones from Athens instead of the ones from Starkville, again?
8. Vanderbilt Commodores (6-4, 4-3): Maybe there really has been a culture change in Nashville. Then again, maybe the bottom half of the SEC just sucks.
9. Missouri Tigers (5-5, 2-5): Pinkeled is the new Croomed.
10. Mississippi Rebels (5-5, 2-4): It could have been worse. Ole Miss students could have burned pictures of James Franklin afterward.
11. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-6, 2-4): Is it possible that John L. Smith will be the last SEC coach officially axed?
12. Tennessee Volunteers (4-6, 0-6): Barbara Dooley always looked better in red, anyway.
13. Kentucky Wildcats (1-9, 0-7): It could not be more completely basketball season in Lexington.
14. Auburn Tigers (2-8, 0-7): I was there to witness the end, and the end was glorious.
While I feel confident in my ballot, I remain open to constructive criticisms, which I would encourage you to offer in the comments below.