There's an old adage, attributed (probably wrongly) to George Bernard Shaw, that if all the economists in the world were laid end to end they still wouldn't reach a conclusion. Of course that's absurd, as economists are as prone as others (and more prone than many) to reach conclusions based upon incomplete or flawed evidence. All of which means that they'd fit right in among SEC Power Poll voters who, while generally in agreement about the broad contours of the conference, were free to admit that no one really knows anything about anyone at this point. That didn't stop us from ranking them, though.
Formal results with voter commentary can be found at Team Speed Kills. Below is my ballot, which hewed surprisingly close to the general consensus. I'm neither sure what to make of that nor how comfortable I am with it. But it is sort of nice to know that if I'm totally wrong I'm not alone. Essentially, I have the Aggies and Gamecocks swapped from their prevailing order, and I think more highly of the Arkansas Razorbacks than do many of my compatriots. Given how little any of us know at this point, that's a surprising amount of uniformity.
With no further ado, here's how I see the conference, top to bottom, one week into the 2013 campaign.
Games watched: Georgia/Clemson (duh), South Carolina/North Carolina, Alabama/Va. Tech, Missy State/Ok.State, Ole Miss/Vandy, LSU/TCU, Texas A&M/Rice, Florida/Toledo (God help me), Auburn/Washington St. (Ditto).
1) Alabama. The Crimson Tide were a near unanimous top pick. Some may have done so out of pure force of habit. Others as a continuation of their placement at the end of 2012. For my part, I thought that the Tide's victory over Virginia Tech was the kind of 20+ point beat down that you expect from a top ranked team. The offensive line, in accordance with my preseason prediction, was merely "very good" rather than "one for the ages good." The defense was a Saban defense.
2) LSU: 400+ yards of offense from the Bayou Bengals. What is this sorcery?
3) Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel continues to be a classless punk who's really good at football. Rice is the kind of classy joint where they talk about having class, if my quick straw poll of Rice fans after the Texas A&M game is any indicator. If Manziel can keep his mouth shut, I think he puts the Aggies in a position to simply outscore anybody below them at this point.
4) South Carolina: I might have moved the Gamecocks up a spot if they had hung around for the full ballgame against the Tar Heels. Mike Davis as home run threat worries me a little, and the defense is solid, if not spectacular. We'll know a lot more about the Gamecocks after week two, which worries the stew out of me.
5) Georgia: ERRMAHAGAD!!!! LOST ON THE ROAD BY 3 TO THE #8 TEAM IN THE COUNTRY!!! RICHT AIN'T THE MAN FUR THE JOB PAAWWWLLLL!!! In reality, Georgia's loss to Clemson wasn't that bad a loss, and probably wouldn't have been a loss at all at home. I know that's not considered appropriately dour or reactionary in some corners, but that's this guy's view. I wouldn't be surprised to see this team lose to South Carolina. But I also wouldn't be surprised to see the kind of cornered animal reaction that we've seen from Mark Richt teams in the past and a double digit victory. After this weekend I suspect I'll be either moving the Bulldogs up at least two spots or down at least two, but I have no inkling which it will be.
6) Florida: For all of the hand-wringing among Bulldog fans about the offensive line and Aaron Murray, putting up 35 against Clemson is a damn sight more impressive to me than putting up 24 on Toledo.
7) Arkansas: Bielema Ball looks like a success so far, churning out 290 yards of rushing offense and 500+ yards overall in scalping UL-Lafayette. The question will be whether they can do the same against SEC competition.
8) Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze's bonus babies showed flashes of brilliance on Thursday night. But in the end they came from behind to edge Vandy at the bell. That places them squarely in the middle third of the conference, a place Ed Orgeron only dreamed of, but which David Cutcliffe can confirm isn't good enough. But it will be interesting to see how this group develops as the year goes on, and in the years to come.
9) Vanderbilt. Vandy gonna Vandy. If you're James Franklin that kind of game is the kind you simply have to win to move up the conference pecking order.
10) Auburn: Nick Marshall wasn't given the keys to the Ferrari against Washington State. Which is a good thing, because he didn't look ready to drive anything not made by Snapper. If Marshall doesn't grow up fast, Auburn is headed toward some ugly losses. Nevertheless, a win against Washington State is a win over a Pac-12 team, and that's worth something.
11) Tennessee: Scoring 42 points in the first half against hapless Austin Peay tells me next to nothing. But if the Vols dominate Western Kentucky this week I'll be simultaneously impressed and worried about our game with the Fighting Butch Joneses.
12) Missouri: Missouri poured it on after struggling early to beat Murray State 58-14. I fully concede that I don't know whether that's more or less impressive that Tennessee's victory over Austin Peay.
13) Mississippi State: The Bizarro Bulldogs played about 7 minutes of football on Saturday, which is how you end up looking down only on Kentucky. Hey remember when Dan Mullen was considered a bona fide offensive super genius? Yeah, me neither. Especially not after this 3 point performance.
14) Kentucky: Welcome to Lexington, Coach Stoops.
So am I right or am I wrong? Okay, I know I'm wrong. But exactly how wrong? Let me know in the comments. Until later . . .