Bill Connelly’s “SEC balance of power”

Bill’s wrapped up his conference previews with Alabama (don’t worry, still quasi-godlike) and then gone on to power rank the fourteen conference programs.  Here’s how he sees the SEC right now:

Tier 1
1. Alabama
2. Auburn
3. South Carolina
4. LSU
5. Georgia

I was tempted to put Alabama in its own tier again, as I do think the Tide start a step ahead of everybody else. But all five of these teams have top-10 potential, and there’s been just enough turnover in Tuscaloosa to hold off.

Tier 2
6. Ole Miss
7. Texas A&M
8. Missouri
9. Florida
10. Mississippi State

Any of these Tier 2 teams could end up playing at a top-15 level … which would make them Tier 1 candidates in any other conference. Instead they’re at least one step behind each of the top five teams.

Tier 3
11. Tennessee

The Vols are too young (and have been too iffy in recent years) to be considered anything more than a top-40 or -50 team this year, but they have too much potential to be stuck with the names below.

Tier 4
12. Arkansas
13. Vanderbilt
14. Kentucky

Arkansas almost belongs with Tennessee, but I think the Hogs are still a year away from top-50 quality. And if you combined Vandy’s defense with Kentucky’s offense, you might have close to a Tier 2 team. So there’s that, at least.

Honestly, I could nitpick a little here and there (especially with Tennessee on its own tier and the order of his Tier 2 teams), but overall it looks like a pretty fair representation of where things currently stand.  What I’m curious about is which team you see winding up playing the farthest above its preseason assessment and which team falls the farther below.

I’ll get the party started with the usual caveat about injuries – not that it worked for Florida or Georgia last year – but the team I think may be most overrated is TAMU.  I know Sumlin recruits like a sumbitch, but you don’t lose all that All-American talent without missing a beat.  And the team I can see making a jump is Mississippi State if Prescott is ready to take his game to the next level.

What say you guys?


Filed under SEC Football

61 responses to “Bill Connelly’s “SEC balance of power”

  1. Castleberry

    I’ll be surprised if Auburn’s still considered #2 at the end of the season. I suspect they’ll be clinging on to the top tier but last year’s run took a little too much magic to put them that high.

    • Union Jack

      The schedule will help shake some of this out. Auburn vs USC, UGA vs Auburn, UGA vs USC, LSU vs Auburn, LSU vs Bama, Iron Bowl. At least one of these teams will fall back to 2nd tier and it might be two of them.

      Personally, I think LSU might be the team that falls back. They are deeply talented but very young as NFL attrition will take its toll. I hope that the other team is USC because it means that we will probably have the best shot of winning the East.

      Auburn could also fall back only because they have to play ALL of the other teams in Tier 1. They could close out the year beating us and Bama again but not make the championship game if they lose to LSU and USC.

      I can’t decide if it would be better for us psychologically if USC lost to A&M in 2 weeks.

      A&M and UF have the best shot of jumping up. A&M because of their offensive style of play and UF because of their defense. Plus A&M plays all of the other Tier 1 teams sans UGA. We should find out how good they can be right away. UF gets 4 of the Tier 1 teams on their schedule and their defense should keep them in most games. Moderate improvements on offense, fewer injuries and break here or there and they become 2014’s Auburn.

      • I’m sorry but I see Florida as more likely to be another train wreck than being a surprise team. Yeah, they have a decent D but I don’t see how hiring the OC from Duke is gonna turn that around. They got shellacked when they played the only good ACC team in whatever they call that thing in Charlotte.

        And frankly Driskell has never shown me that he’s anything but average. They must be drinking a lot of Gatorade in Jortsville.

        • Union Jack

          Don’t be sorry – I am perfectly fine if the Gators sink again in the Swamp.

          • Dog in Fla

            That causes Jeremy to prematurely abort Boom’s mission. He doesn’t need to be 11-2 but he does need to be better than the Gator’s worst season since ’79 to stay on the job. All I hope for is that one of those wins is not against us because after we get 4 in a row, we can start a variation of Tommy Tuberville’s one for the thumb thatdealio that he needled Alabama with before Nick terminated him.

      • Bazooka Joe

        I think South Carolina is the team that falls back. Dillon is nowhere near ol deliverance boy Shaw (he does look like the banjo player in the movie doesn’t he….). Then you have Bozo the Clowney and the other DLineman who are gone, and a secondary worse than ours. I don’t see them being in tier 1

  2. pantslesspatdye

    Where’s Ole Miss? Freeze has recruited (bought) some nice pieces down that way.

  3. Macallanlover

    First, I love the Tier ranking, but come on, no separate Tier cop outs like TN…make a decision. Just wish he had resisted the irresistible urge to assign them a numerical rank, alphabetize them. You could take those groups, put them in a bag, shake them up and any could end up in the top, or bottom spot, of their tier.

    And you are right, injuries and a break or two could throw any of these teams up/down a Tier. Overall, I think he has the right teams in the right groups based on what we know now. Nice job.

  4. DB

    Not to nitpick but why would LSU come in above UGA?

  5. Gravidy

    My only nitpick would be about Auburn. I would have put them a spot or two lower. They just can’t be that lucky again this year, can they?

  6. AusDawg85

    Underestimate TAMU at your own risk. Sumlin can generate some offense if he’s identified a QB to run his system. He did more with less in Houston.

    (Please, please, please catch USCe looking ahead.)

  7. Russ

    I don’t know what TAMU has but I watched Sumlin win at Houston with less talent. They will be pretty good if they can find a defense. Oh and I hope he stays at TAMU. I’d hate to see him replace BoomMF at Florida.

    • Bulldawg165

      That seems like too much of a lateral move to actually happen

      • Chance

        Agree. If Sumlin goes anywhere it will be a jump to the NFL in a few years, but I doubt even that is going to happen. I see him staying at A&M for a while.

    • Biggus Rickus

      A lot of coaches win at small schools and then fall flat at major coaching stops. I think Sumlin will have a solid offense, but we don’t really know how much of A&M’s success in the SEC was due to Manziel’s play-making ability and how much was due to Sumlin. Their defense was worse than Georgia’s last year by a pretty wide margin, and I doubt that improves much this year. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to them without a transcendent talent at QB.

      • AusDawg85

        I don’t necessarily disagree with any of the above assessments, but he is cleaning Texas’ clock on the recruiting trail in state and hurting LSU some. They are putting BIG money into that program.

        • Biggus Rickus

          I wasn’t rendering judgement. He may be a very good coach. I just need more evidence than I’ve seen before I start praising him much.

      • Manziel: a guy he didn’t even recruit while at UH. Funny how that works, eh?

  8. joe

    Auburn and miss st will swap tiers.

  9. Cousin Eddie

    I see Mizzo dropping some. They lost a lot of talent from a team that very beneficial for the timing of the games. They seemed to catch most teams at just the right time last year.
    I also see Uf not being the #9 team, I can’t bring myself to say where but the number would not be larger. I would not sleep on a fairly talented hungry team.

  10. diving duck

    I’m praying to the old gods and the new Arkansas sneaks a win first game against Auburn.

  11. A&M and Auburn will swap spots. Ole Miss only wins 5 games, maybe 6, but I suspect UT is going to steal that one on the road. I have no idea what Boise looks like any more, but if they are similar to the team that we played in the dome a few years ago, ole miss only wins 4.

    • Bazooka Joe

      I don’t think the Boise of 2014 is near the team we played a few years back – that was a good senior laden team with talent at the critical spots.

  12. Prescott’s splits against FBS teams and teams with a pulse (.500 or better) are vastly different. I’m not sure I get his hype.

  13. Slaw Dawg

    I think Aubie is overrated–not a bad team, but will wind up Tier 2. D’s will be better prepped for them this year. And what goes around, etc. As far as who’ll make a jump, I pick the Vols–meaning I think they get back to a bowl for the first time in 4 years. Dunno if that would move them up in Connelly’s tiers, but it’ll be enough for the Toothless Ones to be predicting a natty in 2015 and SEC dominance for years to come.

    • WarD Eagle

      I’m not saying AU won’t go 0-11, but the idea that AU somehow snuck up on UGA or SPUAT last year is silly.

      Everyone on the planet knew what they were doing in those games.

      Not to mention Mizzou and F$U.

  14. I would agree with where we stand but don’t buy LSU above us in the individual ranking. We beat 2 of the 3 listed above us and should have beaten the 3rd. I’m not sold on USCe at this point other than the fact that Darth Visor is on the sideline. They weren’t very good on defense last year, lost their best players, and are moving to a 3-4 base set. They lost their QB who could make plays with his feet. I agree with others about TAMU … teams that overlook the Aggies do so at their own risk.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. Shaw was a huge factor in scu’s success the last few years. Thompson doesn’t have that mobility. Shaw’s scrambling was a huge part of their O.

      I may get plenty of arguments, but I think shaw may have been sos’s best QB ever. Woerfful had a much better team around him. Who’d a thunk sos’s all time best QB would be a scrambler?

  15. Beakerdawg

    Mississippi State will switch places with the barn. I feel Missouri may sneak into tier 1 based on how their defense plays. I am worried that we may slip to Tier 2 based on how our defense plays. I hope this Kool-Aid that I have been drinking is the good stuff and not actually masked by grantham’s ass stains filtered by the white towel…

  16. Macallanlover

    The above comments (and they may be right, who the hell knows and what does it matter?) show the issue with subjective, numeric rankings. The conversation ends up in the minutiae of who is 4 or 5, or 6 or 8, etc. It should be on who are the contenders, at this point in mid August, with recognition that some teams can very possibly move one group up or down. I like the debates about whether Mizzou or Ole Miss should be considered a team that can compete, or if one should be in a “not this year” category. You can debate that with much more substance than whether is team is 4 or 5…..really? You can distinguish that? Does it matter?

    • AusDawg85

      (ahem…) Isn’t that exactly what the playoff committee will be doing for CFB at large?

      • Dog in Fla

        +1 stirred pot

      • Macallanlover

        Sorry, Aus. My Tier rankings thought is just for pre-season and the month of September. By 1st week in October you have seen about 35% of the games and can better lock into numeric rankings. It prevents those who defend a team they voted highly in pre-season even though they don’t look like a #1 any longer, or a team that starts at #17 and cannot make through the traffic clutter by year’s end. I would move team each week in September in and out of Tiers based on how they had played. That way at least the teams voted into the Top 20 spots aren’t just the ones who were good the prior year.

        • AusDawg85

          Mac…without direct and equal head-to-head competition (which CFB should NOT aspire to have IMHO) then all rankings, whenever made, are a “conversation ends up in the minutiae of who is 4 or 5, or 6 or 8, etc. “

          • Macallanlover

            True, but ” locking in” numerical positions before games are played leads to different results, imo. Humans tend to hunker down and defend their earlier opinions. I just propose making those first polls after we have seen a few games. The committee is in that position of course, but the other polls will ge an influence.

  17. sectionzalum

    my gripe with the rankings is that he has a program in the top tier that plays home games on Thursdays.

    • Tim Rankine


      • sectionzalum

        I think it’s a sign of a lesser program that a school would play on a Thursday night. Reeks of mid-tier ACC schools trying to get national TV time to boost recruiting.

        • I get that, but it’s archaic thinking. ESPN didn’t hand out all that cash to be told “no.”

          • Macallanlover

            Yes, but he makes a strong point. Teams I have seen play on Thursday nights include: Bama, FSU, Miami, Auburn, Clemson, Texas, Southern Cal, Oregon, UCLA, South Carolina, TAMU, K State, Oklahoma, etc. We don’t want to be lumped with any of them.

          • sectionzalum

            I get your point, but the Dawgs sure as hell don’t do Thursday home games. And I bet that none of the big, prestigious programs have. Surely not Bama or LSU. Not Notre Dame, Texas, Flore-duh, Teas, Oklahoma, etc. I think our alumni would revolt if there was a Thursday home game..

            • Macallanlover

              No, I am on your side 100% with the home games when students are in class. Our opener and possibly a thanksgiving night would be the only time that would work. I think Spurrier has wisely used the Thursday night opener since coming to Columbia. Of course their stadium isn’t on campus either.

              There have been some excellent Thursday nught games recently and they get tons of attention from recruits and all cfb fans. I think we should have played Boise on Thursday night and had 2 extra days before SC.

  18. Beakerdawg

    I am a goff era alumni so I think winning the sec is the be-all-end for me. The Nat championship is now based on what teams will get the highest ratings. I have no more and maybe even less faith in the 13 stooges than i did the bcs. We(Dawgs) can control our path to the SeC championship and to me that is all that matters going forward. Anything else is gravy….

  19. Keese

    Play farthest above? Tennessee. I think they will be the surprise team in the SEC this year

  20. Walter sobchak

    TAMU losing all American QB…could say similar about us

  21. WarD Eagle

    I think MSU wins more games. Not sure they can get over the talent gap, but they have shot at something special this year.

  22. Damn, people you are missing the whole point of preseason ratings. At this point we are unbeaten ,unscored upon and in a position to win it all. Georgia is no,1 in Tier one .
    We got superman at tailback and so much depth that a tailback who ran over two of USC’s two best linebackers/safeties is frickin 5th string.
    We got DJ Schockley the 2nd at QB
    We got Clem’s son at home bring a team that is going to loss games 9 to 3 b/c they got no offense
    We got a defensive scheme that just maybe our kids will understand. Even at the G-Day game we didn’t see defensive backs with their palms turned up asking Damien where they were suppose to be and who they were suppose to cover. Damn people…… at the G-Day game my section erupted in spontaneous applause when we actually covered ,and I’m not making this up here, we covered a wheel route.
    This is the same process as Spring training in baseball, its a fresh start .
    we are winning the East going to the ATL and winning the SEC when with 6 seconds left when we dump a pass over the middle to the fullback out of the backfield ,Larry Munson and Lewis Grizzard will both rise from the dead and all will right with the world
    So OK maybe don’t hold me to that last part but we are going to be good and I for one can not wait.