Thursday, July 19, 2007

Did you Ever Think you'd See the Day...

Where Vandy would have three players apiece on an all-SEC first team and Georgia would have zero? Pre-season all-anything lists are not worth the ether they inhabit, but that did kinda shock me. A sign that Georgia was fortunate to win nine games last year, given that the lists are usually a reflection of the previous year's talent? A sign that Georgia lost too many good players? A way for Mark Richt to motivate his charges? Another reason to hyperventilate before the opening swing against Oklahoma State and South Carolina? The Dawgs certainly aren't alone; Auburn and Alabama placed one player apiece, so they apparently also lack the top-end talent that is on display in Nashville.

If there is any merit to the list (a big if), then this is a reflection that our beloved pinata's theory that the bottom of the SEC is very weak has about as much merit as the rest of his half-baked blatherings. The SEC's lower class (Kentucky, Vandy, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State) combine for eight of the 22 spots. Signs of parity this year in the conference? A reflection that there are more question marks than usual in the upper tier?

This does strike me as an interesting year in the conference. The perception might be that the league is down because it doesn't have any lead-pipe cinches for great teams (unless you believe in Les Miles and Gary Crowton), but it should be very strong from one to 12. Any year in which Kentucky and Vandy can be reasonably picked to win 3-4 SEC games apiece or South Carolina is as good a choice as any to win the East is shaping up to be a good year for the bottom of the conference. There's a little less reason to think that the Mississippi schools are going to pose a challenge to the top four in the West, but this should be the time when the Orgeron's recruiting and Sly Croom's noble (but almost certainly misguided) efforts to teach the West Coast offense start to pay off.

Then again, this is the time of year when every team looks like a threat, not unlike spring training when the D-Rays convince themselves that they have a good team. (Speaking of baseball, in case you're wondering, the answer is no, I don't want to talk about getting swept at home by the Reds, especially since the taxed bullpen had to throw 17 innings combined on Monday and Wednesday and Rafael Soriano is looking like the 289 appearances in the first half have him worn out. So there you go.)

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