Before the season, the Cup went about its second preseason of ranking units in the SEC West. Yours truly exercised exclusive jurisdiction this preseason and received no small amount of criticism from both opposing fan bases and co-writers. But we are not ones to shirk accountability at the Cup. Consequently, I have compiled quickly a summary of the position rankings - offensive backfield, offensive line, wide receivers, linebackers, defensive lines, coaches, and defensive backs - opined by me some months ago. Make your own judgments about my accuracy after the jump.
For the Crimson Tide, my overall projection was certainly short. Individually, I may have underestimated their offensive backfield (#2), their linebackers (#4), and offensive line (#3). Looking back, I think that I accurately tagged the rest - wide receivers (#4), defensive line (#2), defensive backs (#3), and their coach (#1).
Despite the talents of Ryan Mallet, I may have overestimated the Hogs' offensive backfield (#4) and wide receivers (#3). Otherwise, I ranked the offensive line (#6), defensive line (#4), linebackers (#3), defensive backs (#6), and coach (#3). If there is any ranking that I feel most overstates the performance of Arkansas players, it is at wide receiver. Watching the Hogs in person, I believe that the quarterback of the formerly Southwest Conference Swine makes his receivers look better than they are.
A banner year, no doubt, for Gene Chizik produced results not commensurate with my preseason rankings. The offensive backfield (#6), wide receivers (#5), and coach (#6) may have sold short war eagle. Make your own judgments about Auburn defensive backs (#2), linebackers (#5), defensive line (#3), and offensive line (#4).
My judgments about LSU were overstated. Ranking their offensive backfield (#3), wide receivers (#1), linebackers (#1), and even coach (#4) where I did shows some severe misjudgment on my part. Of course, when I said that their defensive backs would be tops in the division, I was spot on. Calling their defensive line (#5) and offensive line (#1) seem off, but defensible.
Anthony Dixon may negate a #5 ranking for the State offensive backfield, but I feel confident about defending four choices above the Maroons. Rankings for the coach (#5) and maybe defensive line (#6) were low. Otherwise, I called wide receivers (#6), offensive line (#5), linebackers (#2 ... was I on crack?), and defensive backs (#5).
Not surprisingly, I overstated, despite strong efforts to temper my enthusiasm, the production level of the Rebels. The offensive backfield (#1), offensive line (#2), and coach (#2) rankings all overstate the performance of this team. However, I stand by my defensive back ranking (#4) and linebacker ranking (#6), and, in retrospect, I may have sold the wide receivers short (even at #2).
All in all, I feel fairly comfortable about the rankings I ascribed to our division teams. While the most high profile category - the offensive backfield - was a little off, it was, honestly, a little jumbled, as only Alabama had a reliable answer at quarterback and running back all season (and I'm comfortable having been ignorant of the sudden competence of Chris Todd). Then again, by adding all these rankings together, it becomes clear that I have ranked the division thusly by offense - Ole Miss (tie), LSU (tie), Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, and State - and by defense - LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Arkansas (tie), and State (tie). You can, no doubt, quibble with these evaluations.
So, quibble if you will.