Last year, and perhaps this year, the Southeastern Conference as a whole was deeply overrated. The East division was outright rubbish, while the West had Alabama and little else. Texas A&M was pretty alright. Auburn grew stronger as the year wore on and Kamryn Pettway emerged as a force of nature. LSU also improved under Ed Orgeron. But that was pretty much it.
It’s difficult to form a full picture of the conference’s overall health this early in the season. Tennessee and Florida will square off in Gainesville on Saturday with each team’s top 25 ranking on the line. LSU will try to wrestle with CLANGA in Starkville. So it’s really not until the SEC’s member institutions start beating on themselves that we can gain a real sense of whether or not the SEC is in fact “butt.”
But not so for Rubber Chickens Blog, which every week on Twitter — and yes, even during the offseason on occasion — updates the revised “SEC butt rankings,” a weekly check-in on that most pressing of questions: “is the SEC butt?” Here, for instance, are the latest standings, as of Sept. 10, 2017:
This week "Is the SEC Butt?" starts to separate the haves from the have butts. Your rankings: pic.twitter.com/LyDZ0nKm7P— TRC (@RubrChickens) September 11, 2017
This sort of inverse-arbitrary ranking system of the world’s loudest football conference holds special appeal for that iteration of college football fan that enjoys chaos and stupid college football things. It also perpetually pisses people off who aren’t in on the joke, which makes it a noble and necessary service.
So we had the grand idea to get in touch with TRC, who kindly answered a handful of questions about what goes into the weekly SEC butt rankings. Here’s that interview:
RCR: When did you get the idea to do these, and what was the impetus behind them?
TRC: The origins of this go back to one of my favorite tweets ever, from a former South Carolina wide receiver named Jason Barnes. Barnes had graduated, and after a particularly bad Gamecock performance he Tweeted "We so butt and I can't stand it." Being a complete juvenile I laughed at it more than I should have (still do). A couple of my texting groups picked up on it and proceeded to call anything we didn't like (especially South Carolina football) "butt". This is not particularly original, but it had special meaning to us.
[EDITORIAL NOTE: We’re also laughing too hard at that tweet.]
Prior to the 2016 season there was a lot of discussion about how the SEC was no longer the dominant football conference in the country, and from top to bottom might even be bad, or "butt". I proceeded to pose the question to myself, "Is the SEC Butt?" and banged out the first butt rankings (reverse power rankings) on my iPhone notepad early in the season. I tweeted a screen capture not thinking much about it, but a couple of people with a lot of followers got a hold of it and it unexpectedly took off. Before I knew it, people from a lot of different SEC schools were asking when the next "Butt Rankings" were coming out, so I wound up doing it for the entire season. I didn't plan to do them this season, but again had some requests, so decided to give it another year. I'm hoping to quit before they jump the shark. There are only so many butt puns out there, and I want the Butt Rankings to go out on top.
RCR: What is your loose scheme/methodology for generating them each week?
TRC: Like all good coaches preach to their teams, I take it one week at a time. Teams can rise or fall precipitously in the Butt Rankings based on one week. Also, the team at the top of the Butt Rankings might not necessarily be the worst team in the league, but they might be the most disappointing based on preseason expectations. This is how Ole Miss was able to take home the trophy last year. Particularly bad or humiliating losses (cough, Texas A&M, cough) make my job a lot easier. They jumped from preseason number six to number one after the first week because of HOW they lost to UCLA. My personal biases sometimes show up as well, as in how much I loathe Georgia. All that said, I usually spend about 10 minutes lying in bed on Sunday night clumsily trying to edit the notes on my phone to get them published before the weekend is over. You ever edited a list like that in notes? It's a pain in the ass.
RCR: How often do people fundamentally misunderstand what’s happening with the rankings, and which fan base is the worst about them?
TRC: Rarely, which has been one of the biggest surprises since I started doing this. I've only had a handful of people take issue with the rankings since the beginning, and I can't really pin anything on one fan base. Ole Miss, Florida and Kentucky fans have been the best and have had the most fun with it. But for the most part I think people from all fan bases recognize them for what they are and get a good laugh out of it. I like to think maybe it even eases a little bit of the pain for fans whose teams aren't performing well. Except Georgia fans, I want them to feel pain whenever possible.
RCR: What do you think of Ole Miss’ bowl chances this year?
TRC: I can definitely see Ole Miss bowling this season. Look, I know it's been a tough ride the last couple of months for the Rebs, but I've been impressed by the way they've played the first two weeks. Shea Patterson is an absolute stud, quite possibly the best in a pretty good group of SEC quarterbacks. And A.J. Brown reminds me a lot of former South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. From a Gamecock fan, that's a premium compliment. Ole Miss will need to avoid the upset in games where they are favored, and have the offense to pull off a surprise or two. The floor seems like six wins, but I think seven is certainly in the realm of possibility.
Thanks to Buck of TRC for taking the time, and please make sure to monitor the vicissitudes of the SEC butt rankings this college football season. They may not be around forever.