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Plainslinks cackles with glee

Rankings-wise, the two jerseys on the right are a lot closer to having it right.

Expectationswatch is delighted. We’ve talked a lot this summer about how the punditocracy expects this year’s SEC West to stack up. The immediate post-spring projections had LSU and Arkansas as the contenders for runner-up honors, but the midsummer preview magazines mostly sided with the Hogs or Auburn in that slot, and finally the SEC Media Days dropped LSU to fourth with the good Tigers and Razorbacks closely contesting second and third. A handful of “experts” like Lee Corso and Colin Cowherd are even projecting a possible 11-0 start to Auburn’s season.

For someone who both 1. wants to see Les Miles and Bobby Petrino crash and burn in the most spectacular fashion possible 2. has been trained by years of Auburn fanhood to fear expectations the way most people fear being attacked by spiders during a plane crash, this is problematic. Fortunately, there’s only two sets of preseason polls that really matter, and the first of them was released today. And rankings assigned to the top four teams in the SEC West are …

1. Alabama
16. LSU
19. Arkansas
23. Auburn

YESSSSSS. That. Is what. I am talking. About.

Now of course I know that it can be beneficial to start the season ranked more highly in the polls–I’m an Auburn fan–but this year, screw it, I want Auburn as far off the radar and the Purple Tigers and Hogs as squarely on it as possible. Mission accomplished, coaches! Thanks!

(Other SEC teams, by the by: Florida 3, Georgia 21. Once again, a truly massive gap between the Tide and Gators and everyone else in the polls … though I don’t think it’s going to be nearly that wide when all is said and done. In fact, look at the top four teams: do you see any world-beaters there? If TCU or Boise can’t break through and play for the crystal football this season, they may never manage it.)

Keymiya Harrell commits. No subtext there: Plantersville defensive end Keymiya Harrell became Auburn’s 15th commitment for the class of 2011 yesterday. Harrell’s about as uninteresting a commitment as Auburn can take these days, being neither a guru favorite (ESPN is most enthusiastic, calling him the No. 36 DE and giving him a higher-end three-star grade of 78) nor a “fast-rising” super-sleeper a la Jaylon Denson; he’s been on the Auburn radar for months.

But uninteresting’s OK when you’re 6’5″, 235, and have plenty of upside to explore. Harrell’s profile and commitment as it stands today is reminiscent of Kenneth Carter’s last year when he committed: run-of-the-mill three-star ratings except from ESPN, interest from Auburn and only one or two other major programs (Harrell was also looking at Miss. St. and Tennessee), plays for out-of-the-way non-football school in west Alabama … and Tracy Rocker was on him from the start. Carter eventually blew up at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game and became a four-star, big-time prospect; it won’t be surprising at all if the same thing happens for Harrell, who’s spent most of his athletic life (like most studs out in places like Dallas County) focusing on basketball.

So that’s who we’ll be yelling at this year. ESPN’s released its roster of college football announcer pairings for the 2010 season, and even though Ron Franklin still hasn’t regained his rightful, God-given place as the voice of ESPN’s Saturday night SEC broadcasts, there’s not much for SEC fans to gripe about. We still don’t have to listen to Mike Patrick; he’ll be off with Craig James (*shudders*) doing midafternoon Pac-10 or ACC games. We won’t have to deal with Pam Ward for the unbearable 30 minutes every Saturday morning before the early SEC game starts; she’s been finally shuffled off to ESPNU. And we still get the best team in the business right now–Nessler and Blackledge–while the yutzes stuck watching Big 10 or Pac-10 games on ABC deal with Burnt Hamburger and Kirk Herbstreit, who I swear I think I like better on NCAA ’11 than I do in real life. (On the downside, we’re still going to be visiting “Davie-Jones’ Locker” from time to time, to listen to Bob Davie prattle on for 1o minutes about the socks his first Notre Dame team wore as one team drives for the winning score. Ugh.)

Only one change to the SEC roster I can see: Brock Huard got the call-up from SEC Network duty to Pac-10 duty on one of the real networks, and play-by-play partner Eric Collins has been disappeared, so now we get Clay Matvick on PBP and … Herm Edwards on color? This might actually be interesting. (HT to EDSBS, whose breakdown is as glorious as expected.)

Same me, different site. I answered a few questions via e-mail for Charles Roberts at the al.com fan blog Tiger Corner; you can check it out not only for my always-cutting-edge insight, but for the remarkable sight of an al.com page without any comments referring to another football team’s fans as “boogs” or “turds.” Will also took the time to answer a few questions, though a little bit of his answer was edited out for anti-hornets-stirring reasons; his work, as always, is very much worth a read as well.

BlAUgosphere. First, the important thing: YouTube legend A96 is back with his own site, free from the tyranny of evil men that stalked his previous work. The 2010 preview is up and yes, it is awesome.

Elsewhere, Acid previews Ole Miss, AuburnEagle catches up with Quentin Groves, and there’s a crap-ton of awesome stuff here at TWER: the story of Woody Thornton, who’s kind of too awesome for stories, Jeremy finding the ProStars intro (of course he did), Thor returning with a look at how the masterminds behind Madden programmed the Auburn alums in the League, and new columnist Justin Lee, AKA AubOrange, writes an impassioned defense of his most recent video masterpiece. You know the one.

Etc. Stewart Mandel calls Stewart Mandel an idiot, decisively proving his point once and for all, though his recent Nutt/Masoli story certainly helps … Was the world’s longest/farthest basketball shot hit off the top of Birmingham’s own Vulcan?I get so proud of humanity’s accomplishments sometimes. (The 6:20 mark or so is when it gets really good ,if you ask me.)

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