Commentary

Power Rankings: SEC'd edition

Originally Published: August 15, 2011
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

You've got unanimous university president approval to read this week's ESPN.com Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Greg Hardy and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, our computer spent the weekend calculating the odds on seeing Ashton Kutcher take Charlie Sheen's old place in Michael Jordan underwear commercials. To the results!

1. College Football Expansion

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.5 9.6 19.1

Credentials: The craziest thing about the insane conference posturing going on before the college football season starts is that everyone seems to be charging full greed-steam ahead without anyone trying to figure out which dance steps come first. So Texas A&M wanted to join the SEC, but then put the most powerful college football conference in the nation in a non-position of strength by being forced to figure out over a weekend who a 14th dance partner would be? Our solution: Once the 2011 season ends, the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 will hold a conference expansion draft. Based on who has the most teams in the Top 25, each conference will take turns cherry-picking teams from the Big 12, ACC, Big East, etc., until those three super-conferences have 16 members apiece. But each of those smaller conferences will be allowed to protect two teams each. Whatever teams left over can band together for a fourth super conference, and -- miracle of miracles -- we'll be ready for a four-team college football playoff on the heels of those super conference title games. Now explain to us how this is any less desirable than holding a BBVA Compass Bowl game on Jan. 7.


2. NFL Preseason Execution

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.5 9.0 17.5

Credentials: Obviously, without the virtue of a heck of a lot of practice, the NFL's initial on-field displays are looking … well, shall we say, a little lifeless. But why is there this feeling that some of these second- and third-teamers are frighteningly on the verge of being cut in a way reminiscent of a "Final Destination" movie? Like a short-circuiting JumboTron electrocuting a scout team QB, a free-agent linebacker being impaled on a yard marker, a Metrodome roof collapsing on Donovan McNabb. Actually, auditioning for an "NFL Final Destination" movie might be a great career move for Arizona Cardinals backup QB John Skelton.


3. NBA Contraction Rumors

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.8 8.2 16.0

Credentials: Technically, all NBA teams can be considered contracted while the lockout is in effect. But if David Stern and the players union want to test the feasibility of eliminating clubs from the league, try this experiment once the lockout is over: Allow two teams each week to resume play. Start with fan favorites like the Lakers-Celtics, then the next week add Spurs-Bulls, Jazz-Heat … and when no one bothers to buy tickets when a Hornets-Bobcats game is announced, well, then, there's no point in hiring players to fill out a roster, is there?


4. Uggla Power

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.7 7.2 13.9

Credentials: Kudos to the Braves second baseman for the 33-game hit streak that was helping keep his batting average and Atlanta's wild-card hopes on life support. STATS LLC has confirmed that his has been the most surprising streak in Atlanta baseball history since the early summer run in 2006, when for three games in a row not one single person inside Turner Field said "Y'all."


5. American Golfers

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 6.4 13.5

Credentials: Congratulations to Woodstock, Vt.'s Keegan Bradley for winning the PGA Championship and breaking the streak of six majors in a row being claimed by non-Americans. This also should put an end to rumors that Tiger Woods was looking into ways that he could become a Canadian citizen, under the rationalization that obviously it must be his nationality that was preventing him from being in command on Sundays anymore.


6. Albert Haynesworth

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.2 5.3 11.5

Credentials: We're not saying the troubled defensive tackle's days in New England are numbered. But his attempts at launching an "I'll live with a fan until I find a place of my own" contest was declared a bust when it turned out the only people who bothered to enter were moving van company owners who figured it made sense to jockey for first dibs on being hired to ship him out of town.


7. Your Fantasy Draft

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.3 5.1 10.4

Credentials: As the countdown continues toward the most important day of the year, have you decided whether your format is going to be a keeper league? On the plus side, it gives everyone a more vested interest in maintaining high standards in grooming rosters; on the minus side, you could be picking 14th among your 13 buddies and end up being stuck with Chad Henne longer than the Dolphins will be.


8. White House Access

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 4.9 10.1

Credentials: The world champion Green Bay Packers were long awaiting the day they could visit the White House to be honored for their Super Bowl XLV victory. And the dream came true for just about everyone on the roster -- except for linebacker Desmond Bishop, who left his ID on the plane and thus was not allowed past security. Let this be a lesson to all pro athletes: Always carry your rookie card inside your shoe, because you never know when it will come in handy to prove who you are to everyone from the Secret Service to the most oafish gentlemen's club bouncer.


9. Carlos Zambrano

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.7 4.2 8.9

Credentials: OK, OK. The Cubs pitcher probably won't go through with his threat to retire after clearing out his locker and storming out of the clubhouse after giving up five home runs to the Braves. So no need to order a cake that's big enough to fit the name "Zambrano" on top for a retirement party. But we're guessing his days in Chicago definitely are numbered. So just let us know when and where his farewell party will be, and we'll bring the video camera so we can record the huge fight that's sure to break out between him and Jim Hendry while they're in line for a piece of cake.


10. Guidelines vs. Rules

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.0 4.2 8.2

Credentials: Talk about trying to play by your own rules. In their first preseason game, the Chicago Bears decided they were too cool to observe the NFL's new mandate that kickoffs must be made from the 35-yard line -- so they brazenly went ahead and gave the boot from their own 30. It's a good thing the refs stepped in and insisted that the Bears place the tee at the designated spot, because according to the copy of Lovie Smith's playsheet that we recovered in the trash, the Bears also planned to allow themselves five chances to make a first down; have 37 men break the huddle on each defensive play; and let Jay Cutler wear a jet pack to improve his ability to escape the pocket.


11. Cesc Fabregas

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.2 3.0 7.2

Credentials: After an eight-year absence from his boyhood team (and at least a $42 million payout to Arsenal), the 24-year-old soccer star is back in Barcelona with a five-year deal. Part of the agreement includes the midfielder paying the Gunners $1.4 million out of his own paycheck each year of the contract. Upon hearing the news, NFL players are kicking themselves for not including a clause in the collective bargaining agreement that they can flee the Oakland Raiders if they pay Al Davis $1.4 million per season.


12. Marlins Moves

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.0 3.2 6.2

Credentials: Where have you gone, Logan Morrison? The Florida player was demoted to Triple-A, and some are suspecting it might have less to do with a slump than with his hitting streak of rambunctious one-liners he feeds to his 61,000 Twitter followers. As a protest, all 61,000 of his followers have vowed not to attend Florida Marlins home games until he's reinstated.


13. Freddy's Not Fingered

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
2.1 2.3 4.4

Credentials: The Yankees lost a start by Freddy Garcia because an unexplained cut on his right index finger left him incapable of throwing his splitter. Until it heals, team doctors also advise him to avoid dealing cards too quickly at A-Rod's poker games.


Also receiving votes
• Back-to-school clothes shopping: Every time we see the advertisements for stores that lure in parents by offering school-mandated uniforms of collared shirts and khakis for their kids, we wonder how it's possible that somewhere in America there isn't a principal who has mandated all his pupils must wear a uniform that includes a local sports hero's jersey. Would you really be shocked if you heard there was an elementary school in Indianapolis where everyone was forced to don a Peyton Manning replica No. 18, or there's a Boston middle school where students were mandated to be clad in Carl Yastrzemski throwbacks? It's also probably because we bring this idea up in job interviews that explains why we've yet to be hired for an administrative job in any education district.

Never receiving votes
• Lost opportunities: We were sorry to see on the transaction wire that the Steelers waived defensive end Ra'Shon "Sunny" Harris. Not that we had any specific interest in following the on-the-field career of the former Oregon player, it's just that without him in town it probably kills our chances of selling the spec script for our sitcom pilot, "It's Always Sunny in Pittsburgh." Now if he gets picked up by the Eagles, he's guaranteed to land a walk-on roll on a show that, um, already exists.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.


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Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.