Tuesday, Dec 27, 2005

Posted on Thu, Dec. 01, 2005

The envelope, please . . . this year's Mashies

By Jim Mashek

This has been another top-heavy year of Southeastern Conference football.

The haves, no doubt, have it. The have-nots, well, they're in equal abundance.

LSU will play Georgia in the 14th SEC championship game on Saturday evening in the Georgia Dome, which gives the Bulldogs a home-field advantage of sorts.

Auburn, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina will wait for the SEC championship game to find out for sure where they're headed in the postseason.

Tennessee is headed toward an offseason of torment, with the Vols out of the bowls picture for the first time since George H.W. Bush, W.'s daddy, was elected president.

Vanderbilt is enjoying some heady times, because even though the Commodores fell short of becoming bowl eligible, they beat Tennessee in Knoxville for the first time since Gerald Ford was in the White House.

Arkansas is headed into some uncertainty, because it seems Frank Broyles, the czar of everything that is Razorbacks athletics, wants Houston Nutt to make some changes with his coaching staff. It may be either that, or Nutt walks the plank himself.

Kentucky is headed full-bore into basketball season, so another dismal 3-8 season under Rich Brooks was no big deal.

Mississippi State finally gave its fans a thrill by drilling Ole Miss in last week's Egg Bowl.

And the Rebels, well, let's just say Year One of the Ed Orgeron Era was a disaster. An offense that couldn't do anything. Charges of tampering with Tulane players in the aftermath of deadly Hurricane Katrina. Scores of player defections. And yes, they'll be hearing about Mississippi State 35, Ole Miss 14 for a while.

Anyway, without further ado, let's present the Mashies for the 2005 SEC season:

Best supporting actor: LSU athletics director Skip Bertman, who made the call after Katrina to give up a home game and send the Tigers to Arizona State in the second week of the season, where LSU made an amazing comeback for a 35-31 victory.

Best supporting actress: Kentucky superfan Ashley Judd, who has the good sense to only show up for basketball games at her alma mater.

Best director: SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who had to drop the hammer on the LSU-Tennessee dispute while Hurricane Rita swirled in the Gulf of Mexico, postponing their game until Monday night in the final week of September.

Best cinematography: ESPN, for catching Steve Spurrier's trademark smirk when South Carolina upset Phil Fulmer and Tennessee before 107,716 at UT's Neyland Stadium on Oct. 29.

Best sound: Urban Meyer's tearful address to the media after Florida lost to LSU on Oct. 15 in Red Stick.

Best costumes: Florida's CFL-knockoff uniforms when they knocked Georgia from the ranks of the unbeaten at the World's Biggest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Halloween weekend.

Best animated short: Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, even if he isn't on TV anymore.

Best actress in a leading role: Catherine Zeta-Jones. Again. We know she likes SEC football. If not, well, like we need a reason...

Best actor in a leading role: Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel, because he likes to stand outside and tell us what is happening during a hurricane. Yeah, it's no time to be playing football.

Best picture: LSU 16, Alabama 13. The Tigahs did absolutely nothing until the third quarter, and then won it on JaMarcus Russell's TD pass to Dewayne Bowe in overtime. It ruined the Crimson Tide's Cinderella season, and all but sent LSU to its third SEC title game appearance since 2001.

Ranking the SEC

LSU survived a shaky second half against Arkansas, and the Tigahs will be ready to play this time.

LSU 27, Georgia 17.

Last week: 4-1 (straight up); 3-2 (vs. spread)

Season: 45-20 (straight up); 35-28 (vs. spread)

Ranking the SEC

1. LSU

One loss. And they led that game by 21 points. Last week: 1.

2. Auburn

They had LSU beat, if they could kick a field goal. Last week: 2.

3. Georgia

Mark Richt has built a top-flight program in Athens. Last week: 3.

4. Alabama

Still smarting from Iron Bowl beat-down. Last week: 4.

5. Florida

Gatahs on the rise after rout of Florida State. Last week: 6.

6. South Carolina

Gamecocks could alter balance of power in SEC East. Last week: 5.

7. Vanderbilt

The Commodores have to replace Jay Cutler, and it won't be easy. Last week: 7.

8. Arkansas

Back-to-back losing seasons make Frank Broyles do a slow burn. Last week: 8.

9. Tennessee

David Cutcliffe is back. And their offense is gonna be less predictable? Last week: 9.

10. Kentucky

Two winning seasons in the last 20 years. Last week: 10.

11. Mississippi State

Jerious Norwood knows how to go out in style. Last week: 12.

12. Ole Miss

Last in war, last in peace, last in the SEC West. Last week: 11.

Jim Mashek can be reached at 896-2333 or jwmashek@sunherald.com