Reactions to Phil Steele's annual magazine could be extreme in some SEC football towns

Phil Steele's annual magazine brings SEC football fans joy and sadness. This summer, peak sadness may turn to anger in Auburn.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Steele's annual college football preseason magazine will be released on June 28. SEC football fans in Fayetteville, Gainesville, Columbia, and Starkville will not be happy. No SEC fanbase will be as displeased as will Auburn's.

The response on the Plains could be extreme. So extreme that 'book-burning' comes to mind. Not literally of course, because the glossy pages of a magazine smolder rather than flame, but on the far opposite spectrum of rolling Toomer's oak trees, Auburn fans will be furious. Magazine racks in local, Auburn stores could come under attack.

The spark to Auburn's flame comes from Steele's already published 2024 Preseason Top 40 rankings. On3 has published Steele's Top 40 and calls him "one of college football’s highly respected prognosticators." The Aubies will loudly disagree.

Steele included 10 SEC teams in his Top 40. Auburn was not one of them. Joining the excluded list of SEC football teams are Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. Only among Vandy fans will the exclusion not matter.

Phil Steele Preseason Ranking of SEC Football Teams

Fairly and unsurprisingly, Steele has the Georgia Bulldogs at the top of his Top 40. Behind Ohio State and Oregon, Texas is the next highest-ranked SEC team at No. 4. Alabama football fans will not enjoy the Crimson Tide being ranked as the third-highest SEC team, at No. 7. But while Steele's ranking of Alabama may be a spot or two too low, No. 7 in not unfair.

Steele has Ole Miss ranked No. 14; Missouri ranked No. 18, LSU ranked No. 19; Oklahoma ranked No. 20; Tennessee ranked No. 24; Texas A&M ranked No. 28 and Kentucky ranked No. 39.

Behind Auburn, the next two most displeased SEC football fanbases will likely be LSU and Tennessee. Fans of both programs believe their teams are not just Playoff contenders, but also national championship contenders.

Across college football other noteworthy teams in Steele's Top 40 are Penn State (No. 5), Notre Dame (No. 6), Utah (No. 8), Michigan (No. 9), Miami (No. 10), Clemson (No. 12), Florida State (No. 13) and Oklahoma State (No. 15). Steele's highest ranked group of Five team is Boise State at No. 16. Steele does not have much love for USC at No. 25 or Kansas at No. 37.

Alabama football fans wanting to gig Auburn a bit more can point out that seven Group of Five teams were, unlike the Tigers, ranked in Steele's Top 40. Along with Boise State, those teams are UTSA (No. 21), Memphis (No. 26), Liberty (No. 27), Texas State (No. 36), Appalachian State (No. 38) and Louisiana (No. 40).

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