Throughout the 2016 season, SEC power rankings were pretty much an exercise in futility. It was Alabama, and then a sea of mediocrity. Don’t deny it.

But it’s a new year! And with a new year comes new hopes and dreams of somebody in the SEC competing with Alabama. Well, maybe not competing with Alabama. We’ll settle for just some decent football, all right?

Let’s spare the suspense regarding the top spot. It’s Alabama. Nick Saban just secured a No. 1 class ranking for the seventh consecutive year. It’s ridiculous. It’s boring. It’s just … moving on to the rest.

The rest of the top five gets interesting. Some teams that finished the 2016 campaign on a high note also booked quality classes. Others, well, didn’t. Let’s jump in.

SEC Power Rankings after National Singing Day

14. Missouri

2016 Record: 4-8
2017 Class Ranking: 50

Skinny: Missouri followed up its rough 2016 season with a mediocre recruiting class. Ranked 50th, Missouri did not sign a single 4- or 5-star recruit. Barry Odom’s staff struggled in-state as well, signing only one of the 12 recruits in the state of Missouri ranked with 3 or more stars. The Tigers are in rebuilding mode, and it’s going to take some time.

13. Ole Miss

2016 Record: 5-7
2017 Class Ranking: 30

Skinny: Ole Miss had a better class than Vanderbilt, but we’re keeping the Rebs at No. 13 in our power rankings due to the disappointment level. Ole Miss fans are used to Hugh Freeze dominating the recruiting trail (two of the three classes between 2014-2016 were top-10 classes). I’d say the negative recruiting associated with possible NCAA violations had an impact.

12. Vanderbilt

2016 Record: 6-7
2017 Class Ranking: 64

Skinny: Vanderbilt exceeded expectations during the 2016 season, but failed to turn that success into an above average recruiting class. Kudos to Derek Mason, who is continually tasked with getting a lot out of a little.

11. Kentucky

2016 Record: 7-6
2017 Class Ranking: 29

Skinny: After beating a good Louisville team, Kentucky laid an egg against Georgia Tech in the bowl game, ending a good season that could have been better for Mark Stoops. As usual, Stoops does a good job of recruiting mostly by raiding the state of Ohio. Fans should keep an eye on 4-star recruit Lynn Bowden as he has a chance to be a fun offensive weapon.

10. Arkansas

2016 Record: 7-6
2017 Class Ranking: 28

Skinny: The Atlanta Falcons modeled their Super Bowl collapse after Bret Bielema’s masterful collapse against Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl. Not a great finish to a very up-and-down 2016 season for the Hogs. Arkansas put together a fairly average recruiting class, and unfortunately in the SEC West, average doesn’t get you much. Arkansas will find it difficult to finish in the top half of the division in 2017.

9. Mississippi State

2016 Record: 6-7
2017 Class Ranking: 24

Skinny: The Bulldogs finished the 2016 season with a bowl win over Miami (Ohio). Dan Mullen navigated the season after losing the best player in program history. In our books, we give the program a win for 2016. Mullen followed up the season with a decent 24th-ranked recruiting class. Mullen also had the most early enrollees compared to the rest of the conference, resulting in more players being closer to contributing this season.

8. South Carolina

2016 Record: 6-7
2017 Class Ranking: 21

Skinny: Following on a 2016 season that certainly exceeded expectations, Will Muschamp delivered a 21st-ranked recruiting class for the Gamecocks. Muschamp has always been able to recruit, and this year was no different. There’s a little momentum in Columbia, S.C.

7. Tennessee

2016 Record: 9-4
2017 Class Ranking: 17

Skinny: While the mood in Knoxville is still one of relative disappoint for how 2016 unfolded, Butch Jones continues to build the program (all cliches aside). While a No. 17 ranking perhaps isn’t what fans are used to seeing Jones produce on National Signing Day, it’s still a very good class capped by 5-star offensive tackle Trey Smith. While the Vols lost a number of marquee names, expect Tennessee to still be in the mix for the East title in 2017.

6. Texas A&M

2016 Record: 8-5
2017 Class Ranking: 12

Skinny: As usual, Kevin Sumlin delivers on the recruiting trail. In all likelihood, Sumlin’s team would be in the mix for conference championships in any other conference, but finishing off a bruising season in the SEC West continues to be a daunting task. It’s hard to imagine 2017 will be much different. Still, the idea of moving on from Sumlin is preposterous in my opinion.

5. Auburn

2016 Record: 8-5
2017 Class Ranking: 9

Skinny: Auburn always has the talent. Can Gus Malzahn put it together? The number of doubters are increasing. While Dan Mullen puts together a quality offense in wake of departing Dak Prescott, Gus Malzahn’s offenses have been very inconsistent in recent years especially at the quarterback position. If Malzahn can’t get consistency out of the position in 2017, his future on the Plains might get murky.

4. Georgia

2016 Record: 8-5
2017 Class Ranking: 3

Skinny: Kirby Smart delivered a fantastic recruiting class with his first full year as the Georgia head coach. The future is promising, especially with Jacob Eason locked in at quarterback going into his second year, but Georgia needs an improvement in the win-loss record compared to last year. Whether Smart can deliver in the standings is yet to be seen.

3. LSU

2016 Record: 8-4
2017 Class Ranking: 7

Skinny: While Ed Orgeron continues to have his skeptics with regards to his ability to be head coach of the LSU Tigers, Orgeron did exactly what he needed to do on the recruiting trail by securing the No. 7 class in the country. Also coming off a dominating performance against Louisville and the Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in the Citrus Bowl, LSU has some nice momentum going into the 2017 season. The honeymoon will be over quickly, however, once the season gets underway. Can Orgeron get LSU back to winning the West? If he can, he’ll be the most popular Louisianan in some time.

2. Florida

2016 Record: 9-4
2017 Class Ranking: 10

Skinny: Despite winning the East in his first two seasons, Jim McElwain needed to calm a large contingent of nervous Florida fans — fans mostly nervous about McElwain’s ability to recruit. McElwain came from behind on Signing Day to deliver the No. 10 class, surprising just about everyone. The program has a bit of momentum, but to secure his future, McElwain needs a significant improvement at the quarterback position in 2017. If he can do that, Florida might just be on its way back to contender status in college football.

1. Alabama

2016 Record: 14-1
2017 Class Ranking: 1

Skinny: It’s fitting that Alabama just signed its best recruiting class ever under Nick Saban. We continue to think it can’t get better for Alabama and Saban, and he continues to prove us wrong. Even with the loss in the national championship game against Clemson, Alabama owns college football. Most likely, the Tide will once again be ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls and the heavy favorite to win the SEC and win another national title.