The best and worst picks among the media’s preseason SEC poll
As SEC Media Days came to a conclusion Thursday, the media members in attendance cast their votes for their predicted order of finish for each division, as well as an overall league champion – the complete breakdown can be found here.
To briefly summarize, the media selected Georgia to win the East, Alabama to win the West and Auburn to win the league. As confusing as that is, that's what actually happened.
Before giving thoughts on the champions of each division and the league title game, let's examine what the media's poll got correctly.
Georgia and Tennessee will finish the season ranked first and second in the East, in that order.
The Bulldogs catch a bad break with their West opponents this season, as they get both Alabama and Auburn this season, but if they can split the two games they should easily win the East. Considering Georgia has taken seven of the past nine from Auburn and Alabama comes to Athens, splitting the two seems very reasonable.
While Tennessee has been an East dweller the past couple of seasons, talent has returned to Knoxville and if the team had experience or depth they could steal the East this season, however they currently are still developing in both areas. Not to mention a daunting schedule which includes games against schools with impressive winning streaks over the Vols – Missouri (3), Georgia (5), Alabama (8) and Florida (10). Ending those streaks should be priority number one, if they can accomplish to end two of them, expect Tennessee to rise to second in the East.
Vanderbilt in last place without a single first place vote. Sorry Commodore fans.
The media appears to stuck in the past, giving the old guard in the West the benefit of the doubt while expecting the up-and-comers to fall in line. Perhaps those who voted are just playing it safe and sticking with what they've seen, either way the poll looks like a snapshot of the league's past results, not an accurate reflection of what's to occur this season.
Expect LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss to battle it out for the last three spots in the West.
LSU, while extremely talented, has consistently failed to get the most out of their talent in recent seasons and will no longer have John Chavis to bail them out. Chavis ultimately began looking around when the school would not guarantee his salary in the event of Les Miles' firing, sounds like the school is losing faith in Miles. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron doesn't appear to be much help either, after one firing after another Cameron found his way to LSU and faces a make-or-break season in Baton Rouge in 2015.
Ole Miss is loaded with premiere talent, but lacks depth, a viable quarterback, struggles to run the ball between the tackles and their offensive line was a mess towards the end of the season. If Laremy Tunsil is suspended for any amount of time due to off the field incidents, the Rebels line could be a nightmare this season. If the season slips away early, how long before Ole Miss' Fab Four pulls a Clowney and protects their interest above the team's?
Arkansas very well could win the East this season, but unfortunately they don't play an East schedule this season. Bret Bielema said it himself at SEC Media Days, West champions don't lose on the road and the Hogs travel to Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and play A&M on a neutral field in Dallas. If they only lose one they stand a chance of climbing the ranks, but that seems unlikely given their options on the outside and their limitations at quarterback this season.
Mississippi State and Texas A&M have arguably the best quarterback and receiving units in the league this season. With the difficulties Alabama, Auburn and likely Ole Miss, after losing two senior All-Americans, have stopping the pass, these two won't finish at the bottom of the West.
In fact, Texas A&M will win the West and play Georgia in the SEC title game where Georgia will end the East's six year title drought and earn a bid for the second College Football Playoff.