Media Put Unusual Twist On Prediction

The vote of reporters at Southeastern Conference Media Days this year reflected several problems with this annual poll, which has been notoriously inaccurate. Since 1992 – a total of 23 polls – the media has been correct only five times, including last year when Alabama was the selection.

This year’s poll had a new twist. For the first time the media picked one team to win the SEC Western Division – Alabama – but had another West team – Auburn – as the predicted overall champion.

One reason, perhaps, for the idiosyncrasies of the poll is the lack of participation. This year 225 votes were cast, which means a participation of something around 25 per cent.

More than that, though, is probably the jumble that can be expected, particularly in the West. Georgia was the clear favorite of the media to win the Eastern Division, but West votes were widespread. In fact, that was the cause of the Crimson Tide being picked over the Tigers to win the West. Auburn recived more first place votes than Alabama, 108-92. Auburn, however, was picked fourth or lower on 26 battots, Alabama fourth or lower on only three. The Tide had 1,405 points to win the West, Auburn 1,362. (Points were awarded on a 7 for first place, 6 for second, etc. scale in each division.)

The strength of the West was indicated in the vote. Auburn received 96 votes to win the championship, Alabama 80, and Georgia only 28. LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State also received votes to win the championship.

Georgia was a runaway choice to win the East with 166 first place votes and 1,498 points. Tennessee was second with 36 votes and 1,231 points, and Missouri – which has won the East the last two years – was third with 1,196 points and 20 first place votes.

The order of finish to win the West was Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State. The East was Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt.

It is not unusual for a first day appearance by a school to get a bump in the polls, and Auburn was in the Monday leadoff position.

If there is one overriding reason for difficulty in voting this year it is the quarterback position being undecided at so many schools, including Alabama, which lost Blake Sims – last year’s SEC Championship Game MVP. Although Auburn has settled on a quarterback, Jeremy Johnson, he has been a two-year back-up. He has an excellent reputation, but the jury has to be out on him to some extent.


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