The News Poll

For many, many years The Birmingham News has produced a spring feature based on a poll of Southeastern Conference sports information directors. In this year's poll, published Sunday, Tennessee is picked to beat LSU for the SEC championship.

Alabama is picked third in the SEC West and sixth overall, which is reasonable.

Frequently the spring poll is interesting, but it could hardly be said to be accurate. During the 1970s when Alabama was picked to win ever championship the pre-season guesses were correct at the top. Florida's run in the 1990s helped the accuracy level, too.

The newspaper asks each school's sports information director to vote on the face in his team's division and the league as a whole (and an SID doesn't vote for his own team), an all-conference team, and players who are best in a number of categories (i.e., passer, runner, inside linebacker).

In one respect, it might be considered a surprise that Auburn would get the same number of votes as LSU (three each) for best in the SEC West. LSU, which lost to Auburn in Auburn by a point on an unusual call on an extra point kick last year, returns most of its players. Auburn had four of its 2004 stars selected in the first round of the NFL draft. On the other hand, Auburn went 13-0 last year and is the SEC champion until dethroned.

In the SEC West, the vote had it 1. LSU, 2. Auburn, 3. Alabama, 4. Arkansas, 5. Ole Miss, and 6. Mississippi State.

The SIDs went heavily for defending SEC East champion Tennessee, followed by 2. Georgia, 3. Florida, 4. South Carolina, 5. Kentucky, and 6. Vanderbilt.

In the overall strength category, Tennessee was a solid first over LSU. Bama was sixth.

The most notable absence on the pre-season All-SEC team was Alabama's Roman Harper being second team. Harper has been picked on some pre-season All-America teams. Harper was second team.

Alabama's first team All-SEC selections were halfback Kenneth Darby and outside linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Brodie Croyle was second team quarterback, while middle linebacker Freddie Roach and cornerback Anthony Madison joined Harper on the second team pre-season defensive squad.

Kenneth Darby was selected the league's best runner, the only Tider named "best" at his job. DeMeco Ryans was selected second best outside linebacker and Tyrone Prothro second best kick return man.

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