Media Selects Tide Third In SEC West

What one might think would be the best source of information on a football team -- the head coach -- is not of much value at Southeastern Conference Media Days. The coaches talk about a lot of things, but not much of substance regarding their upcoming teams.

Change a few key words and the address given by Alabama Coach Nick Saban could just as well come from Georgia or Vanderbilt. The coaches are long on philosophy and the like, short on specifics about the strengths and weaknesses of the teams.

That doesn't mean SEC Media Days, which concluded Friday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover (suburban Birmingham) is without value. Even if their addresses sound like recitations from alumni gatherings at times, the coaches do address other issues of interest, such as rules changes.

Also, two dozen players are also available for interviews and are frequently more forthcoming than the coaches. This is also the opportunity to pick up a great deal of written material.

One of the most valuable aspects of the event is that reporters get to visit with their comrades from other areas, picking those brains for information.

One major failure of the event is the traditionally poor job the media does in its pre-season poll. That may be because fewer than 10 per cent of the 800 or so reporters on hand bother to cast a ballot. So for what it's worth -- not much, if history is any guide -- the media have selected the Florida Gators to win this year's SEC championship.

Florida got 36 of the 70 votes with Georgia second at 18 and Auburn third with 13. Defending national champion and SEC champion LSU was lumped with Tennessee and Ole Miss, getting one vote each.

In the Western Division, it was Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

The East pick was Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

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