Media picks Gators over Dawgs in SEC

BIRMINGHAM – Georgia head coach Mark Richt may have spent most of Thursday morning answering reporters' questions about his team's status as preseason favorites, but by Friday, those same reporters had already changed their tune, voting Florida to win the SEC East ahead of the Bulldogs.

The preseason media predictions were released on the final day of SEC Media Days, with the Gators in the top spot, picked to beat Auburn in the conference's title game. Florida earned 36 of the 70 total votes as conference champions, twice as many as the Bulldogs, who had the second highest tally.

Auburn led the pack with nine players on the media's preseason first- and second-team All-SEC squads, including defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks and punter Ryan Shoemaker, who earned first-team nods.

"I was really excited ‘til I got up this morning," Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said to begin his news conference Friday. "You guys picked us to win the West. Y'all are never right. That puts me in a bind. I don't know what I'm going to tell my team."

Richt, who spent much of his time in Hoover downplaying the Bulldogs' status as a potential No. 1 team to start the year, said the preseason predictions don't usually mean much.

"There's a formula in everyone's mind, they say, ‘What'd you do last year, how many returning starters do you have,' then they have a little calculation in their mind, and they say, ‘You should be the national champions' or ‘you should finish very high,' " Richt said.

After posting 1,334 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns his freshman year, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno earned 68 first-team All-SEC votes, tying Florida's Percy Harvin for the most for player. Bulldogs' linebacker Dannell Ellerbe also earned a first-team nod.

Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive back Asher Allen each earned second-team honors.

Florida had the most first-team selections with five, including Harvin, tight end Cornelius Ingram, linebacker Brandon Spikes, returner Brandon James and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow at quarterback.

In the West, defending national champion Louisiana State finished a distant second in the poll to Auburn, earning 21 first-place votes to Auburn's 48. Ole Miss earned one first-place vote as well.

At the bottom of the West was Arkansas, whose first-year head coach, Bobby Petrino, put the predictions into perspective while addressing the media Friday.

"Each week, the greatest thing about this conference, you have to line up and play," Petrino said. "And everybody's capable of beating anybody."

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