Will media jinx Tigers?

You've got to rewind the clock to 1995 to find the last time the SEC media correctly predicted the winner of the SEC.

Is the SEC media really that dumb?

Maybe that's a little harsh, but it's been quite a while since the folks collectively covering the SEC nailed the eventual champion.

For the record, my record hasn't been THAT bad. In fact, I picked Florida to win the SEC last year while my ``colleagues'' took Auburn.

Still, Florida in 1995 is the last time the folks covering SEC Football Media days pegged the champion. Tennessee was the pick in 1996 but Florida won. Florida was the pick in 1997 and '98 but Tennessee won. UT was the 1999 favorite, but Alabama won.

In 2000, Alabama was forecast; Florida won. Alabama tied for fifth in the West that season. Something similar happened one other year. In 2005, Tennessee was the preseason pick and finished fifth in the East. Georgia was the champion.

In 2001, Florida was the pick, LSU the winner.

In 2002, Tennessee was the pick, Georgia the winner.

In 2003, Auburn was the pick, LSU the winner. LSU won the national title.

In 2004, Georgia was the pick, Auburn the winner with a 13-0 record.

LSU players said they are determined to end the media jinx.

They will. I know the picking odds favor someone else but the talent odds point to the Tigers. No team is as well rounded with as many quality players. If Matt Flynn is productive at quarterback – and I believe he will be – LSU could win the national title.


The compressed fracture of the spine suffered by senior starting Tennessee outside linebacker Ryan Karl while lifting weights last month has caused the Vols to reshuffle the deck at his position.

UT coach Phillip Fulmer said junior Adam Myers-White will get first shot along with junior Ellix Wilson, who will move from middle linebacker. Fulmer said UT also is considering moving Jerod Mayo from middle linebacker to the outside. It might also force the Vols to expedite the progress of blue-chip linebacker signee Chris Donald.

``I think it sounds a lot worse than it actually is, according to the trainer,'' Fulmer said of Karl's diagnosis. ``It sounds really, really serious. But like any other normal bone, it will improve over time with rest.

``Our guys assure me he'll be ready before the start of the season. I'm hopeful he'll be ready for some part of (August) camp.''

If Karl can't go, Fulmer said Myers-White and Wilson will be given a chance to start at the start of the year.


Fulmer was happy to see running back LaMarcus Coker selected on the All-SEC second team.

Coker led the Vols with 696 rushing yards and averaged 6.4 yards per carry. No other UT back averaged as much as 4.0.

``I'm really pleased for LaMarcus,'' Fulmer said. ``I hope he'll be the consistent back that he's capable of being. Everybody can watch him for a little bit and know he's got special ability with his speed. And he does run tough, he runs hard.

``But I don't think Arian Foster or Montario Hardesty will roll over and play dead, either. Arian, I got to tell you, in spring practice, I was really impressed with the way he approached it. He's a back that if he is consistent and stays healthy, he can be one of those guys that can carry our football team.''


Fulmer said he was a bit disappointed that Ainge was second team, behind Kentucky's Andre Woodson. The vote wasn't close. Woodson had 62 votes, Ainge six.

``It was a pure numbers thing,'' Fulmer said, pointing out that Woodson led the league in passing while Ainge missed all or most of two games because of injury.

Still, Fulmer called Woodson a ``really outstanding player.''

Fulmer said Ainge could have ``jumped ship'' to the pros after last year but ``realized under (offensive coordinator) David Cutcliffe's tutelage that he has work to do and a chance to improve.

``He could be one of those guys that if he has a special year he could be a top 10, top 15 draft pick. If he does that, that means he's done well for us, and that's the only reason I'm talking about professional football.''

Fulmer said Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt told him the reason she snapped her eight-year drought of national championships was because she had All-America Candace Parker. Fulmer hasn't won the SEC in eight years.

``I'm hoping Erik will be our Candace Parker,'' Fulmer said.


Tennessee has not only moved Eric Young from right tackle to left tackle, the Vols have moved Anthony Parker from right guard to left guard.

``Both have played that side,'' Fulmer said of Young and Parker. ``They work well together. And Ramon Foster is a lot better at right guard or right tackle than he is on the left side because he's a little awkward in his stance.

``We just need one more guy to come through at right tackle.''

The first shot goes to Chris Scott. If he doesn't deliver, Fulmer will move Foster to right tackle and insert Jacques McClendon at right guard. Fulmer said McClendon, who set a football record in the bench press (565 pounds) needs to ``get his business done.''

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