No rea­son not to make Tide the fa­vorite

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - WALLY HALL

There were no real sur­prises when the SEC re­leased the me­dia’s picks for where the 14 teams will be in the stand­ings when the sea­son ends.

Alabama got 217 votes to win the SEC. Others tal­lied 26, in­clud­ing some­one who picked the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs to win the SEC West and the SEC cham­pi­onship.

That was not a sur­prise. That was a joke.

Do un­der­stand the me­dia is rid­ing a win­ning streak of one. Since ex­pan­sion in 1992, the me­dia cor­rectly picked the win­ner six times. Once was last year, when it didn’t go out on a limb and pick Alabama, which just hap­pens to be the best foot­ball pro­gram in the coun­try.

The long­est me­dia win­ning streak was two. That’s been done twice, way back in 1994-1995 when they cor­rectly picked Florida, then in 2007 when LSU was cho­sen and won, and in 2008 it was Florida again.

In 2014, Alabama was cho­sen and won, and again in 2016.

In 2015, Auburn, the de­fend­ing SEC cham­pion, was picked to win it but fin­ished sev­enth.

Alabama has great coach­ing and great play­ers, a pretty deadly combo. The Crim­son

Tide are to col­lege foot­ball what Bon­nie and Clyde were to bank rob­bing — un­de­feated un­less am­bushed.

Alabama should be picked ev­ery year un­til Nick Sa­ban re­tires and Mike Shula re­turns.

The Hogs were not the only SEC West team to be hon­ored by some homers. Auburn got 13 votes to win the divi­sion and LSU 4.

Ge­or­gia is fa­vored to win the East ( but fin­ished be­hind Auburn and Alabama to win the SEC ti­tle) get­ting 138 first-place votes. Florida was next with 96, Ten­nessee got 3, South Carolina was a happy-hour hit get­ting 5 votes and some­one, some­where picked Van­der­bilt.

None of that is sur­pris­ing — funny maybe — but as long as the SEC gives cre­den­tials to its foot­ball me­dia days to guys who could not get cre­den­tials to the SEC Cham­pi­onship Game, silly things are

go­ing to hap­pen.

Alabama had four first­team All-SEC of­fen­sive se­lec­tions, two on the sec­ond team and one on the third. It had five All-SEC first team picks on de­fense and one each on the sec­ond and third teams.

Yes, yours truly ab­so­lutely voted Alabama to win the SEC West and SEC cham­pi­onship. Af­ter get­ting burned with the Auburn pick the year be­fore, it was as easy to pick the Crim­son Tide as it is to eat a Bradley County tomato.

The lone voter for Arkansas

to win ev­ery­thing — and it had to be some­one cre­den­tialed to cover the event (and was not this news­pa­per’s Bob Holt or Tom Mur­phy ei­ther) — must have re­ally been im­pressed that Frank Rag­now was named first- team Al­lSEC cen­ter and Austin Allen third-team quar­ter­back.

Ad­mit­tedly, your trusty scribe had Allen sec­ond team be­hind only Jalen Hurts of Alabama. Mis­sis­sippi State’s Nick Fitzger­ald of­fi­cially fin­ished ahead of Allen by 19 to­tal points.

For years, there was a guy who worked on the Ole Miss ra­dio crew — and if mem­ory serves he was not an on-air per­son — but he al­ways voted for the Rebels to win the West and the SEC.

He was much ridiculed for that. He ei­ther didn’t at­tend me­dia days this year or saw the er­ror of his ways.

Hope­fully, the cheer­leader who picked the Hogs will do one or the other in the fu­ture.

Arkansas was picked a dis­tant fourth in the West be­hind Alabama, Auburn and LSU, and ahead of Texas A&M, Mis­sis­sippi State and Ole Miss.

As for a dark­horse (while it isn’t likely they will fin­ish first), the team to watch could be the Bull­dogs of Mis­sis­sippi State. Mostly on the strength of Dan Mullen’s coach­ing and pick­ing the Hogs would have been home­r­ish.

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