Like it is:

Media look good with Georgia, Bama picks

By: Wally Hall
Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018
In this Dec. 3, 2016, file photo, Alabama coach Nick Saban watches his team warm up for the Southeastern Conference championship game between Alabama and Florida in Atlanta. Alabama has the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press' preseason media poll. Saban's Tide has become the surest thing in sports these days. They don't always win the national championship, but they are always in contention. Since 2008, only once has the Tide lost more than one game before bowl season. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
In this Dec. 3, 2016, file photo, Alabama coach Nick Saban watches his team warm up for the Southeastern Conference championship game between Alabama and Florida in Atlanta. Alabama has the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press' preseason media poll. Saban's Tide has become the surest thing in sports these days. They don't always win the national championship, but they are always in contention. Since 2008, only once has the Tide lost more than one game before bowl season. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Let's get this out there once and for all: The SEC media aren't very good at picking which football team is going to win the conference.

A big part of that is because the ballots are filled out during the week of SEC football media days, when the participants are interviewing 14 coaches and 42 athletes, plus various others who have a statement to make about college football, the SEC, rules and joining the Football Writers Association of America.

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In other words, the media are busy, but 284 members took the time to fill out the ballot, which included first, second and third teams for offense and defense.

Since the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville joined the SEC, the record shows media have picked the correct champion six times in 26 tries.

Last week the media, wisely in the opinion here, picked Alabama to win the SEC West and the championship, and Georgia to win the East.

There were a few votes scattered around -- most likely by some homers -- for teams such as Tennessee, which has a new coach; Mississippi State, which has a new coach; Kentucky, a basketball powerhouse; and Florida, which hasn't had a quarterback since Tim Tebow.

South Carolina and Auburn also garnered some warranted attention, although they are probably playing for second in their respective divisions.

The anomaly came in the voting for SEC champion, the winner of the annual clash between the East and West. Alabama got 193 votes and Georgia 69. That sounds about right, but at the very bottom of the list Missouri got a vote to win the SEC championship but not one to win the East.

Maybe that voter was really busy.

And the Arkansas Razorbacks were picked to finish last in the West by getting 412 points, which came as no surprise. Only Vanderbilt in the East fared worse with 392 points.

Of the preseason all-SEC selections, the Hogs had a second-teamer in Hjalte Froholdt at offense line, and two third-team defensive players -- linebacker De'Jon Harris and defensive back Santos Ramirez.

Hard to argue with those picks, but it should be pointed out there are not nine linebackers in the SEC better than Dre Greenlaw.

A pessimist might look at where Arkansas was picked and how few players made All SEC (79 were honored, and the Hogs had a total of three) and think the Hogs are going to stink.

An optimist might think the Razorbacks are last in the best division of the best football conference in the country.

A realist would understand if the UA was a threat to win the West, or even finish second, Bret Bielema still would be the coach. It took Bielema three or four seasons to realize you can't win in the SEC with conventional, high percentage football. Even Nick Saban, the original proponent of the style, plays uptempo, which requires team speed.

Not 4.5 speed, but closer to 4.4 at most skill positions with great hands, hips and attitudes.

Bielema was trying to rethink the speed thing, but he got in the game too late. To be brutally honest, he hurt his ability to recruit Texas when he spoke to that state's high school coaches convention and claimed his philosophy was better. About 80 percent of those high school coaches were running uptempo offenses.

Chad Morris is fixing that problem. He is a former Texas high school coach and has been quoted many times about how great those guys are at their job.

It takes time to overhaul a program. This could be a long season for the Razorback Nation, which should look for improvement even if it doesn't result in wins.

Sports on 07/22/2018

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