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The 2010 edition of SEC Media Days came to a close Friday in Hoover, Ala., with LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee making the rounds. Here's a Cliffs Notes version of the day's events:
Order in the court
The SEC released the predicted order of finish as voted on by the members of the media. To the surprise of nobody, Florida and Alabama are predicted to win the SEC East and SEC West, respectively, with Alabama tabbed as the likely winner of the 2010 SEC Championship Game
SEC Champion (first place votes in parentheses) - Alabama (143), Florida (17), Auburn (7), Arkansas (3), Ole Miss (2), Georgia (2), LSU (1), South Carolina (1), Kentucky (1).
Eastern Division (First Place Votes)
1. Florida (153) 1030
2. Georgia (15) 791
3. South Carolina (8) 790
4. Kentucky 462
5. Tennessee 450
6. Vanderbilt (1) 194
Western Division (First Place Votes)
1. Alabama (157) 1034
2. Arkansas (6) 726
3. Auburn (10) 691
4. LSU (1) 653
5. Mississippi State 320
6. Ole Miss (3) 293
The prediction is not too outlandish. I flip-flopped the No. 2 team with the No.3 team in both divisions on my ballot, but all-in-all, it's nothing too surprising.
What is surprising is the running back position on the first-team All-SEC team. Alabama running back Mark Ingram takes one of the two spots, which is perfectly reasonable. But it's the appearance of his teammate, sophomore Trent Richardson, that is really puzzling.
Is Trent Richardson a solid running back? Yes. Could he, at some point, be a first-team running back? Absolutely. But he is not deserving of the spot this season over Kentucky running back Derrick Locke.
Locke has proven that he can take the pounding of being an every-down back in the SEC. As a junior last season, Locke put up 907 yards on 195 carries. Don't forget, 2009 was a year in which the Wildcats were forced to start true freshman Morgan Newton at quarterback, after Mike Hartline's season ended early due to a knee injury. After Hartline's injury, when his team needed him the most, Locke rushed for 510 yards on 97 carries. If that's not worthy of first-team All-SEC status this season, I don't know what is.
The only explanation for Richardson being on the first-team All-SEC team ahead of Locke is that the callers of the Paul Finebaum Show hacked into the voting system...but that might be giving the callers too much credit.
What a difference a year makes. If there's anyone on this planet that's the exact opposite of former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, it's current Tennessee coach Derek Dooley.
Dooley was peppered with questions on Friday morning, many of which were attempts to get him to say something negative about his predecessor at Tennessee. Dooley didn't budge, and good for him.
As much ammo as Kiffin gave us during his brief stint in the SEC, it is nice to have sanity restored. Oh wait, we were discussing turkey insemination yesterday. Nevermind.
Thanks to some horrendous clock management late in loses to Ole Miss and Penn State, LSU head coach Les Miles finds himself squarely on the hot seat in 2010. Miles told reporters that he has addressed those clock management issues this offseason.
"We went through some of the situations we went through last fall," said Miles. That did not go beyond my scrutiny. I scrutinized the coaching – me and others. I can promise you that those situations, some of those situations I'd never run into in coaching. Some of those situations I was, even though prepared for, had not envisioned the time constraints. So what we've done is we've added that to our game week preparation. We just feel like the teaching of the situation and the understanding of the situation is more important. If you looked back over the time here, the number of games that we've won in two-minute situations, we need to re-up the understanding of what must happen in some of those clock management situations, both as players and coaches. It's not just lip service. You know, we've changed.
After the two debacles last season, I'll reserve my judgment until I see it. LSU has a mighty tough schedule in 2010, and anything worse than 8-4 will probably get Miles canned.
Dressed to the nines
The Auburn Tigers made the rounds Friday morning with little fanfare – just the way head coach Gene Chizik likes it.
Senior defensive back Aairon Savage made the biggest news, rocking the seersucker suit and bow tie. Well done sir.
Savage, who missed the last two seasons due to injuries, already has his masters degree in biomechanics. He is expected to bring much-needed depth to an Auburn defense that was razor-thin in 2009.
Bulletin board material
In his first two seasons with Ole Miss, Houston Nutt has posted back-to-back nine-win seasons. Things are going great, right? Wrong. The loss of the majority of the roster has lowered the media's expectations to a level that the Rebels haven't seen since the Ed Orgeron era.
Nutt addressed the dead-last SEC West prediction on Friday.
"Thank you," Nutt said to the media of the poll. "That's all right. It's good. It really doesn't matter."
If there's one thing that Nutt can do, it's coach when the expectations are low. But with every other team in the division either improving or coming off a National Championship, I'm not so sure that's a place that Nutt wants to be this year.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
Off-Season Column Archive:
SEC Media Days: Day 3 Recap – July 23, 2010
SEC Media Days: Day 2 Recap – July 22, 2010
SEC Media Days: Day 1 Recap – July 21, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part III – July 13, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part II – June 21, 2010
Auburn Gets The Last Laugh – June 10, 2010
Realignment – What Should The SEC Do? – June 9, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part I – June 7, 2010
Richt On The Hot Seat? – June 3, 2010
Auburn Dismisses Redshirt Freshman RB – May 21, 2010
SEC Hires of the Decade – The Bottom Five – May 14, 2010
Top 5 SEC Hires of the Decade – May 5, 2010
Georgia In A Gray Area – April 26, 2009
Taunting Rule Goes Too Far – April 16, 2009
Memorable SEC Press Conferences – February 20, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 2 – February 18, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 1 – February 16, 2009
Florida Reaches For DC – February 12, 2009
Vols Go West For New DC – February 3, 2009
Early 2010 SEC Predictions – January 31, 2010
Chizik Doing It Right – January 21, 2010
Georgia's DC Debacle – January 12, 2010
SEC Bloggers: Do Over – January 8, 2010
Trouble In Baton Rouge – January 2, 2010
Meyer Calls A Reverse – December 27, 2009
Urban Meyer's SEC Legacy – December 26, 2009
End Of The Season Accountability – December 26, 2009
Ranking The SEC Bowl Games – December 18, 2009
2009 SEC Superlatives – December 13, 2009
Click here for the 2010 Three & Out archive