If you haven’t noticed yet, the summer deluge of college football pre-season magazines has hit the newsstands. Though these types of magazines are printed nationwide, sales of them are highest in the South. (Big surprise there.) Every year, I thumb through these magazines, buying a couple that focus on the SEC. This year, though, I took my research almost totally on-line as all I want to know is already out there. This means in my old age I am either getting a) smarter, or b) cheaper.
Besides, if you try finding a pick on Auburn these days, opinions are so divergent that it boggles the mind. I call this blog entry a difference of 30 as that is the difference between the most divergent opinions I can find. CBS Sportsline rates Auburn a preseason #11. Phil Steele rates Auburn at #41. Yes, you got it, #41, with the loss of four offensive lineman, the lack of proven wide receivers, the toughest four road games in the SEC, and new kickers on special teams making Auburn a 4th pick in the SEC West. (Granted, Florida is replacing nine people on defense and a senior quarterback. Some polls have them as high as #3, while at least one has them out of the Top 25. Go figure that one.)
So far, the preseason predictions shake out like this:
#11: CBS Sportsline
#14: Street & Smith, USA Today (Coaches’ Poll)
#16: Sporting News
#41: Phil Steele
So, if we do this old international competition way, dropping the #11 from the American judge and the #41 from the Russian judge, we average out at #18. If I remember correctly, we were #17 in 2004 when we went undefeated, so we are in a good spot.
Besides, even those who rank us highly still have us behind LSU. LSU is a pre-season BCS championship game contender and over half of the 80+ sportswriters that cover SEC football picked LSU (over UF) in the championship game. Auburn was picked second in the Western Division and received four votes as the preseason SEC champion. (Alabama received three votes in this poll, meaning that the first, second, and maybe even the third round of drinks had been poured by that time.)
On the bright side, the last media preseason pick that actually won the conference was Florida in the mid-90s. With the target off our back, this can only mean one thing: Auburn has the conference right where they want it.
Coming soon (for all you T.S. Eliot fans): Cox of the walk.