HOOVER, Ala. (CBSMiami.com) – Nick Saban may still be hated by every Miami Dolphins fan around the world, but the media covering SEC media days has Saban’s Crimson Tide at the top of the SEC heap.
The media selected Alabama to be the favorite to win the 2011 SEC championship. Alabama was the overall SEC champion pick on 98 ballots. LSU received 29 votes, 18 for Arkansas and 14 for South Carolina. Georgia got four votes and Florida and Ole Miss received two.
Breaking it down by division, Alabama received 111 votes to win the SEC West followed by LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Auburn. The defending national champion Tigers received no votes to win the West.
In the East, South Carolina was the overwhelming favorite to repeat as SEC East champs. In second place was Georgia with 38 votes, Florida with 12 votes, Tennessee with 2 votes, Kentucky received one vote, and Vanderbilt brought up the rear with zero votes.
In other words, according to the gathered media at SEC media days, Vanderbilt has the same chance of winning their division as the defending national champion Auburn Tigers do of winning their division.
Alabama will be carrying the city of Tuscaloosa on their proverbial backs throughout the season. Tuscaloosa was hit by a devastating tornado earlier in 2011 and is still trying to come back months after the twister wiped out the city.
The Crimson Tide will have a very stout defense that returns most of its starters from last year when the Tide only gave up more than 20 points three times in 2010. Most preseason publications are picking the Crimson Tide to have the best secondary in the nation and its linebackers are second to none.
The Tide will also return one of the nation’s best running backs in Trent Richardson, who will have a veteran offensive line to run behind. The o-line returns four starters from last year’s squad.
The only question the Crimson Tide have going forward will be the quarterback play. If the Tide had a veteran QB under center, they would easily be the number one team in the country. They will still likely be in the top three and possibly even number two in the land when the first preseason polls drop.
The Tide’s biggest test early in the season will be a likely night-game in Happy Valley, Pa. to play Joe Paterno’s Penn State Nittany Lions. Once conference play begins, the Tide will have to travel to Gainesville to play the Gators.
November will be the toughest month when the Tide play LSU, then follow that with a game at Mississippi State. Alabama will get a one game reprieve by playing Georgia Southern. Then, the Tide take on the Auburn Tigers in the annual Iron Bowl.
(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)