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July 17, 2014
Alabama picked to win league title by SEC media
HOOVER | Nick Saban was free to go.
Alabama's head coach had taken his last question in the main interview room at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel on Thursday, but never a man to bask in accolades - especially of the speculative ilk - he had a reminder for the media contingent that had overwhelmingly picked Alabama to win the SEC in its 2014 preseason poll.
You've been plenty wrong before.
"I know you all pick a winner in the conference every year. I'm not saying who you picked this year," Saban said, straight-faced, as his deadpanning revved into gear. "But last year, you'd been wrong, you know, like 17 out of 21 times. Now you're wrong 18 out of 22 (coming into this year).
"And every year that we've been fortunate enough to win the championship, you picked somebody else to win it. So just to let you know … that we're evaluating you."
A record 1,267 media members showed up to this year's SEC Media Days and a record 293 predicted the standings and voted on All-SEC teams. Despite what Saban identified as "many question marks" around his team coming into the fall, Alabama received 154 votes to win the league title with Auburn (75) a distant second. It marked the fourth time in five years that the Crimson Tide have been tapped to win it. Alabama and Auburn were picked to finish 1-2 in the SEC West while South Carolina was picked to win the SEC East ahead of Georgia.
While it may be a testament to Alabama's perceived ability, as Saban pointed out, being picked to win here hasn't been good luck - the media has picked the SEC champion correctly just four times in 22 years.
There were more honors for some of Alabama's individual standouts. The Crimson Tide had a league-high eight players named first-team All-SEC:: Running back T.J. Yeldon, offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio, receiver Amari Cooper, tight end O.J. Howard, defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson, linebacker Trey DePriest, safety Landon Collins and return specialist Christion Jones.
Yeldon led the Crimson Tide in rushing with 1,235 yards while Cooper, who garnered more first-team votes than any other SEC player, tallied 736 receiving yards and four touchdowns despite battling a foot injury throughout the 2013 season.
Jones, who was named first-team as a punt return man and as the league's top all-purpose player, caught 36 passes for 349 yards while also leading the league in punt return yardage (321 yards). Offensive linemen Austin Shepard and Ryan Kelly were both named second team All-SEC.
Reach D.C. Reeves at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the rest of the teams and the SEC predicted order of finish below:
Predicted Order of Finish
SEC West Predicted Order of Finish
SEC East Predicted Order of Finish
2014 PRE-SEASON MEDIA DAYS ALL-SEC TEAM
QB Nick Marshall, Auburn (241)
P Jamie Keehn, LSU (81)