SEC Media Days will take place July 15-18 at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama, marking the unofficial start to the 2019 college football season. During the four-day circus, the conference will ask the assembled members of the media to predict the order of finish in the SEC.
Spoiler alert: We aren't very good at this.
The media has predicted the eventual SEC champion just seven times in the 27 years since the divisional split in 1992. If you expand it further, predictions for several teams have been wildly wrong since the expansion in 2012. We looked back at the past seven preseason predictions and compared them to how division races actually turned out. Teams are ranked based on their final standing within the division relative to where they were picked in the preseason media poll. Head-to-head results and standard SEC tiebreaker procedures were used to prevent ties being factored into the final standings.
|Team||Performance vs. Hype (Division Standing)||Average (Division Standing)|
|(-7) Tennessee chimed in as the most overrated team in the SEC since the split ahead of 2018, and finished dead last in the SEC East to hold on to that dubious title. The only time the media has picked the Vols correctly in the SEC East was in 2015, when they finished second behind Florida in the division. Tennessee hasn't met its preseason hype in any of the last three seasons.|
|(-6) South Carolina hasn't received a ton of buzz lately, but the end of the Steve Spurrier era is what haunts the Gamecocks in the seven-year hype meter scale. They were picked to win the division in 2014 and finished fifth, and fourth in 2015 prior to finishing last in Spurrier's last (half) season in Columbia. They exceeded expectations by two spots in 2016 and 2017, respectively, but gave two of those back last year after finishing fourth in the division.|
|(-5) It seems crazy to call Arkansas "overrated," but it really traces back to two seasons. The Hogs finished sixth -- three spots below where the media picked them -- in the ill-fated John L. Smith season of 2012. They repeated the feat when they finished dead last after being picked fourth in Bret Bielema's final year in 2017. The media has accurately picked Arkansas' final standing four times since expansion in 2012.|
|(-4) Georgia has matched its hype five times over the last seven seasons. The two misses were in 2013 and 2015, when they finished third after being picked to win the SEC East. All three of Kirby Smart's teams have matched their prediction.|
|(-4) The media hasn't picked Auburn correctly at any point since expansion in 2012. In fact, it's only missed by one spot once -- 2017, when the Tigers won the SEC West. It's been one wild roller coaster for the Tigers, who are the hardest team in the SEC to figure out on an annual basis.|
|(-3) LSU reversed a trend last year when it turned a fifth-place prediction into a third-place finish. Other than that, LSU has either matched its hype or proved to be overrated in every year since 2012. Of note, the 2018 season was the only one in which LSU was picked below third in the preseason predictions.|
|(-1) It's pretty hard for Alabama to swing one way or the other considering it has been picked either first or second in the SEC West every year since 2012. The Crimson Tide have been picked to win the division each of the last six seasons, with 2013 and 2017 being the only two seasons that they didn't get the job done.|
|(+1) The media missed the mark on the Rebels every year prior to 2018, but pegged them correctly at No. 6 last year. There were some volatile seasons along the way, especially in 2016 when they finished last after being picked third. They finished second in the SEC West -- three spots ahead of their predicted finish -- in 2015, when they went 10-3 and won the Sugar Bowl.|
|(+1) Florida surprised the world when it won the SEC East after being picked fifth in 2015 -- Jim McElwain's first season in Gainesville. It did it again -- in the wrong way -- when it finished fifth after being picked second in McElwain's third (and last) season in 2017. Things stabilized for the Gators when they finished third in their first season under Dan Mullen in 2018.|
|(+3) The Aggies have been rather predictable since joining the SEC. They evened out during Johnny Manziel's only two seasons at the helm, jumping up two spots and giving them right back in 2012 and 2013, respectively. They finished one spot ahead of their predicted sixth-place finish in 2015, and then improved by two spots last year under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher.|
|(+4) The Commodores have been the punchline to SEC jokes for the last several decades, so it should come as no surprise that -- at times -- they exceed their expectations. The fourth place finish in 2015 and last year's sixth place finished after they were picked to land in the cellar have contributed to their +4 number.|
|(+5) Missouri's SEC East titles in 2013 and 2014 earned them an eight-point jump in the hype meter. The Tigers have disappointed in three of their last four years, but a three-spot improvement in 2017 keeps them in the under-hyped category.|
|(+7) The media has either been right or has undervalued the Wildcats every year since expansion. The real jump came over the last two years. They out-preformed their preseason pick by two games in 2017 and three in 2018 -- when they won 10 games and the Citrus Bowl.|
|(+9) The media undervalued Mississippi State every year until 2018, but overrated them by one spot last season. With quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, defensive end Montez Sweat, defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons and defensive back Johnathan Abram gone, there's a good chance that the Bulldogs will be underrated by the media again in 2019.|