The 2020 SEC Media Days got canceled this year, which meant that the media's SEC predicted order of finish released annually before the season was scrapped. That's probably fortunate since we aren't very good at this. The media has predicted the eventual SEC champion just seven times in the 28 years since the divisional split in 1992.
That's not great ... to say the least.
When you take a deeper dive into the predictions, you'll see that we have missed the mark on multiple teams since the conference expanded in 2012. CBS Sports took a peek back at the last eight preseason predicted order of finish releases from SEC Media Days and compared them to the final standings after each season. 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||Average per year|
There isn't an official predicted order of finish from the SEC office ahead of the 2020 season, so take a look at the breakdown from the from our CBS Sports crew here. Texas A&M is the most divisive team in our rankings. Three members of our staff say the Aggies are the most overrated team in the conference, while two others proclaim that they are the most underrated team in the SEC.
The three tables below are divided up to indicate the four most overrated teams in the SEC, followed by the six that typically match their hype and four who exceed their expectations. Some of the overrated teams get knocked based on one or two really bad seasons, while underrated teams benefit greatly from magical seasons that seemingly come out of nowhere.
|(-8) It probably doesn't seem like South Carolina should be here. Alas, here are the Gamecocks. They were picked to finish fourth last season and would up with a 4-8 record -- sixth in the SEC East. It was the second straight season in which they finished two spots behind the media's prediction. Of course, that doesn't explain the massive number. The big hit for the Gamecocks came in 2014 when they finished fifth after being picked to win the East, and in 2015 when they finished last place after being picked to finish fourth.|
|(-5) Auburn finished third last season after being picked fourth, which brought its eight-year total back to -5. That doesn't change the fact that the Tigers not only have been overrated since expansion but have also been hard to peg. The media has never picked Auburn correctly over the last eight seasons. That seems impossible ... but it's true.|
|(-5) The Vols started off last year with two straight out-of-conference losses but rallied to finish third in the SEC East after being picked fifth before the season. It was only the second time since expansion that they've exceeded their expectation. The big hit for Tennessee came in 2017, Butch Jones' last season at the helm. They were picked to finish third and wound up in last place with an 0-8 conference record.|
|(-4) The Bulldogs have been accurately picked in all four of Kirby Smart's seasons at the helm. In fact, the only time since expansions in which they weren't pegged were 2013 and 2015 -- when they finished two spots behind the media prediction. They're the favorite to win the division for the fourth straight season. No pressure, Kirby.|
|(-3) The media has only missed the mark on the Razorbacks three times since expansion, but two of those were big-time whiffs. The ill-fated John L. Smith season in 2012 finished with the Hogs finishing sixth after being picked third at Media Days. The next coaching change brought a similar fate. Bret Bielema's team finished last in the SEC West in 2017 after being picked to finish fourth prior to the season.|
|(-2) LSU improved its position by one spot during its national championship year, but the Tigers are still slightly overrated since expansion. Most of that can be attributed to the last two-and-a-half years of the Les Miles era between 2014-16 when they underwhelmed each season. It turns out that Ed Orgeron was the right man to replace him (as if we didn't already know that).|
|(-2) The Crimson Tide have been picked to win the SEC West each of the last seven seasons (even though Auburn was picked to win the entire SEC in 2015 ... as if that makes sense). It finished second in 2017 and 2019, which were the first times the media missed since 2013. They're picked to win it again, so they can't do anything but underwhelm in 2020.|
|(+1) The Gators have been pretty stable over the last two seasons, but the wild ride came during the Jim McElwain years from 2015-17. They surprised everybody by winning the SEC East in 2015 after being picked fifth and did it again the next season after being predicted to finish second. The roller coaster went speeding downhill in 2016 when they finished fifth after being picked to finish second. Not surprisingly, McElwain was fired two months into that season.|
|(+1) The media didn't hit on Ole Miss in any of former coach Hugh Freeze's five seasons (2012-16) or the next year when Matt Luke served as the interim coach. Luke's next two seasons brought some stability. There was a problem, though. Both of those seasons resulted in accurately-predicted sixth-place finishes. Maybe new coach Lane Kiffin can turn things around.|
|(+2) There's this notion out there that Texas A&M is always overrated. That's not really true. Jimbo Fisher's crew finished one spot behind its prediction last year and two spots ahead of it during Fisher's first season in 2018. The Aggies either met or exceeded their media prediction for each of the four seasons prior to Fisher's arrival. So no, Texas A&M isn't a preseason darling.|
|(+3) The Tigers took a step back in each of the last two seasons after finishing two spots behind their predicted third-place finish last year and one-spot behind their predicted fourth-place finish in 2018. Their big gains came in their SEC East title years in 2013 and 2014 when they gained a total of eight points in our totally made up metric that determines overrated and underrated teams.|
|(+4) I know that it seems impossible for Vanderbilt to be underrated. Yet, here we are. Why? Because nothing is ever expected of the Commodores. Their only two underwhelming years came in 2014 and 2016 when they finished last in the SEC East instead of sixth. The fourth-place finish in 2015 earned them three points, which was their best season relative to the prediction since conference expansion.|
|(+9) The only time since expansion that Mississippi State has underwhelmed was in 2018 fourth in the West. The rest of the seasons have either met or exceeded expectations. The big gain came in 2014 when the Bulldogs finished second in the West and went to the Orange Bowl. That Dan Mullen guy is a pretty good coach after all (as if you didn't know that already).|
|(+9) The Wildcats have not disappointed in any season since conference expansion. In fact, they've gained seven points over the last three seasons, including the two points they gained last year with a fourth-place finish. Their second-place finish in 2018 resulted in three more points. Simply put ... never sleep on the Wildcats.|