HOOVER, Ala. — LSU is the media pick to repeat its 2011 Southeastern Conference football championship, which may or may not be a good thing for the Tigers.
The Tigers were pegged Thursday morning to win the West Division and to defeat projected East champion Georgia in December's league championship in Atlanta. The Tigers walloped the Bulldogs 42-10 in last season's SEC title matchup.
"If we take it a day at a time and a game at a time and try not to get too far in front of ourselves, I think our football team can achieve greatly," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I can tell you they are looking forward to this season coming off of last year."
The media has a woeful track record in picking the SEC champion, getting it right just four times in two decades. The lone accurate projections were Florida in 1994 and '95, LSU in 2007 and Florida in '08.
Georgia was picked to win the East for the first time since 2004, when quarterback David Greene and defensive end David Pollack were seniors. The Bulldogs were tabbed second in the East behind the Gators in '08, which occurred days before Georgia was chosen by The Associated Press as the preseason No. 1 team nationally.
"The only thing that really matters is where we are at the end, and we feel like we can be there," Bulldogs senior receiver Tavarres King said. "We've been there before, and we know what it takes to get there."
Alabama was picked second in the West, followed by Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. South Carolina was selected second in the East, followed by Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Tennessee's fifth-place media projection is its lowest since the league split into two divisions in 1992.
Alabama was picked to win the league last year. The Crimson Tide finished second in the West but beat LSU in the BCS national championship game.
"It's really, really difficult in college football to carry momentum from one season to the next," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "We lost 13 starters from our team last year, and the new 25 percent that you bring to your team don't have the knowledge and experience. You really have to create your own identity by what you do, and you have to create your own momentum by what you do. Everybody has a new role."
Receiver Da'Rick Rogers was Tennessee's lone first-team selection, while linebacker Jarvis Jones and safety Bacarri Rambo were Georgia's first-team picks. Alabama had five first-team selections: offensive linemen Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack, linebacker Nico Johnson and safety Robert Lester.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...