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|SIDs pick SEC champions|
Finally! It's a sign that college football cannot be too far off.
The Birmingham News has released its 62nd annual spring Southeastern Conference football preview.
LSU is the pick of the Southeastern Conference Western Division sports information directors to win the division again.
LSU received the maximum five first-place votes (a school's SID could not vote for his own school) to top the West with 25 points. Auburn, which got one first-place vote, finished second with 21, and Alabama was third with 16.
The Eastern Division SIDs rank Georgia as the favorite. Georgia picked up four of five first-place votes for 24 points. Florida, which got two first-place votes, was runner-up with 22 points.
In the overall poll, the SIDs selected Georgia as the winner over LSU in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 6. Florida was second overall, followed by LSU and Auburn. Alabama was sixth.
Of course, by December this poll will be meaningless. But it sure is fun talking about it.
I don't think anyone will deny you have to have some luck to win a national championship, I don't care what sport or what league you are playing in - from T-Ball to Senior Golf.
While Les Miles was not counting on luck when he made the call to go for it 16 times last season on fourth down, the fact LSU made that first down on 13 of those tries is amazing.
Give Miles - and certainly Jacob Hester's second, third and fourth efforts - kudos for believing in his team. He certainly wouldn't make that call that many times or make it that many times with many other past teams.
Then again, LSU did not have a lot of luck when it came to yellow flags. And, believe me, I know many were warranted - such as Tyson Chandler's late hits to the helmet or one of the offensive lineman losing his cool. But there were others that were questionable. To have 117 penalties for 880 yards while your opponent has 67 for 566 sounds a bit one-sided to me.
Then again, you have someone like Nick Saban, who has been known to blow a fuse or two when he doesn't like a call and can be intimidating on the sidelines, had his Alabama team earning 59 penalties for 453 yards while Tide opponents had 99 for 863.
If there was a part of the LSU game I was disappointed with it would have been kick and punt returns last year. Kansas State averaged 22.5 yards a return, while opponents averaged 6.9. There is no excuse for LSU not have comparable stats with the talent (Trindon Holliday) returning kicks.
And with Ciron Black and Herman Johnson manning the front line, and Chandler and Jackson back on defense, LSU should also be dominant on the front lines. Last year Tennessee had 34 sacks for 144 yards, while allowing four for 44.
Some people say statistics are for losers. Then again, LSU's record under Miles says quite a bit on its own.
What will be the intriguing statistics of 2008? As the old saying goes, that's why they play the game. And it can't begin soon enough for me.
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