HOOVER, Ala. — It’s still the middle of July, but summer is over and football season is here.
It became official Tuesday with the start of SEC Media Days, which has become a huge event with the national media.
We’ve gathered here to interview coaches and players and preview the upcoming SEC season.
We’re also here to make predictions.
The hundreds of writers and broadcasters who cover the league will vote later this week on who they will predict will win the SEC.
I’m revealing my predictions a few days early:
1. Georgia — Excellent quarterback (Aaron Murray), strong defense and a soft SEC schedule add up to a division championship season for the Bulldogs.
2. South Carolina — This could be the best overall team Steve Spurrier has had at USC. He’s got a QB he loves (Connor Shaw), running back Marcus Lattimore is back and the defense is sound.
3. Florida — The Gators can win with defense and special teams. If the offense is improved (much improved), UF will challenge for the division title.
4. Missouri — Led by dual-threat quarterback James Franklin, the Tigers will be fun to watch — and a very difficult team to defend.
5. Tennessee — Like the Gators, the Vols will be better this season. The offense, led by QB Tyler Bray, should be explosive. If UT can generate a ground game, look out.
6. Vanderbilt — The Commodores showed dramatic improvement in the first year under coach James Franklin. More good stuff will follow this season.
7. Kentucky — The Wildcats seem to have steadily regressed in their two years under Joker Phillips.
1. Alabama — The Tide lost a lot of great defensive talent, but this year’s team will look just like last year’s — dominant.
2. LSU — The Tigers are loaded with all kinds of talent, but it’s going to be tough to overtake the Tide with a first-time starter at QB.
3. Arkansas — QB Tyler Wilson is going to put up huge numbers this season. But Alabama and LSU are still a cut above in the West.
4. Auburn — The way Gene Chizik has recruited, the Tigers figure to be contenders for years to come in the division.
5. Texas A&M — If the Aggies get good quarterback play out of a new starter, Kevin Sumlin’s offense could be the best in the SEC.
6. Mississippi State — Dan Mullen has made the Bulldogs relevant. But they’re pretty much stuck in this spot (sixth) in the powerful West.
7. Ole Miss — Hugh Freeze has brought some excitement with his offense. But the Rebels just don’t have a whole lot of talent.
SEC champion: Alabama.