Smoke Monday

It's that time of year when sports writers across the Southeast gather together at SEC Media Days to hear coaches coachspeak, listen to each team's star players and, typically, offer wrong prognostications on which school will emerge as the conference champion.

My track record's pretty terrible with picking the winner (or even getting close in some years) — I had the West coming down to the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama last season. Oops. 

But in the spirit of giving it the old college try, I'll toss out my picks for this season.

The West appears to be a battle between Alabama and LSU, although Auburn could easily get into the mix if the quarterback play by either Joey Gatewood or Bo Nix, both potential first-year starters, approaches within even earshot of the hype Jeremy Johnson received prior to the 2015 season. 

Auburn returning three future NFL stars on the defensive line, a talented and experienced secondary, and linebacker corps with plenty of potential won't hurt either, especially as the young quarterback(s) find his/their footing. 

But, playing the odds, I would have to pick Alabama to repeat as SEC West champs, although I have Auburn edging out LSU for second place. Call it a hunch, but I think the Tigers from The Plains break their drought on road in Bayou country.

I have the West rankings rounding out with Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

In the East, picking Georgia to repeat and face the Tide in an SEC Championship game rematch seems like a no-brainer, although Florida could make things interesting if its able to sweep Auburn, LSU and South Carolina heading into its bye week before playing the Bulldogs. 

With Kelly Bryant transferring to Missouri, which also features a stout offensive line, I'm going with the Tigers to finish third, followed by South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. 

Overall, I'm going to have to pick Alabama to repeat as SEC Champions, although it wouldn't shock me if Auburn, LSU or Georgia put together a special season to earn a title. 

With only 36 days to go until college football season kicks off, I'm excited to see just how wrong my picks are again.

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