The SEC Network ESPN has released its preseason top 25, which is a poll conducted among 20 of its college football staff. Because all of the ballots are made public, we can see who voted for what (unlike the Coaches' Poll).
Yeah, it's not that important, but ESPN is the most influential voice in college football. What its people think matters inasmuch as it's a major driving force behind national opinion. Here's a rundown of where the SEC teams fared with the panelists.
Alabama (surprise, surprise) was number one overall, gathering all but three first place votes. ESPN.com editor David Duffey and Pat Forde put the Tide second (behind Ohio State and Boise State, respectively), while Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller had Bama third behind Ohio State and Texas. Alabama was one of only two SEC teams to make it onto every ballot, along with...
The Gators made the top ten of every ballot except for studio anchor Dari Nowkhah, who had Florida at 13. The research department must really like the Gators, as both Brad Edwards and Chris Fallica from it had Florida second. Joe Schad and ESPN Radio personality Ryen Russillo also had Florida second. On the other end of the spectrum, Ivan Maisel and Big East blogger Brian Bennett had UF tenth. Florida ended up fifth overall, behind Alabama, Ohio State, Boise State, and Texas.
In keeping with other polls, there's a big drop off from the top two to the rest. Arkansas was the next SEC team on the list at 17. Only Bennett and Schad left the Razorbacks off of their ballots. Edwards has them highest at 13, while Forde and Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg had them up at 15. Fallica wasn't that confident in Arkansas, placing it at 23. Maisel and national blogger Andrea Adelson are of similar opinion in having the Pigs at 22.
The Tigers are next, despite the low vote of confidence from SEC Media Days. Only three people excluded the Bayou Bengals: Duffey, Forde, and Maisel. Easily the most confident in LSU is Schad, who had Les Miles and company at nine. The next highest was Bruce Feldman at 13. Among those not as confident are Bennett, who has LSU at 24, along with Adelson and Big 12 blogger David Ubben, who had LSU at 25.
Auburn is next, placing at 22 overall. Five of the fifteen voters left these Tigers out: Bennett, Rece Davis, Edwards, Russillo, and Schad. The most enthusiastic about Auburn was Maisel, who had the Plainsmen all the way up at 12. The next highest vote for them was Nowkhah's at 17. Fallica and Feldman weren't that sure of Auburn, putting it at 24.
Georgia was the final SEC team ranked at 24. Six panelists excluded the Bulldogs: Adelson, Davis, Feldman, Maisel, Miller, and Nowkhah. SEC blogger Chris Low believes in Georgia the most, placing the silver britches at 14. Schad isn't far behind at 15, nor is Mark Schlabach at 17. ACC blogger Heather Dinich and Duffey barely included UGA, putting it at 24.
South Carolina is third in the "others receiving votes" category, placing it at 28 overall. Only four ballots had the Gamecocks on them, but the ranks on two of them provided most of those points. Maisel put Steve Spurrier's crew at 13, while Adelson had them at 14. Davis and Low weren't quite so sure, placing them at 23.
No other SEC teams received votes. Low also published power rankings for the just the conference itself. You'll never guess who the top two teams are.