HOOVER, Ala. --
Don't like media predictions for the coming SEC football season? Don't worry. It cannot happen.
That's no knock on media's long history of getting it wrong. We got it right in 2014, picking Alabama to win the conference, but we just cannot stand success.
We proved it at SEC media days this week by picking something that literally cannot happen.
Media picked Auburn to win the SEC but Alabama (West) and Georgia (East) to win the divisions. Division winners play in the SEC Championship game, so how can neither win the conference title?
The real question is what this head-shaking quirk in the voting says?
There is no clear favorite.
The team more voters think could win the conference also has plenty of doubters that think it can finish fourth or worse in its division. Sorry Auburn.
And with all apologies to the SEC -- which spun this week's SEC media days vote as showcasing the league's "competitiveness" -- it really shows there's no team without significant question marks.
So says the media, which split on divisional champion and conference champion for the first time in the polling's 23-year history.
First, please allow an attempted explanation on how this vote happened. Quoting the SEC release:
"By a narrow margin, the Auburn Tigers were picked by media in attendance to capture the 2015 SEC championship. Auburn received 96 SEC championship votes, while the Alabama Crimson Tide was close behind with 80. The Georgia Bulldogs were third with 28 votes.
"Alabama, however, was picked to win the SEC Western Division with 1,405 total points, while Auburn was second with 1,362. Alabama received 92 first-place votes in the West, while Auburn collected 108."
So, how did the team with the most first-place votes not become the pick in its seven-team division? Back to the release:
"The Crimson Tide won the Western Division vote due to receiving just three votes for fourth place or lower in the Western Division, while Auburn received 26 such votes. Points were awarded on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale."
Put simply, more voters think Auburn will win the West and league titles, but more think the Tigers could become a major disappointment.
Fewer voters think Alabama will win the West and SEC, but fewer think the Tide will disappoint.
Auburn has the higher ceiling, but Alabama has the higher floor.
Both teams will have new starting quarterbacks, though Auburn's Jeremy Johnson comes into it perceived as better than Alabama's yet-unnamed quarterback.
The Iron Bowl, the game that could determine which team wins the West, will be played at Auburn, a factor that should favor the Tigers.
Auburn is widely perceived to have the most favorable schedule, as well, so what gives with the Ti
gers' fourth-or-lower voters?
It'll take a lot to make people forget just how bad Auburn's defense was last season. Hiring Will Muschamp as its coordinator goes a long way. So does rush end Carl Lawson's return from injury.
But Auburn's horrid secondary remains a question mark, and so does how much improvement Muschamp and Lawson can bring in one year. Nobody believes Auburn's defense can rival Alabama's yet, though Alabama struggles against Auburn's offense.
Strong defense steadies perceptions.
Whether Auburn can steady perceptions comes down to whether its defense can be good enough to win a West Division where every team has an argument -- and at least two first-place votes.
-- Joe Medley is the sports columnist for the Anniston Star. You can writer to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jmedley_star.