By Steve Williams

The preseason football forecast that came out of SEC Media Days last week was a head scratcher.

Georgia was picked to win the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference and Alabama was tabbed to come out on top in the Western Division.

What was crazy was Auburn being voted to win the league’s post-season championship game. As you and everybody this side of Hoover know, that wouldn’t be possible, if Auburn doesn’t win the SEC West. Only the two division champs can play in the title game.

But don’t blame the SEC media folks for this foul up. Heaven knows, they’ve been ridiculed enough over the years for their lousy preseason forecasting.

No, this was a flaw in the balloting system that most likely was devised at SEC headquarters.

To fix it, starting next year, how about a second ballot being passed around to select the conference champion after votes are counted to determine the divisional winners.

It’s really no big deal. In the end, the matter will be settled on the field. But if preseason champions are going to be announced, let’s do it right.

LACK OF STARS: Tennessee was picked to finish second behind Georgia in the SEC East, but it’s not because its roster is loaded with preseason all-stars.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, a third-team honoree, was the only Vol listed among the conference’s top offensive players.

Curt Maggitt made the first-team defense at linebacker. Defensive lineman Derek Barnett and defensive back Cameron Sutton were second-team selections.

SWOOSHED: Nike must think a lot more of Michigan than it does of Tennessee.

Michigan last week signed a contract with Nike reportedly worth $169 million over 15 years, making the Wolverines’ recipients of the richest apparel deal in collegiate athletics.

On July 1, Tennessee signed an eight-year contract with Nike reportedly worth about $35 million.

Many Vol and, yes, Lady Vol fans are anxious to hear an explanation or at least get a comment from UT Athletic Director Dave Hart about that.

NO SPLIT: Many fans of Tennessee high school athletics, including myself, thought a complete split was coming between private and public in the state last week, but the TSSAA’s Legislative Council voted 5-4 against making a change at this time.

More study is going to be conducted on how new TSSAA by-laws can be created to make for a more level playing field for all schools to compete against each other.

It is good to explore all possibilities of keeping private and public schools together before making a split, because many believe once the two groups are divided, they will remain that way.

In a related move, the TSSAA approved additional seats on its Legislative Council and Board of Control so private schools will now have representation.

A LONGTIME supporter of Central High athletics said the procession line at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church to view the late Joel Helton took “an hour and a half to go through and over 2,000 signed the book.”

The outpouring of friends and former players is a testament to the many lives Helton touched through the years. Not only was he a highly successful high school coach and teacher, he helped many young people off the field.