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The end of SEC Media Days can only mean the beginning of SEC football

Five weeks. Thirty-five days. Eight hundred forty hours. Fifty thousand four hundred minutes. Three million twenty-four thousand seconds.

No matter how you break it down, the next five weeks can't come soon enough.

I'm ready for some college football.

It seems just like yesterday I was watching Jamie Christensen kick yet another game-winning field goal to beat Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.

It seems just like yesterday I was watching Auburn stumble against Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.

But, it wasn't yesterday. It was almost seven months ago.

Can you believe it?

As I stood in the lobby of the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover for SEC Media Days this past week, I couldn't believe it was finally here.

It was so refreshing to see the coaches and players eager to let the media know anything and everything they wanted to know because in a few weeks, that will all change.

It was so refreshing to see the faces you see on television each weekend broadcasting the games getting excited about the upcoming SEC season.

If anyone has ever doubted that the SEC is the best conference, the SEC Media Days was a perfect example to prove them wrong.

More than 600 media members requested credentials for the three-day event and more than 500 of those actually showed up.

Representatives from almost every network, television and radio, and every newspaper in the land were there to see the SEC's kickoff party, if you will.

SEC Media Days have become more of a spectacle for the media itself than the public, the players or the coaches, but at the same time it still serves as an &#8220unofficial” beginning of the football season.

Soon players and coaches will report to campuses and the pads and helmets will be put on for the first time.

No one knows for sure what will happen this season, but one thing is for certain according to the media present over three-day event: Auburn is the team to beat.

The Tigers received 73 first-place votes out of the 104 ballots cast, 60 votes more than the second-place vote getter, the Florida Gators.

Sure, the Tigers have a loaded offensive backfield returning and the defense returns enough starters to successfully run new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp's defense, but are the Tigers that much ahead of the rest of the competition?

If last year is any indication, you bet they are.

Teams like Florida, Georgia and LSU are definite contenders for the league title, but Florida has still not settled into Urban Meyer's offense and Georgia is desperately searching for a quarterback while LSU is just sitting back and enjoying the lack of respect.

Auburn plays host to all three teams, something that works out as a huge advantage for the Tigers, but then there is the trip to Tuscaloosa that has Tide fans chomping at the bit.

The Tigers have never lost in T-town and Alabama head coach has yet to topple Tommy Tuberville, but don't expect the Tide to lie down.

Expects, including Shula, are saying that the Tide should be a contender this year and a force to be reckoned with next season, but only time will tell if the loss of many key Tide players will haunt Alabama this season.

All I know is that time to tell can't come soon enough for me.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor.

You can contact him by e-mailing austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com or by calling 382-3111 ext. 122.