By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
HOOVER, Ala. – Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt isn’t usually picked at the bottom but seemed neither surprised nor heartbroken with the news.
The writers and broadcasters who regularly cover the Southeastern Conference projected the Rebels last in the Western Division when the media poll was released Friday.
Last year when a number of national outlets had Ole Miss in the top 10, SEC media picked the Rebels third in the West, and that’s where they finished.
“I would like to get one day where y’all always pick us up there pretty high, but I’ve always been in the position where y’all pick me toward the bottom,” Nutt said. “It doesn’t really matter. With two Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl championships, two very good recruiting classes and off to another good one this year, that’s not too bad. We’re going along pretty good.”
That appears to be the case in the big picture, but poll voters focused on the loss of key playmakers like wide receiver Shay Hodge and running back Dexter McCluster in forming opinions for the 2010 preseason poll.
It is the first time Ole Miss has been picked last in the media poll since 2001. It is the first time Nutt has been picked last since his first season at Arkansas in 1998.
“Being the under dog is just a state of mind,” senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett said. “Every Saturday is different. We saw it last year, things happen that no one is expecting. We control the games and our play. If we do that, we can change everyone’s thoughts and beliefs.”
In a group of seven different preseason polls that were released by various national media outlets and websites, Ole Miss was picked fifth six times and sixth one time.
“Whatever expectation people want to place on us are fine, that’s them,” offensive lineman Bradley Sowell said. “We want to win the West. That’s why we have a sign up in the locker room that says, ‘Atlanta.’ That’s where we want to go.”
Predicted order of finish in SEC by media
The Associated Press
The predicted order of finish in the SEC by reporters who covered the league’s media days, with first-place votes in parentheses and total points:
SEC Champion — Alabama (143), Florida (17), Auburn (7), Arkansas (3), Ole Miss (2), Georgia (2), LSU (1), South Carolina (1), Kentucky (1).
1. Alabama (157) 1034
2. Arkansas (6) 726
3. Auburn (10) 691
4. LSU (1) 653
5. Mississippi St. 320
6. Ole Miss (3) 293
1. Florida (153) 1030
2. Georgia (15) 791
3. South Carolina (8) 790
4. Kentucky 462
5. Tennessee 450
6. Vanderbilt (1) 194