Originally created 07/30/99

No surprise here: Vols favored to capture SEC



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- As expected, Tennessee was the overwhelming favorite of the media to win the Southeastern Conference this season.

The 77 voters at the SEC Media Days gave the 1998 national champions 49 first-place votes. Florida finished second in the predicted order of finish with 21 votes.

Arkansas was picked to win the SEC's West Division, followed by Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Louisiana State and Auburn.

Georgia, which was picked to finish third in the SEC East, received one first-place vote. The Bulldogs were followed by Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Georgia placed two players on the preseason All-SEC team, sophomore quarterback Quincy Carter and senior linebacker Orantes Grant.

South Carolina free safety Arturo Freeman, who missed all of the 1998 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, was the lone Gamecock selected. He was joined in the secondary by Tennessee's Deon Grant, a former Josey star.

HOLTZ HURTS:

South Carolina coach Lou Holtz said Thursday that the status of fullback Jacob Bush is unresolved and that the recent dismissal of tailback Troy Hambrick "saddens me."

"If an individual is not willing to make certain changes, then that cannot be tolerated," Holtz said of Hambrick, who was dismissed from the team last week for an unspecified violation of a team rule. "The loss of an individual with the talent and ability of Troy Hambrick certainly hurts our football team ... It's a privilege to play football at South Carolina, it's not a right."

Bush, who was suspended for the 1998 season and for spring drills, reportedly broke a team rule in June.

TV TIME:

The SEC announced its early season television schedule Thursday.

South Carolina's opener at N.C. State on Sept. 4 will be televised nationally by ESPN. Starting time is slated for 7:30 p.m.

The next week's game, when the Gamecocks will travel to Georgia, is scheduled for 5 p.m., and will be broadcast by ESPN2.

The Bulldogs' finale at Georgia Tech will be televised regionally by ABC and start at 1 p.m.

ANOTHER MAN DOG GONE:

Alabama coach Mike DuBose said a decision concerning the possible transfer of linebacker Travis Carroll is expected today.

Carroll, a rising junior and a preseason nominee for the Butkus Award in 1998, said Wednesday he plans to transfer.

"I talked to Travis by phone Monday for about an hour," DuBose said of Carroll, who has been reported to be seeking a transfer to the University of Florida. "We decided it was best if he were to transfer. I told Travis that we would give him permission to talk with anyone outside of the conference, but we would not give him permission to talk to anyone within the conference."

Carroll is the second highly-touted Alabama player to leave the program in the past two months. Receiver Eric Locke, touted as the next David Palmer, left for Tennessee in June and will pay his own way this fall.

DuBose said the two situations are unrelated.

"Thy are totally different reasons, but in their minds they were valid reasons to transfer," he said. "We will miss both of them, and both of them are outstanding young men."

SEC preseason rankings

Preseason football rankings by media covering the Southeastern Conference. First-place votes in parentheses. Total points reflect one point for first-place vote, two points for second-place vote, etc.

SEC East

Tennessee (53) 117

Florida (23) 155

Georgia (1) 217

Kentucky 375

South Carolina 389

Vanderbilt 452

SEC West

Arkansas (34) 162

Alabama (23) 184

Ole Miss (11) 284

Miss. State (4) 303

LSU (5) 304

Auburn 465

Larry Williams covers college sports for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3645 or larrywill7@yahoo.com.