ATHENS — The SEC propaganda machine kicks off in earnest on Monday at the College Football Hall of Fame, and “It Just Means More.”

The catchy SEC slogan turned cliche applies with the league leading the nation in draft picks for the 16th straight year and producing yet another college football national championship team last season.

Georgia became the fifth different SEC team to claim the national title in the past 16 years, with an SEC team finishing on top for the 12th time in those 16 championship games.

The media will huddle this week to forecast this season and (spoiler) for the seventh straight year it will almost certainly pick Alabama to win the league.


Nah, the Tide has dominated the league of late.

Alabama has won three of the past four SEC Championship Games, including last year’s 41-24 victory within a Mercedes-Benz Stadium packed out with 75-to-80 percent Bulldogs fans.

Georgia recovered to win the national title game in a rematch, but returning UGA players are using the SEC title game setback as motivation.

RELATED: Georgia football has ‘unfinished business’ in 2022, wants SEC Championship

And, why not?

The Bulldogs have just three players on their roster who were part of the program’s 2017 SEC title team — Stetson Bennett, Robert Beal and William Poole.

But none of those three players got into the game during that 28-7 win over Auburn in 2017, according to the participation chart.

Beyond the recent league history, Alabama does appear to be the safest pick.

The Crimson Tide returns Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who Smart said last year was the best player in the nation.

Alabama also used the transfer portal to rob Georgia Tech and Georgia of two of their most dynamic playmakers in Yellow Jackets running back Jahmyr Gibbs and Bulldogs’ receiver Jermaine Burton.

Smart has recruited well enough that few are concerned with Burton’s defection, particularly since Georgia targeted All-American tight end Brock Bowers about as much as its top two receivers combined last season

Smart, it should be noted, now has the best winning percentage (.815) among active coaches in the SEC, finally ahead of seven-time national champ Nick Saban:

• Kirby Smart (.815, seven seasons)*

• Nick Saban (.800, 26 seasons)*

• Billy Napier (.788, four seasons)

• Jimbo Fisher (.760, 12 seasons)*

• Brian Kelly (.729, 32 seasons)&

*-won national title, & appeared in national title game

Smart’s Bulldogs are loaded with talent to the extent one can expect Bowers, defensive tackle Jalen Carter, cornerback Kelee Ringo and outside linebacker Nolan Smith to be shoo-in first-team All-SEC preseason picks.

RELATED: Way-too-early look at possible 2023 Georgia NFL Draft picks

But the reigning national champs also have arguably the biggest reload in history ahead of them.

Georgia had an NFL Draft record 15 players selected and lost 11 more to the NCAA transfer portal, including four former starters.

RELATED: Georgia NFL record draft, Love-Hate list

It’s possible the media could be wrong in picking Alabama to win the league this season.

After all, the media was way wrong in 2019, when Joe Burrow and LSU put together a perfect season, making a mark as perhaps the best team of the 21st century.

The media didn’t see Smart’s 2017 SEC Championship Team coming, either, with then-freshman QB Jake Fromm handing off to veteran Mark Richt Era recruits Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.

Still, it seems a foregone conclusion the Tide will be the pick this week, even with the event being held in Atlanta and more Georgia-types part of the picking process.

Amazingly, UGA has only been picked to win the league at SEC Media Days once, back in 2004, only to see Tennessee win the East before losing to an unbeaten Auburn team in the league title game.

Speaking of the media missing on picks, did you know ….

• The Heisman Trophy winner wasn’t preseason first team (Matt Corral), second team (JT Daniels) or third team (Bo Nix) last season.

• Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, was only a third-team preseason All-SEC pick.

• First-round Georgia picks Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker didn’t get voted first-, second- or third-team at last year’s SEC Media Day.

RELATED: 3 biggest Georgia concerns entering 2021 -- two of them absolutely came true!

The Bulldogs will be bringing quarterback Stetson Bennett, center Sedrick Van Pran and outside linebacker Nolan Smith to SEC Media Days this year.

Smart and the players will make their appearance on Wednesday morning.

SEC Media Picks (SEC Office graphic/Dawgnation)