By Shane from Centerpoint
Once a year, during the â€œdog daysâ€ of summer, the media converges on the Winfrey Hotel near Hoover, Alabama to join the SEC coaches â€“ along with a few players from each team â€“ in a season kick-off event. The event is designed to allow the media to gather important details about each team and relay the information to fans across the conference. However, this yearâ€™s event became a circus when one low-level reporter decided to make himself the star of the show. It is a sign of the times when one classless individual ruins a normally first-class operation. Iâ€™ve omitted his name and will refrain from writing about what he did, because the fool has gotten enough attention already. Most people know about the deal anyway.
In spite of all their publicity stunts during the spring recruiting season, Auburnâ€™s Gene Chizik and Tennesseeâ€™s Lane Kiffin quietly slid in and out of the spotlight without any controversy. After watching the show all spring, I thought that one of them mightâ€™ve come in wearing a flashing sign that said, â€œWe need playersâ€! Also, nowhere to be found was the pair of carnival barkers (Luper and Trooper) that work for Chizik; and the worldâ€™s greatest recruiters, Tennessee tag team Eddie Gran and Lance Thompson, were hidden from public view. Truthfully, leaving those four out of the press may be the smartest thing either program has done in years.
I will send this message out to the rest of the Southeastern Conference: Under the guidance of Pat Dye, the Auburn football program will become dramatically more competitive – quicker than most might expect. Dye, through Chizik and others, will field a hard-nosed team that runs the ball well (from any set), and plays tremendous defense, along with improved special teams. Dye is hell-bent on returning Auburn to the top of the SEC and he has the ability to get it done.
Alabamaâ€™s top linebacker Rolando McClain is a freak of nature â€“ and I mean that in a good way. He is listed at 6â€™4â€, 249. He stated to some reporter at Media Days that he now weighs 258 pounds. Nobody that big and strong should be able to outrun tailbacks. McClain can and does. The bad part comes when he catches them. Anyway, Ro is a definite first-round NFL draft pick.
Nick Saban wasnâ€™t the headliner at this yearâ€™s shindig. Yet, he still faced throngs of Tide supporters who waited patiently for him to make an appearance. He did, and signed autographs for quite a long stint. I guess he figures that those types of deals are part of the â€œprocessâ€. After spending two years as the main attraction, Coach Saban seemed to welcome being able to keep a low profile and talk football only.
Poor Dan Mullen! He seems like he is a good man, but he simply has no idea what he has gotten himself in to. Coaching great Jackie Sherrill struggled to keep State competitive. Sylvester Croom (one of Bearâ€™s boys) couldnâ€™t get the job done. Now, the powers-that-be at Mississippi State are placing their future in the hands of an offensive guru who has never been a head coach. I hope they know what they are doing over in Starkville, because nobody else does!
Houston Nutt and his Ole Miss Rebels were the Nationâ€™s pick to win the SEC West, at least until the journalists who attended Media Days voted for them to finish third. My apologies to the national pundits, but we from the South know Nutt too well. He always chokes away a game or two. Oh well! So much for the â€œOle Miss is going to win it allâ€ theory.
Last but not least, I swear those â€œRadio Rowâ€ guys are like cartoon characters. They sit like vultures, waiting for a coach or player to pass so they can stop him and ask him the exact question that the other 40 radio stations down the row just asked him. Man! That gig has got to grind on the players and coaches alike.
On a more serious note, I learned a great deal about the people who coach and play in the SEC from this yearâ€™s Media Days. However, I didnâ€™t learn anything about what might actually happen on the field this upcoming season. The answer to those questions will come when the teams go to war on the gridiron.
Quite frankly, I think this particular event is really about the media covering the media covering sports. Donâ€™t believe me? Just look at how they reacted to one of their own when he asked the foolish question of Tim Tebow. They made the idiot the number-one story of the event. Anyway, Iâ€™m sure you get my point. Pretty vanilla isnâ€™t it?
â€”Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.