SEC Media Days is here, and as the nation’s most dominant college football conference takes center stage in Birmingham’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, with it comes the circus of frenzied national media coverage.
There are always surprises at SEC Media Days, but here are five things you’re sure not to see this year:
1. Bobby Petrino, Derrick Dooley, Gene Chizik and Joker Phillips
There are new faces every year it seems, but this is the largest crop of new head coaches coming on the scene in the league in a while. The most competitive conference in the land calls for winning, and in a conference of 14 teams, everybody can’t do it. Three got axed because they gave theirs schools too many long Saturdays. The other was fired for giving his school a black eye.
It’s interesting to look ahead to see who might have new head men in place next July. The safe money is on Vanderbilt and Texas A&M, but out of success, not failure as those mentioned. Although if Dan Mullen doesn’t make strides to combat the impending storm of success happening in Oxford, his seat might heat up this year.
2. Objective questions by local media regarding Auburn
Somehow Gus Malzahn has escaped the most obvious questions on the planet, as has his staff. The state media has continued with its softball lobbing toward the plains. Afterall, it appears hard questions are just too hard.
How does it feel having a defensive coordinator who has gone on record about his disdain for hurry up, no huddle offenses? You’ve been a head coach one year at a lower tier school, yet everyone expects your magical, mythical offense to produce immediately in the nation’s toughest conference. How does that feel? You could only help Auburn to 7-5 records plus a meaningless bowl victory over an unranked opponent in your two seasons at Auburn without Cam Newton. Should that be a concern? And how have you kept Kristi’s pie hole plugged so far? These you won’t hear, unfortunately.
3. Mark Richt asked about his reputation vs. his team’s thuggery
Georgia football is a poster child for penalties, often of the 15-yard variety. The Dawgs’ lack of discipline on the gridiron could be a contributing factor to Georgia’s incapability of getting over the hump in Richt’s 13-year span in Athens. Not to mention team arrests, which a couple of years ago the sheer number became almost downright comical.
And yet Richt carries with him the personna of a deacon. I’ll never forget the smirk on his face in the Georgia-Florida game a few years back when his entire team rushed the field to celebrate the Bulldogs’ first touchdown against Urban Meyer’s Gators. There’s more than meets the eye here, and a team’s personality is often a reflection of its head coach. We’ve seen far too much of this from Georgia, and it’s time someone calls Richt on this “good guy” facade he’s been afforded. But, it won’t happen.
4. An announcement about the Crimson Tide’s alternate uniforms
And thank goodness. I’m ever so grateful that my alma mater doesn’t give in to the pressure to wear pink during October. Or play one game with gray helmets that look like elephant skin. Or transform our team into Power Rangers (I’m looking at you Georgia). No, there is something classic about the University of Alabama uniform, and I’m grateful I’ll likely never see this kind of Oregon/Maryland madness in my lifetime.
Do some of the alternate uni’s look cool? Yes. But thankfully Alabama is above the “let’s tune in to see what the Ducks are wearing this week” crowd. And as I’ve said before, show me the person who is FOR breast cancer! However, just because you’re for finding a cure doesn’t mean we have to play dress up for a month and look like fairies in our pink cleats and wristbands.
You won’t see an announcement on this from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, which is among the 3,033,219 reasons I’m proud to be a Bama alumnus and fan.
5. Paul Finebaum
Oh, he will be there. The most powerful scribe and talking head in the south will most certainly be on hand, but the power of The Finebaum Radio Network and all of its crazy callers will be neutralized this year. Finebaum has been without a home since January.
Through print and over the airwaves, Paul Finebaum has had a way of heightening the drama around college football in the south for close to 30 years. If the game was bread, the Finebaum show has been the yeast that transforms ordinary dough into massive, puffy loaves of edible radio goodness. It’s not yet known what shape or form his new show will take when it begins airing from Charlotte, North Carolina, or if it will resemble the one we all love to avoid the Monday after a bad loss. But one thing is for sure: Paul Finebaum leaves his mark on any story he’s covering, and an SEC Media Days without a daily show means a more subdued week in the SEC. Now 2014? We’ll just have to wait on that one.