SEC Media Days: Lived up to the hype!
I attended my first SEC Media Days unsure of what to expect. Sandra Golden told me before we left on Wednesday that I should be prepared for what I was about to experience. She did not over-promise or under-deliver.
Every sports media outlet with any credibility was there. Over 1200 media people attended over three days to get comments, quotes, video or photos from the likes of Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Les Miles, Will Muschamp, AJ McCarron, and of course Johnny Manziel.
Rabid fans crowded the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel from 7am to 7pm with goofy hats, mini helmets, signs, jerseys and cameras. But the meek don’t inherit an autograph or photo. That prize goes to the loudest and pushiest!
I was impressed at this finely tuned machine that is the most powerful football conference on the planet. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive worked the lengthy “radio row” tirelessly and was as gracious during his last interview on Thursday as he was during his first on Tuesday. Every Ballroom and Hospitality Suite was filled with rows and rows of reporters on laptops or sets for ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS and the like.
For me, one of the highlights of our broadcast was getting to discuss a “uniform drug policy” for the conference with Commissioner Slive, even though he adeptly dodged a real answer. I thought AJ McCarron was candid in saying he knows when it’s time to go home and doesn’t need anyone to tell him who he should hang out with off the field. Vandy coach James Franklin showed lots of charisma as he explained how he promises the parents of his recruits a great education and a chance to play in the SEC. “Anchor Down!”
Never once did I sense that this was a free-for-all, until Nick Saban sat down 10 feet from me and did an interview with a station from Birmingham. We were on the air live as Saban, surrounded by cameramen and reporters, held court. One videographer steadied himself so as not to fall over by putting his foot on my chair. Another guy apologized for using my shoulder as a railing. No other coach or player commanded that kind of ruckus, except for JOHNNY FOOTBALL! Although I wasn’t there on Wednesday morning, those who were said it was bedlam.
But that is the essence of SEC Media Days. The biggest names in college football give unprecedented access to the media and fans alike. Besides, for the first time, I got to vote for the Media Preseason All SEC team. I picked UGA to win the East and Bama to win the West. And by 8pm on Saturday December 7th, we’ll know if I was smart to pick the Dawgs to win the SEC Championship.
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