I am not even sure when the first year of having the head coaches come to Birmingham to meet with the media. The SEC offices at that time were in the Central Bank Building near UAB and the reporters and coaches met in a room in the hotel across 20th street and up a block or so.
Prior to this gathering, there had been the SEC Skywriters, reporters in a small charter going from campus to campus in about a week-long period to talk to each coach and a few players. These were mostly newspaper reporters, perhaps a television station or two.
The new format had each coach addressing the small group of reporters. It was informal enough that longtime radio personality Doug Layton had a live mic on throughout the event. He was the only radio guy there. I remember listening to Pat Dye speak to the group and Vince Dooley, who was to be next up, coming in and sitting next to me as Dye gave his address and answered questions.
Players were added a few years later.
I’m not sure when we realized that the coaches were not going to provide much information at these events. Certainly it was obvious when Ray Perkins replaced Paul Bryant as Alabama coach that Perkins wasn’t going to be as forthcoming as his predecessor. Over the years there have been far more coaches who are forgettable for their SEC Media Days presentations than have been memorable.
The most excitement in recent years was when Tim Tebow didn’t get every vote from the coaches as pre-season All-SEC quarterback. Spurrier was about the last coach on the program and he confessed…sort of. He said he had given the assignment of choosing the “Coaches All-SEC Team” to an underling, who had picked another quarterback.
So if the coaches (and players) don’t give much information to the 1,000 or so journalists, how can SEC Media Days be valuable?
For me, it is visiting with other journalists. I’ll learn more from the other Scout.com publishers at SEC schools than I will from there coaches. And just because I’ve been around a while, I have friends who cover every team and who will share information with me.
The players are as bad as the coaches. If one of them makes two or three funny statements, he becomes the media darling, primarily out of desperation for an interesting interview.
Experience tells me that the only players who can give much information about a team or season or past game is the quarterback. I would love it if Jacob Coker, the transfer from Florida State whom almost everyone expects to be Bama’s quarterback this year, was one of the Tide players attending. That, however, is not realistic. Next year, maybe, if he wins the job this year.
There will be some quarterbacks there, and I’ll listen to them. Of course, there may not be as many as we expected depending on pot busts and the like between the time of the announced players and the start of SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency/Wynfrey in Hoover Monday.
Commissioner Mike Slive will open Media Days at approximately 11:30 a.m. CDT on Monday with his annual State of the SEC Address.
Auburn, Florida and Vanderbilt are on Monday, followed by South Carolina, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Tennessee on Tuesday. Missouri, LSU and Arkansas take center stage on Wednesday, while Ole Miss, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky conclude the event on Thursday. SEC Coordinator of Football Officials Steve Shaw will speak on Wednesday, as well as SEC Network General Manager Justin Connolly and College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock.
The SEC's official website, SECSports.com, will have continuous coverage of SEC Football Media Days, as will ESPNU, ESPN and WatchESPN.