Get Ready

The Southeastern Conference will try to put its best foot forward this week with the 2005 version of SEC Media Days, beginning Wednesday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham.

It will a crowded event to say the least. The SEC claimed several hundred registered media representatives last year with that number bound to increase this year to get a first look at four new coaches in the league.

Wednesday's lineup will include Tennessee's Phil Fulmer, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, Florida's Urban Meyer and Mississippi's Ed Orgeron.

Commissioner Mike Slive will give opening remarks just after noon on Wednesday. He will speak for about 20 minutes without dropping any bombshells before yielding the floor to Bobby Gaston, the SEC's coordinator or officials.

Gaston's presentation figures to be the main event of day one with Fulmer the top sideshow. Gaston will have the unenviable task of defending some of his officials' foul-ups for the previous year, but it won't be the first time he's done it.

Last year an exorbitant amount of time was spent talking about a rule that would penalize a player attempting to block a field goal from landing atop a teammate or a member of the opposing squad, and the strict enforcement of that rule we should expect from the SEC officiating crews.

That penalty was invoked once, costing LSU a crucial point against Auburn in the 10-9 Auburn win, and rarely if ever called in any SEC game for the remainder of the season.

He might also be asked about the fourth-quarter personal foul that went against Florida's Dallas Baker while a Tennessee player's personal foul was blatantly ignored in the waning seconds of the Florida-Tennessee game a year ago, or the error in not restarting the clock on that play.

Florida would have beaten Tennessee if not for both of those errors, of course, and Urban Meyer might have been at LSU, Mississippi or in another league instead of being the head coach at Florida.

Gaston might even be asked about a pass interference call that wasn't made when Alabama was on the verge of a touchdown against LSU last year. The SEC called Tide head coach Mike Shula to apologize for that call.

Interestingly, the focus of Gaston's presentation is certain to be on the inception instant replay in the league this year. A system under which none of the above plays will be reviewable.

The replay demonstration that will be given to the media will be undoubtedly impressive. The fact that touch screens are involved has many people excited already.

Touch screens! Plus a laundry list of what will and won't be reviewable, a parade of scenarios, examples and demonstrations. It will be a good show.

And in my view, it will also be the perfect diversion from assuring fans that SEC officials will be 1.) honest and 2.) competent, which is what really should be addressed by the coordinator of officials.

All that before Phillip Fulmer shows up at 1:10 p.m. should make for a long day.

The hallway connecting the lobby of the Wynfrey to the Riverchase Galleria will be lined with tables of radio talk show hosts throughout the Southeast waiting to snare any coach, player or interesting media celeb who gets too close for an interview.

Upstairs there will be an even stranger menagerie of radio, Internet, print and television reporters looking for a story, any story.

It seems like SEC Media Days is the event that everyone loves to hate – but it also signals the madness that comes with the beginning of college football season, and for that I'll will be grateful.


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