SEC Media Days Begins With Bang

Like major league baseball teams working in Arizona and Florida during spring training, everyone is a title contender in college football as August approaches. Well, maybe not every program, but a lot of them. Many in the business and a number of fans mark Southeastern Conference media days at the Wynfry Hotel in Hoover (suburban Birmingham) as a start to that season.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban will be one of the featured coaches in the second day of the event on Thursday. He'll be accompanied by center Antoine Caldwell and safety Rashad Johnson. Every team is represented by the head coach and two players.

On the other side, it appears that everyone is represented. At most recent report, the SEC had provided credentials for well over 800 reporters from print (newspapers and magazines), radio, television, and internet. An SEC official said "no more than seven or eight" entgities requesting credentials were denied. (Compare to the ACC meetings earlier with some 200 media in attendance.)

'BAMA Magazine, which has been at every SEC Media Days event (the first was in 1985), operates in the Print Media room. Wednesday's opening day included an address by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, followed by addresses from Florida Coach Urban Meyer, Mississippi State Coach Sylvester Croom, LSU Coach Les Miles, and Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson.

Meyer noted that he had made an observation at an earlier event that no fewer than nine SEC programs expect to be at the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on December 6. It is not inconceivable that the winner of that game will have an opportunity to play for the national championship.

A popular feature story going into this event was whether the current coaches in the SEC are the best in the history of college football. When Meyer said nine programs are looking to be champion, he knew that he was one of five SEC coaches who have won national championships. The others who will be in attendance are Saban (when he was at LSU), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (when he was at Florida), Miles, and Tennessee's Phil Fulmer.

Sylvester Croom, an All-America center in his playing days at Alabama, said that close games are the norm in the SEC. He pointed to his team winning a lot of those close games in 2007. "That's the way it is in the Southeastern Conference," he said. "Games are going to be close. Those days like when I was at Alabama and having a 35-0 lead at halftime and spending the second half on the sidelines drinking water and eating popcorn are over."

Croom said his goal is to go to Atlanta and win the SEC Championship. "I don't know if we'll be good enough, but that is our goal," he said.

In addition to Saban, coaches facing the media Thursday are Mark Richt of Georgia, who many expect to be a contender for the national championship this year; Houston Nutt, new at Ole Miss this year after moving from Arkansas; and Fulmer from Tennessee. On Friday it will be Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, Kentucky's Rich Brooks, new Arkansas Coach Bobby P:etrino, and Spurrier.

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