Something clicks in my brain and body the morning of July 5th. It’s football time again - at least it will be very soon. If there are things I needed to do between the spring game and media days, they needed to be handled by now, or they weren’t going to get handled.
I feel bad for my two children. I know y’all are young (two years; and seven months old), but y’all are on your own now. I’ve done all I can to raise you right in the last few months. Someone else is going to have to change your diapers, play in the princess palace and placate your tyrant-like rants. That’s because the start of Media Days is the start of a nine-month journey known as football season for me (and many others).
Media Days, or as it is officially called by the conference, SEC Kickoff, is where hope springs eternal. It’s even better than the first week of the season, because literally no one has ever lost at Media Days. Not on the scoreboard. I say that. You actually can lose Media Days, but you have to be pretty negligent.
What have I learned in coming to Hoover over the last 15 years?
1. Newspapers are dead
Yep. Dead. Those of us in the .com world were once made fun of because of our coverage of recruiting. We were ridiculed for being “fan sites”. Now what used to serve as newspapers have become fan sites themselves. Case in point? The AJC. It’s no longer a newspaper - its sports section is now a “fan site.”
Sure, I guess you can pick it up in gas stations. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its sports section have become something so many reporters secretly, and in some cases openly, ridiculed us about for years - fan sites.
2. Rarely do I learn anything new at Media Days
Considering what I have done for a living for a very long time, it’s hard to imagine that I would find out something new about UGA during this four-day stretch in July. I can think of a handful of times when someone said something new that surprised me.
This is an event where players and coaches come and make sure NOT to make news. If you are the center of Media Days, something has gone very, very wrong.
3. We all look the same
The around 1,400 members of the “media” that are in Hoover for this event are all usually one of three things (and often media folks are a combination of all three): white, bald and fat. Diversity doesn’t seem to exist in the world we live in. Most of the players we interview are black; we are nearly all white. (Most of the media in attendance has never played a sport; certainly not at the college level; definitely not at the level of the SEC).
Everyone appears on a mission, but rarely does anyone break news from Media Days. The mission, it seems, is to take as many trips as possible to the Dr. Pepper machine or the Golden Flake display to see how much free food can be consumed while waiting on the next program to appear.
Picking up after yourself seems optional as well.
4. Alabama roads are horrible
Having driven from the east to Hoover over the last decade and a half I can tell you this: I-20 gets pretty sketchy after you cross the border from Georgia into the Yellow Hammer State. The construction on roads east of Birmingham on I-20 has seemingly been going on since the beginning of time. Holes in the road? One-lane interstate construction? 18 wheelers all over you? Yes. Yes. Yes.
5. The media usually picks the wrong champion(s)
Sometimes it’s pretty funny to see what happens coming out of Media Days. Last season we managed to pick Auburn to win the SEC… Auburn. Auburn? Really, Auburn. For real. We (not me, but us collectively) picked the team that went 2-6 in SEC to WIN THE LEAGUE.
Georgia was picked to win the East. Not just was UGA the favorite - it was the overwhelming favorite to win the division. This happened, apparently, because no one realized Brian Schottenheimer was calling plays (oops). Actual champs Florida were picked No. 5 by the media last season). Meanwhile local favorite Alabama was picked to win the West.
According to the SEC, only five times since 1992 has the program picked in Hoover gone on to win the SEC Championship. You can do the math on that. It’s not very good.