July 16th kicked off SEC Media Days, a three day spectacle brimming with press conferences, Mike Slive’s “State of the League” address, player interviews and Chick-fil-a swag. This is the time when grievances are aired out by Steve Spurrier while Nick Saban fights off the frenzied Alabama media contingent who follow him like the White House press corps follows President Obama. It’s a production that’s taken on a tremendous amount of publicity due to the Southeastern Conference’s status as “king of the mountain top” for seven years straight. There will be other media days for other athletic confederacies, but this one is the premiere event that signifies the beginning of college football and the end to every fan’s rationality and sanity for the next 176 days.
The event takes place at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, AL, a place that’s able to pack in dozens of journos, SIDs, coaches, players, media producers, handlers, fans and security officers. It’s a reminder of the lurking madness on the horizon, and there’s no better reminder of madness than seeing an Alabama fan who went to Michael’s to fabricate a hat that resembles the Crimson Tide’s 2012 National Championship ring.
Day 1 started off a relatively normal day for the event. Will Muschamp threw some #shade (it’s whatevs) and rambled off words a thousand miles a minute. Gary Pinkel proved, once again, that he’s the Magna Carta…Holy Grail of coaches. And Spurrier decided to chug a tall boy then drop a whole lot of welp bombs followed by those dang Irish jokes. The biggest revelation of the day was made when Commissioner Slive told reporters that the conference was pushing to start a stipend program for players. This represents a significant stride for a conference that is at the helm of the most progressive thinking in the sport even though a majority of their fan base wants to impeach Obama because where’s the birth certificate? It’s also a little bit of grandstanding to suggest to potential recruits that no major conference understands the value of their athletic abilities more than the SEC.
Jadaveon Clowney, America’s most feared player, also had a chance to put Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray on blast. You see, Mr. Clowney is the most frightening man in college football because he was seen by thousands as a semi-truck traveling at light speed that leveled the Mazda Miata known as Vincent Smith. He even had time to palm the ball with one hand and tell the officiating crew to get out of here with that bullshit. And since he’s pile driven both Murray and Boyd into the ground BEFORE the hit – he knows that he can literally inception their heads with endless nightmares of a mono y mono match up in Rock Hill. Once again, a relatively normal day of shit talking, grand standing, and fan service.
Day 2 was when things got a little weirder. It revealed two things: 1) the impact ESPN has on the rest of sports journalism and 2) the increased media pressure college quarterbacks will now receive post-Tim Tebow.
Johnny Manziel went from human Tecmo Bowl player that went seemingly unnoticed outside of college football to national headline once he started making appearances as a drunk (?) Scooby Doo, court side at a Houston Rockets game and hanging out with Rick Ross. Just doing things that a privileged 20-year-old kid would do. Not necessarily the populist’s idea of a quarterback, which is why he was the biggest news story of the summer. Hence, the frenzy that formed around his appearance and Paul Finebaum’s Dr. Phil like finger wagging. But he’s just a kid, PAWWWWLLLLLLLLL.
Light bulbs flashed, Johnny Football turned into “Johnny Rock Star,” and numerous opinion pieces blocked up the Internet. Even AJ McCarron, chest tat and all, had a hot sports take for the First Take talking point (ugh). The only thing the Disney-manufactured hoopla did was take away from the more fascinating things that happened following his appearance.
Bret Bielama did his best Delta Burke impression at his inaugural SEC Media Days and decided to define “normal, American football” in response to Auburn head coach, Gus Malzahn. Butch Jones looked like a monochromatic lamp post contrasted with his players who displayed their new fashion line, “Big Orange”. Mark Richt, noted human resources manager, made clear the difference between “secretaries” and “administrative assistants”. Nick Saban gave a passive aggressive lecture on scheduling FCS opponents to the media. Then, LSU’s Les Miles decided to fire bomb every transcript from the event by speaking in an Australian accent because Les Miles just watched Crocodile Dundee. The aftermath was captured by Jadaveon Clowney who instagrammed a photo of Steve Spurrier giving his roast beef n’ ched a thumbs up.
While the prior paragraph may seem like too much crazy for a three day period, try doing all of that and more on a Saturday afternoon along with other conferences with their own idiosyncrasies and varying levels of crazy. When staged on a canvas of green grass and white yard markers, it’s only intensified. This is only the beginning of the media day cycle and of the college football season, in general. We’re about to go into the fray, and I can’t wait.