When SEC coaches and selected players assemble at the Wynfrey Hotel starting Tuesday, they will come in 14 sets, not 12. It’s the first SEC Media Days with Missouri and Texas A&M, who officially picked up their member stamps July 1.
Who can forget Commissioner Mike Slive’s 2011 pitch for a “national agenda for change,” including multi-year scholarships that pay more of the true costs of college and stiffened eligibility requirements? Stamp it done.
Slive didn’t come to Hoover pitching a playoff in 2011, but stamp it done. Details like the makeup of a selection committee are yet to come, but major-college football will have a four-team playoff, starting in 2014.
Yes, the college football world has changed since the last SEC Media Days, and the SEC can take its bows this year. Slive’s reform push just ahead of a retreat of NCAA presidents helped to push reform over the finish line. Alabama reaching and winning the Bowl Championship Series title game sans winning its own SEC division pushed the end of the BCS over the finish line.
Just one thing: all of this gives the picture of this week’s Media Days as more of a media daze. What will people talk about?
Nah. Surely not.
Auburn: Better day for Chizik
Auburn coach Gene Chizik, for one, will be glad to just talk about football after what he endured here a year ago.
He didn’t get to take his bows as coach of the defending national champion. Far from it.
He came to Hoover fresh off of his highly publicized confrontation with NCAA enforcement chief Julie Roe Lach over the Cam Newton probe.
On the first day of Media Days, USA Today analyst Danny Sheridan stoked things with his “bag man” boast on Paul Finebaum’s nationally syndicated radio show.
The majority of questions presented to Chizik in Hoover a year ago had something to do with the NCAA/Newton/Roe Lach.
Well, stamp the Newton probe long done. The NCAA announced its verdict this past October, washing its hands of the case for lack of evidence.
Chizik can finally come to Media Days and take his victory lap --- such as it is after an 8-5 season in 2011, with blowout losses to the best teams on Auburn’s schedule.
Alabama: The more things change …
Alabama coach Nick Saban came here a year ago talking about the lessons learned in a disappointing 2010 season, when Alabama spent the first six weeks ranked No. 1 wound up losing three games.
When Saban appears in Hoover on Friday, he’ll have yet another occasion to talk about the lessons of 2010, just with a different spin. This time, it’s about following a national championship with another national championship.
This offseason has been all about avoiding the pitfalls of 2010, when Alabama clearly didn’t handle life after a national title so well.
There are parallels this year, most notably significant personnel losses on defense.
Alabama has lots of players who were in the program in 2010 and have spent these past few months being reminded.
Yes, the more Nick Saban’s teams change college football, the more things stay the same.
Around the league
(bullet) Clearly, this week’s focus will be the media rollout for Missouri and Texas A&M, and the tone will be simple. How ready are they to compete in the league that has won the past six national championships?
(bullet) Besides Missouri and Texas A&M, Arkansas should have the most interesting turn at Media Days. Representing the Razorbacks will be John L. Smith, the coach who reportedly was planning to declare bankruptcy over land deals gone bad. He replaced the coach who lost his job, suddenly, over issues stemming from a mistress and motorcycle wreck gone worse.
(bullet) Unlike most years, Vanderbilt’s face time won’t be time for media members to nap. Vandy coach James Franklin impressed with his sell job a year ago, and his first season as the Commodores’ coach backed it up with promising showings. Oh, and that recent comment about the need for assistants to have attractive wives got everyone’s attention, too.
(bullet) Expect talk about guns, which became an issue this offseason with Georgia’s dismissal of running back Isaiah Crowell after his arrest on gun-related charges, former Auburn running back Michael Dyer’s testimony that he let a former teammate borrow his gun, which was used in a robbery, and the tragic shooting deaths of three, including former Auburn players Ladarious Phillips and Ed Christian, at an off-campus pool party in Auburn.
(bullet) Tennessee’s Derek Dooley should be this year’s hottest of hot-seat coaches.
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.