How many times did you hear this little gem last week: “SEC Media Days is the unofficial start to the football season?”
That remark has rung true for decades no doubt, but is it still accurate? Not really. The truth is, football season never stops anymore. Honestly, you can’t escape it. Like passive-aggressive criticisms from your mother, football is all-consuming, infinite and omnipresent. So, do we even need Media Days anymore?
The traditionalist in me will always answer “yes” to that question. College football has a rich heritage you can set your watch by and that makes the sport stand out. College football fans like their halftimes show-y, their bowls Sugar-y and their kickoffs preceded by war cries.
As the sport evolved and became more popular, store shelves were invaded with a multitude of various football preview magazines. Fans had access to all the information they needed to get ready for the season, but SEC Media Days still meant something special because comments and news was coming straight from the coaches’ and players’ mouths.
But now we have thousands of web pages dedicated to daily, hourly or even minutely updates on every program imaginable all year long. What could we possibly learn at a media event we haven’t already heard millions of times beforehand?
If a backup quarterback for Baylor so much as sniffs a scented candle at Bed Bath & Beyond, some poster named firstname.lastname@example.org will tweet about it before that sweet, sweet smell of honeydew and lavender hits the player’s nostrils.
Again, I have always had an affinity for the event. There has always been a certain energy associated with it. Having the weeklong gala in centrally located Birmingham has always felt right, too. The Magic City is big enough to host Media Days, but not so big the event gets lost in the litany of other happenings around town.
But with the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri, the whole week feels a lot less “southeastern” to begin with. It used to be like a family reunion filled with cousins you don’t like but your parents make you love. The Aggies and Mizzou are distant step-children from a third marriage. Do you really know them? Do you even want to?
Meanwhile, SEC Media Days is taking its show on the road beyond Birmingham to Atlanta next year (and Nashville, Tennessee the year after). Having Media Days in those cities is like setting off bottle rockets across the slue from Kowaliga Fourth of July night; your special time gets overshadowed by more grandiose happenings.
All of last week was essentially a snooze-fest. Long gone are the hilarious hijinks of moments like the time Tennessee’s Phil Fulmer couldn’t come to the state of Alabama for fear of being served a subpoena.
The most newsworthy tidbit came from Auburn coach Gus Malzahn when he (potentially accidentally) revealed College GameDay would be at the Oregon- Auburn game in Dallas to start the season. Frankly, without the eternal hub-bub of Alabama coach Nick Saban’s mere presence, SEC Media Days would have been a complete bust. I wish it weren’t so, but maybe SEC Media Days have come to its final hour.