SEC Media Days kicks off Tuesday
Twenty-four hours away.
SEC Media Days will commence Tuesday, tucked in the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., much to the delight of the football-crazed region. Though still a couple months out from actual on-field action, the conference's media frenzy unofficially, yet annually launches the building anticipation to yet another season of Saturday afternoons and tailgates.
No change is expected in 2012.
Two national championship finalists will be in attendance. Heisman hopefuls dot the interview sessions. Coaching legends stalk the premises.
Add in newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri to the mix, and it all adds up to one hell of a get-together. Yes, conference commissioner Mike Slive is hosting the most prestigious sports party in the country this week.
Here are a few notable storylines to track throughout the week:
-- Alabama and LSU. There's tension, there's respect. Some of the team's top players have already taken to Twitter this offseason for some good-natured trash talk, and with former LSU coach Nick Saban coaching the Crimson Tide, don't expect that animosity to trail off. Both teams played for the national title last season -- both are expected to contend in 2012 -- and both have Type A personalities lining up in front of media this week. So which team opens up the festivities?
-- Arkansas anticipated to compete for the SEC crown with Heisman candidiates Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis leading a high-powered offense. But coach and offensive guru Bobby Petrino was fired during the offseason for his indescretions with a female administrative assistant, and in his stead sits John L. Smith. How are the players handling the sudden transition? What will Coach Smith say on the matter?
-- Texas A&M and Missouri have received their fair share of welcome to the SEC this offseason, ad nauseum. Perhaps it's time to talk football, for once, with the two newcomers -- a tough road ahead by any stretch of the imagination. How confident will their players and coaches come off?
-- Oh, Georgia. It wouldn't be a gathering of SEC media without the mandatory questioning of Bulldogs coach Mark Richt about off-the-field issues. More arrests, suspensions and dismissals made headlines this summer, so what will Richt be open to discussing this week?
-- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier will ruffle some feathers. And it will be entertaining. Count on it. (And if he is uncharacteristically quiet, that traditionally means he believes he has quite a team this season.)
-- Vanderbilt's James Franklin made comments this offseason that he looks to see if potential assistants have attractive wives to see if they are good recruiters. It was a Grade A quote, so hopefully there's more to come. Also, Vanderbilt's staff and players expect this to be their breakout year, for whatever Commodore buzz that is worth.
-- Job security is always the popular topic around this time of year. How many different forms of "How many boxes will it take to clean out your desk?" will be asked of Derek Dooley, John L. Smith and others not annually contending for national titles?
-- Tim Tebow Syndrome. Is there a way to keep a running tally of how "excited" all the players and coaches are?
South Carolina, fittingly, and newcomer Texas A&M will start the proceedings. Here's the week's schedule:
Tuesday, July 17
1st session — South Carolina, Texas A&M
2nd session — Missouri, Vanderbilt
Wednesday, July 18, 20121st session — Florida, Mississippi State
2nd session — Arkansas, Kentucky
3rd session — Auburn, LSU
Thursday, July 19, 2012
1st session — Alabama, Tennessee
2nd session — Ole Miss, Georgia