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Here’s what you need to know about SEC Media Days.

There is nothing to do but SEC Media Days there, because it is held not in Birmingham, but in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham with a gigantic mall and attached hotel. None of this is the mall’s fault, or the hotel’s. The mall used to be the shit when it was 1990, and it had a Banana Republic with a real jeep driving through the front. “MOM, THESE SHORTS HAVE 84 POCKETS AND ERNEST HEMINGWAY WOULD HAVE LOVED THEM.” <— definitely not 12 year old me, having their mind blown while Dad was at the track.

It’s not the hotel’s fault, either. It is fine, and they have a passable hotel fitness room where you can see the majesty of sportswriters working out on recumbent stationary bikes. That is the saddest sentence in the sad history of human expression, and we’re here. We’re all right here experiencing it together, and I’m sorry about that.

Hoover is nothing. It is a welcome mat run through with poorly maintained roads in a poorly maintained state blighted by chain restaurants, car washes, and a very large gun store. One year we saw a stray dog—ask Jason Kirk, this is not a lie—and it brightened the landscape. It’s not ugly, it’s just that it’s kind of blank, and also there’s a Starbucks, and otherwise yes: super, super blank.

This describes a good 70% of urban areas in Alabama, which is why you want to stick to the select rural areas with scenic bodies of water. That’s if you have to Alabama, and I’m telling you: Aside from football, there really isn’t much need to ever Alabama unless you’re going to Talladega. For the record, everyone should go to Talladega at least once, and you should bring all the sunscreen and large hats you can carry in a car. The sun is three inches closer to the earth there, and you will feel every one of them after thirty seconds of exposure.

What you need to know is that coaches will say mostly nothing. Since Steve Spurrier retired, you can only hope for a few “borderline erotic” comments out of Bret Bielema, or maybe a random Dan Mullen snipe at someone basically asking whether offense is good. The SEC Media Days press corps, despite years of reform, still has a sizeable wing of the population who believes offense is a Socialist plot to corrupt our youth into believing in global warming and polyamory. They might be right, and if so: we are 50% invested in this plan, and to be clear, it’s the global warming part we’re in on, not the polyamory. No one likes meetings or schedules, and polyamory involves both.

This is semi-related: Dan Mullen has turned Mississippi state into an average, middling team in the SEC West, and it might be one of the greatest sustained coaching performances in recent college football history, and we don’t talk about that enough. We just don’t, man.

Nick Saban might get mad at someone. Wow, that’s never happened before, ever, we should all pay attention to the angry man who’s angry about stuff all the time.

The only real attraction might be Hugh Freeze. The Ole Miss coach is living under the long shadow of the NCAA’s guillotine, no one believes him when he says things are going to be fine, and he’s already having difficulties recruiting, and has said as much publicly. He’s Extremely Troubled Dad, three weeks before filing bankruptcy papers, considering last-ditch flights to Mexico to fake his death and save his family’s credit.

Right now would be the phase in a man’s life when he tweets out a lot of Bible verses and spiritual advice for Hugh Freeze, but that’s very difficult to tell apart from the normal Hugh Freeze. Either he’s been desperate and terrified the whole time, or he’s about to hit some level of resignation and DGAF-ness unseen since the days of Joker Phillips’ last SEC Media Days. If he saunters up to the podium in a soiled white windbreaker props up a bottle of Glenlivet on the dais, we’ll know we have a show.

If not, it’ll just be the most dismal appearance at the event since Joker Phillips’ appearance at 2012 SEC Media Days when everyone knew he was going to be fired, and people kind of left the room en masse prior to his talk because a.) Kentucky’s kind of hard to ask questions about in most years, much less a year when everyone knew they were going to take a brick to the teeth, and b.) JOKER JUST LOOKED SO SAD, Y’ALL. There’s something extra poignant about a man named Joker looking so full of sorrow while talking next to an ironically optimistic-looking shiny football helmet.

Otherwise, here’s how it goes:

  • Everyone will post the same fifteen quotes at the same time and make your Twitter TL look like it’s stuttering
  • There will be like 900 media people there, and half will not be credentialed for games during the season
  • There’s chips in the lobby and yes they are Golden Flake
  • We’re not there because it’s streaming and [see earlier comments about when and when not to Alabama]

Enjoy? Enjoy.