On Sunday I told my (almost) three-year old granddaughter that I wouldn’t be seeing her for a few days.
“You going to go talk about football? she asked.
Yes, Sloane. It is time to talk about football–again–today as the 2015 SEC Media Days begin in Hoover, Ala. Over the next four days Sloane’s G-Dad and about 1,000 media members will ask and poke and prod about the game we all love while 14 head coaches and 42 selected players get asked the same questions over and over again.
Why do we do it? Because the games can’t get here soon enough and until they do–on Sept. 3–this is the next best thing.
And you know what else? It’s fun.
On Thursday, the final day, the media will make its selections to win the SEC. They were right last year in picking Alabama but that was a major upset. They missed Missouri in the East for the second straight year.
Just a quick look at Monday’s lineup:
Today new SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey will take the podium in the main interview room at 11:30 a.m. CT. It’s going to be strange not seeing Mike Slive, who retired back in June after 13 historic years on the job. But Sankey, 50, is the right man at the right time in the history of this conference.
Auburn’s Gus Malzahn will field a bunch of questions about his offense, which will be led by new quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who is starting to get some Cam Newton references. But mostly Gus is going to be asked about his new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the former Florida head coach. If Muschamp can have an immediate impact, Auburn could win the SEC West.
Florida’s Jim McElwain, the only new head coach in the SEC, will try to strike a balance between the reality of his roster (it is painfully thin, particularly on the offensive line), and the excitement about the future. He’ll get asked about the quarterback (sophomore Treon Harris or redshirt freshman Will Grier). McElwain knows he has a good defense and an offense that is going to have to cover up for a lot of weaknesses. It will be interesting to see how he walks that rhetorical tight rope. Someone will try to bait him into throwing Muschamp under the bus. He won’t bite.
Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason had a horrible first year (3-9, 0-8 SEC) as Vanderbilt’s head coach and he will try to convince the media that things will be better with the changes he has made. He fired both coordinators and installed himself as the defensive coordinator. Vanderbilt was a very poorly coached team last year and Mason knows it. I sat in his offense and he told me as much. He’ll try to make the case that things will be better in year two. They may well be but Vanderbilt will still go 0-8 in the SEC.
And with that we’re off and running on SEC Media Days, 2015 On Tuesday South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier will make his 23rd appearance at this event. He just turned 70. He’ll be asked how many more times he plans to be here.
Tuesday will be the third appearance for Tennessee’s Butch Jones who says he’s embracing the increased expectations for the Vols in 2015. But are the Vols really ready for prime time or are they still a year away?
Wednesday is Alabama day. That’s all I need to say. In 2014 Alabama won the SEC championship and was the No. 1 seed in the first College Football Playoff. Nick Saban will be asked–by someone with a completely straight face–how Alabama will bounce back from a disappointing season.
On Thursday Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze will spend most of his time talking about the quarterback position and whether or not supreme left tackle Lamery Tunsil (who has some off-the-field issues) will be in the lineup when the Rebels open with UT-Martin (or the SEC opener with Alabama on Sept. 19).
Georgia’s Mark Richt, who has averaged 10 wins a year for 14 years, will be picked to win the SEC East. Fairly or not (and it’s not fair, IMO) he will be asked a question with the word “underachieving” in it.
Also on Thursday, LSU’s Les Miles will have to deal with, in no particular order:
**–The fact that, in the past four seasons, his team has gone from 8-0 to 6-2, to 5-3 to 4-4 SEC play.
**–Defensive coordinator John Chavis, the most reliable aspect of the program, has bolted for Texas A&M.
**–The fact that LSU simply cannot recruit and develop a quarterback.
As our dearly departed friend, Larry Munson, would say: “Do you get the picture?”
Yeah, it’s time to start talking about football again. And not a moment too soon.