Image is everything.

How we present ourselves in a public light is what shapes our reputation to the outside world. Facebook and Instagram are successful because they give people a platform to shape their image and present it to the world as best they can.

Both #ItMightMeanTooMuch stories from this week are perfect examples of that concept coming to life.

After all, this is the SEC. If you don’t look the part, do you even get to claim the SEC?

John Calipari has earned his SEC stripes. For most of the decade SEC basketball was Kentucky and everybody else. That’s no longer the case with the Cats missing the SEC Championship for the first time since 2013.

Apparently Calipari felt inclined to remind the world that he’s had some pretty memorable players spend some time with him en route to NBA riches.

When Calipari joined ESPN from his home on Selection Sunday, he conveniently had jerseys of NBA All-Stars DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose in the background:

Gosh, where do I begin? Let’s start with the fact that Calipari has the Kentucky jerseys resting against something and shrink-wrapped. Like, as if he’s saying to the world, “I’ve got so many all-stars and I’m so busy that I haven’t even had time to hang these yet.”

Keeping them in the shrink-wrap is a nice touch because it allows Calipari to move them all over the place. He may as well just lean them up against the scorer’s table during Kentucky games.

You know, in case people somehow forget that those guys played for him.

That’s the thing. This is the ultimate recruiting flex. It’s like when Nick Saban does the interview for the Playoff with Alabama’s trophy case in the background. Like, just in case people forget that Alabama has won a title or two.

Calipari does this because he knows that no other SEC coach can, and that few college coaches can flex like that. Well, besides the one at Duke. That guy got Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish last year, all of whom probably felt like a punch to the gut for Kentucky fans. And it’s not that the Cats didn’t wind up with their usual bevy of 5-stars, but perhaps watching 3 top-5 recruits all go that route sparked Calipari to up his flex game a bit.

It’s not like Calipari usually has those jerseys in the background on Selection Sunday. He usually takes that time to remind everyone that his team got a raw deal with its seeding:

It does seem like Kentucky often winds up in the toughest region. That’s partially why Calipari is searching for his first Final Four trip in 5 years, and just his second national title. Considering all the aforementioned talent — aforementioned by him — that’s somewhat astounding.

But hey, if Calipari gets another ring, maybe he’ll show off some extra bling instead of jerseys on Selection Sunday.

Mizzou fudging the numbers?

For a long time, I’ve wondered not if sports teams lie about their attendance, but how much do they lie about their attendance. Obviously Kansas isn’t about to record an attendance of 100,000 people when it looks like there are about as many people there as there are at your beer league softball game.

But I learned back when I interned for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians that reported attendance and actual attendance are two totally different things. Reported attendance accounts for the amount of tickets sold, not actual tickets scanned. Besides, that’s the No. 1 goal of a sports team — sell tickets. It isn’t the best look if you have a half-empty stadium, but the reported attendance is the reference point. The higher that number is, the better the visual.

That brings us to what Mizzou did. Or didn’t do.

According to The Missourian, only about 47 percent of the fans who reportedly attended games (per numbers from the university) actually had their tickets scanned. This isn’t the best look:

According to NCAA reporting documents obtained by the Missourian through an open-records request, the average number of tickets scanned for the football team’s seven home contests in 2018 was 24,377 per game, or roughly 47 percent of what the school reported in its game box scores.

Announce 24,377 as an average home attendance and you’re the laughing stock of Power 5 schools. Yes, Mizzou did undergo a stadium renovation, but that’s still not a number that is easy to rally behind.

Ah, but wait. There’s more. The Missourian reported that the athletic department claimed this interesting little flub from “faulty scanners” leading to that low number:

Athletic department officials, however, say the numbers they reported to the NCAA aren’t a full picture of the actual ticketed attendance in the 2018 season because faulty scanners, which were sensitive to the elements, and poor Wi-Fi connectivity forced event staffers to move large swaths of fans through the gates without recording their tickets into the system.

Suuuuuuuure. So pick your poison. Your athletic department is either lying to save face about embarrassing numbers — Barry Odom bought 5,000 tickets for the last home game — or it doesn’t have the necessary equipment to carry out a basic stadium function. Either way, bad look.

This is part of a bigger problem in college football that Mizzou surely isn’t alone in. The Wall Street Journal reported that just 71 percent of reported FBS attendance numbers had their tickets scanned in 2017.

You are, however, allowed to count players on the field, band members, stadium employees and media members as part of the attendance. Keep in mind that the SEC doesn’t have set guidelines for reporting attendance. According to The Missourian, the NCAA allows schools to report attendance via 3 ways — turnstile count (the number of people who actually come into the stadium), the number of tickets sold or estimates made by a staffer during the game.

Yeah, if you’re rocking a Mizzou polo holding a clipboard on gameday, you can just be like “well, it looks like about 58,790 to me” and that can be recorded as a school’s official attendance. Amazing, isn’t it?

Of course schools are lying about their attendance numbers. They’d be foolish not to. It’s practically encouraged. The NCAA wants to boost the numbers as much as possible and not present the look that their attendance figures continue to dip significantly with all the improvements to the in-home viewing experience.

Schools need to average 15,000 per game to stay at the FBS level. Fortunately, even Mizzou’s scanned number of 24,377 average home attendance is a good amount above that. As far as looking like an SEC school, however, The Missourian’s report won’t earn Mizzou any street cred in the conference.

But in my opinion, doing whatever it takes to boost attendance numbers has “SEC” written all over it.