Just like Paul Finebaum told me on the Saturday Down South podcast, we make a big deal every year about SEC Media Days.

However, as Finebaum pointed out, nothing actually changes once the week comes and goes. And since the proceedings keep falling earlier and earlier on the calendar, we have more and more time to wait until actual football is played.

We’re still about seven weeks away from Labor Day weekend — that’s quite a mouthful of hype to digest ahead of Alabama-Florida State, which highlights a primo Week 1 schedule — when toe will finally meet leather in the best conference in America. Not a lot of news was broken at the Wynfrey Hotel to help bridge that gap.

Even with 14 head coaches taking turns at the podium and a total of 42 players made available to print, radio and television types, the event was largely void of notes and quotes. From a program’s perspective, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But from a writer’s point of view, it can be frustrating. Here’s what I really loved and loathed about my latest experience in Hoover.

I loved …

… the singular message coming out of not just Alabama coach Nick Saban, but the three players he brought with him, too.

‘Bama was 14-0 last season and within one second of 15-0, a national championship and perhaps a place among the all-time great teams in college football history. But once Clemson stole that title and dropped the Tide to 14-1, they’ve clearly been using the “failure” they suffered in January as a teaching point for 2017.

There wasn’t a hint of complacency from Bradley Bozeman, Minkah Fitzpatrick or Calvin Ridley. The rest of the league has been put on notice yet again.

I loathed …

… the scripted answers coming from anyone associated with Tennessee. After coach Butch Jones tried to impress us by pointing out two straight nine-win seasons and three consecutive bowl victories, his players then echoed the same thoughts.

This is media training being taken too far. I’m sure Emmanuel Moseley, Jashon Robertson and Kendal Vickers (below) are all terrific young men, but nobody truly got to know them at Media Days. They were turned into pre-programmed robots, unfortunately.

Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

I loved …

… the unabashed confidence put on display by Missouri linebacker Eric Beisel. He indirectly took over my Twitter feed at one point.

Needless to way, Mizzou’s relatively recent series with Arkansas isn’t one of the SEC’s most notable border-war games. However, Beisel did what he could to sell some tickets for a matchup that determines who holds the Battle Line Rivalry Trophy. He clearly learned a few things interning with the school’s marketing team.

He was especially chesty toward the Hogs after beating them last year. Kudos to Tigers coach Barry Odom for not dialing back Beisel’s motor of a mouth.

I loathed …

… how many marquee players were left home, especially at quarterback. Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, Georgia’s Jacob Eason and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald are supposed to be elite signal callers. They should’ve been in Hoover.

And it wasn’t just the QBs. LSU didn’t bring Arden Key. Georgia didn’t bring Trenton Thompson. I know Auburn’s Daniel Carlson is incredible, but nobody wants kickers at a media event. There was a noticeable lack of star power.

I loved …

… how Arkansas coach Bret Bielema performed his duties despite his wife giving birth to a baby girl just days before he took to the podium.

As usual, Bielema brought some much-needed humor to the room and showed a side to himself you simply don’t see from most of the other coaches in this league. While I would stop short of saying he actually cares that the media has a job to do, he at least understands it and is very accommodating more often than not.

When it’s his turn to address the crowd, Bielema has fun with it. Too many of his cohorts view the exercise as the public-speaking equivalent of a rectal exam.

I loathed …

… how Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze tried to filibuster his way out of having to answer any tough questions. While he was rambling on about the competition at long snapper, the media just yawned and waited for a chance to talk about something that actually mattered.

Additionally, the more I hear about Freeze (below) when surrounded by people in this business, many of them well connected, the more I see him hiding behind The Bible and his supposed Christian faith. Fewer folks are buying his shtick these days.

Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

I loved …

… the level of respect that Alabama is getting. The Crimson Tide were runaway picks to win both the division and conference, and rightfully so.

A total of 243 members of the media turned in a ballot, and ‘Bama was the choice for 217 of them to emerge victorious in Atlanta in December. The Tide got 225 votes to capture the West, as only Auburn (13), LSU (4) and Arkansas (1) saved it from being a clean sweep. Nobody picked Ole Miss, Mississippi State or Texas A&M.

I talked to all kinds of people in Hoover, both on and off the record. The conversations involving their selections for the eventual league champion were short.

I loathed …

… how one total clown picked Vanderbilt to win the SEC. Somehow, the Commodores got zero votes to win the East but still got one to take home the whole ball of wax. Whomever made that choice should be ridiculed, plain and simple.

I’d go so far as to say that this particular media member needs to have his credential application denied next summer. If you’re not going to take the responsibilities seriously, then just stay home and hand over your access to someone more deserving.

I loved …

… commissioner Greg Sankey putting it out there that SEC Media Days could be on the move to Atlanta, Nashville or Dallas.

This event has been recycled over and over for some time, and frankly it’s gotten a bit stale. Throwing a grenade on it and starting over might be the way to go at this juncture. Most of my colleagues greeted this piece of breaking news quite warmly since, well, there isn’t much to do in Hoover.

If the league can hold its basketball tournament in St. Louis of all places, then a suburb of Birmingham is far from sacred for football.

I loathed …

… too many of the results for the various preseason All-SEC teams. It’s pretty obvious that the credentialed crowd only concerns itself with name recognition. Georgia running back Sony Michel, for example, shouldn’t have made the Third Team.

Kentucky’s Benny Snell, Missouri’s Damarea Crockett, Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams, Alabama’s Damien Harris, Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson and Florida’s Jordan Scarlett were all more deserving. Maybe even Devwah Whaley of Arkansas.