SEC Media Days 2019: What I'm looking forward to most this week
I have a confession.
This will be my first time experiencing the Hoover version of SEC Media Days.
How is that possible, you ask? Let me explain.
As some of you know, I started with our company running our Big Ten site SaturdayTradition.com in 2015. It wasn’t until 2017 that I transitioned into this role, which is writing daily columns for SDS and co-hosting The SDS Podcast.
I should rephrase that. It wasn’t until August 2017 that I started writing daily columns for SDS. That was a couple weeks after SEC Media Days. With last year’s Media Days switching to Atlanta, my first time coincided with everyone else getting their first taste of the event there.
This year, though, I’m new to the Birmingham party. I’ll finally get to see what Media Days held in a mall next to the Belk store really looks like. Consider me excited for that.
These are the other things I’m excited to experience this week in Birmingham:
Interacting with Kash Daniel
Was I the only one who let out an audible “let’s gooooooooooooooo” when I saw that Daniel was on the list of SEC Media Days attendees? I couldn’t have been. After all, we know how uncut the Kentucky linebacker is. The guy is essentially a WWE wrestler playing SEC football.
There’s no doubt we’re going to see Daniel have some interesting things to say about the Kentucky offseason discussion, or lack thereof. If he really gets going, we could see Daniel name specific publications and media members who didn’t give Kentucky proper love.
(On a totally unrelated note, I definitely had Kentucky among my Top 25 teams to start the season and I also had Mark Stoops as a Top 25 coach nationally. Just sayin’.)
Daniel has potential to be an all-time SEC Media Days attendee, much like his teammate Benny Snell was last year. Sign me up for any and all interactions with the leader of the Kentucky defense.
And Joe Burrow, as well
I wrote the other day why I thought Daniel and Burrow were the two best people to be Media Days attendees. Why? Both have the tendency to say whatever is on their minds. That’s exactly what’s needed to spice up what are usually boring press conferences and media availability sessions.
It’ll be interesting to see how Burrow handles this as the elder statesman in the room. Anytime he spoke last season, it seemed like he was always on a mission to quiet the lingering doubt about LSU’s daunting 2018 schedule. Now, with more people in his corner, what type of swagger will Burrow have?
From strictly a personality standpoint, Burrow is the SEC’s version of Baker Mayfield. Again, strictly from a personality standpoint.
Assuming we’ll get some reminders of that next week, the LSU quarterback is going to be worth spending plenty of time with.
Witnessing post-title loss Nick Saban
Last year, Saban was intent on intimidating the media into not asking questions about the quarterback battle. That was on the heels of a title. This year with Saban coming off not just a national title loss but a national title blowout, who knows what kind of tone he’ll have.
Then again, it doesn’t really matter what type of year Saban is coming off. Who could forget his exchange with Paul Finebaum at the 2016 SEC Media Days?
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) July 13, 2016
We probably won’t get anything as heated as that, but we can assume that Saban will have his usual “why am I hear to answer dumb questions” level of annoyance. It’ll be interesting to see if we get an unprompted rant about the transfer portal or about Tua Tagovailoa’s health.
It’s funny because Saban gets labeled as this boring, stick in the mud guy, but all of our attention will be on him when it’s his turn Wednesday. Why? He’s still the best coach on the planet and if he does have one of his classic rants, we’d be fools to miss it.
The transfer portal discussion
I think across college football, the hard news discussion that’ll be most prevalent at media days relates to the transfer portal. Whether there are differing opinions on the matter between player representatives and coaches remains to be seen. It would be understandable if that were the case.
Player representatives will be talking about something that their friends and teammates now have as a resource while coaches will be talking about something that creates an often negative headline about them. It’d be strange if there was some politically correct uniformity on the matter.
It might actually be more noteworthy if a player comes out against the transfer portal and rants about the negatives it created (recruiting your current roster, killing depth, etc.). I honestly don’t know. This is the first media days in which the transfer portal is in effect.
Dare I say, there might actually be more talk about the transfer portal system than the Playoff system. I’m OK with that. There probably should be.
And if we could get some unfiltered takes on the matter from players and coaches, that’d be ideal.
Any and all Florida-Georgia trash talk
I mean, we have to get some of it, right? After the way both fanbases have been going back and forth this offseason, it feels inevitable that we’re going to get something like Andrew Thomas talking about Georgia rolling Florida the past 2 years or maybe Feleipe Franks making a guarantee.
Granted, the trash talk between the fans might have had something to do with Dan Mullen trolling Georgia multiple times this offseason. Between the scheduling jab, the alleged post-Justin Fields transfer comment about freshmen leaving and the spring attendance game troll of Georgia’s last national title, Mullen hasn’t been shy about going after the Gators’ rival.
Will Mullen have more bullets ready to fire in Birmingham? I don’t know, but it’d be a shame if he went in a different direction and started praising the Dawgs as opposed to saying “every blind squirrel finds a nut.”
That’s not the kind of world I want to live in.
Seeing some great SEC characters and media personalities
This might sound cheesy, but I really do enjoy getting to see people that I might only talk to over the phone or interact with on Twitter. People like Finebaum, Peter Burns, Chris Doering and Tony Barnhart are always good to catch up with. There are others like Jacob Hester and Cole Cubelic who I’ve enjoyed talking with more in the last year who I’m looking forward to seeing in Birmingham.
But it’s not just the SEC personalities on camera that make this event what it is. Seeing characters like Alabama’s “Ring Guy” and Tiger Jake for the first time last year added to the experience. That’s part of what makes SEC Media Days what it is.
I’ve been to Big Ten Media Days several times, and not that it pales in comparison, but the fandom isn’t on the SEC’s level. It’s just not. Seeing a flood of fans surround an incoming coach before he takes the stage is extremely cool. It speaks to the nature of this conference and the excitement that we all have for the start of the season.
And while I might be new to the Birmingham experience, I know it’ll be an entertaining week. We’ll have tons of stories, podcasts, tweets and videos to keep you occupied. You know, just in case you have to work and you can’t watch SEC Network all day.
Let the week of fun begin.