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SEC Wrap-up

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Macon Vol Fan, Matt, Mosley and Barry Booker say goodbye to Raycom

How shall we remember the SEC Tournament of 2009? Well whether it was the neverending medley of Marc Chesnutt songs sang by Bobby Perry on the way down there, the injustice served on me by having to carry a cremated cat on my lap through the initial part of the trip, the realization that Dave Neal may never be on my television screen again or the sight of a Mississippi State player holding out his hand and asking Rob Bromley if he was going to “give him some love”, absurdity was once again the word of the day for the Tempest in Tampa. Some memories, big and small, of the four day event:

— It is important for everyone who ever thinks about going to Tampa to realize, that the city is approximately 10,000 miles away. We left on Wednesday night, riding in a pet cemetary car (and no I am not kidding), only to drive for approximately two weeks before getting to the former home of Warren Sapp. The stretch of road from Atlanta to Valdosta may be the longest, most boring stretch of road outside of the Western Kentucky Parkway that has ever been invented. Add to that the sounds of Bobby Perry snoring and it was so bad that I was contemplating pulling off the road and actually calling Seth Davis for pleasure. However my levelheadedness returned and I arrived at 7 am in Bubba the Love Sponge country. I will never drive there again.

— One of the reasons I will never have to go to Tampa by car in the future is that I cant imagine the SEC Tournament will ever be there again. Imagine a city with an arena that has spotty internet, a haunting drafty smell and locker rooms that made the old ones at Lynn Camp seem spacious. Throw in the fact that it is not anywhere close to the biggest traveling fanbase and that it is in a state with a University playing for its NCAA lives and it STILL cant draw 15,000 for a session….and well, Tampa I hope you enjoyed your lone year as SEC Tournament host.

— Once again, the story behind every SEC Tournament is watching the media from each school. Whereas in Kentucky, all the stars come out for the SEC basketball tournament (Rob Bromley in a blue polo, Alan Cutler with a trimmed moustache, Jerry Tipton with a newly minted scowl), other schools send their “B” and “C” team who seem to only arrive for the free Dr Pepper. I talked with one columnist for an SEC team who literally could not name the team’s starting lineup. This year, for the first time ever, there was one attractive woman with a media credential….but it turned out that even she was a sales person and not a sports columnist. Say what you want about Jeanine Edwards, but when she arrived, I perked up….that says something.

Jimmy Dykes has an odd triangular look in person…..we need to ask him about this on the next live blog.

— The SEC Tournament is the only place where media can interview all players in the locker room. That means that unlike at UK games, you can talk to any player, some for the first time. This always throws me off and leads me to feel bad for the players that arent being chatted up. When the locker room is open, everyone runs to Patterson and Meeks and that leaves me, looking over and seeing AJ Stewart seeming sad and deciding that I will go and ask him some questions. What I inevitably end up with them are books of quotes from Porter, Harris, Stewart and Galloway, but nothing from Patterson and Meeks. That is why I can never truly be a professional.

— The topic for almost everyone was what is the future of Gillispie. I have heard that another site has a person saying that I was the one asking everyone that question (and implying that the media was following my lead in asking and writing about his future…..lets get this straight, the local media thinks that we are a bunch of juvenile fools (and they are correct)….they dont need me to tell them anything and if I do say something, they would probably say the opposite on principle. EVERYONE was talking about Gillispie and EVERYONE was asking EVERYONE else what they thought….but of course no one really knows anything. What you ended up with were percentage guesses (“I say 65 percent he stays, 25 percent he goes, 10 percent he becomes President of the University”) that have little to no basis in fact. But the sportswriters have to have something to talk about besides the free Dr Pepper and Golden Flake chips (which are horrendous by the way).

— I love the fact that the SEC always has some familiar faces….Auburn Elvis, Barry Booker, Kentucky Pimp, etc….its like a family reunion with people you dont really know. I knew however that I had been there too long when Booker and I started debating the efficacy of the government’s response to the credit crisis and the tv cameras showed us to a Raycom audience. I got a text message that said, “you were on tv talking to Barry Booker….please tell me it wasnt about politics.” Unfortunately for both of us, it was.

Jon Hood and his family were at every game, whether Kentucky played or not. I just have to say that the three of them simply could not be nicer people….a trait that makes them fit in well with the Patterson family, the Meeks family, the Miller family, the Harris family, etc. If nothing else, this team has a great group of kids and families associated with it. That does count for something.

— If you were wondering about the SEC Tournament Cheerleader and Dance Team rankings, then you are in luck. We did our usual count and the ratings broke down like this:

LSU
Arkansas
Florida
Mississippi State
Ole Miss
Georgia
Alabama
Auburn
Kentucky
South Carolina
Tennessee
Vanderbilt

Kentucky didnt bring its dance team, which hurt it in the rankings….LSU won and it was not even close…and as for Tennessee…you need a lot more than Lane Kiffin my friend.

— Even if you have been on the road and you are exhausted, one thing that will never cease to cheer you up is a call at 11 pm from the Woo. Calling from Poland for the first time in months, Woo said as I answered, “how are we in the NIT? What happened?” With that Woo, asked the question every fan has asked and showed he is truly part of the Big Blue Nation.

I will have more SEC stuff later and get ready for the Runnin Rebs this evening.

Article written by Matt Jones