If 2020 was a normal year, today KSR would be reporting to you live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia as Mark Stoops prepared to take the podium at SEC Media Days. Instead, college football fans everywhere are crossing their fingers, hoping that a season can still happen this fall.
If the show still goes on this fall, the SEC will conduct a form of media days virtually. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not the same. Here’s what will be most missed from the unofficial start of college football season.
Egg Bowl Fireworks
The dog-pee celebration near the conclusion of last year’s game between Mississippi State and Ole Miss started a dramatic chain reaction that resulted in the termination of two head coaches, opening the door for Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin to return to the SEC. Leach was an assistant on Hal Mumme’s UK coaching staff and Kiffin is back in the conference after a brief one-year stint in Knoxville back in 2009. Their only public appearance together since joining the SEC produced one spectacular moment.
Mike Leach giving Lane Kiffin the business ??pic.twitter.com/m56o7PNPuu
— Gump Cathcart (@bubbagumpino) June 25, 2020
An event that needed an injection of personality, those two (along with Sam Pittman) were the perfect people to liven up a stale event. They would be expected to hold court and bring a few one-liners, all while balancing between serious cultural issues within the Magnolia State and impressing fans at their respective schools. Watching the dynamic unfold would have been the story of SEC Media Days 2020.
The source of fuel in the Southeastern Conference, the sweet nectar is everywhere you turn. In fact, Dr. Pepper, Diet Dr. Pepper and Sunkist are the only sodas available to the media at the event, much to the chagrin of the numerous Diet Coke addicts. Luckily, I have installed a tap into KSOffice to ensure we won’t go a week without the carbonated concoction.
Of all the media perks I’ve experienced over the years, it’s hard to top the cocktail hour at the enormous Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons and the SEC Championship Game. Instead of schmoozing with radio folks from across the South in a Hoover hotel ballroom, in Atlanta the SEC opens up the sideline suites for a night of food and drink at one of North America’s greatest sporting venues. On my 2018 excursion I completely geeked and took 30+ pictures, none of which could accurately encapsulate the awesomeness of the stadium.
As great as the “night on the town” is in Atlanta, the Big J’s are not big fans of the setup at the College Football Hall of Fame. Radio hosts hate that there isn’t technically a “radio row.” TV cameramen hate that they must walk more than usual to reach the different interviews. Complaining is what journalists do best and SEC Media Days in Atlanta is their Super Bowl.
The longtime reporter for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette is an SEC Media Days superstar. On a first-name basis with every coach, he is not shy around the microphone, asking at least one or two questions (that are sometime out of left field) and stealing the show along the way. Bob Holt is an SEC treasure. This week in July isn’t the same without him creating magical moments like this:
Belk mannequins are adorned with the bowties and seersucker jackets as players wear their Sunday best to the showcase. Last year Jake Fromm’s croakies stole the show. In 2017 Mike Edwards made headlines in an unexpected way. Prior to his arrival in Hoover, the defensive back ripped his suit pants, becoming the butt of every joke.
Luckily, a tailor was able to repair them before the event began. Even if he wasn’t the best dressed, his suit was the most talked about clothing item in Alabama.
Picking South Carolina ahead of Kentucky
Is it SEC Media Days if UK isn’t picked to finish one spot behind the Gamecocks in the East? I don’t think so. Reporters and pundits fall for Will Muschamp’s charisma and ignore the blue collar message a cherubic Mark Stoops shares from behind the podium in the grand ballroom. The SEC media hands out bulletin board material every year, growing the chip on each player’s shoulder until statements like this…
Benny Snell, are you the best running back in the SEC? pic.twitter.com/jeQesAumBz
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) July 16, 2018
… turn into unforgettable moments like this.
For more moments we’ll miss from the 2020 edition of SEC Media Days, listen to episode 50 of the 11 Personnel podcast.