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Phillip's blog: Media Days thoughts

There was a time not so long ago that Southeastern Conference Media Days were a gathering of reporters who cover the league on a regular basis. That has changed.

Senior Editor Phillip Marshall

More than 900 credentials have been issued for the event that starts Wednesday afternoon. Reporters, columnists, bloggers and commentators from all over the country will descend on the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover. It’s come a long way since about 40 of us got on an aging airplane for the SEC Skywriters.

Some thoughts on Media Days eve:

I would suggest not bothering to be upset about what the team looks like or about the preseason order of finish. Neither Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton nor Lombardi winner Nick Fairley made even the second team last August. And we are notoriously bad at picking the SEC champion. The Media Days favorite has won it only four times since 1992. Last season, Auburn was picked third in the West and South Carolina third in the East. You know how that turned out. …

It’s pretty clear that Georgia’s Aaron Murray will be and should be the preseason All-SEC quarterback. But who’s next? The nominees are Mississippi State’s Chris Relf, LSU’s Jordan Jefferson and Tennessee’s Tyler Bray. That’s a weak field, which is why this might be the year the SEC’s five-year run of national championships could end. …

Auburn isn’t the only team that will be playing young players on the defensive line. On the preseason All-SEC ballot that includes nominations from each of the 12 schools, seven of 20 nominees are sophomores and five are juniors. Those guys played more last season than Auburn’s sophomores did, but there is a distinct lack of nominees who have actually done big things. …

I haven’t yet decided on how will pick the order of finish, other than I will vote for LSU to win the West and Georgia to win the East. I don’t look for Georgia to be great by any means, but I’m not sold on South Carolina and I expect the East to again be significantly weaker than the West. …

My friend Tony Barnhart, who I respect as much as anybody in this business, called Pete Thamel’s story on Gene Chizik’s SEC meetings exchange with Jule Roe Lach “a fine piece of reporting.” I respectfully disagree. I can tell you without hesitation that Tony would not write such a story, using third-hand quotes six weeks after the fact. …

I have no doubt the questions to coaches will be dominated by NCAA enforcement matters. I fail to understand the obsession of “national sports writers” with that issue. People who have been around the sport for a long time will tell you it is far cleaner now than it was in the 1980s and earlier. …

Chizik will, no doubt, be questioned about his exchange with Lach Roe. I suspect he will say it’s no big deal, which is the same thing I hear from everyone who was there that I’ve talked to. Of course, there won’t be any basketball coaches there to say what really happened. …

The SEC office, I understand, was not happy with the basketball coaches who talked to Thamel about a meeting that was closed to the media and public. …

One sure thing is that Alabama will be picked to win the West and the overall championship and will have the most players on the preseason All-SEC team. …

Another sure thing is that Les Miles will tell us how much he loves being at LSU. He does it every year. …

It’s going to be interesting if Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen can avoid saying something Thursday he shouldn’t say. My guess is that he won’t be able to help himself. …

We can only hope we can avoid some of the silliness of recent years. Maybe the most ridiculous of all was the “controversy” over Tim Tebow not being a unanimous selection to the coaches’ All-SEC team in 2009. Of course, then there was grand show of Phillip Fulmer being served with a subpoena in 2008.

I will miss Robbie Caldwell, the former Vanderbilt coach who brought a delightful sense of humor to Hoover last year. I won't miss Urban Meyer.

I’ll be on the scene Thursday with frequent message board updates from coaches and players. Make sure and check often.

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