It started on Tuesday with Mike Slive marveling at the wonderful things he'd seen in his 10 years as Southeastern Conference commissioner and leveling the late Joe Paterno without mentioning his name. It ended on Thursday with first-year Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze talking about the lack of personal accountability he found among his players when he replaced Houston Nutt.
In between, as shoppers perused the wares in the adjacent shopping mall, the often strange celebration of SEC football that we call Media Days bounced along in its inimitable way at the Wynfrey Hotel.
The SEC gave out some 1,200 credentials for its 28th Media Days, and you wonder how there could so many media people covering SEC football. Then you see people decked in their fan garb, sitting in a press conference and doing nothing but trying to squelch the urge to rush to the front and take a picture with the coach. That's when you realize being a media person is not necessarily a requirement for attending Media Days.
So it has always been. And it's even more now that the SEC has climbed over everybody else to sit unchallenged atop the college football world.
This year was a bit different because of the arrival of Texas A&M and Missouri from the Big 12. Texas A&M coach was properly respectful, calling the SEC West "a damned tough league." Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, on the other hand, defended the Big 12 more than he praised the SEC.
The gathered masses nodded knowingly with thoughts of Pinkel's spread offense being eaten for breakfast dancing in their heads.
Along the way, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he sure did wish the Gamecocks were playing Ole Miss instead of LSU, prompting Freeze to say he'd be circling the game when it rolls around a couple of years from now. Spurrier was already gone by then, but it's doubtful that caused him a lot of worry.
LSU coach Les Miles told us about his family vacation before he talked about football. Last year he told us how much his children liked Baton Rouge. Important stuff like that.
Freeze opined that he had more talent at Arkansas State than he found at Ole Miss. "Well, maybe more depth," he said.
Forty-two players soaked in the atmosphere. They listed to questions, some insightful and some that left even college seniors shaking their heads.
Auburn's Corey Lemonier, Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen were poised, polite and prepared. Lemonier, with his spiffy bow tie was the best dressed of all the players who passed through the Wynfrey.
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen said the Bulldogs agreeing to play at Troy had something or other to do with wanting to give the players a chance to play close to home and, besides, they could ride the bus. He figured that since Mississippi State has almost won some game against the teams that have won the last six national championship that it must itself be close to winning a national championship. That from a coach who is 0-12 against the top four teams in the West.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley vowed the days of the Vols being kicked around were over. The assembled reporters paid so much attention that they voted his team fifth in the East.
Arkansas coach John L. Smith, at 63 years old, was the most enjoyable coach of all. Too bad his first Media Days is pretty certain to be his last.
Smith and Arkansas players said Bobby Petrino really was sorry for riding his motorcycle with his 25-year-old blonde mistress. Who wouldn't be sorry to lose $18 million?
James Franklin did what all Vanderbilt coaches do and insisted that the combination of "a world class education" and SEC football would work. It never has, but folks seem to believe Franklin. Of course, what none of those coaches ever admit is the fact that, even at Vanderbilt, marginal students get into school if they can play football.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips talked about basketball a lot.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik continued a tradition and met privately with reporters who cover Auburn before taking to the podium in the big room. He said his team grew up in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and is a far different animal than a year ago.
Alabama coach Nick Saban had a security guard stationed at the door when he used a public bathroom. No, he said, he wasn't too powerful and neither was Alabama football. Why not, he said, play nine SEC games? About half the assembled media Tweeted away that Saban was surely the smartest, best, greatest coach they'd ever seen.
Georgia coach Mark Richt dismissed the notion that arrests, suspensions and dismissals mean Georgia needs to change the way it recruits.
Finally, early Thursday afternoon, it was over. Everybody went home with dreams intact. Championships are easy to win in August.
The reality of autumn will be here soon enough.
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