Welcome to the madhouse.
We are live from the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., where the media is quickly gathering for SEC Media Days. For the next three days, we will be talking to coaches and players and whoever else is foolish enough to linger here. Coaches will field all kinds of questions: Insightful, generic, off-beat, stupid, and possibly inappropriate (is Clay Travis here?).
I'm just trying to avoid asking the last two kinds of questions. In today's Journal, I came up with what I think are 10 pretty good questions we can expect Dan Mullen to be asked this week (CLICK HERE). He won't be here until Wednesday, though.
As for the rest of the coaches, Parrish Alford and I came up with some likely questions for them as well (CLICK HERE). Undying admiration from this corner to the soul brave enough to ask Nick Saban whether his daughter could beat up A.J. McCarron (the answer is yes because CLICK HERE).
The media will vote on a preseason All-SEC team and predicted order of finish (I will abstain), which means some idiot will vote Ole Miss or Tennessee to win their respective division (Ole Miss got two first-place votes last year … seriously).
Quite a few fans will show up just so they can stand/sit/genuflect in the Wynfrey lobby for when coaches and players walk through. There will be grown men in college jerseys, yes. Gene Chizik will strut past them with his chin out, pulling on the lapels of his leather coat while eschewing autograph requests. (OK, maybe not, but I just like that visual.)
To help prepare you for this annual circus, um, event, I have put together an informative guide. I will do this for each of the three days, and so we start today with the first four participants, with the big man batting leadoff.
• 12:30-1 p.m.: Commissioner Mike Slive will speak about how indescribably awesome and rich the SEC is these days, and then will light up a diamond-encrusted pipe with a match lit by Saban's (daughter's) simmering fury.
• 1-3:50 p.m.: South Carolina and Texas A&M kick things off. Good ol' Steve Spurrier, who has returned to old form in recent years thanks to winning, will hopefully say something about how great a "weapon" Marcus Lattimore is at running back. And then… "Shoot, speakin' of running backs and weapons, anybody know how Georgia's lookin' this year heh heh." /smirk
Joining the ol' ball coach today will be receiver Ace Sanders, quarterback Connor Shaw and safety D.J. Swearinger. They're all good reasons to think the Gamecocks can equal last year's mark of 11-2 (6-2 SEC).
A&M is being coached by new hire Kevin Sumlin, a stern-looking fellow who had an offensive juggernaut at Houston. He's the first of the two new guys to speak this week, and I peg Sumlin as the coach of whom some sycophantic TV sports anchor asks a really, really, really dumb question.
The Aggies have new uniforms, which will count for nothing as they try to learn the art of not choking away double-digit second-half leads. A&M went 7-6 last year, and no joke, it could've easily won 12 games. Sumlin should see to it that the 2011 season is wiped from the media guide just to aid in the psychological recovery of this program.
Joining Sumlin today will be offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, linebacker Sean Porter and receiver Ryan Swope.
• 3:20-6 p.m.: Missouri and Vanderbilt will be up next. The other new guy, Gary Pinkel, will formally introduce himself to the SEC scribes. I know very little about Missouri football, because it doesn't ever call attention to itself. They have new unis, too – pretty snazzy, actually. Mizzou went 8-5 last year and beat scandal-ridden North Carolina in the Independence Bowl. A very Missouri-ish season.
Joining Pinkel will be offensive lineman Elvis Fisher, cornerback E.J. Gaines and receiver T.J. Moe. Elvis, E.J. and T.J. There you go.
Last year, people didn't know much about Vandy coach James Franklin. Then he said stuff like this: "I really believe there's very few schools that are going to be able to compete with us when it comes to recruiting, because we have an opportunity to offer things that very few schools can." The guy has swagger at a place that has no idea what that is, and yet he fits in with his professorial look and manner. He reminds me of a cocky genius physics professor who could beat you up.
So far, so good for Franklin, who led the Commodores to a 6-7 finish last season. Joining Franklin today are quarterback Jordan Rodgers, tailback Zac Stacy and defensive back Trey Wilson.