Yes, finally. College football season is here.
Well, not really. The first weekend of games is still eight weeks off. Actually, one week and 48 days sounds better.
But SEC Football Media Days begins this week in Hoover, Ala. That’s college football’s equivalent of those blessed wintertime words, “Pitchers and catchers report.” Though it’s meaningless in and of itself, it’s a tangible reminder that football is coming soon.
Mind you, sitting through four consecutive days of 45-minute sessions of coaches trying their best to say nothing – except for Steve Spurrier – isn’t exactly as exciting as covering the Iron Bowl. Or even a Missouri-Vanderbilt game with a noon kickoff, for that matter.
Never miss a local story.
It’s a time when Nick Saban is actually somewhat pleasant. Well, except for that outburst last year against Paul Finebaum. Saban tells the media how much he really appreciates the job they do covering college football. So a few weeks later when he goes off on one of his epic rants because you dare suggest that Charleston Southern has no chance, don’t take it so personally.
It’s a time when Gus Malzahn proclaims somebody on his roster or staff to be “the best in the country – and it’s not even close.” In the case of his kicker, Daniel Carlson, he just might be right. It’s rare that a school would take a kicker to media days. Georgia took John Kasay in 1990 and Kentucky took Doug Pelfrey in ’92. I’m not sure I’ve seen a better college kicker than Carlson – ever.
This is just Kirby Smart’s second Media Days, so he hasn’t yet set a pattern. Smart spent a good bit of his initial time at the podium deflecting comparisons to Mark Richt.
Fittingly, Smart chose Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to represent Georgia. I’m not sure if they’re going to share the same table and just alternate every other question.
SEC Football Media Days has had a local flavor a few times with Central grads Marco Battle (Alabama) and Ed King (Auburn) and Baker grad Chris Shelling (Auburn) making the trip.
It’s a time when invariably at least two or three of the 14 type-A personalities who obsess about everyone else being on time will stroll to the podium a few minutes late.
They’re not going to reveal anything significant like who their backup punter will be. Still, it’s college football, and it gives us something to write and talk about because the season can’t get here soon enough.
It’s also a time when the media members tell you who won’t win the SEC championship. There have been 25 SEC Championship Games since Arkansas and South Carolina joined the league. The media’s preseason pick to win the title actually won it a grand total of six times. That’s 24 percent. Four of those six picks were in years where one team was clearly the favorite – Florida twice during the Spurrier years and Alabama in 2014 and last season. Even worse, the preseason favorite failed to even reach the championship game 16 of the 25 seasons.
It may seem hypocritical of me to point that out since I’ve been a voter for most of those seasons. But I’ll tell you now, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to predicting how a season will unfold. One play can change an entire game which can change an entire season.
I do think this: I’m not sold on Georgia being the team to beat in the East or Jarrett Stidham being an All-SEC candidate.
All of that will play out in due time. For now, all we can do is speculate. At least the countdown is getting shorter.