War Eagle Extra

SEC media days storylines -- No. 1

Editor's note: SEC media days begin July 14. Every year, a theme seems to emerge, whether it's a tiff between coaches or a cause taken up by commissioner Mike Slive. But with less than a week until it arrives, what are the top storylines entering the annual media event? Ryan Black gives his take, counting down from 10-1.

No. 1: Ascending to the pinnacle once more

The SEC is in a place it hasn't been in eight years. For the first time since 2006, media days will begin without the conference being able to boast the defending national champion. Sure, Auburn making it there was nice. But when you've won it seven straight times, a mere appearance doesn't suffice. It's championship-or-bust of the highest order.

With the creation of the College Football Playoff this year, the SEC stands as good a chance as any to place two teams into the four-team bracket. But just as Auburn's narrow defeat in the BCS title game in January attests, simply making it into the playoff isn't enough for the conference.

The standard is unbelievably high, yes. After falling just short last year, reclaiming the national championship for the SEC will weigh on every team's mind — even if they don't express it publicly.