Today, SEC Media Days comes to Atlanta for the first time. The event had been staged at various Birmingham locations since it began its run at a Holliday Inn back in 1985.
…You wouldn’t had known it was taking place unless you got lost in the hotel and stumbled across the room.
It was like staging a media event in witness protection.
There were 10 round tables, one for each coach. The 60 or so media members on hand (including me) moved from table to table and had face-to-face conversations.
It was a Media Day, not days. Everything was accomplished in one afternoon.
There was no live TV, no long-winded opening statements by coaches, no social media to make coaches paranoid and have them measure every word they said.”
-Ron Higgins (NOLA.com)
This year, over 1000 media have been credentialed to cover four days of coachspeak from the College Football Hall of Fame and the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center. Let the hysteria begin!
Reporters have been formulating questions for the coaches and players who will run a gauntlet of interviews, jotting notes furiously, and searching for clever phrasing that will elicit a response that might go viral. The click is king. Pageviews will trump points of view. Media Days are meta-media – although the coaches and players are, ostensibly, the primary attractions, media-stars will also be making the rounds of interviews. The medium is not only the message, but its personalities are the content.
SEC coaches are rhetorical experts who rarely emit any utterance that can be construed to contain any hint of controversy, even when professional wordsmiths apply the most semantically agile interpretation. The players selected to represent their universities are picked from the most reliable adherents to the company line – no interesting remarks allowed. There have been a few exceptions. Steve Spurrier was not afraid to give the press a quote or two, and Ed Orgeron has been known to add some color to a presser, but don’t expect much news from #SECMD18.
There is a bright side, however.
SEC Media Days is not about news. It is a tribal gathering to mark the renewal of college football in the South. As the Conference is fond of reminding us, “It just means more” here – and Atlanta is the right place to celebrate its meaning.