COLUMN: HOOVER, Ala. — We, media and fans, are about to write and read a lot about the expectations. At SEC Media Days, which begins today at the old Wynfrey Hotel (Hyatt Regency has now taken over), everything revolves around hope, the immediate future of what team(s) can accomplish in 2013.
What’s a realistic win-loss total? What isn’t? Where do you think you will finish? That’s what we mean when we talk and write about expectations. The players who come from the 14 different schools will answer those types of questions differently but yet most all of them will be excited and optimistic about what their respective team can accomplish.
There won’t be any player from any team who will say the workouts haven’t been hard enough. I haven’t heard a player say that the team has been taking it light, going out to the bars every night and not really focusing on the upcoming season. That just doesn’t happen here or anywhere for that matter. If the summer workouts and the bonding experience weren’t as good, you won’t hear it from a player’s mouth. We’ll all realize it once a couple of games are played.
So what is realistic? What can we really take out of the next three days? Well, plenty despite the belief that there is no real news that comes from here.
My take has always been any news on football is good news. Writing feature stories and notebooks on players is enjoyable even if most, not all, are similar to what we’ve written in the past. Let’s be honest, the more things change the more they stay the same. It’s football season everyone. This is the official kickoff to it all in the SEC and it’s refreshing to hear how work has transpired since the spring. Even if most of it sounds like it does every year.
To me, the routine of getting these type of questions answered is a necessary part of covering SEC football. Coming here for three days, gathering information and then starting to figure out if this team or that team can actually follow through is how we figure out if the expectations or the hype was worth it. It’s the start of a journey that leads us into a usually exciting 12-game schedule.
The players don’t go through early morning workouts with a strength coach to feel worse about their team and what they can accomplish. They lift all those weights to make sure they can win and in the case of some teams like Alabama, win a lot.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding Ole Miss. Well maybe not a lot, but more than the past three years coming in. Hugh Freeze and his Rebels definitely turned heads last year on the field and now, a good percentage of the media think they will finish third or fourth in the West. That’s a tremendous improvement and while preseason rankings, favorable preseason rankings, only make a team more of a target, it’s still more than noteworthy.
Ole Miss players aren’t likely to think too much about the early hype. Remember, every preseason magazine in the country thought they would finish last in 2012 and we saw how that turned out.
No, sentences with the phrases “keeping a perspective” or “staying focused” will almost certainly be answers the Rebels — Mike Marry, Bo Wallace and Donte Moncrief — will give when it comes time to talk about expectations in Freeze’s second year. But they need to be asked and we need to keep track of the answers so that we can see how it all turned out at the end of November.
That’s just one reason why this event is newsworthy or important or at least a reminder of what is about to start.