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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rebels won’t headline Media Days, and that’s a good thing

COLUMN: This column, an advance commentary on SEC Media Days, is ostensibly a preview of an event created to preview a sporting season. That’s the level of absurdity at which we’re operating at in college football. If you’re fine with this, I suppose I am, too.

Nothing of a newsworthy manner will occur next week at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., when 14 SEC head coaches and carefully groomed players pinball from ballroom to ballroom in a slow-burn torture of absurd questions from my ilk. Moreover, Ole Miss will fail to capture any of the manufactured headlines processed at this event, and that’s a good and comforting thing for Rebel fans.

Ole Miss is not Nick Saban, head coach of the national championship dynasty at Alabama. Ole Miss is not Johnny Manziel, Heisman winning quarterback and social media maladroit. Ole Miss did not beat the conference champion in its inaugural year as a conference member. Ole Miss has not hired a new head football coach in the last six months and Ole Miss has not received NCAA sanctions during that same time period.

The Rebels did sign the nation’s highest-rated recruit, as well as post a surprising winning season. But even a recruiting headline as gaudy and bandied about as Robert Nkemdiche is muted in the big, dumb spotlight of SEC Media Days.

And that’s more than OK, that’s great for the program. Nothing good comes of being a conversation topic at SEC Media Days. In 2004, I put a tape recorder in front of a speakerphone substituting for Phil Fulmer, whom at the time was hiding in Knoxville from a superfluous lawsuit by Alabama fans related to the Tide’s probation. That’s the noblest of  “news” stories in Hoover that I can remember.

There will be hundreds — seriously, hundreds — of questions about former Florida Gator Aaron Hernandez, currently facing murder charges. There will be countless big, dumb, lazy inquires about “how good, really?” Manziel and likely 2014 NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick Jadaveon Clowney are.

Hugh Freeze will be forced to answer a few of these. It’s penance created by the SEC, whose antiquated credentialing policy keeps both whackos and deserving new media members alike shut out of every event except this one. Thus, the stupid flows like a river, and for one brief moment every AM disc jockey and hobby journalist gets to stammer out a question to a real, live, grumpy football coach.

Last year’s proceedings aired live on ESPNU, and I suspect that while it’s not official yet, the same thing will occur this year. If you tune in to see Hugh Freeze and feel like you’re watching a carbon copy of a recent Rebel Road Trip 2013 speech, that’s a very good thing.

No extra hype needed

Surprise 7-6 teams with shaky depth don’t need extra hype. If he could, your head football coach would issue a fan base and media wide gag order on this 2013 team until the actual games. No news is wonderful news in Hoover. Take it from someone who’ll be slogging through all that non-news.

— (July 9, 2013, Page 7)

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