Football season is here.
No, really, it is. It starts Monday at Southeastern Conference football media days in Hoover, Alabama, as the world of college football directs its focus on its most football-rabid conference with a laser-like intent.
Here’s a few thoughts on some of the people, stories and happenings we can expect to hear about this week:
Star of stars
One of the brightest stars, certainly one of the most engaging, of the entire week will be LSU running back Derrius Guice.
Guice takes the stage Monday afternoon with teammates D.J. Chark and Christian LaCouture and coach Ed Orgeron, and is sure to draw huge media attention. The only question is whether he will rival the crush of reporters and cameras drawn to former LSU running back Leonard Fournette the past two years.
LSU will bring its star running back to Southeastern Conference media days for a third strai…
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If more than one TV cameraman trips and falls while walking backward trying to track Guice going from one media room gathering to the next, it will be because he is attracting a serious crowd.
Guice isn’t quite the level of Heisman Trophy candidate that Fournette was entering 2016, but he could potentially help his candidacy more. If Guice is glib and memorable Monday, basically gives good quotes, Heisman voters will file that away when filling out their ballots come December. It may sound shallow but it’s human nature — people like to vote for people they like.
The Coach O Show
Whether he likes it or not, Orgeron gets some added limelight this year as the only new coach in the SEC. New is the basis of a story line, and Orgeron will by default get his share of ink and airtime.
While it doesn’t matter all that much what Orgeron says here, it can matter to his image how he projects himself. Coming after the always nutty and unpredictable Les Miles, who was fond of filibustering his way through his media addresses in Hoover, it would behoove Orgeron to get the message across that he is the wiser and more stable version of himself 10 years removed from his stint as head coach at Ole Miss.
HOOVER, Ala. — A decade ago, Ed Orgeron stepped to the dais at Southeastern Conference media…
Roll (Tide) downhill?
SEC football fans from Baton Rouge to Auburn to Knoxville and beyond may be having a tough day at work or the kids are driving them crazy. Then they stop and think of that last-second winning touchdown pass by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson to beat Alabama in January’s CFP National Championship Game and, well, you’ve probably seen the smiles.
Perhaps you’ve worn one yourself.
The hole that Clemson punched in the Crimson Tide’s cloud of invulnerability, built up by four national championships under Nick Saban since 2009, was welcome relief for programs trampled underfoot by the Red Elephants’ seemingly annual rush to yet another championship.
But don’t get the idea that the sun is setting on the Alabama Empire. In May, Sporting News put together a composite preseason poll that had You Know Who ranked No. 1. Expecting anyone but the Tide to be the majority choice to win the SEC at media days this week would be beyond wishful thinking. The same thing holds for expecting to see Bama atop the preseason Associated Press and USA Today coaches’ polls.
Is the SEC still the best?
Pose that question in any SEC enclave and the answer is likely to be a reflexive and resounding, “Who else is there?”
Well, there’s the ACC for starters. Don’t laugh. Yes, the ACC, which has produced two of the past four national champions at the SEC’s expense. Florida State beat Auburn in the last BCS championship game after the 2013 season and Clemson edged Alabama last season.
While Bama won the 2015 title, the rest of the SEC hasn’t done any national championship heavy lifting since Auburn won the 2010 BCS championship. Last season, the next highest-ranked SEC team in the final AP poll after No. 2 Alabama was LSU at No. 13. Remember the end of the 2011 regular season when LSU, Alabama and Arkansas were ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3? Those planets don’t appear about to align this season.
It may or may not be a topic at SEC media days, but it would be a valid question: What have you done lately, SEC, that has been that gosh darned dominant?
Be ye media types or just one of those fans standing in the lobby downstairs waiting for someone to sign their team’s helmet — yes, you sir, the one disturbingly dressed as a Bear Bryant lookalike — we all hope to see something nutty and memorable at SEC media days.
Remember the year Saban’s dog got loose from his hotel room upstairs and tracked him down? Remember the year former Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer was served a subpoena trying to get out of his car? Or the year a subpoena-fearing Fulmer did his media duties by conference call?
Everyone in college sports these days is drilled by some media consultant in the art of straight laces and milquetoast, but the rest of us are craving a juicy comment or challenge thrown down at the feet of a rival school. The unscripted is always appreciated.
SEC media days preview: 5 burning questions, top players, quick takes for all 14 teams
In football mode yet? You can be certain that LSU and its SEC foes are already there, as they get set for next week's yearly kickoff event, Southeastern Conference media days, in Hoover, Alabama.
Each of the SEC's 14 teams is represented by three players and its coach for the four-day media extravaganza at the Wynfrey Hotel in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, beginning July 10.
Here are five burning questions, followed by a team-by-team breakdown of what you need to know: