What has become a grand spectacle for millions of college football fans across America who tune in on ESPN or watch on the internet is even more of an experience for those of us who the event us catered to: the media.
Outside of the hassle of parking and finding a seat in the “main room” (where coaches and players address the biggest group), there are few dull moments — except when Missouri’s Gary Pinkel speaks — as we all eagerly wait to see who is going to say or do something that will make history.
Of course, with a dynamic of 14 very different personalities representing their respective programs, the head coaches are most frequently the ones to make the sound bites. And due to his storied past at the mic and tendency to provide plenty of writing material, the informal title of king of Media Days has to go to one Steve O. Spurrier.
Although the visored-one has simmered down his volatility since his days at Florida, Spurrier never fails to delight the crowd, pick on his rivals or question the NCAA ruling body in some fashion.
Last year I had my own moment with Spurrier in the most peculiar of places — the restroom. As I was exiting, he was entering and there was a literal run-in. Being of similar heights, builds and weight, no one was worse for wear thankfully after the collision...but leave it to Spurrier to have the last word as he sized me up and remarked, “Well, at least you had your pants on.”
The players who are selected to accompany their head coaches to Media Days are usually much more guarded in what they say and do — provided their names are not Tim Tebow or Johnny Manziel.
That’s not to say they have their fun with the journalists on hand as well.
Last year, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews was answering questions from the media huddled around his table, but noticed one reporter in front of him was focused on his very loud and flashy red bow tie — talking more to the bow tie than looking into Matthews’ face while addressing him. Apparently, many of the other media personnel around the table noticed this as well and snickered as Matthews grabbed his bow tie and jerked it from side to side, mumbling to the reporter, “You’re getting very, very sleepy.”
Every year the event has gotten bigger, with some new event happening that changes the landscape of college football — and of course, the SEC is always happy to be first to weigh-in with opinions and insight. I expect this year will be just as ground-breaking with 2014 being the first season that the playoff system will directly decide a national championship. But for this sports writer, I’m just eager to see what kind of lifetime memories I’ll take with at the conclusion of this year’s extravaganza.
W. Brian Hale is the sports writer fot the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.