Tense spring meetings slate Media Days to be filled with drama as usual
by Joe Medley, Star sports columnist
Jul 17, 2011 | 2982 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SEC Media Days sure have had their moments. Who can forget Phillip Fulmer getting served or Nick Saban going all “pimps” on agents?

How about the silly conspiracy over which coach dissed Tim Tebow on the All-SEC team — and Steve Spurrier’s admission that he let a lieutenant vote for him?

There’s always some offseason issue that causes drama at the SEC’s annual three-day hypefest, but this week’s renewal at Hoover’s Wynfrey Hotel follows a particularly chippy offseason.

All 12 coaches will have their chance to tee off on Commissioner Mike Slive and the league’s presidents who voted in the 25-signee limit during the SEC’s spring meetings in Destin.

Coaches spoke out against Roster Management Palooza 2011. League management overruled its 12 high-paid quote machines, and now coaches get their annual podium calls before 1,000ish media memebers.

It should make Saban’s appearance on Friday quite interesting. He was the most quoted opposition coach and blamed media for drumbeating the league’s presidents into action on roster management.

Alabama’s fifth-year coach usually ends his Media Days appearances with his thanking-of-the-media speech. He lauds the room for all it does to create “positive self gratification” for the league’s players.

Can he thank the media, now that he blames it for taking opportunities away from potential players? Or will he thank the media after blaming it again?

Just as interesting will be how Gene Chizik, coach of the defending national champions, handles Reject Auburn Palooza 2011. It’s a hot trend.

June 28 saw a majority of SEC athletics directors reject former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in voting for the league’s male athlete of the year, making him the first Heisman Trophy winner so rejected in the award’s 35-year history. They chose a tennis player from Tennessee over the guy who produced one of the greatest seasons in college football history.

Just this past week, Auburn got shut out in ESPN’s annual ESPYs, going 0-for-5 in categories for which the school was nominated.

Tying all of this rejection together, the New York Times revealed this past week that Chizik pressed NCAA vice president for enforcement Julie Roe Lach for closure on the probe into Newton’s recruitment. Stood up during the SEC’s spring meetings, did Chizik, and in front of the league’s football and basketball coaches and athletics directors.

Chizik pressed, and Lach flexed. She told him the NCAA will let him know when the probe is over — and it’s not over.

How did the Times reveal this embarrassing moment for one of the SEC’s coaches? SEC basketball coaches went on record, prompting rebuke from the league office.

“The comments that take place in the meetings should stay in the meetings,” SEC executive associate commissioner Mark Womack told the Birmingham News. “We want an open exchange of ideas, thoughts, suggestions to improve every process, but the content of any discussion should stay within the meeting rooms.”

Did we say it’s been a chippy offseason within the league that has produced the past five BCS champions?

Might Slive issue a make-nice order this week, like he did when ex-Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin was going mouth-of-the-South on his colleagues?

Since home-spun, one-and-done Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell is no longer around to make everyone laugh, let’s hope Slive lets it flow. SEC Media Days is more fun that way.

Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or jmedley@annistonstar.com. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.

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