My Top 5 storylines this week at SEC Media Days

Price1The annual football “circus” at The Wynfrey Hotel in mid-July always brings its share of excitement for college football fans around the country.

Why? Well, for starters it means we’re finally talking college football again after a long (and still continuing) summer. The media list-making, “best of’s”, speculation and off-the-field news or non-news depending on which beat you’re lucky to cover is coming to a close. And of course the attention begins shifting to the upcoming season (unless you’re Florida State when there’s always off-field news breaking).

The 24-hour media “circus” otherwise known as SEC Football Media Days in Hoover signifies to unofficial start of the college football season, as team are still a couple of weeks away from beginning August practice.

We’re accustomed to the typical “coach speak” from college football’s deepest, most talented and the standard-bearing conference. Head coaches each take turns holding court and telling scribes how excited they are for the season, newcomers that can make a different, returning players who’ve worked hard to improve, favorable schedules and facility upgrades around campus that further enhance their respective programs.

With the traditional don’t-piss-anyone-off quotes we’ll get as most coaches try to avoid bulletin board material, here are my top 5 storylines and things I’m most excited to seeing and hearing this week at SEC Media Day:

1). Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and how he handles the Laremy Tunsil investigation

Everybody knows a late-June altercation between Laremy Tunsil and his stepfather wasn’t simply the best offensive tackle sticking up for his mother, as Freeze valiantly stated in the days afterwards. The NCAA is on the scene now and the timing couldn’t be worse for Freeze heading to Media Day with his merry bunch of Rebels expected to be in the conversation to challenge Alabama as every other SEC Western Division team will be. It’ll be interesting to see what tone Freeze strikes before more than 1,300 media members.

2). Steve Spurrier in his record 23rd appearance

There isn’t a coach that strolls thru the Wynfrey ballroom in Hoover and delivers more meat annually than Steven Orr Spurrier (Les Miles might be the only exception, which we’ll get to more below). Spurrier uses the media to indirectly talk to his and team and players as well as anyone, so which player might he pick on or praise Tuesday morning. The Head Ball Coach doesn’t shy away from brutal honesty as it relates to his Gamecocks competing or not for a division title.

3). Les Miles and his summer vacation stories

This one deals more with humor than actual football but Les Miles’ comedy hour Friday morning is a can’t-miss session. As quotable as the HBC, it starts with Miles giving an update on his family’s summer vacation and could then travel to stories about his kids soccer and softball games. It’s comical Miles feels the need to provide vacation updates but the unorthodoxy always excites me. You just never know what road “The Mad Hatter” is going to travel, but it’s always sure to fill a reporter’s notebook and become one of the most popular soundbyte on SportsCenter and the first-year SEC Network.

4). Will the Georgia Bulldogs be the runaway SEC East favorite by default

I know Georgia is the easy favorite and pick to win the East. But will the media simply pick the Dawgs because there’s no other obvious choice? Answer: Yes/ or course. Brice Ramsey didn’t exactly dust Faton Bauta when it came to running away with the starting QB job this spring. New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer luckily has four of five starters returning to block for the best running back in the conference and a bevy of talent behind Nick Chubb. Defensively they’ll much better in Jeremy Pruitt’s second year running the show. Tennessee is a team on the rise with an incredible amount of young talent and Spurrier loves to be counted out. Something tells me the East will be closer than anyone expects this season.

5). Greg Sankey’s first Media Days as new SEC Commissioner

Former SEC Commissioner Mike Slive was maybe the most powerful and influential men in college athletics before stepping down last month. Top deputy Greg Sankey takes over and will provide a different look, feel and texture leading the conference. I think it’s strange yet cool to see Greg Sankey pop up watching a late-night, 2015 spring U2 concert tour stop on Periscope. But that’s the youthful and fun nature of the SEC’s top dog. His first formal address to the league kicks things off on Monday at 12:30 pm (EST) and will give fans their first look and taste of the Greg Sankey show.

(Click here for the complete 2015 SEC Media Day schedule)

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