Hooray, it’s finally here! Well, sorta.
Today marks the de facto beginning of the 2014 college football season with the kickoff of SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.
OK, so it’s not exactly the beginning of two-a-days or even an official team one-mile run, but it’s a start.
It’s hundreds of college media members (there are 1,100 credentialed media this year) cramming into press conference rooms to listen to all 14 SEC head coaches and many player representatives, and their every word. And you can watch it all too on ESPN and its family of networks. Some of the many topics to be covered include:
The SEC lost some incredible star power from 2013, including Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron, among others. Surely top tailbacks like Todd Gurley, Mike Davis and TJ Yeldon fit the bill, but who’s the next great quarterback? (psst – he plays in Starkville and his name is Dak Prescott).
The Streak is Over
For the first time in seven years, the SEC is not the reigning champ of college football. But the new College Football Playoff is making its debut and surely the talk will be about which teams have the best chance to qualify. (Bama, for sure. Auburn? Surely they can’t have the same luck as last year. Look for Georgia to be another candidate).
The argument from Nick Saban and Bret Bielema to abolish hurry-up offenses (or at least slow them down) is not going to go away. Is it really a safety issue? Maybe for your job, Bret. Man up and play some defense. Maybe hire a good strength and conditioning coach.
The Return of SEC D?
With so many new QBs in the league this season, surely SEC defenses will have the advantage once again on the gridiron. Not so fast. The SEC has some of the best offensive minds in the country and new QB stars will emerge. SEC defenses are still darn good. But the offensive numbers will continue.
The new SEC Network makes its debut in just over a month, complete with live football games every week. Tune in to ESPN this week for a taste of Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy and Paul Finebaum and what the coverage will be like on the new network.
Is Realignment Over?
Commissioner Mike Slive will certainly be asked about possible future expansion. One gets the feeling that it’s not over yet. Who are the best candidates to one day join the SEC and become a 16-team super conference? That debate will continue, but don’t expect any more expansion for at least a couple of years.
Don’t Miss These Coaches
All SEC coaches are not created equal, especially when it comes to one-liners. Day one on Monday is rather a yawner, but Tuesday heats up when Steve Spurrier leads off at 9 am, followed by the underrated and humorous Dan Mullen. Wednesday’s highlight is clearly Les Miles at 1 pm, and Nick Saban usually has at least one hot-sports opinion (he speaks on Thursday at Noon).
Who’s Going to Surprise?
Last season it was Mizzou and Auburn. This season, it anyone’s guess with so much turnover at quarterback and (what looks like) a wide-open Eastern Division. Look for Florida to bounce back from a lackluster 2013 and Mississippi State to turn some heads as well.
Baseball’s All-Star Break is here. It’s hot outside and many are taking their summer vacations this week. But make no mistake – the 2014 College Football season starts today.
Kinda sorta. But who’s arguing?