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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

July 15, 2014 at 3:15 PM

SEC football media days: Will they finish before the season starts?

Of course they will. If you begin something early enough, it’s got a chance to end on time.

We jest, of course. But, if memory serves, the SEC is setting two records this week: Earliest start time in history for a college-football media day, and longest-running one.

Vacations will start and end before SEC media days will run their course. Fine chardonnay will come of age. People will meet, romance and break up.

SEC media days now consumes four days, or almost as much time as it took them to hammer out the Geneva Accords.

But where else are you going to get information as was spilled out in this breathless tweet from the event at Hoover, Ala.? “The win over South Carolina was a critical win.” This just in from Butch Jones, the Tennessee coach.

That’s the kind of news that’s typically broken at these things. But no matter. It’s all about thumping the tub for the conference, and nobody orchestrates his better than Mike Slive, the veteran SEC commissioner. There are people in Alabama consumed with whether Nick Saban prefers jelly beans or Reese’s Pieces, and by God, Slive’s going to help them find out.

Slive’s SEC Network debuts Aug. 14, and according to Sports Business Daily, ESPN (which owns the network) hopes to charge $1.30 per subscriber per month in the states of the SEC footprint, far more than the Pac-12 Network commands.

The SEC, whose run of seven straight national titles ended only last season, is able to do things its own way. Amid howls from some coaches in the Pac-12, the SEC announced in the spring it was going to go its own direction — stick with eight conference games per team, when the trend is nine.

So it’s not a surprise the league has birthed the most bulging media-day event in the nation, and if you can stretch it to four days, are we really very far from a media week?

Ah, Slive might say, it’s still less than half as long as the old Skywriters.

And he might have a point. Slive once worked in the old Pac-8 Conference, which, like most leagues, used to stage an extravaganza in which the league’s media flew from campus to campus and dispatched reports on the progress of fall camps. They’d lunch with players, have dinner among coaches and try to squeeze in a few hours’ sleep against whatever wayward course the evening took them.

Obviously, that took awhile — 10 days when the league added the Arizona schools in 1978. In defense of the format (and there’s a lot of things about it that can’t be defended), at least it came late in August, and there were actual practice developments to document.

Matter of fact, I think this might be about the 25th anniversary of the end of the Skywriters. I’m guessing that has nothing to do with the fact that next week, when the Pac-12 media convene in Los Angeles, for the first time it will be a two-day event, which feels about right.

One day makes it harried. Four days equals hubris. But it’s the SEC.

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