Something that I thought I would never get to tell you is the best news that possibly can come from the Southeastern Conference.
As someone who would have given my eye teeth (and more) to see my children to be able to attend Vanderbilt University, I have always wondered why the Nashville school has been unable to attract top football prospects.
The late Jack Green was a Shelbyville High star who captained one of those great West Point teams before being hired as Vanderbilt’s coach. I asked Jack and several other Vandy coaches why they couldn’t find enough top prospects (and their parents) who would appreciate how valuable a Vanderbilt education would be.
“It actually hurts our recruiting,” said Green. Several other Vandy head coaches have told me the same thing.
I am happy to tell you that times are changing. New coach James Franklin led the Commodores to a winning season and a bowl last fall. He has been able to sign consecutive top-30 classes.
The Dores return nine offensive starters, including quarterback Jordan Rodgers, and eight on defense.
Chances are that you have never been in a cattle stampede – unless you are a football coach, writer or broadcaster in the Southeastern Conference.
That means that you would have been in suburban Birmingham, Ala., to attend the annual preseason football SEC Media Days.
Once upon a time, writers would just drop in on coaches while they were trying to conduct preseason practices. The coaches got tired of that, so the Skywriters were born. Most of SEC writers who covered football would charter a plane and everyone would descend on the coaches, who didn’t like that arrangement either.
So the mighty SEC changed the entire preseason madness. Two or three days would be set aside and all of the head coaches would be assigned a day and time to be in Birmingham. The coaches didn’t have to say the same thing 12 times, but could tell fibs to all the media at one time.
The Bear and Shug
Across from the host hotel and SEC headquarters was the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Out front was a monument to Alabama’s Bear Bryant and Auburn’s Shug Jordan, with a football player on a knee between the coaches. I asked one of my Alabama friends if the player was neutral. He said, “You’d better believe it!”
In recent years SEC Days have become so bloated that they were changed to a more spacious quarters in nearby Hoover, Ala.
It may have to be moved to an even bigger site. Last week there were 1,115 credentials issued to the media!
As the media and coaches walk toward the meeting site, they have to go past a Tower of Babel of radio and TV broadcasters. Anyone with a pulse can find someone who wants to interview him.
Not the biggest
As you know, the 14-team SEC is bigger this year with the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri. Not bigger than ever, if you can believe this: When the conference was formed in 1932 Georgia Tech, Tulane and University of the South (Sewanee) were among 15 members.
Changing SEC times
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive informed the SEC gathering that the conference is no longer behind in integration. When he became commissioner 20 years ago there were no, as in zero, minority head football coaches.
He said that today there are three minority head football coaches, five minority head coaches in men’s basketball and five in women’s basketball.
New C-J Columnist
I cant tell you how many times I have been asked: “Do you know Tim Sullivan (the new Courier-Journal sports columnist)? And is he any good?”
No. 1: I don’t know him that well. No. 2: I don’t know.
But this is what I do know: When Dave Kindred says good things about him, you can take it to the bank.
Said Sullivan: “The opportunity to work at a place with the tradition and journalism standards of The Courier-Journal is remarkably appealing.”
Uh, Tim: We have to talk.