In just seven days, over 1,200 media professionals, conference officials, players, coaches and fans will convene in a Birmingham, AL hotel for a four day interview extravaganza. Questions will be answered and outcomes predicted as we get prepped for what's sure to be another fascinating season inside the SEC.
As the dog days wear on and the countdown to the college football season continues, here are five things to be on the look out for during next week's SEC Media Days:
5. The state of football in Mississippi
The two major institutions of higher education in Mississippi enjoyed historic seasons on the football field this past season. Well, almost. The Ole Miss Rebels, riding the wave of improvement under Head Coach Hugh Freeze, jumped out the gates in 2014 to a 7-0 start with back-to-back October wins against Alabama and Texas A&M.
Of course though, that was menial compared to what the Dak Prescott-led Bulldogs accomplished with their 9-0 start that endured a three game stretch of victories over teams ranked in the top 10 at the time against LSU, A&M and Auburn.
While the middle part of the regular season brought jubilation to both fan bases and an unprecedented rise in the rankings, the season ended sour for each. MSU was unable to slow down the triple option of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, losing the Orange Bowl and a bid at a major bowl victory, and, well, TCU got angry and did mean things to the Rebs in the Georgia Dome. It'll be interesting to see how both schools bounce back and attempt to repeat some of the magic they experienced last year.
4. How many times the HBC is asked when he'll hang up the visor and call it quits
This is a question that has seemed to surround Spurrier and the Gamecocks at least the past five Media Days. And while the ball coach seems to give the same response every year, coming off a troublesome 2014 season only means more pressure to provide an adequate answer. I'll put the over/under at 3.5 for the amount of times he's asked when he'll think he's gonna retire.
3. Where's the trophy?
After a streak of seven straight seasons of national championships, the SEC has been left out of the celebration the past two years. And with the implementation of the College Football Playoff, gone are the days of computer bias and the BCS, which mean the chances of such a dominant streak have diminished greatly. That said, we're still the best conference in the land. Ohio State enters the season as the probable pick to repeat as champs, given they return most of the key players, including a stable of quarterbacks, that led them on the undefeated run last year. I don't think they'll be much talk of two SEC teams in the four team field, but we are sure to get at least one in there.
2. Nick Saban smiles
He never has, so we might as well continue the search for that historic first one. The Crimson Tide represented the conference in the inaugural CFP, but that wasn't enough to make the old man happy. The defense just wasn't dominant in the way it has been in year's past, so look for Saban to rely more on "the process" than he ever has before.
1. Conference Predictions
Often the most notable thing that occurs every year at this event, and any other conference/media gathering, is a vote on the final standings for the conference. It's a fun thing to do, given that not a single game has been played. Last year, the pundits predicted the South Carolina Gamecocks would win the East, and well, we all know how that turned out. That's why this year, I have us slotted to finish last, hopeful for some reverse psychology to play out. I like Vanderbilt in the East and Arkansas in the West.
Here's the link to the full schedule for the 2015 SEC Media Days