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VOL. 129 | NO. 138 | Thursday, July 17, 2014

SEC Media Days Notebook: July 16

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HOOVER, Ala. – Although the first games involving Southeastern Conference football teams are not until Aug. 28, the league’s full-on blitz in promoting the new SEC Network has been going on for a while now.

Wednesday, July 16, at SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham, Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president College Networks, took his turn at the podium. He came with video clips, of course, a schedule of the new network’s programming, and a list of awards won by the new network’s production crew and on-air talent.

The SEC Network debuts at 5 p.m., Aug. 14, or less than a month from now. But Connolly, given that major providers such as DirecTV and Comcast are not on board yet, chose to spin things the other way – plenty of time remains to build the roster of television providers.

“Four weeks is a long time in the distribution world,” he said. “Especially when a network of this scope is launching.”

Connolly said fans have been supportive too.

“Our push for distribution continues … The outpouring of support from fans on social media and calls to their providers has most certainly helped,” he said. “Again, fans can let their television providers know that they want the SEC Network. Call them directly, tweet them (@SECNetwork), go to getSECnetwork.com.”

At least one fan, LSU coach Les Miles, was happy that Cox Cable signed on.

“Now I don’t have to change my cable provider,” Miles said.


Speaking of Les Miles, the coach opened up his talk to media with a detailed report of his family’s vacation and his children’s sporting exploits.

First, the so-called vacation in Austin, Texas: “It was miserable. I hated it. But it was great fun. I mean, it was not a beach, it was not sand, but it was my family, and that was the best.”

Son Manny, who plays baseball and football, got caught up in a four-hour pick-up soccer game. Daughter Macy, Miles said, is competing in a fast-pitch softball World Series in Orlando, Fla.

“She’s in a 10-and-under league. She had a 4-0 win as a pitcher, no-hit,” Miles said. “A very quality Smasher’s club she faced this morning.”

Kinda cute, isn’t it – football coachspeak applied to a little girls’ softball game.

As for football topics: LSU has expanded Tigers Stadium to hold 102,000-plus. Imagine that on a Saturday night with a “quality club” in the house.

“If you thought we were loud before, we just go louder,” Miles said.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, ran through three different scenarios for determining the match-ups in the new four-team playoff. In each scenario, there were two SEC teams among the four.

That’s called playing to your base.

“The format is very simple,” Hancock said before delving into details that were not quite as simple. “It’s symmetrical. It’s really beautiful. It’s a four-team bracket. We all love our brackets.”

Also worth noting: the conferences will manage the event; the NCAA manages the other championships. The playoff selection committee is comprised of former players, coaches, administrators, sitting athletic directors, a former USA Today sports writer and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is now a professor at Stanford.

“We have an All-Star team of 13 people of high integrity who know the game, who love the game, and are ready to commit the time necessary to do the job,” Hancock said.

Arkansas was the last team on Wednesday’s media days schedule. Second-year coach Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks finished 3-9, 0-8 in the SEC, last season.

But rest assured, there is a process in place for teaching the Razorbacks to do better – a new way of thinking, talking, acting.

“Hoganese,” Bielema said.

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