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July 13, 2014
SEC Media Days Storylines
Southeastern Conference Media Days gets underway Monday in Hoover, Ala., with helping kickoff the event in the afternoon of day one. Before the questions - and complementary Golden Flake chips - start flying, ITG scans over the topics sure to be most popular during the four-day event.
Hot seat buzz: Conference rooms at the Wynfrey Hotel can occasionally double as safe havens for vultures when it's clear a coach could be working to save his job in the upcoming season. Will Muschamp owns the league's most prominent hot seat, and he'll be reminded of it constantly … in several different forms in a handful of rooms. It's nothing he hasn't answered before but it's still not a lot of fun to deal with. If nothing else, we'll see how many ways Muschamp can brush off a question.
Roper research: Kurt Roper will not be at SEC Media Days, but he might as well jump on the flight to help sort out all the questions that will be asked about him. Whether it's fair or not, the general media consensus is that Muschamp's job safety at Florida relies heavily on how Florida's new offensive coordinator fares in his first season on the job. Expect extensive questions about every aspect of the style of offense the Gators are transitioning to. Expect some questions about "handcuffs" and how freely Muschamp will allow an up-tempo offense to be run. Side note: Also expect Muschamp to at some point hold up his hands and remind everyone he hasn't called a single offensive play at UF.
Driskel's comeback: Florida's junior quarterback should be a lock as one of the three players to travel to Hoover. Coming off a season he believed was going to be promising that ended with a broken leg in his third outing, Driskel is a ready-to-go story to write for national and local scribes alike. He'll also be the player in Hoover most qualified to discuss Roper's offense, meaning he'll get loads of technical questions about the up-tempo and spread capabilities of the new system. This will be Driskel's second trip to the media madhouse.
The A-word: There was no topic more heavily discussed at SEC Spring Meetings than autonomy - the separation of the Big Five conferences from the rest of FBS when it comes to voting and legislation. The media contingent in Hoover is much greater than Destin, so plenty of questions remain. Reporters will not only want to know further specifics of the SEC's autonomy ideas; they'll want to know the progress of support heading into August and what each and every coach thinks about the plan.
Quarterback league no more: Two years ago, hardly anyone brought its quarterback to SEC Media Days. The SEC was owned by defense-oriented teams and giant linemen. But 2013 was something of a revolution in the conference, sparked by excellent quarterback play and wide-open offenses. The biggest stars of that brief era are already gone. What that means for the macro identity of the conference in 2014 remains to be seen.
SEC Network: The league's channel - launching Aug. 14 - got big news Wednesday when ESPN announced it had been picked up by Cox Communications, the third-largest cable provider in the U.S. and the primary provider for Gainesville. But plenty of other providers remain in question; among them: DirectTV, Bright House and Verizon Fios. Are there any new programming ideas or announcements to speak of? What's the latest on the circulation of the SEC Network? These are all questions that should be tackled by Mike Slive.