It's Only SEC (but I like it....)


friday, 12th july 2024

With the end of baseball season concluded with the Tennessee Vols winning the College World Series (Go Vols!), July 1 officially marks the start of the new collegiate sports season. Yes, folks, SEC Football is back on the agenda, and it is now officially Talking’ Season!

From now until the last weekend in August we all get to talk about what “we” think is going to happen with our teams in the coming season. 

Of course the 2024/25 SEC football season is always eagerly anticipated but especially this year with conference expansion and the expansion of the College Football Playoff to 12 teams. What a season this is going to be!

While Talkin’ Season has started, it is fair to say that much of what the media and fans will be debating over the coming months will come from the teams themselves. And to kick start the tittle tattle, conferences hold media days to allow discussions with head coaches and players to get up to the minute updates on progress towards being season ready.

SEC Media days are just like the Conference itself – big and intense. But in case you aren’t familiar with what happens over the week of media days I thought I would give you a guide to what to expect during that middle week in July!

sec media days - a guide

what are media days?

Photo Credit: SEC Media

Media days are held across college football, allowing the media access to the teams in their conference. This coming together allows the media to preview the season ahead.

Media days are the beginning of “talkin’ season’ which leads us all the way until the start of the new college football season on August 24.

Rankings, predictions, speculation, even hot seats will be debated from here until August and a large part of this will be fuelled by the chatter which comes out of media days.

how do media days work?

Photo Credit: SEC Network/ Yahoo Sports

Southeastern Conference media days are held over four days from August 15th until 18th. When media days were born, the media visited each school campus to meet with the teams. However, with growing conferences, this meant that media scrums could be on the road for significant periods of time, which clearly wasn’t an efficient use of everyone’s time. 

When the decision was made to hold a central meeting, SEC media days were held in Birmingham, Alabama which is home to SEC Headquarters. However, it hasn’t been until recent years that Media days have started to revolve around the Conference landscape. 

This year, the event will be held in Dallas, specifically because of the new members of the SEC—Texas and Oklahoma. The rivalry game, The Red River Showdown, between these two great games is held annually at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, which is roughly equidistant between each school’s campuses. This made Dallas a unique location for this year’s event, and it will be only the fourth time that SEC media days has been held outside of Alabama.

And a little bit of history for y’all. In 1985, 100 media members attended that first event in Birmingham. Today, only the CFB National Championship game attracts more media interest in all of college football. While this years event is certain to have a larger media attendance, last year 1,300 members of the media were on site in Nashville to speak with the SEC teams.

who appears and when?

Photo Credit: SEC Network

The structure of SEC media days is complex and large, and they run like clockwork. 

A team’s timetable is set out precisely over the course of the day that they are on site, allowing the head coach and players to navigate from area to area efficiently and on time.

The event is divided into different areas according to the media type. The main room is for general media, with an electronic media room for web, audio, and podcast media members. There is a large radio row where interviews are conducted on an almost production-line basis. The SEC Network is set up in various parts of the venue. SEC Nation is based in the main hall along with the Finebaum show, while Marty and McGee have their own purpose-built set.

This means that head coaches and players have a precise time to be at a set location and specific amount of time at each media outlet to speak. This is set out in a matrix which allows anyone to see where, say, Brian Kelly is at anyone time. It is a well-oiled machine.

The schedule is now set with head coaches confirmed for each of the following days

Monday, July 15

LSU — Brian Kelly 
Ole Miss — Lane Kiffin 
South Carolina — Shane Beamer 
Vanderbilt — Clark Lea 

Tuesday, July 16 

Georgia — Kirby Smart 
Missouri — Eliah Drinkwitz 
Oklahoma — Brent Venables 
Tennessee — Josh Heupel 

Wednesday, July 17 

Alabama — Kalen DeBoer 
Florida — Billy Napier 
Mississippi State — Jeff Lebby 
Texas — Steve Sarkisian

Thursday, July 18 

Arkansas — Sam Pittman 
Auburn — Hugh Freeze 
Kentucky — Mark Stoops 
Texas A&M — Mike Elko 

key storylines to follow

Image Credit: Next Impulse Sports
new kids on the block

There is a lot of change in the SEC this season but there is no bigger story than Texas and Oklahoma joining the conference. But how will they cope in their debut season? Can they win or will they sink? Texas seems well placed with many people having Oklahoma as their dark horses. This is also the first modern era year where the SEC schedule will not be split into an East or West division.

No nick saban

This time last year Nick Saban was the patriarchal figure in the conference. Alabama were SEC Champions and all seemed well in Tuscaloosa. However in a very short timeframe post the National Championship game, Saban announced his retirement from the game which rocked the college football world.

Since then Washington head coach, Kalen DeBoer was enticed to give up life on the North West coast to move way across country to the South East and to Tuscaloosa. DeBoer comes with a winning pedigree and so the big question is whether DeBoer can continue his success in the SEC?

Coaches already on the hot seat

It may seem ridiculous to suggest that head coaches are on the hot seat even before a ball is thrown in anger, but pressure is never far away in the SEC.

While Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman may be amongst the most popular of coaches in the conference, the Razorback’s decline in the last two seasons has tested the patience of Arkansas fans. While Arkansas has not been blessed with the easiest of schedules in years gone by, Pittman is sitting on an uncomfortably warm seat right now.

Similarly over in Gainesville, Billy Napier’s honeymoon is over. If, in fact, there ever was a grace period at Florida. The Gator’s recruiting has been patchy, and performances on the field are much poorer than expected from Napier, who came with a respected pedigree. Gator fans and boosters aren’t blessed with the longest patience in the world, and this feels like a prove-it season for Napier.

how to keep up with all that's going on

Photo credit:George Somerville

In 2019, the SEC Network began live wall-to-wall coverage. If you have access to the SEC Network, you can watch the full day live along with scheduled shows such as SEC This Morning, SEC Nation, and the Paul Finebaum show.

Alternatively, given the 1300+ media members on-site, established media outlets such as CBS & ESPN and many others will have content available via their websites.

Of course, you are reading the Touchdown, and just like last year, it will be live in the room in Dallas. So please keep up-to-date via the Touchdown’s X and Instagram accounts and our new SEC-specific YouTube channel, “It’s Only SEC,” which you can find here.

We will post as much content as possible over the week in Dallas.

It is shaping up to be a truly amazing and fascinating week ahead. Buckle up, folks it’s going to be a wild ride!