- Students use alternative art materials for one-night-only exhibition June 18
- Digital Media wins national prize for TEDxBirmingham video
- Trip to New York brings national attention to Birmingham renaissance
- Clothes that work for new grads hitting the market
- Hagel emphasizes leadership to Naval Academy graduates
- Birmingham Chosen To Host 2015 C-USA Basketball Championships
- On The Money: How new graduates can take on the job market
- Canvas unrolled for new school year
- Tornadoes Leave Trail of Devastation (Photos)
- Campus closes early Tuesday due to severe thunderstorm
- Alabama does a double take: ‘Urinetown: the Musical’ hits home twice
- A+ Performance by Legend
- UAB Women’s Softball defeat Charlotte 49ers (8-0)
- A Fun and Fluffy Study Break In Lister Hill
- UAB Earth Month Festival
SEC, not NCAA, rules college athletics
If there were ever a question as to which entity reigns over college football _ on and off the field _ it was pretty much settled earlier this week at SEC Media Days in central Alabama.
That’s where Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive stood up at his state-of-the-league address and openly challenged the NCAA’s role in today’s college football world.
Slive compared the archaic, plodding NCAA to “Gutenberg’s printing press” in today’s instantaneous Internet world of tweeting and texting. He then said the NCAA needs innovative outside-the-box leadership to “slash through our Gordian knot” of antiquated thinking.
A short time later, Steve Spurrier _ the dean of conference coaches _ took the podium and said that the 14 league football coaches unanimously agree that it’s time for the SEC to start paying football and basketball players, giving them a little extra spending cash to enhance their college experience. And not only that, Spurrier said, but SEC coaches also voted 14-0 that if Notre Dame wants to be part of the new playoff system then let the Fighting Irish join a conference like everybody else.
“Notre Dame should join the ACC and play football like all the rest of us,” Spurrier said. “It’s sort of hard to figure out why they have their own conference.”
The message emanating from the palatial hotel ballrooms in Hoover, Ala., was clear: It’s the SEC’s world and the rest of college athletics is just living in it. This dictatorial directive was dispatched by several hundred writers and broadcasters who swarmed SEC Media Days like a flock of vultures to pick clean every morsel of meat from the carcass of college football’s version of Super Bowl Media Day.
“The only thing missing is a dude wearing a wedding dress or else it would be Super Bowl Media Day,” cracked ESPN college football insider Brett McMurphy.
For three days, ESPN’s College Football Live broadcasted live from the lobby outside the sprawling ballrooms where a record 1,200 media members interviewed SEC players and coaches. Down a set of escalators, Radio Row swelled to the point where it bled into the adjoining mall connected to the Hyatt Regency hotel. Coming soon: Radio booths will stretch all the way into the mall food court where Paul Finebaum will do his show from the awning underneath Cinnabon.
“The SEC has raised the bar to such a point where other conferences are trying to figure out how they can catch up,” says former Colorado, Washington and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, now a commentator for Sirius XM Radio. “The SEC leadership has been brilliant. The leaders of this conference have had the ability to look into the future and see where college football should go. The numbers don’t lie.”
Neuheisel, a West Coast guy, is absolutely right about this southern ingenuity. By every mathematical measure possible, the SEC dominates college football:
The league won an unprecedented seventh straight national championship last year and finished the regular season with six teams ranked in the top 10 _ a feat never before accomplished.
The league set a record with 63 NFL draft picks _ more than double the number from any other conference.
The SEC has finished No. 1 in the nation in total attendance for 14 straight years. Of the top 10 programs that draw the most fans, half are from the SEC.
In the Forbes magazine list of the “most valuable” college football programs, six of the top 10 are from the SEC.
Translation: The SEC has the most money, the most fans, the most talented players and the most passion. Here’s all you need to know about the SEC: Bret Bielema left a top-tier coaching job in the Big Ten at Wisconsin to take a middle-of-the-road job at Arkansas in the SEC. Why? Because Arkansas was willing to pay him more money than Wisconsin.
“One of the major differences … is the national exposure you have in recruiting,” Bielema said when comparing the Big Ten to the SEC. “We signed a quarterback (Damon Mitchell) out of Egg Harbor, N.J., that we tried to recruit at the previous institution I was at. He reached out to us once I (took the Arkansas job) because he wanted to play in the SEC. He decommitted from another school (Georgia Tech) and became a part of what we did. That was all because of the SEC on our shirt.”
And so the rest of college football continues to plod and plug along using its Gutenberg printing press.
Meanwhile, in a galaxy light years ahead, the SEC just Instagrammed a photograph of yet another national championship trophy with the accompanying tweet:
“Catch us if you can.”