The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 17, 2014

Posturing, predictions fly as SEC turns to a new season

LOUISVILLE — There’s plenty  to enjoy about the Southeastern Conference’s annual cattle call in Hoover, Alabama, where media of every description join players and coaches from each of the league’s 14 football teams to discuss the coming season. The best aspect is that it serves as the official kickoff of the new season. The long wait is over.

The strange thing about SEC media days is that while there’s plenty of talk about the who has the best team and which players will emerge as stars, four intense days of discussions don't produce a lot of breaking news. Much of the bantering is forgotten by the time reporters put their suitcases in the trunks of their cars and head home.

The routine is similar, if not exactly the same, when other conferences step up to showcase their 2014 seasons and key games scheduled for the weeks and months ahead.

There were a few new developments and plenty of light moments during SEC media days this week.

Commissioner Mike Slive, the guy with the biggest stick when it comes to college football, repeated his threat, make that his promise, that the country’s power conferences will break from the NCAA if they aren’t guaranteed more autonomy. Without a “positive outcome,” expect big changes, he told reporters in his opening remarks.

At its annual summer meeting next month, the NCAA will address reorganization and unveil plans that it hopes will douse talk of separation. Liberalizing expenditures associated with athletic scholarships – and addressing a student athlete's true cost of spending a year on campus -- is a minimum starting place for the likes of the SEC. What remains to be seen is what the NCAA's plans may include or how receptive smaller, mid-major programs will be to approving a program they can’t afford.

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