July 4th is over. The last holiday before that endless stretch of heat, five-day work weeks, and the most absurd of the off-season droning. The last luxury rest stop on the drive from Houston to El Paso before you hit the empty reaches of I10 that will drive you slowly insane at 85 mph with their monotonous and fierce beauty.
So how do we begin? With SEC Media Days, the most rigidly structured circus on earth. A week-long event created solely for the glorification of the #INDUSTRY, with each team’s coaches and a few star players speaking in a nominal sideshow. College football reporter Twitter next week is one long parade of back-slapping, hobnobbing, and general vapidity. Out of the literal thousands of interesting questions that could potentially be asked, hardly any ever are. You won’t hear this many “talk about”s again until your next group therapy session.
Anyway, here is the complete schedule for next week. Times are subject to change, and the actual players attending have not been announced (though smart money might be on Christian Kirk and Armani Watts as two of the Aggies), but Kevin Sumlin is speaking on the third day along with Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, Missouri’s Barry Odom, and Nick Saban. Sharing the dais with Nick could be a blessing in disguise: half the room might be frantically hammering out copy on their laptops about how a second-string cornerback disappointed him in practice in May and therefore they might only win 12 games this year. Or perhaps the other half of the room (the 170 reporters from Touchdown Alabama Magazine) will all be at the bank of payphones in the hotel lobby frantically filing their pieces before deadline. Because how the hell do magazines still exist?
It’s a scene. It’s pointless, extravagant, must-see TV, and there’s nothing like it anywhere else in sports. You will keep track of it even if you hate it, or perhaps because you do. It’s all the most preposterous aspects of college football on prominent display, with none of the compelling action. It’s the SEC off-season boiled down into a four-day concentrate and you will drink the Kool-Aid and like it. Bottoms up.