It was a fairly uneventful day for round one of SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama. Not only for the SEC coaches, players, and media in attendance at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey Hotel (and yes, that’s seriously the exact, ridiculous name of the hotel that this thing is held at every year), but also for the RTI crew as we made our way from Knoxville to Birmingham on Monday.
Here’s a brief look at day one, including a jack-knifed trucks, people vacationing in Alabama, and time travel.
6:30 – Rise and shine. I probably should have already been packed by now, but a long day of fishing on Sunday wiped me out. After slamming some t-shirts and jeans into a duffel bag – because classy – downing a cup of coffee, and I text Reed to see if he’s going to be on time to pick me up at 7:45. Reed says that he should arrive at my house by 8:00 because he forgot his clothes.
8:15 – A jack-knifed truck has apparently delayed Reed even further. Little does he know that I built thirty minutes into our schedule to allow for such issues. My intelligence and foresight is unmatched within the ranks at RTI.
8:20 – Reed arrives and we head to Alcoa to pick up the broadcasting gear for RTI Radio. I probably should have had this packed up and ready to go already, but a long day of fishing on Sunday wiped me out.
9:00 – We arrive at Daniel’s house where we are immediately greeted by a small, kind dog – most likely a Yorkie. The dog is collar-less and has clearly been outside all morning. After asking a few of the neighbors if they recognize the animal we have learned nothing, but have attracted a crowd of concerned dog-lovers. Daniel’s neighbor discovers that the beast has been micro-chipped and offers to keep her until proper arrangements can be made. We are all thrilled to know that this creature’s life will be spared on this day. Also, PSA: please make sure your dog has a collar with tags if you are going to let it roam free.
9:18 – On the road to Hoover. But not before a stop at Chick-fil-A for chicken biscuits and coffee. What can I say, we are grown-ups who enjoy the finer things in life.
11:02 – We are rolling through Chattanooga having already discussed most things Vol related: Butch Jones’ mentality heading into year three, the importance of Joshua Dobbs to the success of the 2015 team, our offensive line combos that we’d like to see in fall camp…you know, the usual. We all agree that the season will end with the Vols having somewhere between 6 and 15 wins, but we also agree that we’ll need to see them in fall camp before we are willing to put any solid predictions on the table.
11:26 – We stop at a Pilot (because Vols) in Rising Fawn, Georgia. I don’t know much about Rising Fawn, but I am almost certain that the only thing in Rising Fawn is this particular Pilot. They have a Subway attached (for fine dining), and sell athletic apparel for UGA, Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee that is hung on their walls. They also have an extensive selection of shot-glasses and alligator heads. The shot-glasses I understand, but the gator heads are an anomaly. Daniel informs me that Rising Fawn is (very nearly) the geographical midpoint between Knoxville and Birmingham. This still doesn’t explain the alligator heads and is knowledge that I will never need to know for as long as I live, but I’m glad that Daniel has shared it with me on this day.
11:35 – We arrive at the Alabama state line to find that tourists have pulled their Prius to the side of the road in order to take pictures in the front of the “Welcome to Beautiful Alabama” sign – which is an absolute lie. The three of us pray for these poor souls, who we assume are documenting on film the last time the four of them will be seen alive and happy before crossing into “The Heart of Dixie.”
11:27 – No, we didn’t travel back in time, but we did cross into the Central Time Zone back when we entered into the “Cotton State.” We are now encountering some road work, which might lead you to believe that we’d be upset, but no. The truth is that Alabama has needed to improve their roads for a very long time, so this minor obstruction to our progress is viewed as a major step in the right direction for the state.
12:00 – Daniel convinces us to stop at Whataburger for lunch. This is my first time eating at this establishment, and I come away exactly as whelmed as I thought I’d be. Decent burger, but nothing to write home about. Wait…I’m writing home about it, aren’t I?
12:45 – We arrive at SEC Media Days and take our seats just in time to watch Gus Malzahn take the stage and lob some hate bombs towards Michigan, the Big 10, satellite camps, and Alabama. Malzahn seems very confident in his 2015 Auburn Tigers, which clearly means that they will have a great season….Ok, it doesn’t mean that at all, but it would certainly seem to indicate that the Gus Bus feels pretty good about what he’s bringing to the gridiron this season. Alabama fans weep.
2:15 – Just before Reed and I head downstairs for RTI Radio – and moments before Jim McElwain is set to take the stage at SEC Media Days – images of McElwain surface on Twitter that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
WHAT IS THIS?!?!?!
The above sentence should be read in the same tone as the question in this vine:
In case you didn't know this is the original 😂 (Vine by WHAT ARE THOSE!) https://t.co/ouQxxx0IOv
— Akash Malhotra (@OneAndOnlyAkash) July 8, 2015
Part of this man’s (McElwain’s, not the officer’s) job is to be a visible ambassador for the University of Florida – a school in a state that is CALLED “THE SUNSHINE STATE.” That seems like a fair warning if I’ve ever heard one.
How does this happen? More importantly, who wore it better? JimJim or KimKim?
3:00 – 5:00 – Reed and I do radio while Daniel sits through 45 minutes of Derek Mason telling everyone about how much better Vanderbilt will be in 2015. No, really, that’s what Mason said. Reed and I are thankful that we don’t have to sit through such nonsense.
Instead, we get to watch Auburn and Florida fans circle the lobby like sharks in hopes of snagging an autograph from a player that they won’t recognize without his uniform on. Jorts and mullets abound…Reed and myself are the real winners on this day.
5:30 – Daniel joins us and we swing by the SEC reception with Richard Daugherty and Russell Smith of The Drive on WNFZ. Crab cakes (that’s what they fed us) and football, that’s what the SEC does. It is at this point in the night that Jon Reed (of 4 Quarters Radio in Knoxville) was caught mixing water and Mountain Dew with white wine to “…make it taste better.” I sample the concoction and immediately regret my decision to do so.
7:15 – We leave the madness that is the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey Hotel and head to our lodging for the week – a private home in Vestavia Hills that will allow us to recharge and regroup before tomorrow’s chaos.
A solid first day, I suppose. Hopefully tomorrow will bring us a little but more excitement, and maybe some stories that are truly worth telling. Steve Spurrier, Kevin Sumlin, Dan Mullen and Butch Jones are at the podium on Tuesday, so it should be an eventful day for Vol fans.