More than 900 members of the media and coaches and players from each member institution converge on Hoover, Ala., this week for Southeastern Conference Media Days. Football is back, people. Here are some topics that are likely to be at the forefront during interviews Wednesday through Friday. Check back each day as I'll be bringing you daily updates from Hoover.
Scholarship increases — More and more, people are accepting the fact that college football is a business. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had an interesting proposal at the spring meetings and commissioner Mike Slive is on record in support of “paying for an athlete’s full cost of attendance, which over and above tuition, room and board, books and university fees would also pay for reasonable personal expenses as well as travel expenses when an athlete returns home to see family.” There are many hurdles to be crossed before that’s a possibility, expect a lot of discussion on this.
The Auburn NCAA Investigation — The New York Times reported last week that Auburn coach Gene Chizik had a heated interchange at the spring meetings with the NCAA vice president for enforcement. Chizik reportedly wanted to know why the NCAA hadn’t announced that the investigation was over. He was informed the investigation is ongoing. The feeling is that the NCAA is stepping up its enforcement after a year filled with scandal. Since 1987, the year of the “Death Sentence” for Southern Methodist University, the SEC leads all conferences in major violations with 13.
Muschamp/Weis/Brantley — Florida representatives coach Will Muschamp, quarterback John Brantley, receiver Deonte Thompson and defensive end William Green are likely to face one of the larger frenzies of the three-day spectacle. With so much change in Gainesville, there will be questions abound. The public wants to know if Florida is back, if Brantley can step up in a pro-style offense and if Charlie Weis is ready for a return to the college ranks.
Media picks — If Media Days teaches you one thing it’s that the media is notoriously bad at picking a preseason winner. Only four times since 1992 have those behind the notepad and keyboard correctly projected the winner. Florida was the choice in three of those years (1994, 1995, 2008). There’s no clear-cut favorite this year and it will be interesting to see how many votes South Carolina and Arkansas receive compared to the more-popular selections of LSU and Alabama.
7-on-7’s and recruiting rules — Slive sent a letter to the NCAA last month proposing an array of new recruiting rules including forbidding college campuses from holding 7-on-7 tournaments. Expect recruiting and oversigning to be another hot topic this week.
Side note: I won't be able to attend Friday Night Lights as I'll be in Hoover, but I'll post an update on the blog from a good friend and fellow reporter, Bryan Holt. Check back, it should be a busy week.