July 21, 2010 7:46:00 AM
David Miller -
There''s always something at the Southeastern Conference Media Days.
Whether it''s the aura of Tim Tebow -- and the awkward question about his virginity -- or former University of Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer getting served a subpoena in a libel suit, the event is an extravaganza of like no other.
Last year, more than 923 credentialed media attended the annual three-day gathering. More than 1,000 members of the media are expected to attend starting today, with Mississippi State, Alabama, Florida, and Kentucky due up.
And if the 1,000 projected media show up this year, it will mark a 100-percent increase since 2004.
Along with the hundreds of fans that flock outside the Wynfrey Hotel and in the lobby, the get together has turned into a grand event that helps everyone prepare for another season of SEC football.
The story lines are just grand, and this year is no different.
Several schools enter media days seemingly under the radar of any possible rules violations or player discipline issues, while some coaches will receive a bulk of violation-related questions.
Florida coach Urban Meyer is sure to be questioned about the loss of Tebow and how his offense will change without a player who has been college football''s most polarizing figure the past four years.
Then, there''s the NCAA investigation surrounding former Gator Maurkice Pouncey''s alleged involvement with an agent before the Sugar Bowl in January. According to ESPN, Pouncey received $100,000 payment from a representative of an agent.
The investigation is ongoing, and if the NCAA finds Pouncey guilty of improprieties the Gators, could have to vacate their Sugar Bowl win against Cincinnati.
Expect Meyer to face questions about Pouncey, but in a strange coincidence Pouncey''s brother, Mike, is scheduled to be one of three Florida players available to the media. It''ll be interesting to see how Mike handles the prodding and how Meyer''s temperament is toward the subject.
Meyer also will be asked about his health. He resigned following the Sugar Bowl and later said he would take a leave of absence and returned for spring practice. Reports then surfaced Meyer had been suffering from esophageal spasms (irregular, uncoordinated, and sometimes powerful contractions of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach), which caused the chest pain he''d been experiencing.
While Meyer is sure to hear plenty about Maurkice Pouncey, other SEC coaches dealing with compliance or criminal issues include South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.
Gamecocks tight end Weslye Saunders and Crimson Tide defensive tackle Marcel Dareus are under investigation for allegedly attending an agent''s party in Miami.
For South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama, the timing of the alleged agent dealings couldn''t be worse. The NCAA is a month removed from slapping USC with four years of probation and recruiting sanctions surrounding former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush''s acceptance of money and a house while in school.
First-year Tennessee coach Derek Dooley recently dismissed Darren Myles Jr. from the team for his role in a bar fight July 9. Two other Volunteers were arrested.
Georgia running back Dontavius Jackson and receiver Tavarres King are facing team discipline after being arrested for alcohol-related issues.
The negative publicity won''t damper the SEC season or the on-the-field reputation of college football''s last four national champions. It will, however, be a pain for the men answering the questions today through Friday.
MSU and the University of Mississippi travel to Hoover, Ala., with no known off-the-field controversy, and that''s a good situation.
Rebels coach Houston Nutt is the toast of Oxford after back-to-back Cotton Bowl wins, while Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen turned the league''s worst offense into the SEC''s best rushing attack in his first season in Starkville.
Expect Mullen''s time at the podium to sound something like this: "Who''s your starting quarterback? Can you challenge for a bowl game this year? Is the secondary past its propensity to give up big plays?" -- all football, no law.
Should be a cakewalk for Mullen in his second trip through the circus that is SEC Media Days.
David Miller covers Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. He can be reached at: [email protected]