Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Monday, July 25, 2011
SEC coaches endure media blitz

By Ivan Maisel

We had a “This is SportsCenter” day in Bristol on Monday, the kind when life imitated the ESPN ad campaign. And we’re going to have one every day this week.

Six SEC coaches arrived at the Bristol campus for the first of a four-day coaching extravaganza. The other six SEC coaches will be here Tuesday. The Pac-12 coaches will arrive on Wednesday and Thursday. What you have to know is that none of them would be here by their own accord. This is the end of their summer, if it hadn’t already given way to planning for the preseason.

The fact that the coaches will be here this week is proof that even they have bosses.

All of the coaches are tightly scheduled to appear on as many shows as they can make. Trust me, they don’t appear on every show that wants them. As host of the ESPNU College Football Podcast, I can attest to the fact that sometimes we get squeezed out.

Guests typically are slotted somewhere every 20 minutes. And when I say “somewhere,” I mean it. The podcast studio is not far from the cafeteria. The hallway between the two has big windows, which, even on an overcast day, flood the walkway with light. The floor covering lined to look like a football field. Nice touch.

Not far from one end zone, there’s Dan Mullen of Mississippi State, doing an interview with our social media guys. Walk a few more yards into the outer hall of the cafeteria, and there’s Derek Dooley of Tennessee preparing to do a social media interview.

Can we get the social media guys an office? A studio?

I stopped and said hello to each, each of whom I interviewed last week in Birmingham. Dooley captured the coaches’ feeling when he said, “Haven’t we done enough media lately?”

Outside the cafeteria, on the lawn, TV lights shining on them as they sit in tall director’s chairs, are Gene Chizik of Auburn and my colleague Chris Fowler. They are preparing to do an interview. And it’s sprinkling. I was never sure Fowler had enough sense to get out of the rain. But I always thought Chizik did.

Chizik has been to Bristol twice this year and appeared on the podcast each trip. I saw him in the hallway a few minutes later and told him, “Nothing personal. But we’ve bugged you twice. I figured I’d give you a break.”

“Thanks,” he said. “I’m trying to get home for my son’s baseball game tonight.”

Mullen, Steve Spurrier of South Carolina and Houston Nutt of Ole Miss appeared on the podcast today. I’ll post more about them soon.