When he was part of the coaching ranks, and delighting in needling Tennessee fans, Steve Spurrier always referred to this time of year as “talking season.”
These pre-season media soirees often revealed a few tasty nuggets, but occasionally, something would set the tenor for the event. Or, perhaps, a coach or player would make a bold pronouncement and toss chum into the media waters.
For the next four days, the focus was less on who was playing this year and more about the 800-pound gorilla a coach or player dumped in the media room.
Maybe one coach subtly pointed his finger at another program in a not-so-flattering way. Maybe a player gently suggested that he didn’t like the amount of his playing time.
Sometimes, actually often, it was some 25-year-old blogger making more of something there actually was just to stir the pot and make a name for himself.
Those guys are easy to spot. They are usually the ones at these media functions wearing a shirt and/or hat of the team he/she follows.
So much for objectivity.
But a lack of objectivity is hardly surprising given the example the national media has set.
There should be some very tasty morsels coming out of Atlanta this week. Defending national champ Georgia has tons of players to replace. Alabama appears to be primed for another national title run. Could Tennessee be set for a surprising season, or a disappointment? Will Florida be the dumpster fire people are expecting? Will South Carolina emerge with Spencer Rattler at quarterback?
Will Nick Saban meet Jimbo Fisher in a cage match?
We’re likely to hear more about name/image/likeness and confidence expansion than anything any of the players are doing.
Ironically, talking season is generally catalyzed by what’s not said.
Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m. CT, Monday-Thursday on WRJB. 95.9 FM, Camden, Tennessee.