(Bob Belvin is Sports Director for 100.7 FM – AM 540 ESPN-Clarksville)
It is All-Star Week in Major League Baseball. The rest of the world is awaiting a Royal birth and the start of the British Open. Below the Mason-Dixon Line it is all about the Southeastern Conference Media Days taking place in Birmingham.
My educated guess is, if there wall-to-wall television coverage of the SEC Media Days, the ratings would annihilate that of the MLB All-Star Game. By a 20 share, as far as ratings go. There is that much interest in the SEC, and the conference’s brand was incredibly bolstered with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M last July 1, 2012.
As a cub reporter at the mighty TV-43 in Hopkinsville I had two incredibly rewarding chances to cover Media Days. Previously the event was called the “SEC Skywriters Tour” where reporters plane-hopped from campus to campus.
At the old Riverchase Galleria hotel in Birmingham my colleague Brian Yount and I jumped from ballroom-to-ballroom inside the spacious confines trying to snatch an interview with the likes of Jerry Claiborne (Kentucky, had to get to sound from the Hopkinsville native), Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Pat Dye, Galen Hall, Rocky Felker, and Watson Brown. Not necessarily household names.
The absolute best part of the event was the “hospitality room”, where after hours coaches gathered and swapped stories. And insults. They key to gaining access to the room for reporters was to have the nod and approval of the coach you covered. In our case, Brian and I used the Hopkinsville Home-Boy angle with Jerry Claiborne. It goes like this “Coach, Malcom B. said to tell you ‘hello’ and I saw your mother last week at the Bi-Lo, she too can’t wait for the season to begin”. It worked and Brian and I never slept over the three days as we hung out in the back of the room and listended as coaches trashed their rivals, and in some cases, their athletic directors. Yep, were were media trailblazers, no doubt!
This week, online media sources will easily outnumber traditional radio and television outlets in terms of the sheer number of attendees. And the hospitality room is more tightly guarded.
Tomorrow, my thoughts on the MLB All-Star game.