Editor’s note: The following has been done in jest and is completely, 100 percent made up — in case that wasn’t already abundantly clear.
- Nick Saban, Alabama coach
- Les Miles, LSU coach
- Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss coach
- Jim McElwain, Florida coach
- Bret Bielema, Arkansas coach
- Butch Jones, Tennessee coach
- Kirby Smart, Georgia coach
- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State coach
- Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M coach
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn coach
- Will Muschamp, South Carolina coach
- Derek Mason, Vanderbilt coach
- Barry Odom, Missouri coach
- Mark Stoops, Kentucky coach
- Greg Sankey, SEC commissioner
- Dark Figure
Place: The Wynfrey Hotel, Hoover, Ala.
Time: The present. Summer.
AT RISE OF CURTAIN: The SEC coaches slowly file in one at a time, all tired from extensive miles logged on the recruiting trail, and take their respective seats at a long table positioned in the center of an unmarked, utilitarian conference room.
BIELEMA: [wearing a loosely buttoned Tommy Bahama shirt] You know, it’s hot here in Alabama. Not as hot as Samoa. But at least there I can drink Woo Pig Daiquiris with my shirt off.
SUMLIN: Woo Pig Daiquiris? And what were you doing in Samoa?
BIELEMA: Why, they’re the finest drink in Arkansas: Bacon-infused rum mixed with apple juice, garnished with bacon with bacon salt spread around the rim. I tell you what, they tasted great while my smoking hot wife and I scouted exotic locations for my 2017 Razorbacks satellite camp world tour.
SUMLIN: You always liked to brag, Bret.
MILES: [gesturing to Sumlin with a wild smile] We’ll still out-recruit you from our front porches though, ahaha.
BIELEMA: [suddenly leaning forward and pounding a fist on the table] You guys will recognize my cutting edge tactics yet. This is the next big thi–
SANKEY: [quickly intervening] Alright, alright, settle down guys. We’ve spent all summer talking about satellite camps. You guys have all weighed in with your thoughts, but the NCAA has made its decision. For now, there’s no point in rehashing your cases.
No, we’re all gathered here for SEC Media Days this week to answer questions about what fans actually care about: Real, live college football. And the first, most important question for each of you to answer before the interviews officially start is: What is the No. 1 topic on your mind leading up to fall camp?
Other than moderating this discussion, I will remain an impartial observer. And with that, you guys have the floor. We’ll go clockwise around the table, so Les is up first.
MILES: [Suddenly chewing a mouthful of grass] One scheck guyj. [After swallowing] Mmm, nothing like Mother Earth to help a man think.
MALZAHN: Lord have mercy, the man’s off his rocker.
MILES: Now now, Gus. Maybe if you tried some of this stuff your defenses wouldn’t be the football equivalent of saltine crackers.
SUMLIN: [High-fiving Miles] Boo-yah!
MILES: Now, getting down to business, I’ve gotta say that things are pretty swell on my end right now. I’m still employed. I’ve got the best player in college football and a great group of guys around him. Our conference is as strong as ever. But the one thing we all need much more of in our lives are holidays. They’re very important. Columbus Day, Groundhog Day, Leif Erikson day and of course my birthday are some big ones. But we need to add one more to the list: Eat Chicken Fingers Day sponsored by Raisin’ Canes™, a day of celebration during which LSU plays and beats the South Carolina Gamecocks.
SANKEY: Les, last I checked, companies can’t sponsor holidays. Also, that seems like a conflict of interest not only for you personally, given your sponsorship ties, but also for our conference’s scheduling policy.
MILES: Well Chick-fil-A already has a holiday. Why can’t my chicken of choice enjoy one?
SANKEY: You know, we’ll put that complaint on our list and get back to you. Next up we have Hugh … [Sankey facepalms before finishing the sentence] Freeze.
FREEZE: First, I’d like to start off by saying that I own everything attributed to me and my program. I own our awesome quarterback, Chad Kelly. I own our awesome college town of Oxford. I own our awesome football stadium, which is currently undergoing an expensive renovation. I even own this awesome Ole Miss coozie they gave me when I took this job. We’re awesome.
SANKEY: Is that a beer, Hugh?
FREEZE: I also own the fact that I’ve been drinking since we left Oxford. Go Rebs!
MULLEN: [Whispering to Sumlin] Poor guy…
SANKEY: So you don’t want to say anything about any possible NCAA punishment against Ole Miss?
FREEZE: I plead the fifth! Which, coincidentally, is also how much I drank in the lobby. No worries, fellas! Everything’s gonna be A-OK in The Grove this fall, yessir. Nothing wrong here.
SANKEY: OK, well just remember Hugh, there’s ibuprofen inside the podium. Moving on… Mac, how you been?
MCELWAIN: [With a knife immersed inside a giant jar of peanut butter] Doing swell. Just making some PB&J’s.
SANKEY: Great. Any word on your star receiver, Antonio Callaway?
MCELWAIN: Just making PB&J’s, Greg, you should try doing it sometime. It’s very relaxing.
SANKEY: So I’ll take that as a no?
MCELWAIN: Did you know that PB&J’s were actually invented by the Romans?
SANKEY: I did not, Mac, but thanks for sharing. Say … what’s that list you’ve got written in front of you right there?
[The group gathers around McElwain to inspect further and discovers a hastily scrawled note entitled, ‘Ways I can get Treon Harris dismissed at Florida’]
SANKEY: Jim, what in the world is this?
MCELWAIN: [Now mumbling incoherently while attempting to make the PB&J sandwiches at a faster rate] Peanut… butter… bread… jelly… peano… noir… treon… butter… dismissed… treon
SANKEY: Umm, OK, well … we’ll leave you to that Mac. Bret, you’re up.
BIELEMA: I just think if my program was given a fair recruiting advantage we’d be able to—
SANKEY: Next! Butch, what’s on your mind?
BUTCH: [On the phone] One sec, buddy [turning to Sankey] I’m doing alright, Greg.
SANKEY: What happened to you, man? You look like you haven’t slept in weeks.
BUTCH: Ever since the University of Tennessee began fighting that Title IX lawsuit, the football program’s budget has been drained by all the legal fees. Now we can only afford to pay 3-star recruits to commit here!
[audible gasps are heard around the room] So I’ve been working the phones day and night trying to help my coaches. But we’re really behind the eight ball here.
SANKEY: Butch, I’m not sure that’s how recruiting works. [Looks around the room] Right?? You’re telling me a lack of money is preventing you from luring top in-state talent to Knoxville?
BUTCH: We’ve got to do something about these sports lawyers, Greg, they’re sucking my program dry.
SANKEY: Duly noted. This sounds serious. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Next in line: Kirby Smart, a first-timer. Welcome to the table, Kirb.
SMART: Thanks Greg. Long-time listener, first-time caller. I tell you what, we have got to institute a curfew for SEC football players. And maybe have a staffer chain them to their beds for good measure. There have been way too many arrests in this conference.
SANKEY: This sounds like more of a Georgia-specific problem.
SMART: No, not at all. We’ve got to stop this epidemic now. We’ve got to maintain control of our programs. I promise I have control.
SANKEY: Don’t worry Kirby, all the Georgia coaches say that eventually. Just win at least 10 games every season and you’ll be fine.
SMART: Hey Hugh, can I get some of that beer?
SANKEY: OK, on to Dan Mullen … Dan? Where’d he go?
[Sankey suddenly notices a note left on the table in front of Mullen’s vacant seat. It reads: “Gone 2 train 4 another Boston marathon. Definitely not looking at other coaching jobs. No phone so pls don’t call, thx.”]
SANKEY: Well, I guess we can cross Dan off the list for now. Kevin, my man, what’s an issue you’d like to discuss?
SUMLIN: We need to abolish the transfer rule.
SANKEY: I don’t think we can do that, Kevin.
SUMLIN: No, this is a necessity. At this rate, all of my starters will have transferred to other schools. I have no quarterbacks, Greg! Just some Katy Perry heartthrob who beat Alabama a few years ago!
SABAN: Not to cut in fellas, and apologies Kevin, but I’ve got an important announcement that I just really need to get off my chest.
[The room quickly goes silent]
SANKEY: [Stammering] Wha t… what is it, Nick?
SABAN: I’ve thought about this decision for a long time, and I’d like to announce that this will be my last season coaching
[All other coaches immediately begin celebrating. Freeze shotguns another beer. Malzahn weeps tears of joy. Miles silently eats more grass with a wide smile.]
SABAN: Just kidding, fellas. I’m coaching for 10 more years!
[Audible groans fill the room.]
SANKEY: Order! We have to maintain order people. Let’s keep this thing going. What’s happening on the Gus bus these days?
MALZAHN: [Intently focused on his laptop] Oh not much … Just browsing for a yacht.
SANKEY: You sound pretty sad for a man who’s about to purchase one of the coolest things in existence.
MALZAHN: I mean, I bought that Beamer, but it just hasn’t filled the void left by this massive mid-life crisis I’m facing.
SANKEY: You have to be proactive, Gus. How do you get things turned around for yourself and your team?
MALZAHN: Well, I guess first—
[Malzahn suddenly stops to look up at a mysterious stranger standing at the entrance of the conference room.]
DARK FIGURE: [Yelling] Who’s ready for some SEC Media Days satellite camp action?
[The figure quickly emerges from the shadows of the hallway to reveal himself as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who immediately begins pacing around the room]
HARBAUGH: I’ve organized camps here in Hoover on all four nights of SEC Media Days. There’ll be water balloon fights, tug-of-war, laser tags and six 7-on-7 tournaments. I expect you all to be there. Who wants coffee?
[Loud groans fill the room again. Sankey curls up into the fetal position as the curtain falls.]