SANDESTIN ” They call this panhandle resort Serenity Now. That’s appropriate, because how else can you explain 12 rival football coaches, 12 rival athletic directors and 24
rival basketball coaches (men and women) sharing three or four days
together in the same hotel and getting along like best friends.
Call it the power of the beach.
Or the SEC spring meetings.
With no games (or losses) in sight, the pressure is off when the league convenes here annually to discuss business and strategy for the upcoming athletic year in the conference.
Coaches are relaxed (and accessible to the media), athletic directors are smiling and cordial ” and even the presidents and chancellors come across as friendly (rather than somewhat stiff).
This is a good week for the media that covers the conference as well. It’s chance to sit down with coaches and get to know them a little better. With the giant name tags they give us, everybody knows who we are (with a quick glance at our chest).
Mike Slive knows everybody’s name. What other conference commissioner can say that about the writers who cover their league?
Heading into this week’s meetings, one of the football coaches I was eager to encounter was Bobby Petrino, the new coach at Arkansas who quit rather abruptly on the Atlanta Falcons to return to college football.
I’ve heard Petrino is tough to deal with and very gruff when it comes to the media.
But, hey, serenity now.
Petrino sat down with us earlier in the week for almost a half hour, and he was engaging and cordial (and came across as a pretty cool dude who’s very happy to be back in college football).
After listening to Petrino, I have a feeling he’s going to have a major impact in the Western Division this season.
His situation reminds me of the one Steve Spurrier stepped into at Florida in 1990. He’s got plenty of good athletes to work with, all the resources, and he’s brought in an offense that should light up the scoreboard and create major headaches for the rest of the teams in the division (and Florida, which plays at Arkansas).
So, the league has just gotten tougher.
But, for now, well, Serenity Now.