Live from Birmingham

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Just touched down in Birmingham (where they still love the governor and the Tide) for SEC basketball media days, which starts Wednesday.

I’ve always found it curious that they hold the event in a football-mad state. The Birmingham News devoted three quarters of its sports front Monday to Alabama being ranked second in the BCS. The other two stories were, predictably, NASCAR and the Tampa Rays going to the World Series. Basketball? It’s about as dead here as Wimp Sanderson’s plaid jackets.

That will change in the coming days. Basketball media days are more low-key than football media days. For one thing, there are no threats of subpoenas. For another thing, it’s less crowded. They credential close to 1,000 members of the media each year for football, which is spread out over three days. For basketball, we’ll be lucky get 50 die-hard hoop scribes here. But we have a good time.

We’re at the Birmingham Marriott, which is in the southeast corner of the city. They used to hold the event at the Sheraton in downtown Birmingham, which wasn’t as nice a hotel but was closer to Five Points and some downtown distractions. So it’s a trade off, but it’s worth it.

Billy Donovan and Amanda Butler will arrive here for the final interview session Thursday afternoon. They fly in and out of here fairly quickly on a UAA charter, coming into Birmingham a few hours before and leaving a few hours after their slotted time (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) From what I hear, Billy is bringing senior Walter Hodge and junior Dan Werner. Billy generally likes to reward the upperclassmen by bringing them to this event.

Here’s the rest of the rundown of coaches

Wednesday morning
Auburn – Jeff Lebo (men’s) and Neil Fortner
Tennessee – Bruce Pearl (please no orange jackets) and Pat Summitt
South Carolina – Darrin Horn and Dawn Staley

Wednesday afternoon
Alabama – Mark Gottfried and Wendell Hudson
Mississippi State – Rick Stansbury and Sharon Fanning
Vanderbilt – Kevin Stallings and Melanie Balcomb

Thursday morning
Georgia – Dennis Felton and Andy Landers
Kentucky – Billy Gillispie and Matthew Mitchell
Ole Miss – Andy Kennedy and Renee Ladner

Thursday afternoon
Arkansas – John Pelphrey and Tom Collen
Florida – Billy Donovan and Amanda Butler
LSU – Trent Johnson and Van Chancellor

I’ll do my best to provide some daily blogs to keep you posted. Also, I came across a nice article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution during my layover in Atlanta, which compared how Matt Ryan is turning around the Falcons in the same way former Florida big man Al Horford helped turn around the Hawks. Both were third overall picks. Here’s the link: http://www.ajc.com/services/content/printedition/2008/10/21/bradley.html

So long for now.