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Unofficial Start of 2011 College Football Season Begins Today ... "I Love It"

Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik takes questions from the media at the 2010 SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.
Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik takes questions from the media at the 2010 SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.
The end of July is usually hot in the South. Hot and dry. And for the college football fan it's a dry lean time for news about their favorite team. However, for the last 26 years the SEC has provided a thirst quenching event for the  fanatic "can't get enough" fan. It's known as SEC Media Days. The annual meeting starts today at the Wynfrey Hotel and Conference Center in Hoover, Alabama.

It is more than a meeting, in fact it's more than an event ... it's a happening.

Thousands will attend the meeting, including close to a 1,000 media representatives from around the country. The media reps are all gathering to meet with the12 SEC head coaches and close to 40 of their star players over the next three days.

That may not be exciting for some people but for football nuts like me, it means that even though it's 100 degrees in July and 45 days till kickoff ... the college football season is starting.

So yes this is a big deal and it's happening not just in the heart of Dixie but in the heart of the college football world.

What makes this such a big deal, especially at a time that many conferences have cut back on their media events?

The answer is simple. It's passion. That's right, pure unadulterated passion. Passion for Southern football in general and passion for our favorite team in particular. That passion is why seven of the 12 BCS national champions have come from the SEC, including the Defending National Champion Auburn Tigers.

The SEC's big media event presents coaches and selected players to the questions of state and national media. Occasionally  there is some big story that breaks out; but more often it's the same thing that you can hear from your coach on his local call in show.

I love it anyway. I love it because of the news stories it generates. I love it because of the buzz it brings to the sport. I love it because it really is the unofficial start of a new season. But mostly I love it because it's just another indication of what sets the SEC apart from the rest of the nation.

Not even major league baseball has this kind of media extravaganza. Baseball may be the national past time but in Dixie, college football is the South's passion. Consequently there is no other sports media event like SEC Media Days save for the Super Bowl.

A press credential to attend the event is hard to come by. The SEC is very restrictive in how many they issue to each outlet. Security is tight and only those with the legitimate press credentials are allowed in to the Winfrey Ball Room.

This year Track 'Em Tigers Editor Jay Coulter will be part of that credentialed press core. I'm looking forward to Jay bringing his impressions to TET of what it's like to actually be there.

For Auburn fans the 2011 season begins Thursday at 12 noon when Coach Chizik and three of his players are scheduled to face the media. Fans can listen to the interviews over one of 28 radio stations broadcasting live from the Wynfrey or view live streaming at the SEC Digital Network here beginning at 1 p.m. CT today. Joining Coach Chizik on Thursday will be tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, wide receiver Emory Blake, and defensive tackle Nosa Eguae.

Auburn will follow up media days with the players reporting back on August 2nd with practice beginning August 3rd. Fan Day will be on August 14th in the new Auburn Arena from 2-4 p.m.

And finally, will come the long awaited kickoff on September 3rd against Utah State in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

There may be someone, somewhere in the South that may be ho hum about SEC Media Days - I don't know. I only know that I 'm excited; because it's the unofficial start of the college football season and ...

What red blooded Southern football fanatic doesn't love that?