For four days, reporters and bloggers crowd into a hotel in Hoover, Alabama, and consume quotes from coaches, players and others. Even if there's not much actual "news" made, it can still be like drinking from a fire hose. What does it all mean?
There's only one way to analyze press conferences at which little of news value is said. (Actually, there are probably lots of ways to do that, but just go with the premise for now.) Of course, that way is to make word clouds of the statements by Mike Slive and each of the head coaches -- and then combine them all into one giant word cloud.
Mike Slive's opening remarks are up first.
No big surprises there. SEC. Student and athletes. Etc., etc. I don't know why Slive was talking enough about softball for it to show up noticeably here, but #EverythingConference or something.
The first day also brought Gus Malzahn to Hoover.
"Marijuana" does not show up, given that I believe it was only used once in the actual press conference, while the presence of "high" is probably an unfortunate coincidence. Related: "quarterback." Malzahn is obviously focused a "lot" on this "year."
Next up was Will Muschamp, who was a bit more surprising in his choice of words. One kind of stands out.
Yeah, that's "think." Of the many things that Will Muschamp has been accused of doing too much of during his time in Gainesville, thinking would not top the list. Words like "good," "outstanding," and "well" are also not ones you might expect to get a lot of emphasis during the remarks of a coach who went 4-8 and lost to Georgia Southern and everything else we're contractually obligated to see about the dumpster fire that was Florida's 2013 season.
On to Derek Mason, the new coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores.
LOOK, y'all, Derek Mason just likes to say "look." "Vanderbilt" also features prominently, as you might expect, and "quarterback" shows up a healthy number of times -- not surprising, given that Vanderbilt has six of them fighting for playing time. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Steve Spurrier is always one of the highlights of SEC Media Days, even if it doesn't always show up in world cloud form.
"Good" came up a lot in this one, which is not really much of a surprise when you have a team that's 33-6 over the last three seasons and coached by one of the cockiest guys in the sport. Alas, with the exception of "trophy," there's very little trace here of Spurrier's impromptu history lesson on the valor of Tennesseeans dying at the Alamo.
Next up was a coach where, while we might not know which words would appear in his world cloud, we know a phrase that won't show up: Dan Mullen.
We don't pair words on these, but if we did, there's no way that "Ole Miss" would show up, because Mullen doesn't ever say the name of "the School Up North." But it does appear that Mullen is ready to get "going" with the season.
When Mullen was done speaking, it was Kevin Sumlin who took the stage.
Sumlin likes to talk about his players as "guys," obviously -- and spoke quite a bit about "recruiting." The biggest questions? Who would be the "quarterback" at A&M now that Johnny Manziel is gone. And both of Manziel's names show up, illustrating the annoying extent to which a player who graduated last year kept cropping up in 2014.
Closing out the day was Butch Jones.
You know, given that SEC Media Days is purportedly organized around a series of press conferences with football coaches, it's a bit surprising that "football" doesn't show up in more of these There's a reason that "one" is a common refrain. There's also a reason that "freshmen" is a not-small word: Tennessee needs contributions from a lot of them.
On Tuesday, the morning spot was filled by Steve Spurrier. On Wednesday, Gary Pinkel opened things up. This is like going from mainlining espresso to mainlining morphine.
Really, find one interesting word in that whole presentation. I'll wait.
Then, Les Miles got up. It's already a bit like listening to word salad, so let's just make it official here.
You have to have a "want" to "play" the game of football, you know. There are another couple of interesting words sprinkled in there, like family. If only word clouds could convey any sense of syntax.
Closing out our next-to-last day was Bret Bielema.
Yes, "safety," "huddle" and "fiction" all show up to some degree. So does "Ferentz," to give you an idea of how far we digressed from the subject of 2014 Arkansas football at one point.
Mark Richt was up first. Richt is like Gary Pinkel after he's had a cup of coffee. Mild coffee, no cream or sugar, because that's the only kind of coffee I can imagine Gary Pinkel drinking.
"Hutson" and "Georgia" are both very large and in close proximity to each other in this arrangement. Which is good, because the fates of the two will largely be tied together in 2014.
Then it was Richt's usually slightly-less-interesting personality doppelganger, Hugh Freeze.
Spurrier's name here might be as prominent as any one coach's name has shown up in another coach's word cloud to this point. In any case, "Ragan" also gets her 15 minutes of fame -- she's in the bottom left-hand corner.
The next-to-last coach to take the stage was one of those who generally commands the most attention: Nick Saban.
Yes, "process" is in the dead center of the cloud. But look over at the far right end, and you'll see "family" and, ever so small, "grandbaby." Could the Sabanbot be turning into a human?
Last at SEC Media Days was Kentucky, which is kind of appropriate when you think about it. Take us home, Mark Stoops.
Yep, "win" is a lot bigger than you might think it would be for Kentucky. "Ohio" also makes a lot of appearances, as does "recruiting" -- those are not unrelated phenomena.
Given all that, what were the most used words at SEC Media Days in 2014?
Yes, the most popular word at SEC Media Days was "think." Gordon Gee, your arguments are invalid.