Sun Belt Continues to Grow Media Day – From the Bird’s Nest
The Sun Belt Conference is getting ready to enter its 14th season of football.
And, it's taken quite some time, but finally members of the media are taking notice.
I remember the first few Media Days, where, oh, about 20 or so media members gathered. The league only had six members then and, outside of those cities, it was hard to tell anyone cared.
In fact, for a couple of years the Sun Belt did away with Media Days from a physical sense. Instead they did a day of video conferencing. Now, that was fine if you needed to get a sound bite for local television, and really good for print media. For radio, not so much.
When Karl Benson took over as commissioner in 2012 one of the first things he did was to re-instate media day. The response the first year wasn't great, but it was actually better than previous on site days. There were about 60 media members. It was held at the Marriott, currently known as Cajun headquarters in the month of December.
In 2013, the Conference office and media days were moved to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. And, attendance was considerably better. Now, it wasn't only media members from college towns, but several televison and print properties from nearby larger cities were attending as well.
And, radio (finally). In the early days it was.....just me doing broadcasts from New Orleans. Barry McKnight with Troy hopped on board as well. Last year there were six different radio stations in attendance. ESPN3 was there as well. For the first time, it appeared the sports media was taking the Sun Belt seriously. And, that was good to see.
This year, it was even better.
There were about 200 in attendance yesterday. Now, that doesn't sniff SEC standards, but for the Sun Belt, it was a milestone. Once again ESPN3 was there. This time, eight different radio properties were represented. The day was well organized and every school had a coach and two student-athletes present. Every coach spoke to the group and then all were available for individual interviews. All the coaches were co-operative and actually looked as though they were happy to be there. Trust me, that always hasn't been the case.
Who knows what Sun Belt Football will be like in 2014? The league had six bowl eligible teams last year and could have that many this year. We know that teams from the league will play in New Orleans, Mobile and Montgomery, AL. And, with an expanded bowl lineup, there could be at large slots for all the teams.
Whatever transpires, one thing is certain.
More and more, the media is taking notice.