Perspective and reality. These two aspects are widely overlooked in regards to any conference’s media days, let alone a conference where the fans are arguably more passionate about football than their own religion at times. Many fans get caught up in the excitement and hype that comes with talking about football for the first time in six months, and rightfully so.
Sometimes though, fans have a tendency to lose sight of the aforementioned perspective and reality due to the excitement that comes with the prelude to an upcoming college football season. Many fans often take quotes and excerpts from interviews and speeches out of context, post their thoughts and feelings on Facebook and Twitter, and start an Internet-based War of the Words between opposing team fan bases.
Earlier this week Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart stated, “Pressure is a privilege,” meaning it’s a privilege to have the pressure to win at a high level and try to maintain that privilege every year. Of course, fans across the SEC took this many ways. Georgia fans saw it as a rallying cry going into 2018, while other fans from opposing teams saw it as arrogant and egotistical.
On Wednesday, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban only fielded three questions about his Quarterback battle between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. This obviously upset the national media, but Tricky Nicky isn’t going to divulge any information of that caliber until most likely an hour before kickoff against Louisville on September 1st. Many fan bases viewed this as a “trouble in paradise” situation for the Tide’s offense, but lest we forget, Alabama is a monster behemoth of a dynasty that just reloads with prime talent every season.
Then, on Thursday, Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason stated that this year’s team is one of the most talented teams he’s had in his tenure in Nashville. It doesn’t really matter who agrees or disagrees with this claim because, at the end of the day, it’s Vanderbilt.
Granted, not every fan base is deeply active in the Twitter-sphere, but there is one Internet fan base that legitimately impacts its program’s future, and that is Tennessee. Known on the sports side of Twitter as #VolTwitter, Volunteer fans have a history for defending the T at all costs. Say one bad thing about the Vols, and VolTwitter will flood one’s mentions with a barrage of gifs, Vines (if they still exist), and stats, to not only prove that person wrong, but to publicly humiliate that person and drag their mangled Twitter profile pic through the mean streets of the Twitter-sphere.
Just this week, a prominent VolTwitter member went after Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen’s shoe choice for Media Days. He compared Mullen’s shoes to those found in the clearance section at Walmart. Well, this didn’t sit so kindly with the retail/grocery giant. Walmart responded by replying with a highlight video clip from Florida’s miracle last second win against Tennessee last year. The highlight they chose to reply with? Florida QB Feleipe Franks’ roll-right-and-throw-it-a-mile-with-your-eyes-closed Hail Mary.
Any other fanbase would’ve been dead, buried, and RIP’d all over the Internet, but not VolTwitter. Volunteer fans across the South took to their phones and began to bring about an online demise of the multi-billion dollar corporation. VolTwitter defended their own, stood tall, and threatened to burn down a Walmart. On a Tuesday. In July.
Oh VolTwitter… All of this from one coach’s shoes at Media Days. As a side note, Walmart’s stock value on the NYSE dropped 0.15% and was down on the day by closing time on Wednesday July 18th. Congratulations Tennessee fans, VolTwitter has successfully affected the U.S. Economy, all thanks to the Internet and SEC Media Days. Just imagine what the actual drama will be like in the SEC this year when the games are actually played.
At this point, the only solace to be taken from SEC Media Days is this: even though it’s human nature to do so, fans should try not to overanalyze the trending topics, discussions, interviews, and tweets from Walmart that come from SEC Media Days, as they all boil down to one thing: they’re just words. Not the actual game, but simply just words, talk, and hype.