HOOVER, AL (WAFB) - The massive four-day event that is SEC Media Days didn't exist nearly 30 years ago and one man who has witnessed the growth of preseason media coverage of the conference talked about how it all began.
When LSU grad Herb Vincent started in the sports publicity business, writers would climb aboard an aircraft each summer and fly to each of the 10 SEC campuses for what they called the Skywriters Tour.
"Then we said, 'Well, can they all come to Birmingham?' and then they did," Vincent recalled of 1985's SEC Media Days.
"Build it and they will come," and now, he's presiding over a "Field of Dreams" event for football-starved media and fans alike, that has grown in just the last decade from 500 attendees in 2004 to over 1,200 writers, reporters, anchors, producers, photographers, bloggers, talk show hosts and others we don't have time to list here for this session.
"They're looking for something different than just the football stories, because that's something they get every day," Vincent said.
He used to be the main football contact for LSU in the 1990s, before serving as the school's vice chancellor for external affairs. Last fall, Vincent returned to the league's headquarters in Birmingham, where he had served once before in between stops in Baton Rouge. He's anxious to see how expanding from three days to a brand new four-day format will work, now that there are 14 schools in the conference.
Vincent also returned just in time to witness first-hand the launch of The SEC Network, which has a movie night planned for the media on Wednesday, to reveal four new SEC Storied documentaries. ESPN's fledgling network that is scheduled to launch August 14 (in less than a month) also has a Dale Brown/Shaquille O'Neal film in the works.
Earlier in the afternoon on Wednesday, LSU coach Les Miles will take part in what has always been a colorful, sometimes head-shaking exchange with hundreds of eager interviewers.
"It's enjoyable to listen to him, so this room will be packed when that happens," Vincent added.