ATLANTA—There may be no better feeling, as a sportswriter, than being the only person in a media work room.
So here I sit, not brokenhearted, in an empty ball room at a downtown Atlanta hotel.
It’s Saturday morning, two mornings before Monday’s regionally huge national title game between Georgia and Alabama.
Two security guards, one absolutely armed, checked my media credential thinking I might be a freeloader trying to crash 300 hundred empty chairs and a stack of media guides.
Ok, so I missed Media Day.
But let this be a lesson to all young, aspiring journalists--never let the rooster beat you to a 5:30 a.m. wake up call. I didn’t sleep much Friday, maybe an hour or two, traveling from California to Atlanta. The man in front of me on the Vegas to ATL leg had that killer flu I fully expect to (now) come down with next week.
He was an older Alabama fan who broke my personal rule of adult etiquette, which is: no man over 50 should wear a football jersey with a player’s name on it.
So, anyway, I decided to “sleep in” on Saturday to 8:30 local time, 5:30 time back home in LaVar Ball Land (Chino Hills). The plan (my plan) was to skip Georgia’s 9 a.m. session but catch Alabama at 10:30, thinking this would cement my status as a half-session ass reporter.
The transportation desk had other plans. The nice lady there told me I had missed the last bus to wherever Media Day was being held and that my best bet was taking Uber.
This broke another one of my rules, which is: I'll pay an Uber driver to see Nick Saban Coach--but not to talk. No way.
My loathsome tardiness and body-clock weakness sentenced me to the solitary confinement of the media work room.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
It was bliss.
The hardest part about working in a media work room is working. A sports writer will find any excuse to not work if there is a colleague waiting to hear all about your third son in college, or what a dreadful mess the newspaper business has become.
So, while my media mates where crowded around podiums at some other Atlanta edifice, I toiled alone in utter, joyful, silence.
I watched Nick Saban’s news conference on the big screen, with the sound down.
Free from Media Day duties, I stacked the press releases for Georgia and Alabama next to me and started slowly thumbing, page by page, finally seeing the beauty of these public relations productions.
I was stunned to learn this will be the 68th meeting between the schools but the first time they’ve met this season.
One of the SEC quirks of 2017 was Alabama and Georgia not meeting during the regular-season, or the SEC title game, which seems hard to do.
It took the national title game to bring two SEC schools together and, for that, we are grateful.
It’s almost funny, in fact, how often Alabama and Georgia DON’T play. They met in the regular season in 2008 and then again in 2015, and were also forced into conflict for the 2012 SEC title game.
Yet, for all you historians out there, Alabama leads the all-time series, 38-25-4.
Some say Monday night’s game between Georgia and Alabama has limited national appeal—but I’m not one of those snobs.
I like good teams and good football and, as a Californian, hope we’ll get the hang of it some day on the West Coast.
Anyway, back to the game notes, I learned Georgia “earned a spot in the CFP by going 12-1 and winning the SEC in year two of the Kirby Smart era.” And that “in 10 of Georgia’s 13 victories this season, the margin of victory has been at least 21 points.”
Georgia also “stands eighth nationally in Rushing Offense at 267.4 yards per game, while Alabama leads the nation allowing 91.8 yards per game.”
This is information you might otherwise overlook waiting for a shuttle bus.
I missed Media Day.
I have faithfully attended all of Nick Saban’s previous Media Days and there’s a good chance I’ll see him next year in Santa Clara.
Now you’re talking MY time zone.
The game at Levi’s Stadium will be the first for the West Coast since the Rose Bowl hosted the last BCS title game after the 2013 season.
There is a chance I'll miss the boat in 2019...but not the bus.
Wait, what’s this?
Two guys just walked into the Media Work Room. My cocoon has been penetrated, my sanctuary breached, my concentration broken. I can’t get any more work done here.
What time is lunch? [/membership]