Well, I can cross one more thing off of my bucket list of college football experiences, Big East media days, complete with a gluttony of food at the clam bake.
The informal event is rich with tradition and folk lore, with an unofficial annual contest between each team’s players to see who can be the lobster eating champion of the Big East. According to Sean Keeley of the Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician blog, unconfirmed reports peg former Rutgers running back Brian Leonard as the all-time champion with 9 full lobsters consumed while the official record is listed at seven lobsters. Jeremiah Warren was tonight’s winner, eating seven lobsters according to his USF teammates, although he was feeling up to the challenge of breaking all previous records until the lobsters ran out.
Of course, the entire event isn’t about just shoving as much seafood into your stomach as you possibly can; it is also about getting to know others who work for, or with the Big East. With the help of a Mark Ennis and Kevin McGuire, I was able to (sometimes) discard my shyness for a moment and talk to a few people with way better jobs than mine.
One such person was Andrea Adelson of ESPN who finally got to understand why her twitter account was blowing up with mentions the other day after my Temple Two-A-Days post was discovered by some passionate Owls fans. Quite honestly a very nice lady who had deep knowledge of the 15-20 teams that we discussed as a group, rattling off all sorts of players names from skill positions to offensive lineman and why she believed they were better or worse than the general hype.
The next person that I got to spend some time talking to was Penni Graham, wife of new Pitt head coach Todd Graham, as she was seated at our table. It was very enlightening to listen to the things that the families of coaches have to go through.
My impression before tonight was that coaches are very sneaky in the way they interview for, and eventually change jobs each off-season. It was really eye-opening to listen to some of the stories that highlighted how the deals are really completed versus how they are presented to the general public.
I certainly have a different understanding of how coaching changes affect so many people from the head coach, to the assistants to everyone’s families. While I still believe that players should have the ability to transfer penalty free after some types of coaching changes, I now place much less of the blame on the coaches for how the hiring and firing process works.
The final person that I spent some time talking to was Chuck Sullivan, the head of media relations for the Big East. As hard as Ennis, McGuire and I tried, we couldn’t pry any real trade secrets from Sullivan, but we did get a much deeper understanding for how the Big East manages internal issues and keeps both basketball and football centric schools satisfied.
It was a fun evening and something that I am glad I was allowed to participate in. Serious thanks to the Big East for allowing me to attend their media days and get to meet so many great people.