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No Media Days hurts FAU

NOT NEW ORLEANS - If this had been any other year I would be drinking my cafe au lait and dusting the powdered sugar off my keyboard to write this blog after polishing off an order of beignets at Cafe du Monde. But also I would be and preparing for an afternoon of talking with coaches, players and writers from other Sun Belt Schools.

But I'm far from New Orleans - as is every other writer who covers the Sun Belt after the Sun Belt cancelled its annual Media Days in New Orleans in favor of a "Cutting Edge Media Day Experience" over the internet. Oooh, I can hardly wait. Perhaps if all goes well I'll be able to add Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters as a friend on Facebook and we can be BFFs!

It can be debated about how valuable the Media Days really were, but in my experience they were always extremely productive.

This was a chance to clear the air on plenty of issues. It would be worth the cost of flying to the Crescent City alone to see Waters squirm as writers from Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette ask the big guy a few questions about that stellar "bowl agreement" the SBC will be crowing about. And some writers apparently have a beef with Troy coach Larry Blakeney and his practice of "oversigning" players. This would have been a great forum to get to the bottom of these issues. "Virtual interviewing" questions just doesn't have the same effect

Frankly, all I can see is that the Sun Belt Conference canceled its Media Days for lack of interest. That doesn't bode well for the league. As the Orlando Sentinel detailed earlier this month several conferences have changed the formats of their media days to save money. However, Conference USA and the Sun Belt are the only I-A conferences to not have a face-to-face meeting with their coaches and media members who provide valuable publicity to their conference. C-USA and the Sun Belt - well that's the two conferences I think of when I hear the words "cutting-edge."

The real crime in this is that the school that is hurt the most is Florida Atlantic. When Howard Schnellenberger speaks in a room full of reporters, pens are usually moving quite fast. More often than not, no matter what the other schools are doing, something Howard says will be the headline in newspapers throughout the South.

Selfishly, I could use a little time in New Orleans, but I think the Sun Belt needs to bring back its traditional Media Days format to help the schools get the publicity they deserve. For the conference itself to say it's not relevant enough to bring in a coach and a player from each school for two days sends the wrong message.

I suspect I will get over this, and maybe I'll get that trip to the Big Easy for the New Orleans Bowl in December. That is, unless the Sun Belt decided to go with a "virtual, cutting-edge bowl experience"
July 20, 2009

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