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Paul "Bear" Bryant
The 2014 college football season kicks off -- unofficially -- on Monday with Day 1 of the SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Alabama.

But before the four-day Q&A session begins, take a look back at how the conference's media coverage sprouted from the Skywriters:

Never forget the Skywriters
Just before Alabama would release its devastating wishbone offense in 1971, we all knew about it but, leery that Southern Cal would find out in news clippings before the opener, nobody dared write it. One Alabama writer taunted Bear Bryant with it, telling Coach he knew enough to write it. The Old Man squinted hard before he said slowly, “Ed, I ain’t gonna tell you what to write or what not to write, but the way I got it figured you are either for us or against us. You gotta decision to make.” (No, nobody wrote a word and Alabama caught Southern Cal on the unawares, winning 17-10 at Legion Field and going undefeated in the regular season.)

A wing and a prayer
It was a different time. College football coaches weren't paid millions of dollars a year, didn't live in mansions and weren't paranoid when sports writers came around. Every August from 1965 until 1983, the SEC Skywriters would tour the league schools. Forty or so newspaper and TV reporters, a few cameramen and SEC publicist Elmore "Scoop" Hudgins would climb onto an aging Convair aircraft, piloted by a guy known as "Crash" and the trip would begin. It was no place for the faint of heart.

FOOTBALL MEDIA DAYS SCHEDULE

DATE EVENT
July 14-17 SEC Media Days
July 20-21 ACC Media Days
July 21-22 Big 12 Media Days
July 22 Sun Belt Media Day
July 22-23 Mountain West Media Days
July 23 C-USA Media Day
July 23 MAC Media Day
July 23-24 Pac-12 Media Days
July 28-29 Big Ten Media Days
July 28-29 American Athletic Media Days
SEC Media Days reflects changing times
My, how times have changed and so have the numbers and story lines. About the only thing that hasn't changed is the purpose for such an event. What was once the SEC Sky-Writers is now known as SEC Football Media Days. Both were, and are, a type of pre-season press conference produced by the Southeastern Conference to beef up fan interest in SEC football as the college season nears.

Remembering the Skywriters
Life under the Big Top returns when The Greatest College Football Show on Earth resumes in Hoover, Alabama, sounding the horn that the official Southeastern Conference countdown is underway. Coaches like Nick Saban or Steve Spurrier enter through the front door of the Wynfrey Hotel like they were country music stars before starting the four-day non-stop glut of interviews. Behold Radio Row, where the talking heads spin it back home with hype, hope and hurrah. The time for talking football is upon us again. The blogging and tweeting never stops. My, my how times have changed since that first SEC Skywriters Tour in 1966.

Before the creation of SEC football media days, there were the Skywriters
Before the start of this continually growing monster known as SEC media days, 45 or so hard-working and partying journalists with hearts of gold and livers of bronze stuffed into a DC-3 propeller plane for a day-to-day tour of the then-10 league schools.

Related:
SEC Media Days schedule
College football tickets