By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
Birmingham, Ala. -- As many of you know, SEC Media Days takes place this week.
But, what you may not know, is just how much is involved with setting up the SEC's largest media event of the year. In this special "Q&A", we spoke with Tammy Wilson, who oversees Media Days for the conference staff. Wilson, in conjunction with many (as you'll read about below), will be at the hub of the conference's media relations for the big week in Hoover.
In this sit down, Wilson shared insight on everything that happens behind the scenes at SEC Media Days.
SEC Digital Network: How many years has SEC Media Days taken place?
This is 28th year of SEC Football Media Days. It started in 1985 and has always been held in the Birmingham area. It’s current home of The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover has hosted the event for a total of 16 years (1988-91 and 2001-present).
SEC Digital Network: What made the SEC decide to house the event at the Wynfrey Hotel?
Attendance has grown every year, we’ve more than doubled in size since 2004. The Wynfrey has the meeting space and the guest room space that we need. In fact, we use every inch of meeting space at the hotel. In addition, the hotel goes above and beyond to make sure the event is a great one for our staff, the schools and the media. The hotel staff we work with is one of the best we work with every year. I say that they could actually run the event without us.
SEC Digital Network: How long does the conference plan to have the Wynfrey be the host for SEC Media Days?
We have another year on the current contract. We reassess the event and it’s location every couple of years and will do so again after 2013.
SEC Digital Network: When does preparation start for SEC Media Days?
Prep begins in early April with meetings among the staff and with the hotel and the schedule being finalized. Preparations begin in earnest in mid-May. The two weeks leading up to the event are the busiest with credentials being approved and produced, menus being finalized, working with the hotel on meeting room needs, travel for the schools being scheduled, etc.
SEC Digital Network: Once preparation is complete, what role do you serve as the event takes place?
I work with any issues in credentialing, am the liaison with the hotel in regards with problems that may arise and working with the schools in their rotations. Each coach and player has a staff member that assists with getting them around during their rotation. Each rotation has 13 stops that is made within a 2 ½ to 3 hour period. In that time we have two schools with a total of eight individuals rotating so I try to keep everything on time as much as possible. Which in reality isn’t really possible, but I try.
SEC Digital Network: How many credential media members will be attendance this week?
The registered number of media is currently at 818. The total number of credentials is at 1115. This number includes bowl representatives, corporate sponsors, school personnel and event staff. The total number will increase by time we open for business on Tuesday morning.
SEC Digital Network: Are there any added difficulties this year with two new schools coming to the Wynfrey?
No difficulties but we did have to add a session on Wednesday. Previously, Wednesday ended around lunchtime. This year we’ll have three sessions and end around 5 p.m.
SEC Digital Network: How many total staff members does it take (both SEC and Wynfrey) to effective put on SEC Media Days?
In addition to the six Media Relations staff members an additional 10 are kind enough to assist us. We also bring in between 25-30 additional personnel. This group are former staff members, full-time staff from our institutions and student volunteers.
SEC Digital Network: What changes (if any) do you forsee in SEC Media Days in the coming years?
I don’t see any drastic changes coming except that the attendance will continue to grow.
SEC Digital Network: Is it fair to say that SEC Media Days is the biggest event the conference office hosts each year?
It’s the largest media event by far and shows no signs of slowing down.