Once a week, SEC Digital Media Director Eric SanInocencio will share insights on the inner-workings of the conference office.
Birmingham, Ala. -- Where did August go? The last quiet days of summer are gone, and we are now just 24 hours from the start of the 2011 season. Mississippi State and Kentucky both hit the field for real tomorrow
and the cycle begins as the SEC turns its eyes to another year on the gridiron.
To the average fan, Labor Day is a time to look forward to. You get an extra day off, which is fantastic because that weekend usually coincides with the start of the college football season. You can essentially overload yourself with football, food and spirits for 96 straight hours. The way television contracts are, you can literally watch a football game every night until the world returns to work on the following Tuesday.
Everyone looks forward to Labor Day right?
Well, in this building, that isn't 100 percent true. Labor Day is great for the reasons mentioned above, but here at the SEC office, that day marks the return of another ritual. A ritual that I'd guess 80 percent of the men in the office aren't excited about. Starting Labor Day, they have to wear ties to work again.
As I have mentioned in blog posts prior, the SEC office is very similar to the regular corporate setup. There are offices, cubicles, management and employees. For the most part, the workplace is often laid back, with a open feel throughout the building on any given day.
If there is a company handbook, you don't necessarily hear about it on a daily basis. Common sense is more the process than any written mandate, and people here err on the side of caution with most items concerning the league. Having worked in this building in some capacity off and on for the past five years, only one major rule sticks out to me. That rule? The dress code.
The code itself is easily to follow, and even easier to remember. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the dress is business casual. While that has many definitions across the working world, here it means a pair of slacks with a polo shirt when you walk in the door. Makes sense if you think about it, since summer months in the South can routinely reach triple digits.
To me it often felt that the dress changed because the year itself did too, in the fact that a busy season was winding down for a few months so we could all catch our breath. For those working here, especially me, I looked at the rule as a nice cherry on top, a way to let the little hair I have on my head down before the cycle started all over again.
However, that "down" period is only 25 percent of the calendar year. The other 75.....tie it up. That is where Labor Day comes in, as it initiates the process of getting down to business again in the SEC office. Starting September 6th, tie is no longer optional. It is mandatory.
I tried to do some research as to when this phenomenon started, as a quickly surveyed a few members of the nearby staff. My first call was to Chuck Dunlap (@SEC_Chuck
), who began working at the SEC as an intern in 1999. "It has always been that way since I been here," Dunlap told me. So, I then popped my head into Tammy Wilson's (@TWilsonSEC
) office, who has been with the league since 1997. "Yeah, it has been that way as long as I have worked here."
Having just accounted for 14 years in the league office's history, I turned to the 2011 SEC Football Media guide. Flipping to the front section, I tried to figure out which person had the longest tenure in this office. That search landed me in Mark Womack's office, as the current Executive Associate Commissioner, who first joined the conference in the late 1970's. Surely he would remember when all "tie business" began.
"That's a good question Eric," where his first remarks to me, as he scanned through his memory banks for the date I inquired about. After a few seconds sifting through his three-decades of SEC memories, he commented, "I think it was when Commissioner Kramer got here." After another pause, he added "Yeah, it had to be late eighties or even 1990. We didn't always wear ties here."
Perhaps it was new in 1990, but it is now the norm here in 2011. So, while you enjoy all action and the extra day this weekend, remember this small nugget of information. There are some here that aren't as thrilled about this holiday as you are.