Of all the things I’ve heard coaches say about the SEC Network, the following statement, by Kentucky Basketball Coach John Calipari, has to be one of the best:
“It’s our television,” Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said. “It’s kind of like having your own Twitter account, your own Facebook, your own website. You define the narrative. They can’t write the story about you: ‘The league’s this, the league’s that.’ No, they can’t. You have your own narrative now.”
Anyone whose followed the trajectory of Calipari’s career had to get a kick out of those words. Talk about classic.
Despite being a coach whom many hail as one of the best ever, he’s also a guy that’s been known to stretch the truth, outright lie if necessary, as well as cheat (or at least blindly allow it to happen). To give a guy like that a chance to spin his own “narrative” is a lot like giving the baby away with the bath water.
And speaking of truth-tellers and narrative-spinners, Paul Finebaum is already finely tuning his approach to storytelling, and it doesn’t sound like he’s planning to change too much about his approach—which is to say he’ll still be stirring the pot with that big ass spoon of his.
Finebaum said it’s not his intent to prevent callers from being critical of SEC coaches on an SEC-branded channel. Whether there will be internal SEC pushback, “truthfully, I don’t know what will happen,” Finebaum said. “Will there be something that happens? Sure. I can’t imagine at the end of the football season there won’t be one situation that somebody didn’t like. I don’t go into the programs hoping I don’t upset somebody.”
Honestly, despite the presence of Finebaum and characters like Calipari, I expect the SEC Network to have a lot of growing pains, as most new networks do, and I don’t suspect they’ll have much of an identity in either year one or two. After all, their current lineup of hosts and analysts is hardly enough to make you sit up and pay attention (Jesse Palmer and Andre Ware were enough for me to roll my eyes 1000 times over—ugh).
Even so, you’re hoping you’ll see some semblance of quality programming, and not just some channel sporting the letters of one of the league’s most powerful conferences.