When you think about what connects us, the cement that binds people together, it’s not much of a stretch to bring up the topic of college athletics. The college experience. Game days on campus. Cheering and supporting your team. It’s a shared bond … even between rivals.
And when it comes to SEC fans, you might even call what binds them together … “SEC-ment.”
That passion was on full display at SEC Media Days, held for the first time in Nashville, Tennessee. As part of the Media Days fun, select fans were also there to support their alma mater and teams, courtesy of Regions.
Regions is the official bank of the SEC and a sponsor of SEC Media Days 2023.
“Having Media Days in Nashville is a source of pride,” said Lee Blank, Nashville Market Executive for Regions. “It’s something to celebrate. I’m pleased we can be a part of it and share it with so many in the community.”
A native of Mandeville, Louisiana, Gorney went to LSU, graduating in 1981. Today, he lives in Nashville and is a Commercial Real Estate Investor in Tennessee, and a Regions customer for nearly 20 years.
“(Being at LSU) was a blend of having the big college experience, the game days. And then the camaraderie and the good education in the accounting department. To me, it was great mix.”
After Gorney had a chance to hear the LSU head coach talk about the season, he commented, “He’s solid. He’s the CEO. I’m very optimistic about what we’re going to be doing this year.”
As a child, Rob Carpenter lived in Baton Rouge, and eventually went to LSU and the Stonier School of Banking. But now living and serving the community, Carpenter is also a big fan of having Media Days in Nashville.
“It’s great exposure for the city, the region. Hopefully we can continue to have it in the Nashville area,” he said.
That enthusiasm for the SEC goes back to his roots. “Growing up in Baton Rouge, it was always something to spend a Saturday afternoon, tailgating before the game. I still go down for most of the home SEC games and enjoy meeting up with friends and family.” he added.
Speaking about the tradition of food and the atmosphere around Death Valley/Tiger Stadium, he added, “We always win the party, even if we don’t win the game!”
There’s a tradition in the SEC. There is tradition in the Smith family, also.
Dudley Smith surprised his father, a University of Tennessee grad. His older brother went to Auburn, and his father expected he would follow to either UT or Auburn. But a visit to Tuscaloosa changed Smith’s mind.
“I went one weekend and that was all it took,” he said. “I told my father that this is the place for me. It was a great experience. I met my wife there. I love the university and everything about it.”
After his time at the university, Dudley returned home to help run the family business – Marshall and Bruce Printing Company. Dating back to 1865, the company – a packaging printer for Fortune 100 companies across the country – is now into its third generation of family ownership.
Smith loves hearing Alabama’s legendary leader speak. “From a coaching standpoint, from a personal standpoint, he will probably go down as the best coach of all time,” he added. “Getting to hear him speak (at Media Days) is such an honor. It means so much.”
It’s one thing to follow in the family footsteps, but Duncan Smith, Dudley’s Smith’s son, followed his father into business and along the same educational path. Duncan also graduated from Alabama, during the team’s most recent run of National Championship teams.
“I love Alabama football!” he added. “When I was there, we won two National Championships, and I attended one of them. The games are so much fun. You really can’t beat a college football Saturday!
“My favorite Alabama football memory has to be the second-and-26,” said Duncan, referring to the dramatic overtime victory a few years ago. “And we won the National Championship in Atlanta!”
Mike Crane went to school at the Ole Miss from 1988-1992 – both as an undergrad and graduate student. Today, he works in finance/accounting for Smelter Service Corporation – an employee-owned company that recycles industrial aluminum and byproducts.
However, his opinions of the outlook for Ole Miss for 2023 are definitely not recycled.
“I’m pretty optimistic. We could be a lot better team this year and not have a better record because of our schedule,” he said. “I’ve never been to Media Days. I’m a typical SEC fan. When I got the opportunity to come, I took advantage of it.”
Catch more 2023 SEC Media Days coverage on Doing More Today