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Fan Frenzy at Media Days

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Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:00 am

Last week's SEC Media Days in Birmingham were attended by more media members than ever before, but the event has become more than a media frenzy over the years. More and more fans have shown up to the event each year to catch a glimpse of their favorite team's coach and the players who come along.

Lee Allen, a Hatton native, visits the event every year in hopes of getting those coaches and players to sign autographs on memorabilia.

Of course, Allen said getting to see the players who play each Saturday up close is another incentive.

"I see Alabama players throughout the year, but I don't get to see (South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon) Clowney much because Alabama doesn't play them," he said. "So, it's cool to see those guys."

As players and coaches enter the Hyatt Regency hotel through the front, revolving door, Allen said sometimes that door brings new coaches and players literally and figuratively.

"I've seen a lot of coaches come and go," he said. "Every year there is somebody new."

This year, Kentucky and Tennessee brought new coaches to SEC Media Days. Both of the coaches stopped and signed autographs in the lobby of the hotel, despite SEC officials trying to move them along quickly.

Most new coaches seem to stop and sign autographs, while other veteran coaches, many times, will pass through quickly.

"(Steve) Spurrier never signs autographs," Allen said. "But this year he stopped and signed a few.

"He kind of threw us a curveball."

Allen said most of the bigger names at the event, Clowney or Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, rarely stop, but most players are happy to oblige.

"Most of these guys are glad somebody is asking for their autograph," he said.

Of course, then there are people like Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze who stood inside the lobby and signed every autograph he was asked to sign.

"I'm not an Ole Miss fan, but I have a ton of respect for him because he stood here and signed autographs for 25 minutes," Allen said. "They kept trying to make him leave, and he told the guy he was going to sign autographs for the fans."

Allen has been going to SEC Media Days for seven years, and has made some friends along the way as other fans come back each year.

"I see these same people every year, and we have a good time," he said. "It's nice to know some people to pass time with."

Allen takes most of the signatures he acquires and puts them up for sale, but he keeps some of them, too.

"I've gotten a lot of really cool autographs," he said. "That's what makes this such a great event."

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