ESPN 102.5 The Game was all over SEC Media Days earlier this week, talking and reporting all things SEC football. However, the crews had a bit of fun as well, taking time to talk with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban about the Nashville Predators and the hype around their Stanley Cup run.
Sankey divulged that he has a distinct love for hockey and that he attended Preds games relatively frequently despite his busy schedule, but that his attendance for the playoff run was a bit unlucky.
“The two home losses were the games I went to,” Sankey said. “I apologize to Sean Henry… I’ve been up for a number of regular season games. We were there for Game 6 against San Jose last year… I love hockey. It is the best sport from a competitive standpoint through a season.”
For Saban, who received a lot of attention for his support of the Predators during their playoff run, attending a Stanley Cup playoff game was a source of fun and realization.
“The game gets ready to start, and Terry’s waving her towel,” Saban said of his wife. “I felt out of place. ‘Why do I feel this way for?’ I started thinking, ‘When was the last time you went to a game where you weren’t coaching?’ I didn’t know how to be a fan anymore, I didn’t know how to cheer, or how to get into the game. I wanted to go down on the ice and see what was going on.”
— Michael Senna (@36ZIP) June 4, 2017
Nashville’s exceptional playoff run became the story of the summer, and with people like Sankey and Saban voicing their support, it’s no surprise there were new fans sprouting up all over the south and the country. The lasting effect on Sankey, Saban and others is how much enthusiasm and unity was seen in the Music City as the Predators did their best to win their first Stanley Cup. Saban had plenty of praise for the crowd.
“That was a great atmosphere, I loved that,” Saban said. “There’s all this hooplah before the game, got the country and western singers going, and the place is bananas when it comes to enthusiasm… It was great to see a city support a team the way that Nashville supported that team and the enthusiasm that it created. It was marvelous and neat to be a part of.”
Sankey, on the other hand, said that the activity and fun around and in the stadium was exceptional, and that he wants various SEC campuses to replicate that level of excitement.
“I thought that everyone of our campuses needs to sit down with the Predators staff and learn about game presentation and marketing… It showed you what sports can do for a community.”
For all the interviews with Sankey and Saban, listen below: