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Mike Bianchi: New SEC Network brings you Tim Tebow, Johnny Cash and religious imagery

July 17th, 2014 9:41 am by By Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel (MCT)

Mike Bianchi: New SEC Network brings you Tim Tebow, Johnny Cash and religious imagery

HOOVER, Ala. — What's bigger: The first coming of the SEC Network or the second coming of Jesus Christ?

Musically speaking, leave it to the otherworldly Southeastern Conference to compare the unveiling of its new TV network to the return of the central figure of Christianity.

At the SEC Network's presentation before the 1,300 media members at the league's annual Media Days this week, a new commercial promoting the network was presented on the big screen at the front of an expansive hotel ballroom. It showed Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban and the rest of the SEC coaches in action as the late, great Johnny Cash provided a musical backdrop with his religious anthem, "The Man Comes Around."

"There's a man going around taking names

"And he decides who to free and who to blame

"Everybody won't be treated all the same

"There will be a golden ladder reaching down

"When the man comes around."

Johnny Cash, the devoutly spiritual Man in Black himself, once explained that he wrote the song about the return of Jesus as prophesized in the Bible's Book of Revelation. I guess the SEC Network figures bringing Tim Tebow back into the league as a TV commentator is close enough.

Coming soon to the SEC Network: A commercial showing Nick Saban singing "How Great Thou Art" while bowing before a statue of himself.

The SEC Network, I am convinced, is all part of the league's master plan to take over the college football world — and afterworld — even more so than it already has.

"It's a national network," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said Wednesday. "It will have a reach throughout the country. It's a historic moment for us. We're going to fill 8,000 hours with content in every way that we can. I think it's exactly what we need and want in this particular time in history."

That's right, when the league's network debuts on Aug. 14, it's going to be S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C! 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There will be 45 football games on the network this season, not to mention 65 women's soccer and volleyball matches and every men's and women's conference basketball game, baseball game, softball game and gymnastics meet.

There will be SEC preview shows, SEC recap shows, SEC scoreboard shows, SEC studio shows and daily SportsCenter-like SEC news shows.

There will even be full-length SEC movies and documentaries like the one about the life and times of Steve Spurrier entitled, "The Believer." No word yet on whether there will be a sequel about Urban Meyer entitled, "The Deceiver."

And you know it's only a matter of time until there is a remake of "The Godfather" in which Slive plays the lead role and Jimbo Fisher wakes up with Renegade's head in his bed after ending the SEC's string of seven straight national titles last season.

And how long until we get weekly reality shows on the network like "SEC Survivor" in which contestants are hopelessly isolated in Starkville with no way to get home?

Or "Real Housewives of SEC Coaches" in which Kristi Malzahn and Terry Saban debate such relevant SEC topics as "Smokey and the Bandit" vs. "Cannonball Run" and pro style vs. spread option.

Then, of course, there's the weekly show chronicling the evolution of Will Muschamp's offenses at the University of Florida — "Yuck Dynasty."

And, finally, the game show featuring the SEC's annual array of five-star football recruits — "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?"

Obviously, we are joking, but if you're a member of another league this is no laughing matter. Seriously, the SEC already has the most money, the biggest stadiums, the brightest coaches, the best players and the most passionate fans. Think of how much MORE of an advantage the league will have when it teams up with ESPN to bring you the SEC Network.

Are you kidding me — the ESPN brand combined with the SEC brand? This is like Kate Upton marrying Ryan Gosling.

"The advantages of having a network are many," LSU coach Les Miles says. "When you're telling players: Do you want your family to see you, do you want to be covered, do you want national acclaim, do you want an opportunity at national awards, do you want to be on television? . . . I think it's just tremendously positive."

It's even more than that.

It's a religious experience.

Just ask Johnny Cash.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Mike Bianchi is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel.

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