Tag:SEC Media Days
Posted on: July 21, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:37 pm

Auburn's Gene Chizik at SEC Media Days

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's not usually the case that the reigning national champion's head coach can be "besieged" at the next season's Media Days news conference, but there's no better way to describe Auburn head coach Gene Chizik's appearance Thursday. 

Chizik spent most of the morning on the defensive, especially when fielding multiple questions about a now-infamous exchange between himself and Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA VP of Enforcement. Thursday, Chizik took an opportunity to reframe the exchange as mostly positive instead of contentious in this instance:

It was a real simple question of process to Julie, who happens to be the head of NCAA Enforcement, so I thought there would be nobody better to ask. To be honest with you, it was very informative. There were some clarifications that were made that had to do with process. So I was very appreciative that we got some things cleared up and that I was able to be educated a little bit further in the questions that I had. 

Also, this instance:

Again, without going into the details of any of the exchange in the meeting, I was just trying to get clarification at the time. Again, she was very willing to clarify for me, and I appreciated that. 

Also, this instance:

I didn't see that was at all an angry or agitating exchange at all from my opinion. Again, it was a clarification of process. That's how simple I can make it. 

Chizik did mention, however, that despite the reports stemming from that exchange, Auburn's recruiting for the 2012 class is "really, really going well," and that he expects the program's third straight top-five national recruiting class. 

Chizik was given plenty of opportunities to focus on his players, however, and he did so with aplomb. He lauded returning tailback Michael Dyer -- the BCS Championship Game MVP and one of only three returning starters on offense -- and praised his staff for bringing Dyer into the mix slowly:

Michael Dyer [...] rushed for a thousand plus yards last year. I think one of the things we did with Michael that I think really helped him is we just didn't throw him in there too early. There's a lot of things that happen with runningbacks besides just carrying the ball. Pass protections, things of that nature. I think we brought him along just at the right time. [...] But Michael has a lot of work to do. I'm really proud of him because I think he's really understanding the work ethic and the things that it's going to take for him to be a better back than he was last year. Make no mistake about it, that is our expectation of him.  

As for whether the Tigers could replace Cam Newton and Nick Fairley's production, Chizik took a rather reserved approach to the problem:

I don't know who will be the next Cam Newton or Nick Fairley. What I want is a bunch of guys in there that love football, they love academics, they love Auburn, and guys that lay it on the line like those guys do to give them an opportunity to be productive like them. [They're] hard to replace. We all know that. If I stood up here and said anything different, that wouldn't be the truth. 

All in all, it was mostly boilerplate stuff, and anybody familiar with Chizik's work at these conferences knows that's not out of the ordinary for him. That did lead to one bit of unintended humor when, nearing the end of the session, someone asked him if the ongoing NCAA investigation has taken any joy out of the BCS Championship. His response, without even a hint of a smile and with all the defensive undertones of his other NCAA-related answers:

I've had a blast. I've had a blast. Our players have had a blast. Again, I think one of the things that we do a great job of at Auburn is keeping everything within the family. What an incredible journey we had in winning the national championship. Hasn't taken the joy out of anything. Hasn't changed anything for our players or our coaches or administration. We've had a ball.

Well, if that's having a blast, one would hate to see Chizik when he's annoyed.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 3:40 pm

Derek Dooley at SEC Media Days

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Tennesse head coach Derek Dooley hasn't been at Tennessee all that long, but he's routinely one of the more entertaining coaches to listen to every summer during SEC Media Days. Much like his father, Vince Dooley, Derek isn't exactly afraid to speak his opinion on a subject, particularly when he feels strongly about something.

When Dooley faced the media on Thursday, there was one topic that sent him off onto a long, thoughtful answer. Dooley was asked what he thought about the SEC's new policy of having a uniform discipline policy when it comes to players, and also on the idea of one-year renewable scholarships to multi-year scholarships.

Dooley started by addressing the scholarship issue.

"You know, I get a kick out of a lot of these issues. They're fun to read about. A scholarship is a contract. I mean, that's what it is. It's a contract between two parties. Both parties have obligations to do things to continue the contract.

"I hear about how it's so awful when a player gets a scholarship taken away. I'm sitting there going, Universities give academic scholarships all the time, and if a student doesn't meet certain academic requirements, they take it away from them.

"It's no different to me in athletics. We have a commitment to them, and they have a commitment to us. So we're giving them a benefit and they're giving us a benefit. That's why it's a contract.

"So I think how we have things is good, it's fair. It is one year. It's renewable. I think the market takes place when a team is abusing that situation. If a coach is just taking away scholarships, kicking people off the team, the market is going to take care of it in recruiting. Who is going to want to go play for the guy? Allow the market to act."

Obviously, there are some differences between academic scholarships and athletic scholarships. For starters, while both can be taken away, academic scholarships come with set guidelines for what you need to do to keep that scholarship. Athletic scholarships have a lot more gray area. Still, Dooley did make some interesting points in his response.

Just like he did when he tackled the player discipline issue.

"It goes back to what you believe philosophically. Are we going to allow the institutions and programs to set their rules, then allow the market to handle which way they go and the success they have, or are we going to take over and define what everybody does all the time? I think it's absurd to have across-the-board disciplinary measures when you're talking about dealing with young people.

"Otherwise what we need to do is get off the campuses and form us a little college league like the NFL if we're going to go in that direction. Then it's one group, we represent the college football league, not the school, we're all the same, we all wear the same sideline gear except the color of everything. It's all uniform.

"That's what makes college unique. We got programs that have $100 million competing with programs that have $10 million. Things aren't level. Things aren't equal. That's just the way it is. I think that's a unique thing, fun. Makes great fodder for the fans, brings pride to the institution because of their uniqueness. I don't think that's something we should be ashamed of."

Dooley then finished his answer in typical Dooley fashion, drawing a laugh from the entire room.

"I don't even know if I answered your question."

No doubt Dooley's comments about forming "a little college league like the NFL" caused a few ears across the country to perk up, as there are some who believe that may be the direction that college sports are taking. The idea that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the BCS will separate from the NCAA entirely to form its own league.

Some other highlights from Derek Dooley's session:

On his relationship with Will Muschamp - "Will and I are good friends. Of course, we talked a lot. I know he told you guys that prior to him getting the job at Florida. We still stay in touch. Not as much, obviously. We certainly don't talk about the same things we did before." 

"Of course, I had mixed feelings. I was proud of him. He deserved it. He's earned it. But I'd rather him been at Texas because he's a friend of mine. I mean, that's just how it is. "

On Tennessee's search for a new athletic director, and the performance of interim AD Joan Cronan - "Yeah, I've had a lot of contact with Joan. Joan has been phenomenal. When Joan took over at interim athletics director, I thought it was very important to try to define for her three or four things where she could help us before we hired a new athletics director. She has responded beautifully. She has done a phenomenal job of kind of running the ship in the interim phase. "

"I am not involved in the hiring process, nor should I be, because it's going to be my boss. I've appreciated Dr. [Jimmy] Cheek's communication with me at every step, which he has. I've appreciated his asking questions on what I thought was important. I know that he's going to make a great decision for Tennessee." 

On recruiting services - "The biggest role they play is providing video to evaluate players. You know, in the old days, I say 'the old days,' I'm a young guy. The old days were like 10 years ago to me. You got your film from a high school coach. So when you went to the schools, you would share video.

"With technology, with digital, it's been a lot easier. There's a better way where the high school coach can one time send his games to a service, and then that service can send it out to all the colleges."

"We spend a lot of money on it. I don't apologize for that. We recruit across the country. We have to stretch our wings out pretty far and need to get video from a lot of areas to build our board.

"But we do try to stay fiscally responsible that the services we are using are giving us a little return on the back end." 

On the SEC East's decline compared to the SEC West - "I don't have a theory other than to say I've been watching SEC football all of my life, as you guys know, and everything goes in cycles, it always does. Programs have their great runs. Programs have their bumps along the way. I don't think that's ever going to change. I mean, that's the competitive nature of our sport.

"So certainly the east looked a little different last year than it has in the past. But we'll see how it turns out this year." 

"Here is what I do know: every time you think a team is down, they emerge and they whip your tail. Every time you think a team's on top, things probably don't go their way.

"What I can't do is concern myself with where the other programs are. We have to concern ourselves with where we are as a program, and each week try to figure out a way to beat that team because we only have to be better than them on one day of the year. That's what our focus is."

SEC Media Days will conclude tomorrow with Nick Saban, James Franklin, Houston Nutt and Les Miles all scheduled to address the media. Keep reading CBSSports.com and the Eye On College Football Blog for continued coverage.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 2:25 pm

Georgia's Mark Richt at SEC Media Days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For a coach expected by many to be shown the door at the end of the 2011 season, Georgia's Mark Richt didn't exactly seem consigned to his fate during an upbeat appearance at SEC Media Days.

"If you go in to [athletic building] Butts-Mehre," he said, "there's not one sense of doom or gloom ... Expectations are just as high as they've ever been going into any season. Our goal is to win the Eastern division. That's just the way we think, every single season, and we believe we've got just as good a chance as anybody to do that."

The rest of the highlights from Richt's time at the podium, organized by topic:

The first two games. The Bulldogs start the year off with the most challenging of bangs, playing Boise State in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic and hosting SEC East favorite South Carolina in Week 2. About agreeing to play the Broncos, Richt said "What better way to send a surge of energy through our program than to schedule a game like that? There's risk in playing a team that can whip your tail. Because they might whip your tail. But to get back where we want to be -- highly ranked and highly thought of -- we need to play this game."

About the Broncos themselves, Richt called them "a special football team in the way they approach it ... I've probably never seen anyone play any harder than they do as a team, down after down."

As for Carolina, Richt said understanding the challenge the Gamecocks represent "energized the program in a big way ... everybody understands what it's going to take, preparation-wise."

Recruiting. The most animated Richt became was discussing the Bulldogs' efforts to recruit in-state, which he says was hampered by opponents willing to hand out scholarship offers they don't intend on honoring right away.

"That's our biggest problem at Georgia, is trying to make those evaluations properly," he said. "Because I'll say this: when we offer a kid at Georgia, we mean it. If we offer a kid and he wants to accept that offer, we're not gonna tell him 'Well, we offered you, but we don't want you to commit right now.' If we offer a guy and he commits, he's in ...

"Some out-of-state schools, they'll go blazing through the state offering everybody--not everybody, but a lot of guys. And so the high school coach is like 'Well so-and-so offered him, why didn't you offer him?' It does put pressure on us to offer a guy a little sooner than you'd like to."

Richt also criticized teams that would take an early commitment, and then sever ties with the recruit once they saw a prospect they liked better. "At Georgia, if he commits to us," he said, "we're not dumping him."

The 3-4. Richt expects a big step forward in his team's performance in second-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's system, for two reasons. One is the Bulldogs' familiarity with the defense. ""Our guys were spending a lot of time last year trying to figure out what to do, [asking] what's my assignment," he said, "and maybe not enough time on 'How do I do my job well.'"

But he also said the arrival of jumbo-sized JUCO nose guard Johnathan Jenkins would make a major impact, both in terms of Jenkins' ability and in motivating holdover Kwame Geathers into his spring MVP performance. "We think [Jenkins] can really do a great job of making the 3-4 go," Richt said. "If you don't have a nose guard that demands double-teams and maybe a triple team once in a while, you're not going to free up your linebackers to do the things that you want them to do."

Crowell? On Signing Day, Richt said that incoming five-star running back Isaiah Crowell might take the first handoff of the season against Boise. But Richt said little (if anything) specific about Crowell at Media Days, choosing instead to focus on running back-turned-linebacker-turned-runni
ng back Richard Samuel when asked about the Bulldogs' diminished running back depth.

"We're really only one guy shy of where we thought we'd be," Richt said. "[Samuel] knows the system, knows the plays, knows how to play the game. And he's a more mature man than he was a couple years ago ... I think we have plenty of depth at that position right now. Question is how productive will we be."

That Richt declined to discuss Crowell could be a signal that he's less confident in Crowell's abilities than he was at Signing Day ... or he could just be trying to keep a lid on the hype that's described Crowell as the next Knowshon Moreno.

SEC Media Days
Offensive line. Another area of offseason panic for Georgia fans has been the injury- and transfer-ravaged line. Richt offered a classic reponse when asked about it: "I think the depth is fine if we don't get anyone hurt."

Richt did add that the "starting lineup gives me a lot of confidence" and that he thinks center Ben Jones "is going to win the Rimington." He even got to reiterate that stance when Jones himself entered the media room to take the mic and ask if Richt "trusted" the offensive line. (Rich said he did.)

Jersey change. The Bulldogs already have a history with uniform experiments and will go to the well again against Boise, donning a set of Nike "Pro Combat" uniforms (as will the Broncos) the players saw for the first time this week.

"I think jersey change is a great idea if you win, and I think it's a bad idea if you lose," Richt said. "Our players are excited about it. A lot of energy in the room [on their debut] and a lot of excitement. They're going to enjoy wearing those jerseys .... Is that going to help us win the game? I promise it won't win the game for us. Boise's going to be wearing theirs too.

"But it's fun ... College football is a grind. A grind for the coaches, a grind for the players. We're not complaining. But any time you can have some fun with your guys, I think it's good to do that."

Muschamp. Richt drew a laugh with this reponse to a question about new Florida coach Will Muschamp, a Georgia graduate: "I'm sure he's going to tell everyone in Florida he's Florida through and through, but I guarantee there's a little bit of red and black in his veins."

Tenure. Asked about the difficulties of being at one SEC school for 11 years: "It's not difficult if you win."

Posted on: July 21, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:40 am

Joker Phillips supports compensating players

Posted by Chip Patterson

Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips was the first to take the microphone on Day 2 of SEC Media Days in Birmingham. One question offered to pretty much every coach on the podium so far has been their reaction to Mike Slive's proposed changes from Wednesday. Phillips, who played wide receiver at Kentucky from 1981-1984, quickly voiced his support for the discussion of player benefits.

"It's great that we are having dialogue about paying players, or compensating players," Phillips said. "There's a lot of factors involved, I understand that. Having this dialogue has gotten us to the fact-finding phase of this thing. As we continue to find out the facts, and come up with some answers that might fit. We have to understand the answers are not just about football and basketball, but all sports involved. We have to take care of everybody, not just men's football and men's basketball. Whatever solution we come up with, I'll be for."

Here are some more highlights from Phillips' comments to the media Thursday morning:

-The second-year head coach enters the 2011 season returning only 15 starters from 2010's squad, and will be looking to replace starting quarterback Mike Hartline, leading rusher Derrick Locke and Mr. Everything Randall Cobb. But with 9 of those starters on defense and a lot of confidence in the next group he still thinks they should be competitive in the upcoming season. Their theme this year is "RISE" and that is his challenge to the players. With so much production, particularly on offense, gone - new stars need to rise to the occasion for the Wildcats to succeed.

- Although last year did finish with a bowl berth, Phillips pointed out that the 6-7 finish was a drop-off from two straight 8-5 seasons. His goal for the Wildcats is to be able to hang in the SEC East race as long as possible. When asked about how close they were to "getting over the wall," Phillips believes that his squad is approaching that level.
"We're very, very close," Phillips responded. "We lost a lot of close games. Things that will get us over the hump will be being the most disciplined team, being the most physical team, and having mental toughness."

- Several mentions were made to the Wildcats strength and conditioning program under Rock Oliver. He wants the team to be attacking, aggressive, and display the aforementioned mental and physical toughness. He thinks this team has done well in the two years under Oliver in offseason preparation, and the squad looks leaner and stronger than they have in a while. Phillips also praised new co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter, who actually got to to work with the team for the 15-16 practices leading up to the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 8 in Birmingham.

Keep it here at the Eye On College Football for more updates from media days from all conferences in the upcoming weeks.
Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 11:54 pm

Mississippi State's Dan Mullen at SEC Media Days

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The last coach to speak on Day 1 of the 2011 SEC Media Days was Dan Mullen, head coach of the upstart Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs finished 9-4 (4-4) last season, good enough for a No. 15 ranking to end the year (even while only managing a fifth-place finish in the six-team SEC West).

If those numbers seem merely good but not outstanding, objectively speaking, yes, that's true. This is Mississippi State we're talking about, however, a football program with just two nine-win seasons in the last 30 years (1998 and 1999) and a historical reputation alongside Vanderbilt and Kentucky at the bottom of the SEC. So clearly, nine wins is a big deal, and considering the amount of offense returning (nine positional starters and the kicker), it's hardly out of the question for a second straight year.

At Wednesday's Media Days appearance, Mullen credited his fans early and often for that turnaround, citing the 10 straight sellouts thus far, and he seemed to indicate that their continued support is what'll keep Mississippi State performing at such a high level consistently going forward.

For our fans, when I got hired, they were saying, "Boy, if we start winning games, you'll sell out the stadium and things will be great." It actually works in the reverse. You sell out the stadium, you create this game day environment, you're going to start winning football games. Our fans really bought into it. They bought into their role and their responsibility in making our team successful.

Questions about the Bulldogs' personnel were a little light, focusing only on bruising tailback Vick Ballard (968 yards, 19 TDs in 2010) and returning quarterback Chris Relf, a senior in 2011. Ballard was a first-year starter in 2010, coming out of junior college, and Mullen cited the praise from Ballard's coaches as a main indicator of future success. "When the coaches come out, and his junior college coaches say, 'He's the one that makes us go,' that's something that really draws your attention as a coach," Mullen said.

Mullen did not have such high praise for Relf as a prospect, however; Mullen said that in his first year coaching the Bulldogs, he "had a lot of doubts whether [Relf] could play quarterback in the SEC. Chris played his first year, relied on some of his natural ability, ran the ball well, made some good throws, but was very inconsistent." Mullen is now impressed with Relf's development and decision-making, and the coach praised Relf's maturity several times during the interview.

Of note, also, is Mullen's near-unconditional support of Mike Slive's academic proposals, noting correctly that currently, high school academic eligibility and college acceptance standards don't have much in common with each other, and that a high school student-athlete's grades usually climb considerably during his senior year once the importance of academics becomes tangible. "I'm all for increasing the standards," Mullen said. "We just want to make sure there's a plan in place, that we don't just increase the standards but don't have a plan to raise the standards of these young people while they're in high school as well."

One thing Mullen didn't bother mentioning, however, was his team's in-state rival: Ole Miss. Not once was that football program, its school, its fan base, its coach, its players, or any other aspect of its existence acknowledged during the course of Mullen's 40-minute appearance -- not even when Mullen was asked about the "Welcome To Our State" billboard on Mississippi's border that bears his face and his school's logo. Oh, Mullen mentioned Southern Miss and its head coach, Larry Fedora, as two parties that might not appreciate the billboard, but the billboard's real aim -- riling up Rebels fans -- went unmentioned. 

Indeed, Mullen preferred to discuss Starkville and Mississippi State, implicitly thumbing his nose at Ole Miss' famed campus and tailgating at the Grove as follows (emphasis ours):  

"I give our athletic department a lot of credit. They've made our game day not just a game. They've made it an event. If you come to Starkville on a Saturday, it is an event. It's the place to be in Mississippi. There is so much going on for everybody in the family, whether it be out in the parking lot, in the tailgating, in the kids' area outside the stadium, to actually all the excitement of the game itself. They have all bought in, and our fans have done that."

"I think one of the biggest challenges we had was people coming to Starkville.... You just don't pass it by. It's a hidden gem. Everybody that comes to visit us, that's the challenge we've had. Once they come on campus, whether it be recruits, parents, even fans, they say, 'Wow, I didn't know what a beautiful place this is, what a great place to live, what a great community Starkville, Mississippi is.' That's within our challenge."

Posted on: July 20, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 7:21 pm

Steve Spurrier at SEC Media Days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After a few ho-hum seasons at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier had been turning in a few ho-hum performances at SEC Media Days the past few years -- ones nearly all observers agreed were a far cry from his charismatic, entertaining turns during his Florida salad days. Spurrier admitted as much in his appearance Wednesday. "I haven't won enough to be very talkative lately," he said.

But Gamecock fans have to be encouraged that, for the most part, Spurrier today was at his charming, engaging best. Here are the highlights from his comments, organized by topic:

Expectations. In his opening statement, Spurrier said "we feel like we've probably assembled maybe the best group of players we've had in the seven years now that I've been there."

But asked later about being the presumptive SEC favorite, Spurrier responded with a question of his own: "You know we lost our last two games last year? We're not sitting around patting each other on the back too much." He mentioned twice that the Gamecocks finished seventh in the conference in both total offense and total defense, so they were "not a great team by any means." In short: He doesn't believe egos or motivation will be a problem as the team looks to "win the game in Atlanta" for the first time.

"We've accomplished a few firsts," he said, referring to last year's SEC East title (among other accomplishments), "but there's still plenty more out there for us to go after."

Garcia. Spurrier said wayward quarterback Stephen Garcia had "done everything we've asked" and was still "set to return" come fall camp. Noting that Garcia's recent issues haven't been of a legal nature -- "no arrests, no DUIs" -- Spurrier explained his willingness to keep his troubled star on the roster by saying, "I guess we just don't want to kick him out for stupidity."

But Spurrier also defiantly refused to name Garcia the starter, saying he would "have a little competition" between the senior and 2010 backup Connor Shaw. "Whoever our quarterback is, he needs to go out and earn it in preseason practice," Spurrier said. (The number of people convinced that quarterback might be Shaw likely remains in the single digits, however.)

Scholarship proposals. Spurrier made it clear he is no fan of Mike Slive's reform proposals, even addressing his reponse to Slive when it came to offering multiple-year scholarships. "That's a terrible idea, Commissioner," he said.

He also slammed the proposed new standards for freshman eligiblity, saying he felt they were "pretty good the way they are right now." "For some reason," he added "we seem to want to try to make it more and more difficult for these young men who come from difficult backgrounds and difficult academic settings."

Clowney. When will No. 1 overall recruit Jadeveon Clowney see the field at defensive end? "Early and often," Spurrier said. "We think he's really going to be a super player and a real good guy for us."

From the sound of it, he might even start. Addressing his defense, Spurrier said, "We're hoping with Devin [Taylor] coming on one end and Jadeveon coming from the other end or up the middle or somewhere, we're gonna have a good pass rush this year."

Spurrier credited his team's improvement in large part to better in-state recruiting, of which Clowney is a part -- between him, Marcus Lattimore and All-SEC corner Stephon Gilmore, Carolina has landed the last three South Carolina Mr. Football winners. According to Spurrier, Clowney's decision "sends a message" as the first No. 1 overall recruit to choose a program that has never won a national title.

Honesty. As usual, Spurrier (to his everlasting credit) answered questions with nothing less than his honest opinion. Lobbed a softball question about star receiver Alshon Jeffery being "underappreciated," Spurrier cited Jeffery's many accolades (including a first team All-American nod) in saying he didn't feel like Jeffery was underappreciated at all.

Asked what had made the difference between the 2010 Gamecocks and their previous editions, Spurrier discussed Lattimore and other factors -- but also started his reponse by saying his team benefitted from the East's "three top teams not having the years they usually have."

Spurrier was also questioned about the departure of Bryce Sherman, the former Gamecock walk-on whose 2010 scholarship was not renewed and who left the team in a flurry of angry Tweets. "We gave him a year and a half [of scholarship money], which I thought was pretty nice of us," Spurrier said.

Special teams. Spurrier revealed he was sorely disappointed in his special teams units, noting that they have yet to score a touchdown during his seven-year tenure. "Some day, I want to win a game with a blocked punt," he said.

Practice. Asked about the Ivy League's new policy limiting full-contact practices and whether it would work at the FBS level, Spurrier offered a surprising response for an SEC coach -- he said the Gamecocks would be fine with that policy in place.

"To me, it doesn't make any sense to get your own players hurt in practice," he said. "When the Army guys practice against each other, they don't use live bullets. Why do football teams use live hits?"

Money. Spurrier mentioned that the Gamecocks spend less on recruiting services than any other SEC school (just $12,000 a year), then spun that into a discussion of the massive amounts of money in the league these days ... and a dig at Mississippi State, with Dan Mullen waiting in the podium wings.

"Mississippi State's got a jet airplane," Spurrier said. "They've got all kinds of money at Mississippi State. Everybody's got a lot of money."

Posted on: July 20, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:24 pm

Florida's Will Muschamp at SEC Media Days

Posted by Chip Patterson

Florida head coach Will Muschamp has never been confused as one to lack emotion. In fact, some have even said that the former Texas defensive coordinator would have to "tone down" some of his sideline behavior now serving as the head coach - particularly at one with the prestige of the Gators. But making his first appearance at SEC Media Days, a fire was lit under Muschamp when he was asked about the roster status of Jeff Demps.

Muschamp addressed Demps as one of the few unknowns on the roster, but said it was only because of his involvement with track and field. Demps has won a national championship already this offseason, and is currently competing overseas in Italy. A reporter asked Muschamp to address some rumors regarding Demps' status and why there were no certain answers.

"I don't deal in rumors and I don't deal in message boards, I don't know any good coach who does," Muschamp snapped. "I deal with people eyeball to eyeball, and I ain't ever been to Italy."


Other highlights from Mushcamp's first day on the microphone:

- Muschamp repeated several times that "you can't be someone you are not." Which is his reasons for hiring Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator. "I've coached defense, I've coached special teams, I hired Charlie to coach our offense." Muschamp believes that the SEC is a "line-of scrimmage" league, which only further supports the hiring of a multiple/pro-style offensive mind like Weis. In the words of Muschamp, "you have to be multiple, or your quarterback won't survive the season."

- Other than Demps, the only other roster question is Neiron Ball who will not compete in 2011 after being diagnosed with a vascular condition. He said that Ball is going to be a member of the program, and they will have a better idea about his future in January or February.

- Early in the day, Muschamp deflected much of the John Brantley criticism by acknowledging that "we need play better around him." The new system will be a better fit, but he knows that Brantley needs to play better for the Gators to succeed in 2011.

- In comparing the Big 12 and SEC, Muschamp mentioned that there is much more spread offense in the Big 12. He once again returned to his recurring theme of complimenting SEC defensive lines, and how they dictate what offenses can and can't do in the conference.

- Muschamp's email inbox has been "filled with suggestions for the Gators," but the new head coach went out of his way to mention former head coach Urban Meyer early. He thanked Meyer for his suggestion and called the former coach and current commentator a "first class" help to his transition into the head coaching ranks.

- "Let's play hard, fast, and physical. We'll be a blue-collar unit that can play well enough. When the tough decisions come we'll figure that out" (Not a ton of commentary there, just sounded really cool when he said it)
Posted on: July 20, 2011 3:28 pm

Bobby Petrino at SEC Media Days

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino was the first SEC coach to be subjected to the throngs of reporters at the SEC Media Days on Wednesday in Birmingham, and here are a couple highlights of his session.

On why he's had so much success with quarterbacks wherever he's been - "I think when you look at our success in coaching quarterbacks, one thing I really believe in is it's our job to find out what they do well and then ask them to do that.

It's our coaches' job, my job, to find out what our quarterback does best. Let's take this nice, fancy playbook we have, set it to the side, and develop the offense around the quarterback and give him a chance to be successful. I think the other thing that helps a lot is when you get the other ten guys to play real well around him." 

On Tyler Wilson's performance in spring practice this year - "Tyler and Brandon [Mitchell] were the two guys taking reps with the ones. I really believe that those reps, they really tried to take advantage of them. I think Tyler also really understood that 'I just need to settle down, relax, and play the game the way I know how to play the game.' Not try to be Ryan Mallett. In [spring 2010 when Mallett was injured] at times he tried to do things that were out of his element and I thought this spring that was something he really understood 'Hey this is what I do well, this is what I have to work on, and I'm going to continue to do what I know how to do to move the ball.'"

On how Arkansas having so much depth at RB and WR helps the quarterback - "I think it'll really help our new QB, Tyler or Brandon, whoever it is. The fact that  I have to distribute the ball according to what the defense is doing. There's been years when you're on offense and you know who your number one receiver is, your number two receiver is and sometimes, particularly when you're inexperienced, you try to force the ball into that guy. Our quarterbacks understand that we're very talented. I have to read the defense, understand what's going on and distribute the ball. Get it to my players and let them make plays for me. I think that's something we will rely on, and it'll really help us if you can turn around and hand it to Knile [Davis] 20 to 25 times a game and get to the proper third downs. That's what really helps there."

On Knile Davis and what he means to the team - "I think the first thing you look at when you look at Knile Davis is you look at his work ethic. Here's a young man that, in the weight room, has continued to get stronger and faster. In fact, he just did a great job in the weight room this past week.

"He's a young man that, in the winter, when we had our testing days, he went in there with every group. He didn't have to, but he was in there cheering them on, spotting guys. The offensive line came in after the running backs, he stayed and spent time with the offensive lineman. So it's become extremely important for him to show how much he cares, and how much he encourages his teammates.

"As far as his ability to run the football, you can see he can run with power, speed and has very, very good vision. I'm excited to see him take a step forward and make improvements in what he did from a year ago. He understands what he needs to do to do that."

On Arkansas' defensive line and how important defensive line play is in the SEC - "I'm excited for our defense this year because I really feel like it's the first time where we're physically where we need to be on the defensive front. Our guys will be big and physical and athletic. We've got speed on the edges which matches what we see every week in the conference.

"I've always believed since I was in the conference as an assistant and then coached in another conference as a head coach that the thing that separated the SEC from everybody else in America was the defensive front. The speed and athleticism on the edges and the athleticism and size on the inside. I found out when I came back into the league as a head coach that that was true."

On playing in a division as tough as the SEC West - "It's tough, you're going against guys that are very, very good players. Tremendous coaching staffs. That's what makes it hard is everybody is going to be well-prepared, understands how you play the game and has the talent to win the game. I think it's real important for us that we're disciplined, we understand how to play on the road and how to find a way to win in the fourth quarter."

On the high expectations at Arkansas - "I'm not afraid of high expectations. I'm excited with the fact that two years in a row now we have very high expectations....It's fun to approach the year that way."

On Ryan Mallett sharing Arkansas' hand signals with Jon Gruden in an ESPN special - "Yeah, they're changed. We already changed them. I wasn't real happy with him, by the way, when I was informed that he did that. He called me up and apologized, but he gave us a few ideas for some new hand signals, so that always helps."

On whether he considers 2010 to be an 11-win season rather than a 10-win season after Ohio State had to vacate the Sugar Bowl - "It's a ten-win season, we were 10-3. We had every chance in the world to win that game but were beat on the field."
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