All I can say is that when the buzz at SEC Media Days is over Dan Mullen’s shoes and Mark Richt’s haircut, I picked a good time to go on vacation.
Category Archives: SEC Football
… All but one SEC team averaged more than 360 yards per game last year; eight averaged more than 400, and Mississippi State averaged a staggering 513. But Danielson wonders if the conference might be starting to sell its soul for shiny silver.
“The big advantage the SEC had against other conferences was they were the most physical, NFL-like conference there was,” he said. “If they try to morph too much into becoming a fantasy league, they are going to cede their position as the toughest and best conference in college football.”
In case you can’t tell, the man really doesn’t like the spread.
“You go into a room, you meet with athletic directors, you can wow them by putting the spread on the board, show them how you’re going to run up all these scores. For years, I’ve been saying they are running too many plays and the games are getting too long, but none of them want to give up their stats. They love these stats.”
I’ll be the first to concede that many athletic directors have their heads up their asses, but I don’t think any of ’em are hiring coaches to run up stats. They want to win, even if they don’t always have the best idea about how to go about accomplishing that. And, like it or not, that hurry-up stuff works. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t see Saban taking steps in that direction.
For all the center of the college football universe talk, I found yesterday’s SEC Media Days sessions pretty run of the mill. The bravado was expected. So maybe that’s why the only quote that really made me do a double take came from Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason, of all people, who had this rather amazing explanation for why his team basically stunk on ice last year:
“I think me as a head coach, I made some assumptions a year ago about this football team,” Mason said. “I assumed that, just because we were in the SEC, that we play like an SEC team, and we didn’t.”
Say what? You’re at Vanderbilt, dude. If things were that easy, your predecessor wouldn’t have been able to grab the Penn State job.
You read a quote like that and wonder what the interview process that led to his hire was like. What on earth did Mason say to impress his future boss?
I guess that explains how you can hire an offensive hack like Karl Dorrell and believe things will work out well.
Predicting the pecking order is a given, of course. It’s embedded into the proceedings with a media vote. Not that the vote is particularly accurate.
“I know you all pick a winner in the conference every year and that you’ve been wrong 18 out of 22 times,” Saban said before last year’s ballot had been revealed. “Every year that we’ve been fortunate enough to win the championship, you picked somebody else to win it.”
Please pick ‘Bama, folks.
There are a couple of subsets to this chatter. One is the quarterback situation at most of the schools contending for a trip to Atlanta.
Who is the starter?
Neither Alabama nor Georgia – two of the presumed favorites to win the SEC – has a solidified starting quarterback yet. Alabama’s race appears to be between Jacob Coker and David Cornwell, but expect Nick Saban to be reluctant to provide any additional information when pressed this week. Georgia is a three-player race involving Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert. If either of these two schools is going to meet lofty expectations, picking the right starting quarterback will be crucial.
Having a surrounding cast strong enough to ease the pressure on that pick may be even more crucial. Which is probably why Alabama should be the favorite.
And how ’bout that SEC East, ladies and gentlemen?
The future of the unstable SEC East: Until further notice, the pick to win the division must to be Missouri. Right? Right? Two years in a row, the Tigers have made a lot of us look like fools. There’s no reason to go against them now … unless the likes of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina or Tennessee step up.
The pride of the Show-Me State is the pick unless those traditional powers show us they can break through. Georgia likely will be the media favorite coming out of Hoover with the aforementioned Chubb and a stout defense. Tennessee has dynamic young talent. Florida can’t be that bad again offensively, can it? Does the Ol’ Ball Coach make one last push before retiring to a perpetual 19th hole?
If the SEC West looks like a grind from here, the East looks like a crapshoot.
Oh, yeah. This.
What’s going on at Ole Miss?
The Rebels find themselves in the news for the wrong reasons with star left tackle Laremy Tunsil involved in a domestic dispute with stepfather Lindsey Miller. After the incident, which Ole Miss said was Tunsil protecting his mother, Miller stated the Ole Miss junior received impermissible benefits during the recruiting process. The NCAA is now reportedly investigating the situation and head coach Hugh Freeze is going to get a lot of questions about it this week.
What’s the over/under on the number of Tunsil questions Freeze gets thrown his way?
Bonus question: do you think Mark Richt gets asked to comment?
And so the masses converge on the center of the college football universe, Hoover, Alabama, today. Assuming Clay Travis can’t find anyone’s sexual history to be of note and that no process servers are roaming around the hotel to serve subpoenas, I’m afraid we’ll have to settle for more mundane nourishment. There are several themes around which the media seem to be converging, and we can expect to hear them asked in a myriad of ways that are bound to drive Nick Saban into full “I don’t have time for this shit” mode.
The first, and perhaps most obvious? The SEC ain’t what it used to be.
This used to be the week America’s most self-congratulatory college football conference would gather for a fresh round of pomposity. It was served up in large, Southern-sized portions, and washed down over four days with an intoxicating champagne of success.
It’s not simply the flair with which the SEC has held its annual preseason media event that lent itself to arrogance, or the sheer size (the SEC famously announces how many media members attend each year), but also the steady stream of proclamations over four days about the SEC’s singular and exclusive greatness.
During the seven-year stretch in which the SEC owned the national championship and set the agenda for all of college sports, it was difficult to mock or even dispute the way this league carried itself into every season.
This time, though, there is no air of inevitability around the SEC. Something has changed. As the league kicks off its season this week just outside of Birmingham, it is very much fighting for the reputation it has enjoyed for the last decade.
When Auburn’s Gus Malzahn arrives at the podium Monday morning to start the parade of 14 head coaches addressing media members, you probably won’t hear any acknowledgement that the SEC has slipped — or, depending on how you look at it, that other conferences have caught up.
How the mighty have fallen, in other words.
It’s a little early to be shoveling dirt into the conference’s grave, of course. On the other hand, this seems like fair criticism:
But there’s no doubt the SEC going into last year enjoyed some benefits of incumbency. Between Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State, the best non-conference wins they had came against Boise State, Kansas State and Memphis.
Maybe somebody should have paid more attention to that last season. Going into 2015, I do think it’s likely the conference has lost a little of the benefit of the doubt as a result. But that’s fixable with a few wins in the right places.