Friday, July 24, 2009

SEC Media Days 1 and 2

Ahhh, football season is right around the corner. And what better way to spend it than in Hoover, Alabama with a few thousand Alabama fans clamoring for the chance to touch the hem of Saban's garment?

This picture is from Jeff Schultz's blog over at is actually doing a fairly entertaining job of covering the festivities, including this quote about the above picture.
"You see what I see. Fortunately, you don’t smell what I smell — like these Bama fans who’ve been waiting in the hotel lobby since 7:30 a.m., hoping to get a glimpse of a football coach or a left tackle. They didn’t move. For hours. It was a Thursday. I can’t verify their employment at this time."

Let's hit the highlights:
(fair warning...this turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be. That's what happens when all of the bosses take the same day off.)

Day 1:
Wow, they must have really backloaded the schedule this year. Today we get Petrino, Bobby Johnson, Dan Mullen, and Rich Brooks. Should be a real laugh riot.
Before the coaches took the podium, we did get the "State of the SEC" speech from Commissioner Slive. To sum up: The SEC is doing just fine. Or, as Orson Swindle put it in his twitter: "Mike Slive, paraphrased: We're getting hit by the recession just like everybody else. Please excuse me while I adjust my platinum underwear."

Then the ESPN guys talked about the new contract with the SEC...the gist of that is that SEC football is going to be on ALL THE TIME. Like, every day. On every channel.

Really cool news coming out is that Matt Stinchcomb, former Dawg great, will be co-hosting the studio show for the early games. Great news for him, and I think he's going to do a great job. I have also heard that Pollack may be involved on some level as well, but I don't know the specifics on that one.

On with the show...

I have made my thoughts about Petrino pretty clear in this post...let's just say I'm not a big fan.

Most interesting quotes:
- He made some pretty interesting comments about high school offenses. He said that while he is excited and happy that high schools are throwing the ball around a lot, going no-huddle, having a lot of 7-on-7 drills/tournaments, etc., he thinks it's hurting the development of quarterbacks when it comes to getting a play, calling it in the huddle, and walking up and taking the snap from under center. He said that one of their backup QBs, Tyler Wilson, had taken every single snap since 8th grade in the shotgun, in a no-huddle offense. When he got to Arkansas, they had to start by teaching him how to simply get a play called in the huddle that has been sent in from the sideline. Not to mention things like the footwork involved in taking a snap under center and turning to hand the ball off to your running back in the right place. He said he wishes they would institute a rule that HS offenses have to operate from under center at least 25-40% of the time. That will never happen, of course, nor should it (and if somebody tried to tell Petrino what type of formation he had to run 25% of his offense from, he'd tell them to stick it), but it was still an interesting train of thought.

- Ryan Mallett was over 265 pounds when he showed up on campus, which explains why he probably would not have been effective in the Rich Rodriguez spread at Michigan. They now have him down to under 240. I wish they had gotten him to go the other way, and just see how big he could get and still throw the ball. I can't be the only one who misses Jared Lorenzen.

- He never thinks about how his stint with the Falcons would have been different had Vick not gone to jail. Yeah, Coach, I'm right there with you...I don't like to think about it, either. I wouldn't trade Smith and Ryan for Petrino and Vick even if you threw in the '85 Bears defense in the deal.

- He voted for Tebow. I could not care less, and have no idea why this is a story. I only wish it had been Richt who didn't vote for him....since it wasn't him, this will be the last I mention of this absurd obsession.

Most interesting quotes:
- ummm....still searching the transcript....oh, here's something: They play 12 straight weeks without a bye week. Sucks for them.

- And, according to Coach Johnson, Florida has a chance to be pretty good. That's the kind of insight you will ONLY get at SEC Media Days.

And, that pretty much wraps up the Vandy portion of our show.

New head coach Dan Mullen proves to be the funniest speaker of the day (not that there was a lot of competition in this group), by claiming when he gets to the podium that he will ONLY be communicating via Twitter for the day.

By the way, Mullen talks a LOT, and he talks very QUICKLY. I would hate to have been the one transcribing him.
Most interesting quotes:

- Claims to be very excited to be living in Starkville, Mississippi. Yep. Told you he was funny.
- Talked about how excited he was to have Carl Torbush as the Defensive Coordinator. That one, I will agree with...not so much the Starkville thing.

- Very excited to be playing a SWAC school in the opener. I was just surprised to learn that the SWAC still existed. I thought it disbanded back when SMU got the death penalty, Arkansas joined the SEC, and Texas A&M went to the Big 12.

Oh...that was the SWC. So who are they playing in their opener? JACKSON STATE? Wow...way to go out on a limb there, guys. No wonder Mullen is excited about it.

(By the way, I know I'm using the word "excited" in every one of these bullet points. Trust me, I'm leaving out 95% of the times he used the word)

- He also gave a description of his "spread offense" that would make Chris Brown cringe:
"I'll give you all my definition of a spread offense. I don't know if we're spread option, spread passing, spread running or just spread. To me, we're a multiple spread team. We're going to be a team that goes out there, spread offense. I want to make sure the defense has to defend the entire field sideline to sideline. Through personnel and through formations, we want to create advantageous one on one matchups, where I get a player in the open field matched up against someone that he's better than. That's the spread offense, the offense we're going to run. The biggest thing we have to do is make sure our personnel fits that. " the point of his offense is to create matchups that are advantageous for his team. BRILLIANT!!! Dude, Urban is going to miss that kind of forward thinking at Florida this year.

- Seriously, he just went on and on at the beginning...just a stream-of-conciousness type ramble where he starts every sentence with the word "and" or "so" and uses the word "excited" about 675 different times.

Here's an example of one of his, for lack of a better description, "sentences":
"You see our team play, hopefully if you do, hopefully win enough games y'all want to show up, watch us play one week, if you do come to that stadium, you're going to walk out of there, my expectations, I'll be proud of my team if you walk out of that stadium and say, Wow, did you see how hard those guys played every single snap of that game."

I believe Coach Mullen had one too many Red Bulls.

- That's enough time spent on Miss. State, but the transcript of his time at the podium is just fascinating...just a big ole word vomit, as the answer to every question.

Oh, and there's this...he has a deep and unending love for Tim Tebow. Just like the rest of us.

Coach Brooks gets off a zinger, saying it's appropriate that he was going last, since that's where they are picked to finish every year, anyway. Ha...ha? I don't think I would find that too funny if I were a UK fan. Actually, if I were a UK fan, I would be too busy worried about how Calipari is going to do and monitoring basketball recruiting to even know that Coach Brooks was speaking today.

Most interesting quotes:
- He was as surprised as the rest of us that Trevard Lindley came back for his senior year, and thinks he's the best returning corner in the country. He may be right. I at least think Lindley will be the best returning corner in the conference...sure wish Asher had made the same choice.

- Mike Hartline will be the full time QB, Randall Cobb will play mostly at WR with some Wildcat packages thrown in there for him at QB. I think this is the right move for them...a lot fewer negative plays with Hartline back there, I think.

- You know, the more I look at this UK team, the more impressed I am with them. In Hartline, Cobb, Lindley, Corey Peters, and Micah Johnson, they have some playmakers on both sides of the ball. Four seniors on the offensive line. They have really played us pretty tough the past few years, and there's a chance that we may be looking past them to the gnats when we play them. So now I'm if I needed ANOTHER game to worry about.

WHEW...that was just Day 1. Day 2 is when the fireworks REALLY start.

DAY 2:
UGA had our day on Day 2, but I think I'm going to do a separate post for them, since I will obviously want to go into some more detail with the Dawgs.

- First of all, Orson was on fire with his tweets during Saban's time at the podium. My two favorites:

- "Saban approaches the podium, looks like money and anger"
- "Someone's phone rang loudly while Saban speaks. He has been taken out by snipers, and the body pulled through a trap door"
- "Saban: No one player can make a team great, but one player can destroy everything. That player? ERIC BERRY"

- Seriously, the hysterical reverence that the Tide faithful have for this guy would be funny if it weren't so scary.

- I do kind of like the guy, though, or at least admire his intensity. Check out this quote:"I think it's also important that you establish a work ethic on your team, that your team understands they're working to dominate the competition. It's not relative to what they think hard work is; it's what they need to do to dominate the competition in a very competitive, difficult, tough league, with a very difficult, tough schedule." (emphasis added)

That's what I want to hear from a football coach. Your goal is to work hard enough to DOMINATE, not just work hard enough that you feel like you worked hard.

- VERY interesting stuff about leading up to the bowl game. Basically called Andre Smith out...said that one player not doing the right things can destroy everything you've worked on, and an example of that was what happened to them in the Sugar Bowl, where they embarassed the conference by getting destroyed by Utah.

Seriously, that's pretty blatant. He just shifted the entire blame for that debacle onto one guy. I'm surprised nobody called him out on that.

- They are in a tough spot on the O-line, having to replace two All-Americans in Smith and Caldwell. How they do that could go a long way in determining their success.

- He's very happy about the recruiting bump he gets from playing the opener in Atlanta two years in a row. Coach Richt has talked about that...I hope to see us in that opener sometime soon, if we can find a place on the schedule for it.

- Soldiers have DIED for the rights of SEC coaches to vote privately for the All-SEC team. Hey, Saban said must be true. So, thank a soldier today!

(seriously, thank a soldier today...but I do not remember from my history class the great Battle of Hoover that won this right for SEC coaches)

- I do love hearing him talk about defense.

- On the other hand, I do NOT like to hear him talking about how they are going to get down to the 85-scholarship limit. I think that the way they go about these things is disgraceful...oversigning every year and then having to find ways to take scholarships away.

I haven't said anything about the whole "UGA is banned from Carver-Columbus HS" flap, but I will say this...if I were a HS coach I would MUCH rather my players go through something like Devin Burns did (even though I don't think we handled it right, which is why Richt called and apologized) than to have a team accept the committment and then find a creative way to pull the scholarship after he is already signed.

- He went on and on about how the fans and players are going to react to seeing him wear LSU colors in the movie adaptation of the Michael Oher book "The Blind Side." I'm not sure why they would be expecting anything else...does somebody need to explain the difference between real life and a movie?


Most interesting quotes:

- Coach Nutt talked about some of the same things I have thought...lots of high expectations for them, but replacing Michael Oher and Peria Jerry will be tough.

- It had been 727 days since they won a conference game when they beat Florida. That says a lot about what an impressive performance and huge upset it was, but also...this is the team that so many are picking top 5 and handing the SEC West to? A team that, as recently as last year, had a TWO YEAR conference losing streak going? Excuse me if I don't jump on that bandwagon just yet.

- Jerrell Powe is still there? Well, most of him is...he's down to 320 from 383. Hasn't he been there for like 6 years now? How is he only listed as a sophomore? He signed in 2005, for crying out loud!

- And, as a sort of follow up to my Alabama scholarship thoughts...Ole Miss signed THIRTY NINE guys last year. There is no way that should be legal...that's a disgrace.

- Last in the SEC in pass defense last year. I'm just sayin'...this team is getting an awful lot of love.

Meyer said he has never been more anxious to coach a team than this one...kind of reminds me of Donnan's "I've been waiting thirty years to coach a team like this one" quote before the 2000 season. Somehow, I don't expect similar results.

- Man, this guy is boring. Intense, sure, but very boring to listen to.

- Interesting to see what happens with the play-calling this year. Mullen always called the plays from the box, but Adazzio will be calling from the sideline. I know Richt has talked about what a transition that is, so it might cause some issues.

I know, I'm grasping at straws.

- He's fine with FSU being their only big out-of-conference game. What a pansy. For somebody who talks about "competition" so much, he sure wants to reduce the amount of competetion they have on their schedule.

- Refuses to answer any questions about suspensions. Funny how they don't take the heat the Georgia did last year regarding behavioral issues, even though their arrests have been for much more serious offenses than ours. Not like funny ha-ha...more like funny-makes-me-want-to-punch-somebody-in-the-throat.

- In case I haven't mentioned it before...Florida brings back their entire two-deep on defense. All 22 of them. Ridiculous.

- Still looking for an every-down running back...haven't found him yet.

- Ongoing theme we hear from Meyer a lot...people talk about his offensive "scheme" all the time, but he's not married to any one scheme. It's all about personnel, and finding the right system for the players you have. He's made enough adjustments to what he does over the years that I believe him when he says that, and it's part of what makes him a great coach.

- Funny story...Brandon Spikes was originally supposed to go with them to media days, but get this...he's scared of crowds. I can only wish it affected his football ability, and not just his public speaking ability.

- I haven't talked about the players Q&A portion, mainly because they were very boring for the most part. But Tebow can really work a room. He came off as intelligent, humble yet confident,, I hate that guy.

And that does it for now...I'll be back later with thoughts on the Georgia portion of the day, and then later tonight or tomorrow with the Miles/Spurrier/Kiffen show...should be fun!


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