Mitchell: A Final Look Back at SEC Media Days
Spurrier, once again an event highlight
The 2011 SEC Media Days set a record with 1,050 credentialed attendees, some of them actually working. CFN's SEC Columnist Russ Mitchell empties his reporter's notebook with a laundry list of quick observations.
By Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter @russmitchellcfb
Miss State head coach Dan Mullen on the city of Starkville, "A hidden gem." Apparently there are two Starkvilles.
Bulldog running back Vic Ballard and his nearly 1,000 yards and 19 touchdowns were left completely off the Media's three deep ALL-SEC team.
Rob Fischer of WHBQ Memphis reminds us that UT head coach Derek Dooley has just one career win against a team that finished the season with a winning record. That was the 2008 Fresno State Bulldogs, who ended the year 7-6.
Was very impressed with Vol running back Tauren Poole. Sharp young man. He's not going to confuse anyone with Marcus Lattimore, but he did rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season where opponents knew he was option 1, 2 and 3. The only senior on this Vol offense, he's a personable yet understated leader. If he continues to develop on the field in 2011 like last year, you will be watching Mr. Poole play in an NFL city come 2012.
Speaking of Mr. Lattimore, he's now weighing in at about 235 pounds, up ~20 pounds over his 2010 playing weight. Sources in Columbia confirm not only is Lattimore just as fast, he might even be faster. Gracious.
Said Spurrier, "Mississippi State has a jet airplane out there. EVERYONE'S got a lot of money (in the SEC)."
More Spurrier (paraphrasing): No way student/athletes should get a four year scholarship/contract. If they don't perform, they shouldn't get to stay; coaches should have the right to cut them loose. Sports writers don't get multi-year contracts; you have to perform every day. It should be the same for football players; no one deserves multi-year contracts. Except football coaches.
We heard Arkansas running back Knile Davis just bench pressed north of 450 pounds, and he looks the part.
Said new Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, "There is no ceiling (on the talent) we can bring to Vanderbilt." I like Franklin, but apparently the rest of us are operating under a different definition for the word "ceiling".
Auburn coach Gene Chizik was asked 22 questions during the main media session – 9 of them (41%) had to do with the Cam Newton investigation. In case you thought that was going away anytime soon.
Was chatting with Dave Barr at The Hog Sports Radio Network, and we agree there's a good chance Auburn goes winless on the road in 2011. AU's @ Clemson, South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia. Between the Hedges might be the Tigers best shot.
After he's done with football, Mississippi senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett has a future in television. At least he hopes so – and so apparently does the assembled media who applauded his impersonation of head coach Houston Nutt. "My daddy had a dog…" Classic.
More Lockett: "(This Ole Miss DL) has the chance to be great! People lifting weights…growling at you. (I'm) getting chills just thinking about it."
Lockett take three: "I see a future in TV for me. Hey, why shelter this personality?" Why indeed.
Nutt on Lockett (paraphrasing): He's one of the reasons we had a disappointing season last year – losing a guy of his personality in the locker room. Losing a guy of his leadership was crippling.
Nutt, on if given a do-over, whether he'd still offer quarterback Jeremiah Masoli a scholarship (paraphrasing): Yes. He's a good person. He wanted the chance to prove to himself and others that he's a good person, and he did that. I just wish we'd had a bit more talent to put around him.
LSU head coach Les Miles thinks some of Commissioner Slive's reforms have merit, particularly the cost of attendance option. However, he draws the line at raising the GPA level to 2.5 (which makes two of us). Said Miles, "I have a degree in economics from a very prestigious institution. I can't tell you when I achieved a 2.5 – I hope I have. (Slive's proposed change) may well have prohibited me from taking snaps, other than my lack of talent...I think that would have been unfair."
LSU OL T-Bob Hebert speaking on the merits of bacon and quarterback Jordan Jefferson: "I don't know if I have a trusting face, but you're just going to have to take my word for it: Jefferson is ready."
Jefferson certainly looks the part. Appears fitter than ever; certainly more confident than we've seen him. But as readers of this column know, I just can't get past the fact that Jefferson seems to excel only in games where he has extra time to prepare (season openers, bye weeks and bowls). Take last year when Jefferson had just seven touchdown passes…two were against NC, one against Bama, and three against A&M. There's your season opener, bye week and bowl game.
Doesn't bode well for the Oregon Ducks though, does it.
Sticking with Jefferson, 12 credentialed Media Day voters picked him with their lone QB vote for ALL-SEC. 12 free thinkers. Not Murray. Not Garcia. Not Relf. Not Wilson. How many of them do you think were from outside the Pelican state?
Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson, on his modest personal goals for 2011, "I want to be one of the best running backs, ever." Bottom Line: Trent has that chance. He certainly has the talent and the O-line to do it, and no one achieves a goal like that unless they have a ton of confidence. No problem with confidence for Richardson.
That said, I moved Trent to my second team ALL-SEC. Given Alabama's turnover at WR and QB, and its strength at OL and Richardson, teams will stack the box against the the Tide all year, making stats harder for Richardson to amass. The exact opposite situation is in play for Arkansas' Davis.
Said Alabama's All-American safety Mark Barron, "Yes, (the 2010 Iron Bowl) is one of the key motivating factors (for me this season)." File that one in the "come back to later" folder.
On Friday, 28 year old Alabama fan Eric Blackerby wore a white t-shirt with "I HATE AUBURN" emblazoned on the front. According to Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News, when told that Saban was disappointed, Blackerby replied, "It's like I went to church and God told me He didn't approve." Just in case you questioned whether the madness in Alabama had somehow abated post-Toomer's corner.
UGA QB Aaron Murray, on head coach Mark Richt, "He teaches us to be better husbands, better wives." Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Once again, when given the opportunity to set moderate expectations, Richt goes the other way. When asked about his offensive line, a unit that has experienced material turnover and must now adjust to a new position coach, Richt effused praise and pumped up expectations.
Kentucky's all-everything LB Danny Trevathan interviewed teammate Stuart Hines – and actually did a solid job. Thankfully for the media in attendance, Trevathan will soon be doing other things on Sundays besides journalism.
However, Trevathan likely could use some diplomacy training. When asked who is the toughest running back in the SEC to tackle, Trevathan said, "(Florida RB Jeff Demps) We're rivals. He (has) made me fast. It's hard chasing a rat." You be the judge – compliment or insult?
The Florida Gators had only two players in the Media Days three deep offense or defense ALL-SEC list (3rd Team LBs Dominique Easley and Jon Bostic).
New Florida head coach Will Muschamp appeared to bristle at the assembled media more than once, particularly when questioned about his star running back Jeff Demps, and whether he would forgo the football season for a professional track career. Muschamp better take a hint from his mascot and thicken his skin – being a SEC head coach comes with its criticism.
That, or he's channeling his mentor, coach Saban.
1,050 media credentials. As the LA Times' Chris Dufresne put it, "Rarely have so many gathered, in one place, for so little in actual news value."