The world stood still for about 13 minutes late Friday morning, as Tiger Woods took to the microphone to address his family situation for the first time since his Thanksgiving night car accident in Orlando, Fla. In the subsequent 24 hours, that “press conference,” which essentially was an in-person news release, has been sliced, diced and analyzed more than a presidential debate. In honor of Tiger's emergence from media hibernation, here are the top five memorable (mostly infamous) SEC press conferences since Woods and Elin Nordegren tied the knot.
5. Florida's Sugar Bowl press conference
Shortly after Christmas in 2009, Florida head coach Urban Meyer dropped a bomb, announcing he was stepping down as the head coach of Florida for health-related reasons. The next day Meyer, athletics director Jeremy Foley, quarterback Tim Tebow and linebacker Ryan Stamper took to the stage in New Orleans and announced that, in lieu of resigning, Meyer would take an indefinite leave of absence.
One problem though - the specifics of this leave of absence were obviously not discussed. There was no set date when this indefinite leave of absence would start, only that it would start after the Sugar Bowl (which it didn't). When asked who would handle the hiring of the new defensive coordinator, Meyer and Foley were totally stumped. Obviously, nobody knew when, or if, Meyer would return.
Granted, there was a lot going on, but this was a self-inflicted firestorm. Maybe get your stories straight before the mandatory, scheduled press conference? Or better yet, wait till after the Sugar Bowl, which Meyer planned on coaching all along, before making this announcement.
4. Bobby Petrino's introduction at Arkansas
The word “clandestine” seems to follow Bobby Petrino around. After all, he was one of the participants in the infamous Jetgate scandal that nearly cost Tommy Tuberville his job at Auburn in 2003.
Late in 2007, the sneaky Petrino was at it again, bolting his job with the Atlanta Falcons in the middle of the night with three games to go in the season. The move came just 24 hours after Falcons owner Arthur Blank was interviewed on Monday Night Football, saying that he was extremely happy with the job Petrino was doing, especially considering the Michael Vick situation.
Petrino's middle-of-the-night press conference in Fayetteville featured one of the most awkward sights imaginable – Petrino ”calling the Hogs.” Petrino looked like Chandler Bing posing for a picture. He had no clue what was going on. It reminded me of that scene in BASEketball where the football player had no idea what team he had signed with.
Two years later, Petrino is still in Fayetteville. Color me shocked.
3. Lane Kiffin's departure from the Vols
Last season, just a few hours after news broke that Lane Kiffin would be leaving Tennessee for the USC Trojans, a press conference was called in Knoxville to announce the move. It was delayed roughly 30 minutes due to “format discussions” with the assembled media. The result was a one minute statement in which no questions were allowed.
Kiffin had just parlayed a very average seven-win season in to one of the top three college coaching jobs in the country. The least he could do is discuss the move with the Tennessee media and fans after all he put them through with his shenanigans.
The Baltimore Colts-like exodus is, however, a fitting end to the Kiffin era in Knoxville. The year-long misadventure began with his quip about singing Rocky Top after beating Florida (which he didn't do), included accusing Urban Meyer of cheating (which he wasn't) and culminated with him leaving the Vols high-and-dry in the middle of recruiting season.
Have fun Trojans.
2. Les Miles addressing Michigan rumors
Seven hours before Les Miles was to take the field in the Georgia Dome to coach in the 2007 SEC Championship Game, his morning was ruined by Kirk Herbstreit, and a college football tizzy commenced. On ESPN's College GameDay, Herbstreit announced that Miles had accepted the head coaching job at Michigan, taking over for Lloyd Carr. That was news to Miles, who was mere hours from clinching a spot in the BCS National Championship Game...with LSU.
LSU and SEC officials scrambled, and announced a rare pre-game press conference at the Georgia Dome. A visibly angry Miles took the the podium with a chip on his shoulder, and a YouTube legend was born.
Among the memorable quotes was Miles' exclamation that he had a “damn strong football team” and not to bother him because “he was busy.” My initial reaction was, “that guy's crazy.” Nothing has changed since then.
At least he told us to “have a great day.”
1. Nick Saban's post-ULM diatribe
Late in Nick Saban's inaugural 2007 season as head coach at Alabama, the inexplicable happened. Alabama lost, at home, on homecoming, to LOUISIANA-MONROE. While that loss was bad, Saban apparently took it a bit harder than he should have.
In his Monday press conference following the loss, Saban treated it as a catastrophic event.
"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event," Saban said. "It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event."
Losing to ULM is not the same as national tragedies. Saban later apologized, but the damage was done. No matter how seriously you take college football, a loss to ULM isn't THAT bad.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BSallee_CFN
Off-Season Column Archive:
Memorable SEC Press Conferences – February 20, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 2 – February 18, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 1 – February 16, 2009
Florida Reaches For DC – February 12, 2009
Vols Go West For New DC – February 3, 2009
Early 2010 SEC Predictions – January 31, 2010
Chizik Doing It Right – January 21, 2010
Georgia's DC Debacle – January 12, 2010
SEC Bloggers: Do Over – January 8, 2010
Trouble In Baton Rouge – January 2, 2010
Meyer Calls A Reverse – December 27, 2009
Urban Meyer's SEC Legacy – December 26, 2009
End Of The Season Accountability – December 26, 2009
Ranking The SEC Bowl Games – December 18, 2009
2009 SEC Superlatives – December 13, 2009
Click here for the 2009 Regular Season Three & Out archive
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