Media Days Notebook

Today’s Schedule: Missouri, LSU, Arkansas. Now, notes, thoughts and an opinion or two from the first two days of Media Days …

Some of these topics Logan and I hit on the video last night.

I saw a Texas A&M administrator tweet yesterday that Media Days, now the at the mid-way point, has been rather sub-dued.

Indeed it has. There has been no giant personality come through as A&M provided last year with Johnny Manziel.

There was South Carolina end Jadeveon Clowney last year also telling us he thought some SEC quarterabcks were scared of him.

“That was last year when they had superstars in this league,” one fellow explained.

It seems on an almost annual basis there’s a Heisman candidate or some other All-America personality to whose table most of the room flocks.

Last year I was tasked with a Manziel story. There are three tables set up in the ballroom for players. The SEC doesn’t tell you who sits where, and the players often arrive all at once.

I gambled that the ESPN videographer had inside knowledge on where Manziel would be and followed him when he set up. So I had an easy time listening and getting video of Johnny Football telling us how everything was fine at the Manning Camp, and there was nothing to worry about.

It was getting out of that pack that was the challenge when I left Manziel’s table early to catch another player or two in the remaining allotted minutes.

No such struggle for interview space this year. …

I remember the days of youth and how excited I was to attend an event like this where the college or pro stars might come around and mingle a little bit.

I had outgrown that long before the late 20-somethings, the bracket for which I saw an avid Alabama fan pursue a former player in the hotel lobby yesterday. Maybe that was business deal. …

Speaking of Alabama, you’ll hear a lot of clapping and screaming around the hotel Thursday when Hugh Freeze is around, but that will be largely because the Ole Miss time comes right before Alabama’s. …

Coaches tend to take on their podium time a couple of different ways. All of them have to do with controlling the process.

Some of them open with a fillibuster by providing a detailed – way more detailed than necessary – breakdown of their roster. This was Will Muschamp’s approach, and it looked like the Florida coach had been in the video room reviewing old Jackie Sherrill clips.

Some view the fillibuster as a handy tool because it condenses the question and answer period.

Some get to the Q-and-A quickly with the knowledge that they will control the setting with their answers.

Truthfully, any person being interviewed can control the interview in that way. Heck, they don’t even have to answer the question.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin gave a derisive response to a question regarding Manziel, internet photos and player behavior.

“That’s a great question about the Cleveland Browns. Anybody else got something,” Sumlin said.

Sumlin strayed from Manziel when the questions went that way. In his defense, this particular question was kind of long and winding and could have been presented better. Sumlin understood what was being asked and could have addressed guiding young players through the pitfalls of popularity – something that should have been addressed at A&M by now – but chose not to.

While coaches come and go from SEC Media Days one thing remains constant. Steve Spurrier is going to be informative and entertaining.

He has a way of taking difficult topics and handling them with humor. I was intrigued by his discussion of big-money donors in college football.

It’s not uncommon to hear coaches thank donors, to point out the obvious – that many amenities to which fans have become accustomed would not be possible without private contributions.

It’s unusual to hear coaches call a donor’s name and talk about said donor taking him on free trips in luxurious surroundings – as Spurrier did.

It’s also unusual to hear a coach attach a number to his million-dollar donors – as Spurrier did.

Spurrier compared big-money donors to NFL owners but said college football is a better setting because the donors provide the money but don’t tell the coaches what to do.

Maybe that’s the case at South Carolina, but I don’t think that applies everywhere.

Private contributions provide the money for things that enhance the game experience that would not be possible otherwise.

It’s unrealistic to think that all donors will contribute and then remain in the background.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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