SEC MEDIA DAYS THURSDAY

By The Associated Press

Dooley continues rebuilding process at Tennessee

DAVID BRANDT,AP Sports Writer

HOOVER, Ala. — Derek Dooley didn’t inherit the easiest situation when he took over as Tennessee’s head coach in 2010.

Not only were the Volunteers losing on the field, but an NCAA investigation clouded the future of the program. In fact, nearly two years later it still does.

But during his Thursday morning appearance at SEC Media Days, Dooley said “we can’t use that as an excuse not to succeed.”

Tennessee made the postseason in Dooley’s first season, finishing with a 6-7 record after losing in the Music City Bowl. Now the Volunteers are trying for bigger things after returning 13 starters including sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray and 1,000-yard rusher Tauren Poole.

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Chizik: talk with NCAA rep “not
confrontational”

JOHN ZENOR,AP Sports Writer

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Auburn coach Gene Chizik says an exchange with the NCAA enforcement director was “not confrontational at all.”

Chizik said Thursday at SEC media days that he just asked Julie Roe Lach to clarify the process and she was “happy” to do so. The New York Times reported the discussion that occurred at SEC meetings in June with Roe Lach saying the investigation was still ongoing. Chizik says he was under the impression “those were private discussions.”

The NCAA has been investigating the recruitment of Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 NFL draft pick Cam Newton, but hasn’t sent an official letter of inquiry to Auburn.

Chizik says recruits seldom ask about the investigation for the defending national champions, who have a mostly overhauled roster.

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Richt strives to get Georgia back in nation’s best

DAVID BRANDT,AP Sports Writer

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — All things considered, Mark Richt has overseen an extremely successful decade at Georgia.

But big-time college football has a short memory. And Richt’s 14-13 record over the past two seasons — including a 6-7 mark last year — has put him squarely on the hot seat in Athens.

Even so, Richt says there’s “no sense of doom and gloom, there’s only a sense of excitement” as the Bulldogs prepare for the season. Georgia is expected to compete for the SEC Eastern Division title now that sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray has a year of experience and seven defensive starters return.

The Bulldogs will get a few big tests early in the season, playing Boise State in the season opener and South Carolina in the SEC opener.

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Kentucky’s Phillips hoping to move up SEC ranks

JOHN ZENOR,AP Sports Writer

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Kentucky coach Joker Phillips is going with a simple theme for his football team: “Rise.”

It’s printed at the top of the media guide cover, and Phillips says, “It’s an exciting time to be a Wildcat.”

And a challenging preseason for a team that must replace do-it-all Randall Cobb, quarterback Mike Hartline and tailback Derrick Locke.

Phillips says Cobb has joined in the ranks of guys who became “the face of our program” during their career. He says Cobb’s performance helped Kentucky sign four wide receivers to fill a big need.

The Wildcats have already possibly filled out half of their upcoming recruiting class with 13 verbal commitments.

Kentucky had a string of four winning seasons end with a bowl loss to Pittsburgh.

Click here for more at Brad Locke’s Inside Mississippi State Sports.

Click here for more at Parrish Alford’s Inside Ole Miss Sports blog.

Read more about SEC Media Days in Friday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.