HOOVER, Ala. | All done.
The 2011 edition of SEC Media Days has wrapped up, and Day 3 was as fun as the first two. To sum up: Nick Saban hates the media, Les Miles hates the Internet, Houston Nutt hates billbaords, and we all love Kentrell Lockett.
OK, that’s a bit extreme, except for the Lockett part. Allow me to flesh that out a bit. We’ll hit each team that was represented today: Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Let’s start with … the Rebels.
• I blogged earlier today about what Nutt thought of MSU’s “Our State” billboard campaign. So feel free to go back and read that. All I’ll say for now is I like that Ole Miss is responding. Adds a little more flavor to the rivalry when things can get fired up in July.
• Defensive lineman Kentrell Lockett, who was given a sixth year of eligibility due to an injury suffered last season, provides an endless source of material for us hacks. When he showed up, a reporter noted his lack of a bow tie.
“I couldn’t wear the bow tie, because mom picked this one out,” he said.
He was then asked which personality accompanied the bow tie. “Well, bow tie was more extreme and didn’t care, like haha, look at me, I’ve got a bow tie. This one is more conservative, but still we’re going to laugh it up.”
Lockett knows how to make people laugh – just check out his Twitter page – but he wasn’t his joyful self while hobbling around on crutches following his knee injury last fall. It was a tough time for him.
“I was like, I’m not going to watch them practice; I can’t practice. I’m not going to watch them play; I can’t play. The days I did do that, I went home and I cried to my wife. Just cried. And then she was like, man, you’ve got to stop this. You’ve got to stop. It took her to get me out of that rut. Then I was out of that rut when I was around her, but when I got back around football, just right back to sad, moping and depressed.”
There is so much more I could recount here, but let’s keep things moving.
• Saban, whose sense of humor is drier than baked dirt, said this during his opening comments: “I think y’all know that this is one of my favorite days of the year.” (Hint: It’s not.)
He was asked about the high expectations placed upon his team by the media. My fellow SEC scribes picked the Tide to win the league.
“Let me first say that you all are a lot smarter than we are as coaches, because I could never pick who is going to win the SEC,” Saban said, and I actually have no problem with his mocking tone. There’s a reason I didn’t cast a ballot.
On a more serious matter, Saban was asked about the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, and specifically about a fan who was in the Wynfrey Hotel lobby today wearing an “I Hate Auburn” T-shirt.
Asked what he would tell that fan, Saban said, “I would tell him it’s not personal, that it really isn’t personal. That is not really the way that we should respect the opponents that we have.”
Recent events – namely the tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa and the Toomer’s Corner tree poisoning – have put a new perspective on the rivalry. Alabama tailback Trent Richardson gave a touching recollection of the tornado and how it affected people, in particular parents who lost children.
“I have two little girls myself, so I can only imagine how they feel. That’s a tragic moment, man, is a moment like, you’re holding onto your child and they get snatched from you. That’s something I would never put upon somebody.”
• Part of my notebook for tomorrow’s Journal talks about the criticism of QB Jordan Jefferson, specifically from message boards. Such criticism is why Miles advises his players to simply stay off the Internet.
“Those people that sign their name ‘Slick Willie’ don’t necessarily have legitimate opinions,” Miles said.
Speaking of slick guys named Willie, a few questions lobbed at Miles had to do with Willie Lyles, the man at the center of a huge recruiting scandal at Oregon. He’s provided info to other schools, too, including LSU, and the legitimacy of those materials has been brought into question.
Miles was tight-lipped about the situation today.
“I’m kind of prohibited from commenting on Willie Lyles,” he said. “The only thing I can tell you is we look for film and video anywhere we can find it.”
• New coach James Franklin might have the least-talented team in the league, but he sure doesn’t sound like a man who’s willing to be a doormat. I don’t know if he’ll get the Commodores turned around, but he gets points just for the nerve to act like he can.
Vandy went 2-10 last year and has been a longtime resident of the East cellar. Franklin aims to change that. He said Vanderbilt has so much to offer, it should be the logical choice of top-notch football players.
“If you’re the best and brightest from all over this country, where else would you go?” he said.
He’s certainly not expecting a quick fix, breaking out one of Saban’s favorite terms – “process” – but Franklin is fully expecting to do “special things” at Vanderbilt.
And then he said this when asked about the quarterback situation: “Our job is to create the most competitive environment we possibly can at every position just like the way this country was built, be the most competitive society in the world, and let’s see what happens.”