Daily Journal writers Parrish Alford and Brad Locke, who were blogging daily from Hoover, unload a few of their favorite SEC Media Days nuggets from their respective notebooks:
Spreading it around
– With the success Florida’s had running it, the spread option offense is spreading. Dan Mullen brought it with him to Mississippi State, and Gene Chizik is installing it at Auburn.
Even those who don’t run it are at least employing spread elements to keep defenses honest.
Steve Spurrier said his South Carolina team is in shotgun formation about half the time, more than in the past. Ole Miss uses its “Wild Rebel” formation as an effective complement to its more conventional schemes.
“That gives us a chance to throw a little knuckleball in there, try to slow down good defenses, defenses that are so fast, get them thinking maybe just a step slower,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said.
The most-asked question
– “Coach, who’d you vote for?” or a paraphrase thereof, as some in attendance sought the coach who did not vote Florida quarterback Tim Tebow for the position on the coaches preseason All-SEC team. Ultimately, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, a Heisman Trophy winner at Florida in the mid-1960s who led the school to its first national championship as head coach in the 1990s, said he didn’t vote for Tebow, but that was an oversight.
The no-nonsense coach
– Called “Gene-eric” by one of the Auburn beat writers, new Tigers coach Gene Chizik brought a no-nonsense, straight-ahead approach to media days, reminiscent of former Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill.
Chizik didn’t recite his two-deep roster player-for-player as Sherrill was known to do, but he was very stoic in his talk in the print room.
A feel-no-pressure coach
– Kentucky coach Rich Brooks isn’t exactly animated behind the podium, so you don’t sense his wit coming unless you’ve sat through Brooks before.
“I’ll bet you’re glad this day is over. I’ll be last. That’s where we get picked every year, so kind of appropriate, I guess (laughter). Thanks a lot. Been a pleasure.
“You guys can go have a cocktail, a cold beer, talk about where you’re going to put Kentucky again. There you go. Have some fun with it. I’m having fun trying to prove you wrong on occasion.”
Brooks has won three straight bowl games at Kentucky, but the Wildcats have struggled to gain ground in the Eastern Division. Still, UK might not have been picked last had Brooks not planted the seed.
Optimism of the young
– What the new guys said in their first Media Days appearances:
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin: “It’s been a very special seven months for us. I can’t imagine it going much better than it has.”
Auburn coach Gene Chizik: “I know how our fans view Auburn football. I know how our coaches view it. I know how our administration views it. And we love Auburn. Everything we do will be in the direction of promoting Auburn.”
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen: “It’s amazing for someone that hasn’t spent a whole lot of time in the state of Mississippi in their life beforehand, to come in and feel that warmth, that welcoming, to see what a great, tremendous community Starkville, Mississippi is to live in, great place to raise a family, just seeing the sense of community everybody has, the family values the people of the state of Mississippi have.”
Nutt gets his vote
– One reporter went around asking players what coach besides their own they’d like to play for. Georgia quarterback Joe Cox’s pick: Nutt.
“He just seems like he’s one of those guys that can get his team ready to do anything, and they’ll do anything for him,” said Cox, a senior. “That’s always a fun type of person to play for, is when you have a guy that’s intense and will have you ready to do whatever he tells you to do.”
– That huge, lucrative TV deal the SEC struck with ESPN? It came just in time.
“We’re fortunate the conference entered into the new television agreement when we did, just ahead of the current economic recession,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said.
Slive basically said the SEC is not recession-proof, yet it now has the sort of financial security that would make Wall Street types envious.
Parrish Alford & Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal