Tue, Jul 16, 2013
By Rob Lehocky
HOOVER, AL -- An estimated 1,200 media members have invaded Hoover, AL, for SEC Media Days -- a record number of journalists for a conference that has won the past seven BCS National Championships.
New this year to the festivities, ESPN's 'College Football Live' set. The worldwide leader will be broadcasting here for three days, with the highly anticipated arrival of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M here on Wednesday morning, fresh off his much-publicized early departure from the Manning Passing Academy over the weekend.
And let's not forget the two-time defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide, set to take the stage on Thursday. Nick Saban traditionally draws bigger crowds than anyone here each year, though Manziel coiuld challenge him this week.
COMMISSIONER SLIVE SPEAKS
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive broke out his 'Brag Bag' in his annual address to the media and mentioned the 63 NFL Draft picks from the conference in April, many of whom got a boost at the Senior Bowl in January.
Coming next year, football fans will get even more SEC football on the air with the lauching of the new 'SEC Network.' It will broadcast 550 digital events, in addition to the 450 events already on television. On Saturdays, it plans to televise three football games and will feature a two-hour on-site pregame show, 'live' from a different SEC campus each week --including the SEC Championship game. The show will "focus on traditions, rituals and spirit" found in the SEC. Original programming when launch next year and Slive mentioned one documentary in particular, 'The Book of Manning," which will feature Archie Manning and his family and premieres on September 24 as part of ESPN Films' SEC Storied.
DRISKEL'S TEAM IN '13
Florida coach Will Muschamp said it's QB Jeff Driskel's team and that the Gators will need to be more efficient in their passing game this year.
“It’s easier to be more vocal when you’re the set quarterback," Driskel said. "When there’s a competition, you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I’m a lot more confident because I’ve played more and gotten a lot more snaps and played one year as the starting quarterback. I’d say the guys respect me a lot more this year. I’ve opened my mouth a lot more and just being around the guys, it just comes with it. You don’t flip a switch; it grows.”
Driskel delivered one of the best lines so far on day one in Hoover. He told reporters he was glad to see Georgia's Jarvis Jones jump early to the NFL, adding, "he made millions off us."
Gators DE Dominique Easley, a potential Senior Bowl player in '14, on his dancing moves:
"You ever wake up and you just want to dance? Y’all never do that? You just wake up in a happy mood. You come to a realization of life that it won’t last that long, so you take advantage of every second of life.”
PINKEL: THE SEC "IS WHAT WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE'
Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel says people ask him what he learned in his first season in the SEC in 2012 and he says, "The SEC is what I thought it would be. It's a line of scrimmage league. There are so many great teams in this league."
The Tigers are coming off their first losing season in nearly 10 years and Pinkel said it has his team focused more than ever.
"When things get tough, you focus on doing your job," said Pinkel. "That's probably the best advice I've ever gotten. I'm driven to be successful. We're used to winning."
The Tigers lost five of their top 10 offensive linemen and their starting quarterback fom last year's team.
"We're hungry, very very hungry," Pinkel said. "We'll have a chance to get after it and compete and we're looking forward to it."
Quarterback James Franklin is here at Media Days, but he's not even guaranteed the starting QB job in Columbia. Pinkel said the quarterback competition is open and they won't pick a starter until mid-August.
"He's a great representative of our program," Pinkel said of Franklin, who started most of last year, but battled injuries and split time with Corbin Berkstresser.
Whoever settles in at quarterback will get a chance to go up against reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M -- at home, finally.
"It's been a blast going down there three years in a row," Pinkel said, with a touch of sarcasm. "We're excited about getting them up in Columbia."
Rebel's head coach Hugh Freeze, trying to follow Florida's Will Muschamp, who started his briefing with the media with a 17-minute monologue: "I'll try to do it with less breaths than he did, but that's impossible. That guy can go."
The Rebels are many experts pick to be a program on the rise, thanks to a strong finish the 2012 season.
"It was greatly beneficial to us in recruiting," said Freeze, who was able to nab the nation's top prospect in DE Robert Nkemdiche.
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace is not locked in a quarterback competition this year. It'll be his offense to run.
"A lot of the weight of the success of our offense will come down to how he performs," Freeze said. "He's a tough kid. It motivates him knowing he's the guy going into it."
VISOR LOOK IS IN
Freeze, who wears a visor on the sideline like a lot of young coaches in the league now, got his fashion inspiration from another SEC coach.
"When i was a high school coach, I wanted to be like Steve Spurrier. That's the truth," he said. "(Spurrier) likes that story. He calls me his visor guy."
IF THE HAT FITS, or MATCHES...
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, on if he'd wear a Georgia or Florida hat: "I mean, if it matched my outfit, sure."
CLOWNEY ON OFFENSE?
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurier was asked if Clowney would perhaps play both sides of the ball. The 'ol ballcoach didn't think that was a good idea.
"We got a bunch of offensive players that are pretty good," Spurrier said. "He played a little bit in high school, though. He's capable. He's capable of running with the ball. But that wouldn't make sense, running with a ball, sprain an ankle, be standing over there with me the rest of the season. That wouldn't be very smart."
|Rob Lehocky Rob Lehocky joined the Senior Bowl in December of 2012 after working 15 years as a television Sports Anchor. During his broadcasting career, he won more than 50 awards, including a National Edward R. Murrow Award, two Emmys and four Regional Murrow Awards.|