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Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox is scheduled to attend the Southeastern Conference football media days and speak with reporters.
AP photo by Rob Carr
Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox is scheduled to attend the Southeastern Conference football media days and speak with reporters.

SEC football
kicks off

Auburn helps begin league's three-day media sessions; Tide set for Thursday

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

Don't expect a knock-down, drag-'em-out fight between Alabama coach Nick Saban and LSU coach Les Miles at SEC football media days.

Since Saban talks on Thursday and Miles on Friday, a face-off could be tough to manage. But the perceived feud between the two coaches will be a hot topic.

SEC media days is a three-day annual publicity session sponsored by the league, and it kicks off Wednesday afternoon. The head coach and two players from each of the 12 teams will speak to reporters Wednesday through Friday in Hoover.

The SEC has credentialed more than 800 people for the event. Auburn, which is coming off an 11-2 season, is scheduled for Wednesday. Along with head coach Tommy Tuberville, the Tigers will bring quarterback Brandon Cox and defensive end Quentin Groves.

Alabama will bring Saban, cornerback Simeon Castille and offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell.

With Saban's return to the league after two years in the NFL, the former LSU coach should be one of the biggest topics of media days. Another should be Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, who is the only Heisman Trophy finalist returning to college football.

McFadden is scheduled to attend Wednesday.

But as is the situation with most gatherings such as these, coaches will have a chance to talk about new rules, lament old ones, and look forward to the season ahead.

Some of the possible themes of media days:

  • New timing rules: Last season brought weekly complaints from (insert coach here) about the rules designed to speed up games, including starting the clock when the ball was kicked off, rather than when it was caught. The idea was that the flow of the game would increase and create more excitement.

    While they did that to some degree, coaches had more trouble adjusting to the new rules than most. Former Alabama coach Mike Shula once explained how the rules had led to decreased rushing and passing totals.

    At the time, it was supposed to be an explanation for former running back Ken Darby's running woes — which ended up being deeper than the new rules — but the point was still well taken.

  • Early signing period: At the SEC coaches meetings in Destin, coaches shot down the idea of an early signing period by a 9-3 vote. It was endorsed by ACC and Big 12 coaches.

    Despite meeting some stiff resistance, the early signing period remains a hot topic for programs to lock up recruits earlier and not have to wait to pander to recruits to come to their schools at the last minute.

  • Text messaging: In April, the NCAA banned text messaging in recruiting, prompting complaints from coaches like Florida's Urban Meyer who sent vast quantities.

    While text messaging was a loophole that needed to be fixed — some recruits would rack up large text messaging bills — coaches such as Meyer voiced their collective displeasure with the ban.

  • Playoff system: Florida president Bernie Machen sounded so positive about his proposed playoff when he announced it in March.

    Then following the SEC meetings in April, he backed off considerably.

    For SEC schools, a playoff may be the best chance the super-conference has to get to a national championship game.

  • Rock star coaches: It's back to the future in the Southeastern Conference. Looking down the list of coaches, there are some big names. New names. And some people still looking to make names for themselves.

    With the return of Saban from the NFL back to the SEC where he won a BCS national championship with LSU in 2003, the SEC boasts maybe the strongest group of coaches since the 1960s.

    And with Saban and Meyer commanding more than $3 million a year, SEC coaching salaries are starting to be competitive with those of the NFL.

    The bar was raised two seasons ago when South Carolina coach Spurrier returned from the Washington Redskins.

  • ow with Saban back, the conference will get even tougher.

    SEC media days schedule

    The head coaches and two players from each of the 12 SoutheasternConference teams will attend the league’s annual publicity sessions this week in Hoover. A rundown of which schools speak with reporters when:

    Wednesday

  • 1-3 p.m.:Arkansas and South Carolina.

  • 3-5 p.m.:Auburn and Kentucky.

    Thursday

  • 8:30-10:30 a.m.:Alabama and Vanderbilt

  • 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Florida and Mississippi State

    Friday

  • 8:30-10:30 a.m.: Georgia and Ole Miss

  • 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: LSU and Tennessee

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