Putting a Ribbon on SEC Media Days

With the 2013 SEC Media Days in the books, I figured I’d try and wrap things up for you the best I could. Let’s start with some links.

My column on MSU quarterback Tyler Russell

My story on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron

A story on the media preseason poll

An SEC notebook

In pondering what I saw and heard over the course of three days, I’ve come up with a handful of awards to hand out. Mind you, I didn’t get to speak to every player, and I didn’t go back and pore over every quote. But certain things just stood out, and that’s what I’m focusing on here. I have no name for this collection of awards, but each award does have a name itself.

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All-Interview Team

Again, I didn’t speak to all the players, but four of them in particular stood out to me for different reasons. And they’re all quarterbacks. I’ve also got some coaches on here.

• Jeff Driskel, Florida: He makes the list simply for the story he told about being drafted by the Boston Red Sox. Driskel said he and his girlfriend were hunting hogs in the Florida backwoods when his name popped up in the 29th round on the draft tracker he had on his phone. That was a banner day for Driskel, who said both he and his girlfriend bagged hogs.

• Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: Having to field question after question after question about his offseason adventures, the 20-year-old Manziel – who was quick to remind people of his age – handled himself well in a situation that could have caused other athletes to melt down. Say what you will of Johnny Football, but he seems adept at handling scrutiny.

• A.J. McCarron, Alabama: As you can see in video below, McCarron is a well-spoken kid, and he’s interesting. It’s not on the video, but when he was asked about Manziel’s issues and whether he bought the story that the Heisman winner merely overslept at the Manning Passing Academy, McCarron deflected it well.

“I can’t answer on Johnny Manziel’s part. My name is A.J. Everything that has to do with him, he’s his own man. I’m not going to speak on another man’s business. That’s how I was raised – if it don’t having nothing to do with you, don’t speak of it.”

• Tyler Russell, MSU: Russell can often slip into cliché mode during interviews, turning them into rather dull exercises. But he was on his game Wednesday – loose, confident in his answers, honest about his struggles at the end of last season, and most important, he was interesting. I mean, I wrote two stories on him this week.

• Bret Bielema, Arkansas: His debut in Hoover was a winner. He was engaging, funny, said “alls I know” a few times, and gave an impassioned defense of his stance on up-tempo offenses.

• Les Miles, LSU: We knew it was going to be a good session Thursday when Miles made an early reference to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. He also did his best Australian accent, which wasn’t very good, but we all enjoyed it anyway.

• Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Spurrier is always entertaining, and especially so now that he’s been winning big the past few years. He again touted his position on compensating players, saying only President Obama could shut him up about it. He said he doesn’t seeing himself getting burned out in this job. And then Spurrier was asked about his 50-year high school reunion.

“It was sorta quiet,” he said. “I looked around about 9:30, and half of them had already left.”

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Big Storylines

• Manziel was the biggest story of all, as evidenced by the number of media members who scrambled to get near his interview table in the main media room on Wednesday. It’s a story that has perhaps been overblown, but when you’re a Heisman winner with a personality in the age of social media, that can happen.

• I believe every coach was asked about up-tempo offenses, specifically whether rules should be put in place to slow down such offenses and give defenses a chance to be better prepared play-to-play. Proponents of such rules include Bielema and Alabama coach Nick Saban, both of them citing the injury factor. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who said he wants the have the fastest offense in the country, said he thought concerns shared by those like Bielema were a “joke.” Vanderbilt’s James Franklin said he had no strong opinion either way.

• Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina’s defensive end, is a Heisman contender and a scary human being. In fact, several quarterbacks this week were asked if they were scared of Clowney. Apparently he ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash the other day, so yeah, I’d be scared.

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Best-Dressed

SEC Media Days have become sort of a fashion show for players, and a couple stood out to me this week.

Mike Marry, the Ole Miss linebacker, went all in on the pink. Pink blazer, pink shirt, pink tie. Offset nicely by grey pants.

• McCarron makes this short list just for the bowtie he wore, which was blue with pink ribbons. He was showing support for his cousin, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

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Most Questions Asked

It turned into the Bob Holt Show during Malzahn’s session on Wednesday. During one stretch, Bob asked four of five questions, and chuckles rippled throughout the room as this went on. Bob writes for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and he’s one of the most well-liked guys in our profession.

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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Posted in Football

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