SEC Media Days can be a strange bird because you never know what you might get, but the one thing you can count on is getting something out of the ‘Ole Ball Coach and in 2012 Steve Spurrier didn’t disappoint as his charges after Georgia and more overshadowed the debuts of Texas A&M and Missouri as members of the SEC at the annual event.
Why the jabs? Well, if you’ve been following college football since the 1990’s you know if Spurrier’s jabbing others he’s confident in his own teams abilities, so look out SEC East foes, South Carolina’s coming for you in a big way in 2012.
What was all the fuss about from Spurrier?
Well, try these nuggets:
~ Starting out the event he stated a classic: “I’ve been here 20 years now … Coaching in the SEC, it’s not a stressful job. I know some of these coaches will tell you how stressful it is.”
~ Then there was the fun jab at the media gathered in enthralled silence: “Every time some sportswriter asks me how much longer I’m going to coach, I think I need to ask him, How much longer are you going to write? What’s the difference.”
~ Oh and lest you think they were his only target, try rival Georgia: “If I made the schedule, Georgia’d be playing LSU and we’d be playing Ole Miss.”
more after the jump…
~ And then he dropped his bomb on the playoffs: “I would have eight teams go play. We got six BCS conferences right now. If you can win your conference championship, one of these BCS conferences, you ought to have a chance to play for it all. Then you take two at-large teams. If Notre Damegoes undefeated, maybe Houston or Southern Miss goes undefeated, maybe they deserve a spot to play for the national championship.”
Needless to say there were quite a few things said about other teams, but he also made it clear he thinks this team is going to be very good. He was asked about when he thought they would win an SEC/National Title to kick off the Q&A, stating: “You always hope you can do it real quickly. I think we just didn’t put together a team that was quite capable as quickly. I think we’ve assembled better players, better coaches, maybe a better strength coach, trainer, equipment guy, the whole bit. But again, we got to go play the games. Last year we won most of our close games.”
And that’s really the question facing the other USC this season, can they close the gap quickly, cause it sure wasn’t pretty against LSU in the SEC Championship game last season.
What about the other schools up today?
Kevin Sumlin got his first taste of the big time as Texas A&M stepped up to the mic on the opening day of SEC Media Days. It’s fair to say he passed the first test with flying colors – not ruffling many feathers (ahheemmm Steve Spurrier), or serving up some strange statements ala Les Miles in just about every interview ever. What he did say though indicated his and the program’s excitement to begin play in the SEC.
Speaking in front of more media members than he’s probably ever seen before Sumlin sounded a confident tone for himself and his team. “My realistic expectations are to win,” Sumlin said. “I’ve said that from day one. Everybody talks to me and acts like I didn’t know what I was getting into when I got the job. We had already entered into an agreement with the SEC when I got the job.”
While Sumlin sounded confident, he also was clearly anxious for his team to hit the field, both for himself and for Aggies fans.
“There is no doubt our fans are excited about the home opener against Florida,” said Sumlin. “All you have to do is look at our season ticket sales to see where we are as an athletic department from an excitement standpoint.”
Asked about making adjustments in moving from the Big XII to the SEC, Sumlin attempted a bit of humor. “Yeah we have to be bigger and faster against SEC defenses” said Sumlin with a laugh.
One thing became clear as he spoke and that he’s a no-nonsense kind of guy, bristling a bit when asked about facing the past three BCS National Champions. “
He then deftly avoided a chance at controversy saying, “It [Les Miles’ comment about “strapping it up”] wasn’t derogatory at all. That’s a fair statement. I think he says that about everyone he plays.”
Overall it’s just another step forward as the Aggies prepare to enter the SEC against the Gators in Week 2 at the Home of the 12th Man.
The western most SEC East member also took to the podium today as Gary Pinkel and players addressed the media earlier today. Pinkel was clear in stating that continuity in his staff and the program has been and will be huge in the transition over to the SEC from the Big XII. He was also quick to defend where he came from and his friends in the SEC.
“People act like we play bunch of high school teams.” said Pinkel when asked about that very transition from the Big XII. “We played in a pretty good league.”
So, how are they going to handle the transition to the league? Perhaps his first meeting with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive provides the best answer to that question. “It was, Hi, how are you guys doing? Let’s go to work.”
That’s Gary Pinkel for you SEC folks. He’s a pretty straight forward kind of guy and isn’t exactly a quote machine.
Perhaps the funniest moment came when he was asked about restaurants in Columbia to eat at.
“I’d get in big trouble for answering that one. Why don’t you email the city’s restaurant association or something,” said Pinkel.
He also did have good things to say about friend and former Kent State teammate, Nick Saban, saying “He’ll probably go down as one of the greatest coaches in college football history…and he should.” Only after pointing out that Saban is older than Pinkel, though.
As media days go, this one was pretty tame overall, but I’m sure the media in attendance will drum up a few questions sure to provoke a coach or two along the way and we’ll be there to take you through it all.