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Story Archives: Assessing SEC Media Days
|Assessing SEC Media Days|
Besides the standard answers about their team's offensive and defensive prognosis, the 2011 SEC Media Days had interesting side notes and quotes. Here are just a few I found interesting.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen was asked what lessons he's learned since taking the Bulldog head coaching job
"I think the lessons that you learn are what makes you who you are today," Mullen said. "So, you know, I couldn't be who I am today, I couldn't improve the way I was improved unless I actually lived those lessons. I'm a big believer in that. You're going to make mistakes in life. I've made a ton of mistakes since I've been at Mississippi State in every aspect of the program. But if I hadn't made those mistakes, I don't know if I'd be as good a coach as I am today. If someone just told me about it, you don't get as much, you know, reading about it or being told about it as you get in the experience of physically doing it. That is what has been important.
"I don't know if I'd change a thing because I think I needed making all the mistakes and making the good decisions that I've made," Mullen added. "I've needed those to help develop me to become a better football coach. Hopefully the mistakes I make this season will help me be a better coach next year, and the following year after that and in the future. That's it."
And I love this part from Mullen.
"You know, too many people want to just get to the top of the mountain to see the view, but they don't understand the journey of that hike and climb to the top of the mountain, that's the life experience of what it's all about. It's not just about seeing the quick view. If you just want to see the view, you can open the book and see the picture of a view from the top of a mountain. You can turn on Everest, watch on TV. That's what it looks like from the peak of Mt. Everest. I can tell you what, the people that climbed the mountain, the journey along the way, that's what makes your life and develops and defines who you are as a person. It's not the arrival spot, it's the journey. I don't know if I'd change a thing because it wouldn't make me who I am today."
New Florida coach Will Muschamp said his e-mail is full of suggestions from the Gator Nation.
"It's an exciting time to be a football coach," Muschamp said. "We're all undefeated right now. Haven't made any poor decisions on third down. But it's an exciting time."
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was his charismatic self, although a little subdued at times because of the number of questions he knew he would get about oft-troubled quarterback Stephen Garcia.
"I guess we don't want to kick him out for stupidity," Spurrier replied to a question about his unlimited patience with Garcia. "Basically we believe he is a good person. He's not done anything to get arrested or thrown in jail. If he'd been a tight end, yeah, we'd probably try to save him, uh-huh, try to help him."
As for being picked first in the SEC East?
"You know we lost our last two games last year, so we're not sitting around patting each other on the back too much," Spurrier said. "We got clobbered in the SEC game by Auburn and didn't play when the game was on the line against FSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. We've got a long way to go."
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was one of the few coaches not to poor-mouth his team's chances.
"I'm not afraid of high expectations," Petrino said. "It's fun to approach the year that way, that , hey, we're going to go out and be a contender, be a good football team, see what we can do to win ourselves a championship. I'm excited for our defense because I really feel like it's the first time when we're physically where we need to be on the defensive front. Our inside guys will be big and physical and athletic. We've got speed on the edges which matches what we see every week in the conference."
Also found out something interesting about Knile Davis, the Razorback running back who surprised a bunch of folks by rushing for 1,322 yards last season, including 187 against Mississippi State and 152 against LSU.
"We also have Knile Davis with us, a young man that came to us, graduated early why high school," Petrino said. "We got him in January. He was only 16 years old. We all know that last year, about halfway through the year, we lost Dennis Johnson, and Knile said, I'm going to show everybody I'm the starting runningback just by the way I practice.
He really started practicing hard, fast, got to his speed quicker, and became a guy that we ran the offense through the last six games of the year, had a tremendous year for us. Just turned 18 last year in October and is still just a youngster, but a great young man and a great football player."
I asked LSU's Les Miles about Michael Ford and if this was going to be his breakout year.
"I think Michael Ford, he came in a very mature lifter, strong and fast runner, didn't finish runs as well as he was capable," Miles said. "This last spring really showed he was more than ready to do that. I think his ability to compete has improved."
Jake Martin asked Miles about the development of Anthony Johnson on the defensive line and about incoming freshmen.
"I think there's a number of freshmen that will come in and play," Miles said. "I think we've always made it a point that guys like Patrick Peterson or Tyrann Mathieu, really any number of guys, Jordan Jefferson played as a freshman. I think playing as a freshman is not an age issue; it is a skill and ability, ability to learn issue. Anthony Johnson is an example of that. Anthony came in in January, really a very good student. He can sing, he has real personality, and he's practiced an entire spring and summer in our weight room. So I think he's really ready to kind of step forward and play in games as an example of how we play freshmen."
I asked Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt about former Bastrop quarterback Randall Mackey.
"Randall Mackey has come a long way," Nutt said. "It's easy to see why he was a junior college All-American. Every time I run into his coach, he says, Do you realize what you have? I say, 'No, haven't seen him play yet. But you've seen enough of him in practice to know that this guy's very accurate, he's elusive, he has escapability, and this guy can throw the football. He's won a lot of games. He scored a lot of points. Randall has done really good. I've been very proud of him. He's come a long way. He's getting better."
I was very impressed with first-year Vanderbilt coach James Frankiln. He is very assure of himself and a very uplifting person who doesn't want to talk about past struggles at Vandy.
"My recruiting philosophy, my philosophy in general is about relationships," Franklin said. "Obviously now being here since December 17th, we've had more of an opportunity. That first recruiting class was a challenge getting in with the last minute and hustling.The way I look at it is we have an opportunity to do something really special at Vanderbilt. We have an opportunity to differentiate ourselves. I really believe there's very few schools that are going to be able to compete with us when it comes to recruiting because we have an opportunity to offer things that very few schools can.
You can come to Vanderbilt and get a world class education, so for the next 40 years of your life you have a degree that matters. When you walk into a job interview, and they get to know you, and they ask you where you went to school, you'll demand respect from everybody in that room right away.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley knew he was going to have to deal with the LSU game from last year, as well as the bowl game against North Carolina where the Vols had both games won but lost them on peculiar penalties.
"I almost got out of here," Dooley said with a laugh when the question came up late "I told everybody I was 8-7 in post-game handshakes last year. It was a remarkable feat. You know, that whole deal, it happens to you. They say that's never happened in college football and it will never happen again. I was agreeing with them. You're right, it will never happen again. And it did.
"There's lessons in everything," Dooley said. " You live, you learn, you move on. I'm glad those things happened my first year. I hope they don't happen as we get deeper into the experience. So they asked me "Hey, what was your greatest moment last year?" I said, Well, there were two of them. They just only lasted about 30 seconds. So that's the way it is. That's the nature of sport. We put in a new rule that hopefully will prevent that from happening to another coach again. We live, we learn and we move on."
And, of course, Les Miles was Les Miles.
Miles was asked about the video for LSU Sports Net where "hee-hawed" off his basketball skills against his son and daughter and if he was really sent shoes by ESPN's Scott Van Pelt.
"I did not make that video for anybody else but Van Pelt," Miles said. "It was a straight-up deal to send back to him based on the fact that he's been knocking my game-day shoes. So we took an afternoon and displayed my basketball ability very honestly. Made the shots that I shot. The slam was my slam. I defended my seven-year-old Macy Miles extremely well.
To be honest with you, the reason you do something like that is certainly I didn't think that that was going to be as big a deal, kind of like eating grass. But really it was a family outing. My wife threw up the jump ball. The national anthem was a full three-minute sing. The editor made me run through that. That was not the way it was. It was a full three-minute Macy Miles sing. It was a hoot.
At the end of the day, everybody laughed. It was just what you wanted. I don't know that it actually showed — my wife said this: Les, there's nobody that saw that video will ever think that you can play basketball."
I was also impressed with Kentucky coach Joker Phillips.
I asked him about the mental aspect of the game, especially at a place like Kentucky were basketball is king.
"We talk about 95% of the game is mental," Phillips said. "Sometimes you have to play mind games. You have to put them in situations that might come up in a game. I watch games. People say, Why do you watch college football when that's what you do? I watch games so I might see a situation that we might not have practiced. It's hard to come up with all the situations that might come up. So you have to be mentally ready for those things when they come."
"I like the fact we play a lot of night games," Phillips said. "Jerry Claiborne used to do this with us when I played, Did you see what happened to Such-and-Such today? We got to be sound in the kicking game. Here is the reason why. Understand what happened to this team.
So I like watching games also throughout the day to try to put myself as a head coach into situations, Should I use a timeout here or wouldn't I? I think that's a huge part of being a college football coach."
The classiest coach of the week had to be Georgia's Mark Richt, a very sincere, humble, and just all-around great guy.
And one of the most humorous moments came from his time on the podium.
Usually the coaches speak and then the players come out about 15 minutes later.
Except Georgia center Ben Jones, who arrived at the end of Richt's interview. He then raised his hand to ask a question.
"Coach Richt, do you trust the offensive line this year?"
"Let me say this," Richt said. "You weren't in here when I was bragging about the offensive line. They're worried about the depth of our offensive line. I'm not worried about the depth if nobody gets hurt.
"Ben Jones is the best center in America," Richt said. "I think he's going to win the Remington. I think he's a great competitor. He's mean as a snake on the field. But he knows what he's doing. He's a great leader. He's a great football player. I'm glad we got him.
Good question, by the way, Ben."
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