The unofficial official kickoff to college football has come and gone. The Winfrey has folded up all the tables and taken down all SEC back drops. ESPN has closed up shop and folded up their space-eating sets.
That’s great news, because college football is just around the corner. I know you watched every bit of media days, but let’s talk about the good and the bad, shall we?
Spurrier and Miles
Steve Spurrier won day one. But media days saved its best for last on Thursday when Les Miles took center stage, stealing the show with a Shakespearean-type scheduling rant that he assumes no responsibility or apology for whatsoever.
Spurrier is fun when he has a good team with an optimistic season ahead. He touched on everything from player stipends to taking a shot at Notre Dame. He’s made a ton of cash throughout his coaching career, and he’s willing to give more to the guys who make it happen: the players.
But Les Miles turned media days on its head, in the only way The Hat can. His scheduling rant is one of the best things I’ve ever seen, media-wise, and epic is an understatement.
It’s almost as if Miles rehearses such outbursts in the mirror in the privacy of his own home. No joke.
Butch Jones, Mark Stoops, Bret Bielema and Gus Malzahn were calm and poised and really handled the massive media well. Of the four, Jones and Bielema stood out the most. Jones excels at selling his brand, while Bielema is the poised newcomer who acts like a winner, and he added he was a ‘closet SEC fan’ at Wisconsin. All four face uphill battles of rebuilding their fallen programs.
Bielema, Malzahn exchange
Hurry-up, no-huddle offenses were the agenda, and Bielema has a clear goal: to slow them down, because players are more prone to injuries. Malzahn said he thought it was a ‘joke’ when he first heard that notion, but Bielema said he’s no comedian. The two newbies bantered back and forth throughout Wednesday, making for some fun and insightful commentary. Bielema had one of the best one-liners when he added that all he wants is to play a little bit of ‘normal American football’. They face off November 2nd.
Bow ties were one of the strongest themes. No, I’m no Fashion Police grading wardrobes, but, damn, some boys looked sharp. Jordan Matthews and AJ McCarron looked sharp, just two of the countless bow-tie wearing, battle-tested SEC players. I guess I’m just jealous I can’t pull one off.
The once-in-a-generation player delivered on the first day. He was open, honest, semi-cocky and crazy confident. I love that in a player. He’s the only player who could comment on the fear in Tajh Boyd, Aaron Murray and Tyler Wilson’s eyes. And he owned it; he dominated it. And it was beautiful. Clowney was a good warmup for Manziel, who, in turn, was a great segway to Alabama, Nick Saban and AJ McCarron on the final day.
For as much bad wrap and dumb questions he received, Johnny Manziel won media days. Yeah, he hijacked all three days, and he was only present for four hours of one day before heading off to the ESPYs to receive Best Male College Athlete. He wins again. The media tried to pin it on Johnny and make him out to be the Lindsay Lohan of college football. You know the one who was beloved until the fame got to her? Well, he’s not Lohan, nor is he the guy we all want to make him out to be. He’s the calm, cool and collected Johnny Manziel, and he handled himself very well for as much scrutiny the mainstream media tried to pin on him.
On a completely opposite tone, AJ McCarron went anti-Manziel. His comments weren’t negative towards Manziel, but he clearly wanted to separate himself from the ‘all about me’ players. You can include Manziel in there if you want. But McCarron is all about the team and understands the ledge and pedestal he stands on. Oh, and all he wants to do is win at all costs. No fame; no glory; no glitter. Just win, baby.
The biggest loser of media days is, you guessed it, the mainstream media. You know, the ones who sat on the space-eating set broadcasting on the mothership. They tried to belittle Manziel and pour it on him all the while making themselves look like fools. Likewise, some media in attendance asked the dumbest questions. I’m over dumb questions, especially with such a limited time.
A dumb question: “Jadeveon, do you think you could catch up with and tackle Manziel in the open field?”
Another dumb question: “Jadeveon, who does your hair?”
Weird media days
Altogether, it was a weird three days. It was so player-centric and so Manziel-focused that coaches answered few questions about how they’ll finish in their division, etc. More questions regarding on-field progress, questions and concerns would have been better. There’s so much depth there, but, no, the masses just wanted to talk about off-field issues.
Look, I love Saban, but he’s the most boring press conference in the world. He’s so guarded, like everything has to be perfect. Relax, coach, and live a little. However, we saw a more cordial Saban, even thanking the media for what they do – but let’s face it, he hates the media. But, just for once, Saban, go all Les Miles for the Internet, would you?
Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports