Biggest takeaways from SEC Media Days: Day 2
Dan Mullin sees the SEC West as wide open. Kevin Sumlin showed he is a pro when handling the media. Steve Spurrier wasn’t his normal quick-witted self but he had fun around one of his former quarterbacks. Day 2 is in the books at the SEC Media Days.
Here are the biggest takeaways.
Dan Mullen couldn’t feel any better about his Mississippi State Bulldogs. That was quite evident on Tuesday. The Bulldogs believe they are for real this year. They want to win the SEC West and believe they can do it.
A deeper look at what the Bulldogs have shows this might be the year. They return nine starters on defense and have an under-the-radar Heisman candidate in Dak Prescott. With Alabama having a first-year starter under center, Auburn using up all of their miracles last year, an LSU team filled with freshman and having Ole Miss’ number in the Egg Bowl putts Mississippi State in the hunt in what Mullen calls a wide-open SEC West.
“There are seven coaches in the SEC West that expect to find a way to get to Atlanta and win our side of the league. That’s not coach talk,” said Mullen. “I think that is a pretty unique…I think that does show the depth (of the conference); that it is a wide‑open path.”
The Bulldogs carry momentum over from closing out last year on a three-game winning streak. The tight ballgames that they lost against the league’s best last year proved they are close.
“A true freshman quarterback (for us) playing against Alabama, Damian Williams, gets thrown in trying to win the game in a close, low‑scoring game in the fourth quarter,” said Mullen. “We played Auburn earlier in the year, ended up losing at the end of the game. The team was able to look back and say ‘We can score points against teams in this league, we can play great defense against teams in this league when we need to.’”
The Texas A&M Aggies might be facing a transitional year for the upcoming 2014 season but their head coach brought his A-game Tuesday. Halfway through the four-day gathering, it would be fair to say that Kevin Sumlin’s performance was the best of the eight coaches that have taken the mic thus far.
Sumlin has been to Hoover the past three years. By the way he responded to questions Tuesday, you would have thought that he’s been coming as long as Commissioner Mike Slive.
During his opening statement Sumlin admitted that he sounded like a commercial. He was raving about the Kyle Field’s redevelopment, the Davis Player Development Center and the R.C. Slocum Nutritional Center. There was no mention of future plans for a Johnny Manziel Poker Room, which is probably a good thing.
As it turns out, the first and third questions posed to Sumlin were about Johnny Football to which Sumlin knocked out of the ballpark.
“Let me get this straight,” Sumlin replied to the first inquiry. “The question was ‘What’s it like not coaching Johnny Manziel?’ Your question to me is irrelevant.”
Moments later when asked about Manizel’s recent trip to Las Vegas and whether he had offered him any advice, Sumlin looked dumb-founded and had to ask where he was.
“Is this SEC Media Days?” said Sumlin. That is a great question for the Cleveland Browns. Anybody else got something?”
The room erupted with laughter.
Sumlin then proceeded to show that he is a crafty veteran when it comes to handling the media. A reporter brought up Steve Spurrier mentioning how good Sumlin’s salary negotiating was. The reporter than followed the statement with a question.
“The question didn’t have anything to do with your comment,” said Sumlin. ” Just had to slip (that statement) out there, didn’t ya? I see you guys stirring the pot, trying to bring me in. It is year three; you’re not going to get me on that.”
The question was about facing Spurrier and the Gamecocks the first game of the year. In his response, Sumlin brought up that he, Spurrier and Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops went on a golf trip together. It must have been then when the Old Ball Coach and Stoops coached up Sumlin.
When the dust settled Sumlin pitched a shutout verse the media.
Kevin Sumlin 35, media 0. Doesn’t bite on questions he feels are bad or leading, or say much about Manziel or his potential successors.
— John Zenor (@jzenor) July 15, 2014
Spurrier wasn’t his normally quick-witted self. Probably decided to let Sumlin, his young protege, have the spotlight this year. The Old Ball Coach had a couple of quips though. Spurrier’s initial plan for life after being in Gainesville for so long didn’t really shake out.
“When I left Florida after 12 years, I thought I was going to coach (in the) NFL five or six years and retire to the beach and play golf a bunch and travel around, this, that and the other,” said Spurrier. “But that was a bad plan. It was. Later you found out that was not a real good idea, but that’s the way I was thinking back then.”
An unofficial number of former quarterbacks working as member of the media at SEC Media Days is at five. Jessie Palmer, Danny Kanell and Greg McElroy working for the ESPN family of networks, Jay Barker for WJOX radio in Birmingham and Stephen Garcia for us at Saturday Down South. The former Gamecock gun-slinger caught up with the Old Ball Coach and even threw his former coach a question.
Of course the day wouldn’t have been complete without someone – Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson – taking a selfie.
— Vol Photos (@Vol_Photos) July 15, 2014