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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

SEC teleconference blog: The most interesting league in the world

I don’t always blog coaches teleconferences. But when I do, I blog the SEC teleconference: Heisman Trophy favorites under NCAA investigation, stories flying around about him and who is behind the stories, coaches who eat grass and brag about it … What does this league not have?

Here's a coach-by-coach breakdown of Wednesday's installment. I went in chronological order, but the good stuff mostly comes last.

- Les Miles grazed on the teleconference first. He took a few questions about his punter and his proclivity for fakes. A questioner, pointing to Georgia’s cancellation of the Oregon game, asked if fans were being short-changed by the emphasis on just scheduling one BCS nonconference opponent per year. Miles answered by pointing out that this team actually opens with Oregon next year, but that no, with the SEC being as competitive as it is, no one’s being short-changed.

At that point I was very disappointed that no one asked what Miles had for lunch. But oh well.

- Steve Spurrier was next. The Ol’ Ball Coach was happy to get his first question from Robbie Andreau of the Gainesville Sun. (“Robbie!” Spurrier said, in much the same way he says “Jerri!” when he sees his wife at practice. Trust me, I’ve seen this.) Spurrier then shook off a question about how big winning at Florida would be for his team.

“I hope I’m never stupid enough to answer a question like that,” Spurrier said.

Later, a reporter asked Spurrier if it was true – as quarterback Stephen Garcia said – that this game was the biggest in South Carolina history.

“No, that’s not true. Please don’t listen to Stephen all the time when he’s speaking,” Spurrier said.


- Then came Urban Meyer, who opened his appearance with a prepared statement on the Newton situation.

“I addressed (yesterday) recent news stories that my SID made me aware of,” Meyer said “I will say however that I was very supportive of Cam when he was here. Cam and his family know this. We wish him all the best.”

Meyer was later asked why he felt it was important to issue the statement on Tuesday.

“I didn’t,” Meyer said. “My SID felt it was important. I had no idea it was going on. We were locked in meetings all day. I didn’t want to do it to be honest with you. But whatever they tell me to do, I do.”

Wow, that’s quite a powerful SID they have there at Florida.

- Vanderbilt’s Robbie Caldwell was as cheery as usual, even though his team is riddled with injuries.

“We just hope we have enough to fill the bus,” he said.

Caldwell then got a few more questions, but none of them involved Cam Newton or turkey inseminations, so let’s move on.

- It would have been more interesting if Tennessee’s Derek Dooley had been replaced by his mother, Barbara. If you’ve ever heard her weekly appearances on the Paul Finebaum show, you might agree with me that Mrs. Dooley has no idea she’s on live radio.

- Alabama’s Nick Saban was as downcast and Eeyore-sounding as normal, but even moreso after the loss to LSU. Sometimes I think Saban just woke up from a nap when he does the teleconference. Of course Saban is a ball of energy compared to the guy that follows him.

- Bobby Petrino has the charisma of a turnip. He often gets the least amount of questions because reporters assume he’ll have nothing interesting to say. Petrino filled nearly all his allotted 10 minutes on Wednesday, talking often about his admiration for Mike Price, the UTEP head coach, and how much football Petrino learned from Price. (Let’s hope that’s all he learned from Price.)

- Next up was Houston Nutt, who got three questions then was excused for a lack of any more. That left four minutes of dead air, which was still more interesting than listening to Bobby Petrino.

- The first question Mark Richt got was about Newton, on whether he thought it would be a distraction for Auburn.

“We really haven’t tried to keep up with that at all, because we think it could be a distraction to us,” Richt said.

Richt took a few more innocuous questions, and then it was showtime. Or so we hoped.

- Dan Mullen came on, and was asked about the ESPN report from Tuesday night that two Mississippi State recruiters had reported the Newton pay allegations.

“I’m much more concerned about beating Alabama,” said Mullen, who went on to allude to the death of Nick Bell, saying he and his staff had been more concerned with dealing with that.

Then Mullen, when asked directly if there was anybody else registered as a recruiter with the NCAA besides his coaches, had a one-word answer: “No.”

Asked again about the Newton story, Mullen again (somewhat testily) alluded to Bell.

“We had our starting defensive end pass away nine days ago. … That’s what we’ve been dealing with at Mississippi State University,” he said.

Mullen was then let off with four minutes left, either because there weren’t any more questions, or they didn’t want that awkward transition to …

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, who tried to lay down the law right away:

“I wanna get off the table up front the fact that Cameron Newton will be playing Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs. If there is anybody who has any questions about that game Saturday, I’d love to entertain those. Thank you.”

The first reporter called on almost stumbled over his Newton-related question, then plowed away anyway. Chizik referred to his first statement.

That seemed to scare off anybody else who wanted to try, except a Birmingham TV reporter who asked if it was frustrating that the NCAA was taking so long to make a ruling. Chizik didn’t bite.

“Like I said, I’m focused on beating Georgia, and Georgia, and that’s where my attention is,” he said.

- And with that, Chizik was excused (two minutes early) and next up was Joker Phillips – perhaps the only SEC coach this year who came on before his scheduled time.

God bless him, you could feel the air go out of the call at that moment. And actually for Joker, that’s a good thing: He has Vanderbilt to prepare for this weekend.

When it ended, the SEC moderator thanked everyone, then presumably left to take a cold shower.

And somewhere in the background, you could almost hear Mike Slive hitting his head against the wall.


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MauiDawg said...

Auburn and Cam Newton is without a doubt in a heap of trouble. Too many detailed rumors for something not to stink...

Surprised the reporters let Chizik get off the hook so easily. It's not like Cam is the ONLY storyline.

Like the humor and personality you've started throwing in now Seth.

Mike said...

Jesus! I was uncomfortable just reading that description