- Those of you anti-SEC establishment member hoping that the coming creation of SEC ESPN would limit exposure to the league are in for a huge letdown. There is no seceding of SEC content and creating a separation from one channel and the most-exposed conference in America in the near future. SEC Media Days served as a huge reminder – ESPN loves it some SEC. Why wouldn’t it? Look at the highest-rated games. More and more, the nation is buying into the mantra that the SEC is the league to watch. Don’t expect that momentum to slow down, which means lots more David Pollack on College GameDay and a lot more SportsCenter live reports from the Deep South.
- In the same vein, there is no avoiding Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel this season. Love it or hate it, he is the Face of College Football this season. You thought Tim Tebow was bad? This has all the makings of Tebow-mania with an edge never found on Tebow. Manziel extends beyond spectacular play into spectacle off-the-field. His ability to make something out of nothing on the field apparently translates into headlines, where everything Johnny Football does attracts attention. It doesn’t matter what happens with Manziel this season. He will be the primary story for the foreseeable future. Enjoy watching him play and prepare yourself for the amazingly predictable media storm that will follow him all seasons.
- South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney is ready to go all Mike Tyson on opposing quarterbacks this season. As in he will eat their children. OK, maybe not that. But suffice it to say Clowney is ready to go out with a bang. And perhaps lots of other loud noises reverberating from opponents’ pads. The freak show of the SEC says he knows certain quarterbacks fear him. Oh, and Clowney names names. Aaron Murray, Tajh Boyd: How are you feeling about getting singled out? You shouldn’t feel great. Then again, what are you going to do? Beg your left tackles to block this monster? Throw the ball quicker so Clowney can’t get to you, thus proving his point? Try to run over Clowney? Good luck with all of that. The virtual lock for next year’s No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft has enjoyed two strong seasons. Look for him to take his game to yet another level – and for the list of quarterbacks who fear him to grow exponentially.
- A change of zip code – and conference – did not alter first-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s personality. The brash, hard-nosed coach has never been into making friends, but rather turning his program into a winner. Bielema has been outspoken about any number of topics, from the Big Ten recruiting not stooping to the level of the SEC to his most recent (and certainly not comical) viewpoints about slowing down the high-speed offenses. How much of a riff exists now between Bielema and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn after the new coaches exchanged completely overblown barbs during SEC Media Days remains to be seen. What has become obvious is that Bielema will remain true to who he is and continue to stand up for what he believes – especially the well-being of his own players.
- Media members won’t draw Alabama coach Nick Saban into talks of three-peats, Bear Bryant comparisons or anything else that doesn’t directly correlate with winning the next football game. Saban has long been the best in deflecting questions and redirecting them back toward his team’s ability to win football games. Though Saban will take part in philosophical discussion – he, not Bielema first brought up the need to look at rules changes surrounding tempo offenses and Saban was the lone coach vote for a nine-game SEC schedule – he is not interested in comparisons or anything not directly relating to The Process. Crimson Tide players such as QB AJ McCarron follow suit. Unlike Manziel, McCarron has stayed out of the spotlight despite having been the starting quarterback for two consecutive Alabama national championships.
- There won’t be any love lost between Florida and the man who brought the program two BCS national championships – current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Whether or not you choose to sheepishly believe Meyer’s odious denial, there is no doubt that someone from Ohio State has now turned in the Gators coaching staff twice to the NCAA to be investigated for minor recruiting violations. At SEC Media Days, current Florida coach Will Muschamp fired back. “We appreciate our friends from Ohio educating us on NCAA rules,” he said. “They certainly know a thing or two about it.” In response to a separate question, Muschamp took what could be perceived as another jab at his predecessor. A reporter asked Muschamp about player discipline – a hot topic in recent days since Meyer’s record at Florida has been called to light in the aftermath of former Florida TE Aaron Hernandez being charged for murder. Muschamp initially said coaches can’t be expected to know where 125 players are at all times, but added coaches “can’t stick your head in the sand and think everything is OK. You’re 100 percent responsible.” Don’t look for friendly relations between the two sides any time soon.
- Georgia is doing everything it can to move on from its 2012 heartbreak. There’s no question it’s difficult. The Bulldogs gave Alabama their best shot in the SEC Championship Game last season. Needing a touchdown in the closing seconds, they even drove the ball inside the Alabama 10-yard line. QB Aaron Murray completed a deflected pass to a sliding Chris Conley and Georgia, without any remaining timeouts, watched helplessly as time expired with the ball at the Alabama 5. Had the Bulldogs won, they – and not the Crimson Tide – would have likely represented the SEC in the BCS National Championship Game. That Alabama trounced an overmatched Notre Dame squad can do nothing but add salt to the wound. Georgia has obviously tried to pick up the pieces. The messages from coach Mark Richt and Murray were synchronized at SEC Media Days – Georgia is on the map as a national power and has earned the country’s respect. That sounds like an awfully hollow consolation prize compared to what the Bulldogs missed by five yards.
- LSU coach Les Miles has no intention of letting up his assault on the unbalanced scheduling in the SEC. He has a valid point. Right now, in 2013, it is inherently unfair that LSU plays Florida on an annual basis while Alabama faces Tennessee every season. It hasn’t been fair for most of the 2000s, though before Saban took over the Crimson Tide program, it didn’t matter nearly as much. This season tilts even more in Alabama’s favor. The Crimson Tide plays Kentucky and Tennessee in the non-divisional slate. LSU, meanwhile, is stuck with contests against Florida and Georgia. Miles has a right to be frustrated with the schedule, but so far his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Topics: Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn Tigers, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana State Tigers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Vanderbilt Commodores