Tag:SEC Media Days
Posted on: July 27, 2011 2:55 pm

It's officially official: Demps a Gator in 2011

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It won't be a surprise to anyone who paid attention to Will Muschamp's SEC Media Days comments. Or to anyone who noticed the report two days later that said Jeff Demps was in Gainesville to tell Muschamp face-to-face he'd be playing for the Gators in 2011. Or to anyone who's noticed Demps has put his football ambitions ahead of those in track for his entire career in both.

But all the same, just to make it officially official: Demps will be playing football for Florida this fall. As he said in a statement:
“All of my coaches have been supportive and I’ve always been able to concentrate on whatever sport I’m competing in during that season. Now I'm ready to concentrate on football. I’m looking forward to getting back together with my football teammates.”

And Muschamp, for his part:

“I met with him Tuesday and Jeff is looking forward to focusing on football for his upcoming senior season."
We would say this is a huge boost for the Gators -- Demps was their leading rusher a year ago and easily their best home-run threat -- but since Demps never really left the team, it's more the absence of a negative than a positive. (If that makes sense.)

Now for the bigger issue confronting Demps's role with the Gators: can Charlie Weis figure out how to use him?

For more on Florida football, follow our CBSSports.com RapidReports on the Gators, either via RSS or Twitter.

Posted on: July 22, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 3:07 pm

Report: LSU's Shepard has 'compliance issue'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This much we know about LSU wide receiver/athlete Russell Shepard: after being scheduled to appear at SEC Media Days this week, he has not made the trip to Birmingham. And that according to an official LSU statement, he is not suspended and is missing Media Days due to "personal issues."

That's the line repeated by Les Miles (via CBSSports' own Brett McMurphy):

But according to reports from longtime LSU beat writer Randy Rosetta of TigerSportDigest, it's more complicated than that. Rosetta's initial report:

And a follow-up:

It's that "future eligibility" question that makes this story potentially much more than just Shepard missing out on a visit to the Wynfrey. One of the nation's most sought-after prospects in the 2009 class, Shepard has yet to make the kind of impact expected after his arrival in Baton Rouge, but the former five-star retains a massive amount of potential which new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe is no doubt anxious to tap into.

Even if Shepard's "compliance issue" doesn't force him to miss any more than the season opener against Oregon, even that could be a big blow for a Bayou Bengal team whose roller-coaster offense needs all the weapons it can get. Stay tuned.

Posted on: July 22, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:10 pm

Houston Nutt at SEC Media Days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Houston Nutt opened his SEC Media Days comments by admitting last year's 4-8 campaign was "disappointing." That disappointment might explain why Nutt wasn't quite as animated at the podium as the "Right Reverend" has been in the past.

But that doesn't mean he didn't still have plenty to say. Here's the highlights, by topic:

Mississippi State. Nutt's Starkville counterpart Dan Mullen has done his best to claim ownership of Mississippi following two straight Egg Bowl victories, with "Our State" billboards and calling State the "people's university." Nutt never once mentioned State or Mullen by name, but was clearly rankled by his rivals' Rebel-baiting.

On recruiting, he mentioned in his opening statement the Rebels had landed "the best players out of Mississippi." Asked about the Egg Bowl's recruiting effect again later, he responded with "You checked recruiting this past season, right? It didn't affect us. We had the best recruiting in the state of Mississippi."

On the billboards, Nutt said "Ole Miss has never been to Atlanta ... I feel like I know the road map to get there. And to waste your time and energy on something like that, it's a waste of time. You better be concentrating on recruiting, and concentrating on winning."

Asked about the SEC West, Nutt said "You better buckle up. Both chin straps," and proceeded to praise every team in the division (his own included) ... with the single exception of Mississippi State. We doubt that was coincidental.

And finally, asked directly about the Bulldogs for what must have been the fourth or fifth time, Nutt said this: "The reason they're loud right now is they've won the last two years ... I do understand the Egg Bowl. It's a real rival. And our players and coaches understand that. And there's only one thing to do about it."

Quarterback. Nutt claimed the Rebels' offensive woes are being overblown, saying "We averaged 30 points a game last year now. We were in just about every game. We had one or two bad games on offense. Too many times when we didn't take care of the ball."

Which is why he doesn't seem worried about his quarterback situation in the wake of Jeremiah Masoli's departure. "I think we have a good situation," he said. "We just have to figure out who's going to stay away from the problems, the disasters."

West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti will be the No. 1 quarterback entering fall camp, but Nutt was far from declaring him a starter. "If we were playing tonight ... he would probably go out there first," Nutt said. "But that's why you have two-a-days."

SEC Media Days
Defense. The key to the Rebels' defensive improvement after a terrible 2010 effort? "We want to be better tacklers," Nutt said. "Our first two years I thought we really played with that passion, that energy to get to the ball," he said, "and I just didn't feel like we did that last year."

To that end, five-star linebacker recruit C.J. Johnson will have "every opportunity" to get early playing time, epsecially after the injury to starting MLB D.T. Shackelford. "He doesn't look like a guy just coming out of high school," Nutt said. "By default, he'll line up second team on Day 1."

2010. So what happened last year? Nutt said the Rebels' 2008 and 2009 campaigns might have led to some complacency. "After two seasons of success, we got in that mood of assuming," Nutt said. "'I just assume I can roll my helmet out there and go through the motions.'"

But he also said that those two years of Cotton Bowl victories were key to maintaining the Rebels' success on the recruiting trail. "I know we're on the right track. I believe it," Nutt said. 'Back-to-back January 1's, no doubt in my mind, that's what caused these young men to say "Coach Nutt, I know you didn't have a good year this past year, but we're coming with you' ... they see it."
Posted on: July 22, 2011 12:42 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 1:02 pm

Vanderbilt's Franklin upbeat at SEC Media Days

Posted by Chip Patterson

Vanderbilt's James Franklin is walking into a difficult situation for his first head coaching opportunity. The Commodores have only won 13 SEC games in the last 10 years and are entering 2011 after back-to-back 2-10 seasons. More than any team in the conference, Vanderbilt has the most room for improvement. It's a difficult challenge for anyone, particularly a 39-year-old first-time head coach.

Then you meet James Franklin.

Franklin was impressive on the microphone Friday, taking a honest but enthusiastic look at his football program. Some of the first questions he faced concerned his recruiting philosophy, and how he markets a school with academic standards like Vanderbilt.

"The way I look at it is we have an opportunity to do something really special at Vanderbilt, Franklin said. "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. We also play in the greatest football conference in America, the SEC. If you're the best and brightest from all over this country, where else would you go? The third factor is we're in Nashville. I'm a big believer that your education is more than what you just learn in the classroom.  It's a combination of all these cultural experiences, and we can provide that at Nashville.

"There's going to be some schools that maybe have one aspect. There's going to be very few schools that have all three aspects that I think people are looking for: the academic experience, the athletic experience, social experience. The last factor is these guys want to play early. We can offer that. We have some good players, we just don't have enough of them. From a depth perspective, we can allow young men to get on the field as well. That plan, that vision, that mentality has really been helping us." 

Here are some more highlights from Franklin's press conference:

On Vanderbilt's quarterback situation: "This spring we had one healthy scholarship quarterback. So it's going to be a little bit interesting. I didn't think it was fair at any position, especially the quarterback position, to name any starters. Every one of our players is going to come in and earn their job in camp and what they've done all summer and off-season. That's including Chris Marve, everybody. We want to create the most competitive environment we possibly can."

On how to build the fan base: "I think the most important thing we can do is put a product on the field that our fan base can be excited about. That's the most important thing. We're going to do some things facility-wise to create a better home-field advantage as well, give a better game-day experience. The other thing, my staff, myself, the players, administration, we have to reach out to the entire Vanderbilt community, that's worldwide. I think that's one of our challenges as well, is because of our education, what we offer young men, our graduates go all over the world, we have to reach out and bring the community back together. Everybody has to understand we can't do this alone. It's not the players, it's not just the coaches. It's our alumni base, it's the community, everybody. We need this fan base to unite like it never has before."

Keep it here at the Eye On College Football for more updates from media days from all conferences in the upcoming weeks.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 12:52 pm

Alabama's Nick Saban at SEC Media Days

Posted by Chip Patterson

Alabama coach Nick Saban is a football guy. The first man on the microphone Friday at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Saban deflected many of the "policy" questions of the week and instead kept his focus on the game itself.

The Crimson Tide were announced today as the overwhelming favorite to win the SEC, and some have speculated they could even start the season as the top-ranked team nationally.

Want to know why?

Just take a look at the nine Preseason All-SEC First Team selections, a conference record. But Saban acknowledges there are question marks, and one of the biggest ones is at the quarterback position. Sophomore A.J. McCarron and freshman Phillip Sims have been competing for the position, which still does not have a clear-cut starter.

"We're gonna continue to manage those guys through fall camp," Saban said. "Neither guy has a tremendous amount of experience, we have a lot of trust and confidence in both of their abilities. It will be interesting to see who plays better in a game, because we feel like both guys have done a really good job and both guys are talented enough to be very, very successful quarterbacks for our team."

Other highlights from Saban's time on the podium:

-- Saban used the word "consistency" or "consistent" 11 times during the press conference. Alabama identified two major issues from its 2010's campaign: play better fundamentally and eliminate mental errors. There is no doubt the Crimson Tide are going to be good this fall, but you get the feeling that Saban believes they have the possibility to really be great. They were picked to win the SEC West again last year, but in the opinion of the coaching staff, the aforementioned issues kept them from that goal.

-- There was a good amount of dialogue on the affairs in the state of Alabama. First, it was many thanks to those who have assisted the state with tornado relief efforts, then it turned to Auburn-Alabama relations. Toomer's Corner was never expressly mentioned, but Saban went out of his way to address the intensifying rivalry between the two schools:

"I think we have a lot of wonderful people, a lot of wonderful people who support those institutions in a very positive way, Saban said. "I think our state is very, very important. I think the respect that we have for each other is very, very important, and in no way should affect the competitive rivalry we have with each other.

"But I also think that some of the things that have been negatives are not really good. And I think there's just a small number of people who probably create this - on both sides. This is not a criticism of one or the other. I would like to see our fans show class in terms of how we represent our institution and our state and our athletic programs. That would be really, really appreciated."

-- Listening to Saban talk X's and O's is just. so. cool. More than any other coach this week, Saban dove into the intricacies of his 3-4 defense. In case you missed it, here's a recap of Saban's answer for the clipboard junkies.

I think philosophically you have to be able to manage circumstances and understand what you're getting into because you need bigger guys to play nose and defensive end. So you have to have outside backer types who can pass-rush when you get into all the spread stuff and nickel stuff that you have to play.
But it's probably a little bit overstated because we actually played a 3-4 last year about 20% of the time. That's dictated and determined by the offense that we play. Because when we play nickel and dime, we're playing more 40-type defense. I know Will will be the same way, most of the people in the league are the same way, because you're going to get in the best pass-rush front you can have.
I think the greatest advantage philosophically of playing a 3-4 is it gives you the best opportunity to play a seven-man front and play split-safety coverages rather than having to be in an eight-man front to stop the run. You have to have the right kind of players to do it. But philosophically I think that's why you see more and more of that defense.

After months of violations, allegations, and lots of other -tions, we have football talk!

-- Basically, every coach has been asked to give an opinion on the proposed changes from SEC commissioner Mike Slive. Saban has no interest in making comments on the issue, but instead expressed his desire for there to be "dialogue and discussion" with the rest of the coaches and commissioners before changes are made to the game. As a self-appointed "proponent for college football," Saban believes the game does a lot of good for people, and seemed to wonder why there was so much negativity and call for change.

"I'm sort of proud of our profession and I'm proud of what we do to help young people have a better chance to be successful in life," Saban said. "So I'm not necessarily ready to jump out there and support or not support whatever changes we make."

Keep it here at the Eye On College Football for more updates from media days from all conferences in the upcoming weeks.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 11:37 am

Report: Demps in Gainesville, will play in '11

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When Will Muschamp took the podium at SEC Media Days Wednesday, he said he expected running back Jeff Demps to play for Florida this year rather than pursue a career in professional track. But he stopped short of guaranteeing it, saying Demps was currently in Italy for track reasons and he would have to meet with him "eyeball-to-eyeball" to know his plans for certain.

According to a report from ESPN, that eyeball-to-eyeball meeting should happen Friday. Demps is reportedly back in Gainesville, Fla., and prepared to talk to Muschamp face-to-face.

The expected result of those meetings?

Demps giving his pledge to play for the Gators in 2011. It would be a huge boost for Muschamp's wobbly offense, which finished 10th in the SEC in total offense a year ago and could ill afford to lose their leading rusher and best home-run threat -- particularly with John Brantley's competence as a passer still a matter of debate.

Demps still won't be the kind of inside-the-tackles power runner Muschamp and Charlie Weis will want, long term, for their physical pro-style offense. But where 2011 is concerned, he's still the best option Florida will have -- and if he does officially rejoin the Gators today, it's going to be a very good day indeed for Muschamp.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:06 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 8:07 pm

Richt: Samuel enters fall camp as No. 1 RB

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Asked about five-star Georgia running back recruit Isaiah Crowell on Signing Day, Mark Richt said he "wouldn't be shocked to see him running that rock in the dome against Boise State on the opening play." But even after losing top two rushers Washaun Ealey and Caleb King during the offseason, Richt declined to name Crowell the Bulldog starter Thursday at SEC Media Days and seemed to be making a concerted effort to keep a lid on the Crowell hype.

How concerted? Away from the main Media Days podium, Richt told Dawgs247 reporter Gentry Estes that entering fall camp, the Bulldogs' No. 1 tailback would be positional journeyman Richard Samuel:
“If anybody needed to be soothed a little bit, that will do it,” Richt said of Samuel. “He’s very mature physically, and he’s a mature man in the way he goes about his business. He has two years of experience within our system to know what to do.
“He’ll be in that meeting room, and he’ll be a great example of how to prepare and how to play the position.”

While we certainly don't doubt that Samuel (pictured) will indeed be "a great example of how to prepare," we won't blame Bulldog fans if they're less-than-soothed about Samuel's chances of being as great on the field as he is in that meeting room. Samuel spent all of 2010 and this year's spring camp at linebacker after two mildly productive years at tailback in '08 and '09. If he really is the Bulldogs' best option for "running that rock," it seems unlikely the Georgia ground game will have the teeth necessary to get them back to Atlanta.

Which is why Richt's putting Samuel in the preseason top slot is most likely his way of shielding Crowell from the pressure of statements like, well, his own on Signing Day. When asked directly about Crowell Thursday, Richt sang something of a different tune:

“We don’t expect Isaiah to save the program,” Richt said. “We don’t expect Isaiah to put the team on his back. We expect Isaiah to learn what to do and to do things the Georgia way and to try to do anything he can to help the team win as a freshman. We’ll see how far that goes.
“I’ve got a sense of anticipation. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen when we put the pads on for the first time and go live and just see what he does, see how he handles getting hit real hard, see how he handles the speed of the Southeastern Conference. … We won’t treat him whole lot different than any other player who is talented but we’re wanting to make sure he has success.”

Of course, Richt's elevation of Samuel may not be motivation for Crowell alone; redshirt freshman Ken Malcome remains in the mix, and Carlton Thomas is expected to return following his suspension for the Boise game. 

But despite Richt's assurances, he does need someone to put the rushing attack on his back (if not the entire team), and Crowell remains the most likely candidate to do that. Samuel may start the fall at No. 1, but we not only won't be shocked if Crowell takes the opening handoff against Boise; we'll be shocked if he doesn't.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 5:34 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 7:13 pm

SEC Media Days Notes and Quotes

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We've got all the important coaching comments highlighted here at Eye on CFB, we've got Dennis Dodd and Brett McMurphy on site, we've got Tony Barnhart weighing in as well.

But even we can't keep up entirely with the flood of quotes and stories coming out of SEC Media Days. So here's some more tidbits from college football's favorite annual media feeding frenzy:
  • Don't expect this to be Mike Slive's final rodeo, or next-to-final, or even next-to-next-to-final. Even at the age of 71, he's planning on staying in his position for "some more years" beyond 2011-2012. "I have a couple of things I'd like to accomplish here before I retire," he said, declining to say what they were.
  • All-SEC linebacker Danny Trevathan (pictured) said he wants to return kickoffs for his Kentucky team. And he was serious--he handled return duties in high school and posted a 30-yard return in the Wildcat's spring game two years ago.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com