An early look at SEC Media Days

I don’t know about you, but after two days of talking about athletics directors and football players behaving badly, I’m ready to discuss some FOOTBALL.  Let’s start here:

The lineup is finally set for next week’s SEC Media Days in Birmingham (July 21-23). I’ll get into more specific story lines early next week but for now, here are a few general observations on what will transpire next week at the Wynfrey Hotel.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 21: Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State, Kentucky.

 You gotta hand it to the SEC. They sure didn’t want to ease into this year’s media days as Alabama, the 2009 BCS national champion, and Florida, the 2008 BCS national champion, will both kick off the event next Wednesday.

Think these two teams have separated themselves from the rest of this league? They have met for the last two SEC championships and are a combined 52-4 in that span. Two of those losses are to each other while Florida lost to Ole Miss in 2008 and Alabama lost to Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

They meet again in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 2 and maybe again on Dec. 4 in Atlanta.

It’s a good thing that the schools are bringing three players this year instead of just two. If you’re Alabama, who do you leave at home?

Alabama will bring LB Dont’a Hightower, who will be the heartbeat of the Crimson Tide’s rebuilt defense despite coming off an injury. RB Mark Ingram is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Quarterback Greg McElroy is 30-0 as a starting quarterback dating back to his senior season at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High School.

Florida will bring Mike Pouncey, who could be the best center in the country, DE Justin Trattou, and S Ahmad Black. And, of course, we will hear from coach Urban Meyer, who has had his own interesting journey since last December’s SEC championship game.

Mississippi State, looking to go to a bowl under second-year coach Dan Mullen, and Kentucky, with new coach Joker Phillips, will feel like the undercard of a huge heavyweight fight. Still, both are good story lines.

 

THURSDAY, JULY 22: Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt.

Georgia will be there with punter Drew Butler, fullback Shaun Chapas, and wide receiver A.J. Green.

Green will get a lot of attention because there is a reasonable chance that he won’t be back for this senior season. Is he the best wide receiver in the country? Is he better than Alabama’s Julio Jones? Will freshman Aaron Murray get him the ball? The debate will continue.

I wonder how long Mark Richt will be on the podium before he gets asked about Damon Evans or the Hot Seat?

After the way that coach Steve Spurrier dogged Stephen Garcia all spring, there was no way the South Carolina quarterback was coming to media days. The Gamecocks are bringing two defensive players (DE Cliff Matthews, LB Shaq Wilson) and a fullback (Patrick DiMarco).

But here is a stat you probably didn’t know about Garcia. He attempted more passes (432) than any quarterback in the SEC last season (Ryan Mallett of Arkansas attempted 403). Garcia’s 18.38 completions per game led the SEC. His decision-making ability, however, remains suspect.

Arkansas will bring Mallett who may or may not be hobbling when he walks in to meet the media. Mallett missed spring practice because of surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. A new screw was put into the foot on June 9 and we are being told that he will be ready when practice starts in August. Mallett, who had 30 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions last season, will have a chance to jump into the Heisman Trophy race if he plays well in back-to-back games with Georgia (on Sept. 18) and Alabama (on Sept. 25).

Obviously, EVERYTHING has changed at Vanderbilt with the resignation of head coach Bobby Johnson on Wednesday. Who will be standing at the podium on Thursday?

 

FRIDAY, JULY 23: Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss

Derek Dooley, son of Vince and Barbara, makes his first appearance at SEC Media Days as the head coach at Tennessee. Had these meetings been held a week ago he could have talked about changing the culture of Tennessee football and the fact that the Volunteers simply do not have enough good players to manage a schedule that includes Oregon, Florida, at LSU, at Georgia, Alabama and at South Carolina in the space of eight weeks. 

Now he’ll spend a lot of time dealing with the fallout of the bar fight that, based on the police reports, involved several Tennessee players. More details come out with each passing day and for Tennessee none of those details has been good. Where will the story be nine days from now?

Auburn’s Gene Chizik will come to his second SEC Media Days in a much stronger position than he did a year ago. The hire of the former Auburn defense coordinator was criticized roundly but in 2009 Tigers won eight games, almost beat Alabama (the eventual national champions), and won a New Year’s Day bowl game. What a difference a year makes. Auburn is expected to be even better on offense with the addition of QB Cameron Newton, but a defense that is still thin on talent will make it difficult to have a big season.

If there is an SEC coach on the hot seat it is LSU’s Les Miles, and he’ll be in Birmingham on the final day. LSU is 8-8 in the SEC since winning the national championship in 2007. Last season Miles was roundly criticized for LSU’s lack of an offensive identity and some clock management issues that had to be seen to be believed. Give credit to LSU for bringing quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who has talent but struggled at times last season. Jefferson has to step up and have a good year, starting with the opener against North Carolina on Sept. 4 in Atlanta, or this is not going to be a fun season in Baton Rouge.

If there is a better cornerback in the country that LSU’s Patrick Peterson, you’re going to have to point him out to me.

Capping off the day will be Houston Nutt of Ole Miss, who will go back to his style of football (running the ball and playing defense) now that the multi-talented Dexter McCluster is gone.

Here is everything you need to know about Ole Miss in 2010.  The Rebels are bringing three linemen to Birmingham: DE Kentrell Lockett (a stud), DT Jerrell Powe (a bigger stud), and OT Bradley Sowell.

It should be fun. Can’t wait to get started.

A programming note: Our CSS ”Talkin’ Football” crew (Bob Neal, Brady Ackerman, Mark Schlabach and myself) will be at SEC Media Days for daily shows at 6 p.m., Eastern time.

Our summertime version of the show continues this Thursday at 6 p.m. with a replay at 10 p.m. Check us out!

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

116 comments Add your comment

Beast from the East

July 14th, 2010
8:11 am

Season’s getting closer!

rusty

July 14th, 2010
8:11 am

And why is Tim Tucker so bent on...

July 14th, 2010
8:11 am

continuing to pile on the former UGA AD with all the “investigation” into the emails he received or sent – nobody cares anymore – this guy is getting worse than Chip Towers at reporting “real” news…

Dink

July 14th, 2010
8:15 am

Tony, looking forward to Talkin’ Football (though I still wish Tee was on the show). Off the subject, but how the heck does Mike Garrett keep his job at USC?

Go Dawgs!

Beast from the East

July 14th, 2010
8:17 am

I don’t envy either Dooley or Richt having to answer all of the inevitable questions about the off field issues. I’m sure niether one of them is looking forward to it. Meyer will probably be bombarded with questions about his health and what his future plans are.
Oh well, at least we’ll get to hear about some football!

bo

July 14th, 2010
8:24 am

1. I’ve tired of the assumption that Richt is somehow possibly going to be fired soon. Can we move on from this discussion at least until the end of 2010?

2. I’m not impressed that Julio Jones is an elite receiver. But he is good.

3. Alabama and Florida will lose SEC games this year to teams other than each other.

Boring. « Get The Picture

July 14th, 2010
8:37 am

[...] Jump to Comments Based on what I see in Tony Barnhart’s piece on SEC Media Days, this year’s model looks to be dull as dishwater, especially compared to last year’s:  [...]

UGASlobberknocker

July 14th, 2010
8:39 am

hey “why os tim tucker…..”

Quit your bitching about the writers. the AD story is still out there, what is he supposed to do..pretend it never happenned?

UGA fans are lucky as we have a great one two punch in Tucker and Chip Towers to cover the team..Earlier in this decade, we had some B-Teamers covering the Dogs. Thankfully; no more. Anyone who cant see Tucker is the best writer on the staff isnt looking very hard. I didnt say the funniest (Hummer and Schultz get that honor). He isnt throwing bombs just to get some fan reaction ( as Bradley sometimes does , tho I like him too)..Tucker just covers it like a blanket.

5IML

July 14th, 2010
8:41 am

After the first day, SEC Media Days gets progressively worse. Florida or BAMA should be moved to the third day to keep each day interesting.

What’s interesting:

Day 1: BCS championship & Meyer’s health
Day 2: Damon Evans
Day 3: Nothing

RxDawg

July 14th, 2010
8:53 am

“The Rebels are bringing three linemen to Birmingham”

Is Nutt afraid of someone? UT is going the same day I guess. Hehe, just kiddin vols ;)

Ya know, I miss all the Nutt Petrino drama. It’s just not talked about anymore, and that’s gota be the juiciest story in college football. I guess since Ol’ Miss and Arkansas are mediocre teams it fall to the wayside.

RxDawg

July 14th, 2010
8:58 am

And why is Tim Tucker so bent on…
July 14th, 2010
8:11 am

Look, I agree that it seems a little cold for them to lay all of that out there. But come on, it’s a relevant story and it’s their job to do it so I do not lay any fault on Tim Tucker. I also doubt he enjoys doing it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. If enough people don’t want to read about it then they want print it. In fact, guess what? I haven’t read that story yet. Mainly because I’m not that interested, water under the bridge kind of thing.

Now, lay off Chip. He’s probably my favorite writer on the AJC team (no offense Tony, your great too). Your a classic case of don’t kill the messanger.

RxDawg

July 14th, 2010
8:59 am

Ooops, messenger*

Area Sports Fan

July 14th, 2010
9:01 am

Hello everyone!

Area Sports Fan

July 14th, 2010
9:01 am

I am pleased to be reading about sports.

Skram30082

July 14th, 2010
9:05 am

@RxDawg:

It’s “you’re”, not your. There is a difference. Learn it.

Miles

July 14th, 2010
9:28 am

Will Mike Price and Damon Evans be attending SEC Media Days?

RomeDawg

July 14th, 2010
9:34 am

Good to be talking about FOOTBALL! Look forward to reading all your articles in the morning Tony. We missed you!

JB

July 14th, 2010
9:42 am

Who will surprise this year……. By that, i mean win maybe 9, 10 games, beat a Florida or Bama?

1. Arkansas
2. Auburn
3. South Carolina
4. Georgia

All these teams are capable of winning 10…… or losing 5……….

JB

July 14th, 2010
9:44 am

Tony, do a blog on New Assit. Coach’s in the league this year, and who will have an impact, and why, and who won’t……..

#2 BAMA FAN

July 14th, 2010
9:45 am

The first day of the SEC meeting is like going to Vegas for a championship fight and the 2 other
days are going to Bar Knoxville to see the locals against the football team!! Go Locals!! RTR

JB

July 14th, 2010
9:47 am

Be classy # 2…….3…4 years ago Bama was at the bottom looking up getting hammered by Auburn every year….Things change,,,;;;;;

And why is Tim Tucker so bent on...

July 14th, 2010
9:53 am

…sorry slobberknocker and Rxdawg, but the story old news, especially since the guy was immediately terminated. The rest involving the emails, etc bring nothing new to the story, which is OVER. Piling on is what you expect from the Techies (think how long Simple Simon ragged on the 45-42 thing, and now how long they will wave the red panty reference) – no need for Chip and Tim to add to the frenzy, especially since the story is OVER. They need to grow up and quit using UGA as a target – though UGA is an easy mark – do some real studies and reporting, not just sensationalism that has no meaning…

#2 BAMA FAN

July 14th, 2010
9:58 am

JB, Things do change and hiring Nick Saban has turned Bama is Back to kicking butt and taking names just like the Bear used to!! RTR

McDawg

July 14th, 2010
10:09 am

the big big question for UGA as TB pointed out is will Murray be able to get the ball into the hands of his playmaker AJ Green

JB

July 14th, 2010
10:11 am

Here, Here # 2, it has……..But it will change again…..enjoy the ride……..

JB

July 14th, 2010
10:13 am

McDawg…….Yes, but just as big is the new defensive staff…………..What will the absence of backpeddling and bend but don’t break do for this Georgia team…….We’ll have an Attacking defense for the first time since Van Gorder left, I just hope we have the athletes to pull it off.

GATORZONE

July 14th, 2010
10:34 am

Almost time to Strap em up!!!!

ugaclassof2004

July 14th, 2010
10:36 am

“We’ll have an Attacking defense for the first time since Van Gorder left, I just hope we have the athletes to pull it off.”

I say let’s take a wait and let’s see approach. I think we’re assuming that this Grantham guy is going to perform wonders without even seeing him coach yet. Let’s just wait see!

GATORZONE

July 14th, 2010
10:40 am

I love the fact that the Gators are flying under the Radar this year. Bama will find out how difficult the #1 monkey will be this year. Especially the second have of the season when they face 6 teams coming off of a bye. If they go undefeated, they should go down as the best team ever!

The Ghost of Wally Butts

July 14th, 2010
10:48 am

Great article Mr. College.

By the way, I’ve stopped reading little tommy tucker’s columns. If he won’t let us blog, then I won’t read his copy. So there.

Robert

July 14th, 2010
10:57 am

AJ Green > Julio Jones (not even close)

Tide Rising

July 14th, 2010
11:05 am

Gatorzone,

I can’t see you guys flying under the radar. Brantley steps in comfortably, a freshman recruiting class that may be the best ever by anyone, 4 returning starting O-lineman, still a lot of talent on that team. It wouldn’t surprise me to see you guys back in the national title game at the end of the year. I’m hoping not of course since that would obviously leave us out but I guess we’ll see. What is it everyone? 53 days to the first big weekend of college football?

Tide Rising

July 14th, 2010
11:06 am

Robert,

Not even close you say? Head to head Julio 1 AJ zero.

Robert

July 14th, 2010
11:24 am

Tide Rising,

Its AJ v. Julio, not UGA v. UA. AJ is clearly better:
2009 Stats:
AJ 53 Rec. 808 Yards 6 TDS
Julio 43 Rec. 596 Yards 4 TDS
AJ will be a higher draft pick, certainly ahead of Julio.
Julio has failed to live up to his hype. He may be a specimen, but that only gets you so much credit.

booker T

July 14th, 2010
11:24 am

Big Tone, will they discuss the seven black UT players beating down two white bar patrons in a heated HATE CRIME? If they were seven white guys beating two black guys, you can bet that it would have been a hate crime.

Anonymous

July 14th, 2010
11:25 am

SEC Media Days = UA, UF & the ten dwarfs!

Will

July 14th, 2010
11:25 am

Everyone should go to the ESPN college page and read the UT bar room brawl report. It even has a pic of the kid they beat the hell out of. Please note this is a different man that of which is still in the hospital. Boy, I thought UGA has problems.

Chess

July 14th, 2010
11:28 am

Alabama is comfortable with the #1 ranking going into the season. Its called Tradition. Not pressure. RTR!!!

Damon Evans

July 14th, 2010
11:29 am

Has anybody seen Courtney’s panties?

G8R GRAD

July 14th, 2010
11:30 am

Chess:

Good luck with that.
Being top dog makes for a very long season.

Bawney Fwank

July 14th, 2010
11:36 am

Fredrick’s is sold out of my favorite red panties and my new partner is crushed and has trouble driving home safely.

gatorman770

July 14th, 2010
11:41 am

Thank God “real” football season is almost here!
That said, I foresee and would bet that no SEC team will go undefeated this year….not even my Gators!

Mook

July 14th, 2010
11:41 am

2008

Alabama 41
Georgia 30

J Jones 5 rec 94 yds 18.8 avg 1 td 31 lg
A Green 6 rec 88 yds 14.7 avg 1 td 26 lg

Yeah Julio really blew him out.

GATORZONE

July 14th, 2010
11:47 am

Marble Rye

July 14th, 2010
11:55 am

Hot Rumor: Bobby Johnson just resigned from Vandy. Was reported on a Nashville radio station.

TommyJack

July 14th, 2010
11:59 am

TB. re your programming note. Leave Schlabach at home. Guy brings zero to the table. Except in Athens.

Anonymous

July 14th, 2010
12:01 pm

Bawney,

I believe you meant to say “dwiving,” wight?

Jim

July 14th, 2010
12:20 pm

One Game at a time, Progress every week, Mullen is moving MSU back to a team to be respected. I can not wait for the season to get here. Hmm could not say that a couple of years ago HA HA

SecGuy

July 14th, 2010
12:21 pm

I’m a Bama man but A.J. is the better receiver up to now. Julio had concentration problems last year, way too many drops. Hopefully he’ll step up this year.

How2fish

July 14th, 2010
12:24 pm

#2 BAMA FAN your Bar Knoxville comment cracked me up..Go Locals !