HOOVER, Ala. — Vince Dooley said he went through “all three phases” of the SEC’s preseason media access.
“The first phase was when [former Atlanta Journal and Constitution columnists] Furman Bisher and Jesse Outlar would come down [to Athens] and take their individual tours and I’d spend the day with them,” the former Georgia coach and athletic director said. “Then we had the ‘Skywriters Tour’ where I guess 30 or 40 writers would load up a Southern Airways Martin 404 and go from one school to the other. Then they came up with this thing in Birmingham. It was big, of course, but not as big as it is now.”
Dooley knows what awaits his son today. It’s Day 3 of of SEC media days, where there are nearly 1,000 credentialed media. Tennessee, coached by Derek Dooley, is likely to emerge as the biggest story today. (Also on tap: Auburn, Mississippi and LSU.) The Volunteers have been a soap opera ever since Lane Kiffin’s resignation after last season.
“He’ll be fine with the media,” papa Dooley said by phone. “He’s been in the arena a little bit, getting his feet wet. Derek, from the time he was six years old, would sit on my lap for press conferences after every football game. So he’s gotten a little taste of it.”
It was another newsy say Thursday:
– Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green responded to allegations that he attended an agent’s party in Miami Beach earlier this summer by saying he’s never even been to Miami.
– Coach Mark Richt said he has come to expect there will be issues in the offseason, commenting: “It’s like, you know [something is] gonna happen. It’s just like a ballgame. You know there’s going to be a penalty or a turnover, even though you don’t want there to be.”
– South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he never thought he would see the day that he would get a salary bonus for his team’s graduation rate and not its performance on the football field (which hasn’t been as successful).
Tennessee will draw the most interest today. They were in the news when Kiffin bolted after one season to chase his dream at Southern Cal (Hah! How’s that working out for ya, Lane?) They were in the news when they made the somewhat surprising decision to hire Dooley as his replacement. And they’re in the news now for one of the worst incidents of this offseason — a late night/early morning bar fight in Knoxville two weeks ago that involved several Tennessee players.
The incident entailed far more than the usual cases of underage drinking. An off-duty police officer was knocked to the ground and reportedly kicked several times. Safety Darren Myles Jr. (out of Atlanta’s Carver High School) was kicked off the team, and two other players were indefinitely suspended. Also arrested was coveted recruit freshman receiver Da’Rick Rogers from Calhoun, Ga. He was booked on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but Tennessee has yet to take action against him.
I’ll get into this more later in a column but Dooley really has stepped into a tough situation at Tennessee. The program was sliding under Phil Fulmer, and then came Kiffin.
As always, I’ll be sending remarks out on Twitter during press conferences. You can follow me @JeffSchultzAJC.
Now, it’s Gene Chizik time.
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