SEC Media Days: Issues, investigations, predictions and coaches on hot seats

On my way to Hoover. I wrote this for tomorrow’s print section, but you get to see it first! . . .

Georgia coach Mark Richt won't have to guess which question he'll be asked about most at SEC Football Media Days this week. (AJC photo)

Georgia coach Mark Richt won't have to guess which question he'll be asked about most at SEC Football Media Days this week. (AJC photo)

WHAT YOU’LL HEAR AT SEC FOOTBALL MEDIA DAYS

College football fans rejoice! As of this week, you can officially pronounce the 2011 season underway. No, the actual games don’t kickoff for another six weeks. But the intriguing ritual of preseason propaganda and prognostication begins in earnest today in Hoover, Ala., as SEC Football Media Days gets underway at the Wynfrey Hotel. The SEC will tell us why it’s the greatest conference on earth and provide statistical data to prove it and coaches will tell us why things aren’t as bad – or as good – as they seem, depending on their teams’ particular perspective this season. In anticipation of this exciting annual exchange between teams and the media, here are five things you’re likely to hear about after the event commences Wednesday afternoon.

1. ISSUES AND INVESTIGATIONS: The newly-discovered coaching skill set of “roster management” – aka over-signing — was the dominant topic at the SEC Meetings in Destin in May and there will surely be some residual discussion this week. But the most prominent topic in Hoover will be, or at least should be, the tarnished image of college football amid multiple scandals. We know now, thanks to some excellent reporting by Pete Thamel of the New York Times, that the NCAA’s investigation of BCS champion Auburn continues. On Tuesday, LSU got hit with a year’s probation and recruiting restrictions from the NCAA infractions committee on Tuesday; Tennessee is up next with that group in August; South Carolina received a letter of inquiry this time last year and we’ve heard little since; and Georgia is in the midst of an internal inquiry. Add in the nationally-covered scandals at Ohio State, Southern Cal and Oregon and it’s a good bet this will generate some substantial dialogue this week.

2. MARK RICHT’S WARM BACKSIDE. The Georgia Bulldogs are one of the first teams up on Thursday and the topic du jour most assuredly will be, “Is Mark Richt on the hotseat and, if so, how hot is it?” That question has been bandied about to varying degrees by fans and media alike hundreds of times since Georgia got off to a 1-4 start last season and finished 6-7. For the record, the powers to be at UGA have shown nothing but support for the Bulldogs’ 11th-year coach — “He’s not in my hot seat; he’s still in my lap,” longtime executive board member Bob Bishop said in May. But it’s unlikely Richt will encounter such compassion from the grizzled SEC press, who are doggedly determined to identify those those best suited for their “Coaches on Hotseat” lists in tomorrow’s column. Richt won’t be alone in this distinction. Houston Nutt of Ole Miss will be right there with him.

3. ROCK-STAR COACHES: Speaking of Richt and his supposed warm backside, it’s always about the coaches at SEC Media Days. The SEC is the indisputable powerhouse conference of college football and it produces star players and NFL draft picks galore. But it’s never clearer than when the media assembles in the cavernous ballrooms of the Wynfrey Hotel that coaches are the ruling party of this kingdom. Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino and Les Miles are ushered about like movies stars complete with trailing paparazzi, fawning fans and curious, clamoring reporters. We’ll also hear about the new additions to this exclusive fraternity, Florida’s Will Muschamp and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. Well, at least one of those.

4. MIGHTY, MIGHTY GAMECOCKS. South Carolina is in the extremely rare position of being the prohibitive favorite to win the East (gonna be a close call between Alabama and LSU in the West). That’s a long-awaited and supremely-coveted place to be for Spurrier, who is in constant need of fuel for his thirsty ego. And the ever-thirsty media will be primed to lap up Spurrier’s quip bombs on hot topics such as over-signing, paying student-athletes out of his own pocket and how to suspend players without them actually having to miss games (see quarterback Stephen Garcia).

5. GREAT RUNNING BACKS: As usual, the league is loaded with elite running backs. Some of them you’ve heard a lot about, such as South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, Auburn’s Michael Dyer and Alabama’s Trent Richardson; others not so much, such as Arkansas’ Knile Davis, the league’s leading returning rusher with 1,322 yards; Vick Ballard, the bulldozer from Mississippi State; and Tennessee’s Tauren Poole, the senior from Toccoa who quietly busted 1,000 yards a year ago. Georgia’s Washaun Ealey and Caleb King would have been brought up in this conversation but, of course, they’re gone. Something tells me Richard Samuel might get shut out on the all-conference ballot.

187 comments Add your comment

jack bull

July 19th, 2011
5:43 pm

here’s a prediction, UGA vs LSU in the Dome for the SEC Championship..why? because it has a good sub-plot….Former UGA QB Mettenberger leads the Tigers….blah blah blah…it’s all about the sub stories now-a-days…heck, R Samuel might even win the Heisman, here’s his sub plot, FORMER LB WINS HEISMAN.. that’s what its all about in today’s news…

macrotech

July 19th, 2011
5:45 pm

Watch yourselves…the ncaa is out for blood!!! Let the games BEGIN!!!

sc fan

July 19th, 2011
5:47 pm

Mr. Richt needs the one thing he does not have . Good Luck. Without that, there are no championships.

Chris

July 19th, 2011
5:50 pm

jack bull

July 19th, 2011
5:59 pm

and then after the SEC CG, heck, LSU faces Nebraska and former LSU DC Bo Pelini for the National Championship…more sub-stories…

Rooster

July 19th, 2011
6:19 pm

UGA vs LSU in the dome? Think not. More like Bama and Carolina.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2011
6:20 pm

Looking forward to hearing some great quotes from SOS. Miles has been known to offer some interesting quotes from time to time, as well. More than anything, just getting excited about football drawing nearer.

jack bull

July 19th, 2011
6:21 pm

wow, i see you’re going out on a limb there…

Bodda Getta

July 19th, 2011
6:22 pm

Coach Chizik is not a rock star and that is just fine with us.

All he does for us is win.

Bodda Getta

July 19th, 2011
6:28 pm

We know how this works:

Nick will scowl.
Bobby will complain.
Les will talk trash.
Spurrier will po-mouth.
Richt will show off his tan.

Media dayzzzzzzz.

Destin Dawg

July 19th, 2011
6:34 pm

win with $Cam… late hit Fairley.. NCAA investigation continues.. Cecil turned down $ 150 K from MSU.. ” my kid’s not going for just a scholarship “” Chizik only won 1 season in last 5… Dawgs and Tide and MSU, LSU that’s 4 losses this year LOL !!!

Jimmy

July 19th, 2011
6:44 pm

SEC media days. Can’t wait! At least we won’t have to watch women’s softball on ESPNU anymore!

Paddy

July 19th, 2011
6:50 pm

All these coaches have great resumes. That is what makes the SEC so great. The games can’t start soon enough with the off season we have had here down South.Lets play some football and party like we used to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go Dawgs and everybody else Too!!!

Paddy

July 19th, 2011
6:52 pm

Jimmy…you watch womens softball? You need help son. The football season can’t start soon enough for you. I feel your pain!

bigroot

July 19th, 2011
6:55 pm

mike booboo gets C.ricth fired da 1st week.did any1 c da spring game no offense at all and BOISE shut them out. UGA will not throw a ball 40 yards down da field da hold game

Jimmy

July 19th, 2011
7:07 pm

LOL Paddy. Let me clarify. I don’t watch women’s softball(although have you seen some of those legs?), I just notice that each time I check my DirecTv ‘guide’ out, some type of freakin women’s sports is being shown-especially during this time of the year.

The beginning of the season can’t get here soon enough!

Nub

July 19th, 2011
7:26 pm

Nothing less than winning the east will save jobs at UGA….. No excuses … No talk of rebuilding year… No talk of the record against UF…. Losing to Missy State … 1st time in 40 yrs … Losing to the poultry away … 1st time in 10 years … Not showing up for Bowl game and losing to UCF… Didn’t score a touchdown in that game with A J and Murry…. ? Losing to Colorado … Are u kidding me… Hot seat …lol

UGAgrad71

July 19th, 2011
7:33 pm

At least Tide Roll is not complaining about how Coach is misusing the O line at UGA.

Destin Dawg

July 19th, 2011
7:35 pm

Grantham’s Junkyard Dawg defense to the rescue !! we’ll suprise.. watch for aggressive.. hits.. turnovers.. field position with kicking game… gives Offense time to gell.. win th 1st two.. Go Dawgs !!!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

July 19th, 2011
7:35 pm

Nub

How dare you say those things

You forgot:

3-9 vs top 10 teams
UGA having top 10 recruiting classes 10 yrs in a row (streak broken last yr )only other team to do it Oklahoma
Ranking #4 in putting players in the NFL since 1999 ahead of FL but those who love to make excuses to losing to FL say they have the better talent
1-9 vs FL (I dont count the other win because Zook was fired the week before)
Has never beat FL the yrs he appeared in the SEC championship
30+ arrests in 5 yrs
11 last yr

No hot seat at UGA just another 5 yr contract extension

Billy Jack

July 19th, 2011
7:54 pm

Jimmy is a butt man….nothing wrong w/ that

Delbert D.

July 19th, 2011
8:06 pm

“He’s not in my hot seat; he’s still in my lap,” longtime executive board member Bob Bishop said recently.

So he’s a lap dog? That’s damning with faint praise at best and truly insulting at worst.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Jimmy

July 19th, 2011
8:23 pm

Billy Jack,

Don’t EVEN get me started on the volleyball team. Talk about legs that never stop. MMMmmmmmmmm.

ga dawg

July 19th, 2011
8:47 pm

Hey Big Root,

When you enter into a blog site, we actually use a keyboard. People express each of their opinions with intellegence. The comments in which you made “mike booboo gets C.ricth fired da 1st week.did any1 c da spring game no offense at all and BOISE shut them out. UGA will not throw a ball 40 yards down da field da hold game” it seems like you tried to make your point with your phone, and a short course in ebonics. Come on give us all a break!!!!!

Hey Root

July 19th, 2011
9:05 pm

Get a clue………………..and an education.

Snoop Dawg

July 19th, 2011
9:08 pm

ga dawg, who appointed you as blog cop? Crawl back in your hole… U give the rest of us a break and mind your own pie hole.

JB

July 19th, 2011
9:11 pm

Georgia is at a turning point for the first time in 10 years. Deny if you like, but Mark needs to have a pretty good showing. If he goes 6-6,7-6 and the powers to be are OK with that, then it’s turn the lights out and just enjoy our history. I ‘m hoping for the best, but a lot of stars need to line up for him.

Snoop Dawg

July 19th, 2011
9:15 pm

Oh dawgnation… We’re not going to get any good press at media days, are we? Richt and Bobo have been outed, all the mental midgets have quit (including that midget Carlton Thomas), problems across the board… All our rivals are basking in the sun. Richt gets his tan under a heat lamp. What is the next embarassment? Probably a few arrests… Actually, the Boise State smackdown will probably be the tipping point. Who believes that a team that couldn’t beat UCF can beat Boise State with less talent than they had with UCF? Who believes a coach who decided to kick a field goal in the first quarter on the goal line at UCF has the brains to stay on the field with Peterson? Listen, it’s nice to be delusional this time of year, but reality will hit soon, and all those koolaid drinkers are going to have throbbing hangovers. They are going to be so enebriated they will have to hang a leg out of the bed on the floor to keep from spinning after the Boise State game.
So, let’s get it over with and dump da Preacha Man. We’ll do a lot better with Grantham as the interim coach this year….

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

sportsBoy

July 19th, 2011
9:41 pm

first off, UGA will not win the east. they never do. they have a hard time with USC, always lose to UF and lose to either TN, KY (any given season) and watch out, Vandy’s supposed to be good this year. i’m not hatin’, but the dogs put too much emphasis on beating GaTech, which i understand is a state bragging rights/hate thing, but c’mon, if you can’t get out of your own division, you can’t shine on any national stage

UCF

July 19th, 2011
9:43 pm

Admit it SEC, UCF deserves to be the SEC more than Vanderbilt.

Snoop Dawg

July 19th, 2011
9:48 pm

No UCF is nothing more than Florida trailer trash. UGA just has a loser coach these days. He will get fired sooner or later, though, then the Dawgs will once again be ferocious. James Brown Dooley Junkyard Dawgs… See, they even made Vince Dooley look like he knew what he was doing. Richt is an idiot.

SEC Fan

July 19th, 2011
9:48 pm

Richt should have to win the SEC East to keep his job. However, since Adams and his new boy McGarity seem to be satisfied with mediocrity, I doubt that Richt will have to win big to hang around. 7 or 8 is good enough for A & M, especially if Richt can get UGA to another “toilet” bowl at season’s end. After all, Richt only makes 3 million a year. Fans can’t expect too much for 3 million.

Snoop Dawg

July 19th, 2011
9:49 pm

a three million dollar a year idiot…

Snoop Dawg

July 19th, 2011
9:49 pm

so who’s the idiot(s)???

Snoop Dawg

July 19th, 2011
9:50 pm

Good point SEC fan. Once UGA flushes Richt, he would be a good fit at Texas A&M…

Dawginit.

July 19th, 2011
9:54 pm

I wish Robby Caldwell from Vandy was coming back. He was the most entertaining of them all.

tell burke

July 19th, 2011
10:01 pm

Ole Rooster walking around with his chest puffed out like one of those Bantam Roosters ! He’s still treying to sop gravy from an empty plate.

tell burke

July 19th, 2011
10:07 pm

This Snoop dawg character is about one opinionated jerkwad !

RTR

July 19th, 2011
10:08 pm

#14 is on the way. It’s already wait til next year in Athens…again. ROLL TIDE!!!!

Inquiring minds want to know

July 19th, 2011
10:09 pm

If a married couple from Allibammer move to Georgia and get a divorce, are they still cousins?

Jimmy

July 19th, 2011
10:12 pm

Some of these comments are pretty hilarious.

For all of you supposedly UGA fans who continue to bash CMR, his staff, the athletes, and the university all together- WHY do you even call yourselves fans?? Just to all of us TRUE fans a favor and shoot your pathetic selves in the head already. Or go be Tech fans. Who needs ya?

Snoop Dawg

July 19th, 2011
10:18 pm

There you go again, Jimmy…

Jordan

July 19th, 2011
10:33 pm

While there have been many great SEC coaches over the years, every one in a while an undeserving assistant gets his chance to coach in the best conference in football and fails. Here’s my list of the Ten Worst SEC Coaching Hires of the Last 25 Years
http://isportsweb.com/2011/07/19/worst-sec-coaching-hires/
Check it out and see if any Georgia coaches made the list.

Jimmy

July 19th, 2011
10:45 pm

Sorry Snoop,

Picturing those women’s volleyball and softball players legs gets me kind of loopy. Ya know?

Hit A Single

July 19th, 2011
11:04 pm

What Coach isn’t on the hot seat these days?

Mobile Dawg

July 19th, 2011
11:05 pm

Well at least we will get to hear something from the Head Coach. Has anyone other than myself noticed how “unavailable” he’s been since returning from Hondouras? I haven’t heard him comment on anything that’s happened since, Benedict, Thomas, it’s been McGarity.

Jorg'e O'leary

July 19th, 2011
11:08 pm

8-3 or 9-2… You’ll buy his next dream team propaganda whenever he can score one. Florida recruits a dream team every year, they have depth. I know, I recruit against them. Good luck on your makeshift offensive line and walk on running back situation homers…

Hit A Single

July 19th, 2011
11:11 pm

People keep bringing up Honduras. This is nothing new for Coach Richt to do. Even in his days at FSU this was part of his life. People act like he has just started this missionary work. Yes the man does have a life away from football. With the stress and I know he gets paid well he needs to get away for a while.