SEC Media Days? That’s a misnomer.
The proper title? SEC Media Daze.
Each coach arrives with his own agenda, and scrupulously avoids divulging that agenda with endless obfuscation, doubletalk and coachspeak.
But fear not! With the benefit of three weeks of analysis, probing hindsight and news leaking out of summer camps, we can now fearlessly divulge what each coach said, and what he really wanted to say.
All quotes provided by transcripts from asapsports.com.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky: “How we measure success is how we prepare.”
Translation: When you haven’t won a conference game since 2011, success is best measured anywhere but the scoreboard. We open with UT-Martin and Ohio, which should be taken as a good measure of our success.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas: “We had some transition on the coaching staff. We lost our defensive coordinator; we lost a defensive line coach, another secondary coach. It allowed me to improve our coaching staff in general.”
Translation: I wanted to bring Big Ten football to the SEC. Instead, I brought the worst defense in the league. We got ripped for 38 points a game in conference play. Big Ten football? Yeah, if you’re Indiana.
Butch Jones, Tennessee: “We’re having to replace almost half our football team. This year half our roster will be brand new. This has brought a lot of positive energy, excitement, momentum that surrounds Tennessee football.”
Translation: We’ve won four conference games in three years, two last year. We’re adding by subtracting. It’s not like we lost half of Alabama’s players.
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: “One good thing about Media Days is coach Spurrier isn’t talking about Ole Miss as much, wanting to play us every year. Maybe that’s a good thing.”
Translation: Of course, coach Spurrier might be mouthing off about how we can’t coach up our fine recruits had we not waxed Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl.
Will Muschamp, Florida: “We needed to make some changes on offense. I felt like our kids had lost confidence in some things we were doing offensively.”
Translation: Here’s where the mighty Gator program sits: I had to go out and steal an offensive coordinator from Duke. Duke! Of course, the last time we stole a coach from Duke, it worked out pretty well.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: “We finished last year with three straight wins, which is the first time that’s happened in a long time at Mississippi State. By going to four straight bowl games, by winning four out of five Egg Bowls within the state, we’ve built a solid foundation for our future.”
Translation: We might have been the best 7-6 team in the country last year. And did you see us maul Rice in the Liberty Bowl?
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: “It’s great to be here. First-year head coach, Vanderbilt University. It’s exciting. I’m a fresh new face, only new head coach on the block. Great thing is, I’m undefeated, so I’m feeling real good about where we’re at (smiling.)”
Translation: The other coaches told me to keep smiling. Wonder what they meant by that?
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: “For us to be where we need to be, we need to be talented, but we need to increase our depth. That comes from the only two ways I know how to do it: player development.”
Translation: Thirdly, we’re much more than a one-man show.
Mark Richt, Georgia: “I think the camaraderie of our staff is tremendous! I think that’s important. It kind of bleeds down to the rest of the team. I’ve got a bunch of great coaches that are highly competent, highly competitive, just good men of character that take care of young men and care about their families and all that kind of thing. It just makes Georgia a great place to be.”
Translation: Todd who?
Les Miles, LSU: “If you look at the three games we lost, turnovers played a very significant role. It’s an annual battle. Certainly we have, in my opinion, the style of team that can win championships. The necessity to do some of those things better, year in and year out, can make a difference.”
Translation: Some days, years, it’s a stroll along the beach. Then you turn down an alley. Generally, things will happen. Maybe not. We have some good players to replace the guys we’re really going to miss. When it rains, sometimes it’s just a light sprinkle, almost a mist.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: “We got a pretty good team, we think. Most of the magazines got us about 9, 10, 11 in the country, something like that. Hopefully we can live up to that prediction.”
Translation: If I had the players Nick Saban has, we’d have won our first conference title by now.
Nick Saban, Alabama: “Our situation as a team is a lot different this year than its been the last couple of years when we were coming off of successful seasons, championship seasons. Having lost our last two games last year, I think it’s a little bit different mindset with our players.”
Translation: Our players better have a different mindset. They don’t erect statues to guys who lose two games.
Gary Pinkel, Missouri: “We focus pretty much at Missouri on ourselves, and us playing our best football game, which gives us an opportunity to win, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
Translation: Like they said, we weren’t ready for the SEC two years ago. But, by gosh, we were ready last year!
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: “Winning the SEC championship, going from worst to first, was definitely special. Then at the end of the year coming up 13 seconds short of winning the national championship, that was definitely a tough pill to swallow.”
Translation: Tougher still, none of my conference brethren let me forget that we blew the SEC’s string of consecutive national championships.
Denton Ashway is a columnist for The Times. His column appears weekly.