The countdown shortens! We’re closing in on a week to go until the college football season finally kicks off. Time to get serious.
SEC Media Days got extensive coverage in July, as the media reported everything each coach had to say.
But none reported what the coaches wanted to say, or what they meant to say, listening between the coachspeak. Until now.
Here’s what each coach said, courtesy of asapsports.com, and what he wanted to say:
Mark Stoops, Kentucky: “We understand there’s a lot of hard work that lies ahead, but we’re embracing that process and working hard each day to improve this team. Tremendous fan support. Blew us away at the spring game with over 50,000 fans.”
Translation: It’s not hard improving a team that didn’t win an SEC game. What’s hard is getting 50,000 fans to come out if we lose to Western Kentucky again.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: “Real excited about our players. We asked a lot of them since they’ve been back. They really bought into the ‘New Day’ theme, putting the past behind.”
Translation: They lost to Georgia and Alabama by a combined score of 87-0. You gotta love kids who can forget those kinds of shellackings.
Butch Jones, Tennessee: “We talked about building a championship culture, working to get Tennessee football back to its rightful place among the elite of college football.”
Translation: We told the players it’s going to be tough to build up what Lane Kiffin tore down, but we should look good in our opener against Austin Peay.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas: “We want to play a little bit of normal, American football. We want to line up with a tight end and a couple wideouts, a tailback and a fullback, and see what we can do.”
Translation: He’s sure that what his teams did successfully in the Big Ten will translate into success in the SEC.
Gary Pinkel, Missouri: “People ask me, what did you learn from the SEC after your first year into it? The SEC is what I thought it was going to be. It’s a line-of-scrimmage league...you got to be good up front. Certainly, remarkably competitive. Another thing you have to do is finish in the fourth quarter.”
Translation: What his teams did successfully in the Big 12 simply did not translate into success in the SEC.
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: “Our task in year two is to maintain the enthusiasm and energy from both our fans and our players and everyone that is involved in our program, as we continue to strive to be relevant in the SEC West.”
Translation: In our first year, we broke a 16-game SEC losing streak, had a winning season, beat Mississippi State, won a bowl game, and recruited every kid we wanted. There hasn’t been this much excitement in Oxford since Eli Manning was on campus.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: “Our ultimate goal is to find a way to get to Atlanta and compete for an SEC championship.”
Translation: We started 7-0 last year and made reservations for Atlanta. Then we finished 1-5, and went back to the drawing board.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt: “Before we arrived, Vanderbilt had been to four bowl games in 122 years. We’ve been to two bowl games in two years. We were able to win nine games last year. Haven’t won nine games at Vanderbilt since 1915.”
Translation: When do I get the statue and lifetime contract?
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: “There’s a lot of expectations on our program. For us, that’s a good thing. I think you want to be part of a situation where you have some relevancy in your own league, you have some relevancy in some conversations across the country.”
Translation: Too many people are talking too much about my quarterback.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: “We’ve got a pretty good team, I think. I don’t know how good. We returned a lot of guys on offense. We lost a lot of defensive players.”
Translation: Schedule-wise, we traded LSU for Mississippi State. That helps.
Les Miles, LSU: “Now, scheduling. We play Georgia and Florida for the seventh time this year. I’d have to say there’s some other schools that have not played Georgia and Florida in the same year in my entire time here. Or, since 2000. I’d have to say there’s a repeated scheduling advantage and disadvantage for certain teams in this conference based on tradition and traditional matchups.”
Translation: Thank heaven and Mike Slive we don’t have to play South Carolina this year!
Will Muschamp, Florida: “I think we made strides in our second season. Obviously the record was better, which is good. But more than anything, to me, the roster in our locker room is much better. From a discipline standpoint, from a character standpoint, from a buy-in standpoint.”
Translation: My predecessor ran a country club.
Mark Richt, Georgia: “Once again, the goal is to get back to Atlanta. That’s it for us. You get to Atlanta, you win that game, you got a chance to play for the national championship.”
Translation: I sure hope the third time’s the charm.
Nick Saban, Alabama: “I think Bear Bryant is probably the greatest coach in college football in terms of what he accomplished, what his legacy is.”
Translation: Did coach Bryant ever win three national championships in four years?
Denton Ashway is a contributing columnist to The Times. His columns run Wednesdays.