Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive addresses the media to open up SEC football media days at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. Photo by: Associated Press photo
July 16, 2013 7:48:17 PM
HOOVER, Ala. - The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog has survived the opening day of the 2013 Southeastern Conference football media days at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.
- First of all, so that I can't be accused of not being a company man, please pick a copy of Wednesday's Commercial Dispatch where you'll find a notebook detailing MSU's game times in first three weeks, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel's baseball back-up plan and SEC commissioner Mike Slive's disappointment with the league's performance in men's basketball.
Also....you'll find a sidebar feature on Slive's frustration over high profile player conduct issues highlighted by the anticipated arrival of Texas A&M University quarterback Johnny Manziel.
- Finally readers will find a feature on Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and quarterback Bo Wallace trying to downplay the expectations coming after their surprising 2012 season.
Before you find all that in Wednesday's edition of the The Dispatch, I thought I'd go ahead and summarize everything that was addressed Tuesday to open up SEC media days.
Without further ado.....
University of Florida coach Will Muschamp conducted the biggest filibuster of his allotted time since Texas senator Wendy Davis spoke for more than 10 hours in her pink tennis shoes on June 25 to stall legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Muschamp spoke about every positional group in great detail before eventually taking a breath, drinking some water and allowing for questions. To his credit, Muschamp didn't duck a question based upon player behavior and said that a head coach assumes "100 percent" responsibility for the way all his players behave at all time.
"I can't possibly know everything that happens every single night with our football team," Muschamp said. "You also can't stick your head in the sand and pretend everything is OK, either."
- Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel was about a sport he hasn't played in over three years.
Driskel announced July 4 he had signed with the Boston Red Sox, who selected him in the 29th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft last month, but reiterated he is committed to finishing his college career with the Gators football program and pursing an NFL opportunity.
"Sure, let's nip in the bud," Driskel said with a smile at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. "Nothing else in my life changes. Hopefully football works out and I never have to play baseball again but it's nice to have a good backup plan from the Red Sox."
University of Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who surprisingly didn't receive one job security question Tuesday, pulled his best impression of former NFL coach Dennis Green by saying the SEC "is what I thought it was going to be" after going 2-6 in conference play in its first season in the league.
"Last year obviously was a difficult year for us," Pinkel said. "We're used to winning.
Pinkel refused to comment on his quarterback situation as returning starter James Franklin, who showed up in Hoover, will compete for the starting job after being out most of 2012 with numerous injuries.
"Last year was different than any time since I've been coaching (because) ever since I've coached, I never lost a starting quarterback for a game or two at all," Pinkel said. "I really felt bad for (Franklin) because all these things that happened to him. Our policy, how we handle it is, if you're not an established quarterback coming in, we leave it open. We're leaving this open till August, somewhere in the middle of August."
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace spent the entire afternoon answering questions about his health and rehabilitation from offseason shoulder surgery. One of the key questions that needs to be answered is if Wallace, who is coming off shoulder surgery, can replicate his offensive numbers at East Mississippi Community College now that he's fully healthy for the first time since the third week of the 2012 season. Wallace said Tuesday his throwing motion was finally back to feeling normal since he was setting junior college records for the national championship Lions program under coach Buddy Stephens.
"There hasn't been a single day this summer that I haven't seen him in the (indoor practice facility) working on his throws with us," Ole Miss senior receiver Donte Moncrief said. "He continues to work to get back on the field at 100 percent and we know he'll be better this season."
Wallace passed for the third-most yards (2,994) and fourth-most touchdowns (22) in Ole Miss history last year en route to capturing the C Spire Conerly Trophy as the state's top collegiate player. The Pulaski, Tenn., native finished top five in the SEC in points, total offense and passing yards in his first season in Oxford. He said Tuesday he'll be "full-go" when practice opens up for Ole Miss in late July.
"It's going good," Wallace said of his shoulder. "We're in our last stages. Now I'm just getting to throwing everyday to get ready for camp. It feels good - I have all the confidence in the world in it. I'm just ready to get back out there and compete with my team."
Finally South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier well...said a lot and some of it was even germane and even made sense.
The Gamecocks head ball coach decided to inform the media on some of the ideas in the coaches meeting in Destin, Fla., this past spring. The following list were the ideas in the head of Spurrier Tuesday:
College football and men's basketball players should be compensated more financially in a stipend.
The University of Notre Dame should join a conference, specifically the Atlantic Coast Conference, for football as well.
A more fair way to determine the league schedule in a 14-team conference with two divisions and a eight-game format.
Also the division winner should be determined by record in divisional play and the out of division games shouldn't count toward qualifying for Atlanta.
And then he got to talking about his football team coming in 2013.
"I'm going to keep fighting for our guys," Spurrier said. "I don't know what will come. If President Obama would say, Spurrier, you and those coaches need to quit fighting for your players, that they get enough, they get enough full scholarship, then I'll shut up about it. But I just believe that these athletes, because of the enormous amount, just a little bit to help out with their parents watching games and so forth."
Wednesday will be the unofficial Johnny Manziel circus with Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky all arriving in Hoover. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner will answer questions for the first time since leaving the Manning Passing Academy early last weekend. MSU coach Dan Mullen will also be the longest tenured coach of the six in attendance as the Bulldogs will have quarterback Tyler Russell, offensive guard Gabe Jackson and linebacker Benardrick McKinney arrive.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
4. A Stone's Throw: Beware COLUMNS