Big Blue Links for this Wednesday morning:
- Jennifer Smith reports from the SEC Football Media Days that Florida coach Will Muschamp is happy to have former UK head coach Joker Phillips on his side. Muschamp especially likes that Phillips has been an offensive coordinator. “That’s something that I think gives you great ideas and benefit from a guy that has sat in the chair before,” Muschamp said. “Certainly when I was defensive coordinator (I liked) having guys in the room that have called it before and they see the big picture.”
- My column from Media Days centered on South Carolina, specifically coach Steve Spurrier and defensive megastar Jadeveon Clowney. The latter said he ran a 4.46 in the 40 at the end of Carolina’s summer workouts. That’s scary. “The night before I told my roommate I was going to get up in the morning and run a 4.4,” Clowney said. “He told me I was crazy, and I said, ‘Watch me.’ I got up and did it. He said, ‘I don’t know how you pulled that off.’ I don’t know either.”
- Here is the SEC Media Days slate for today:
- 9:30-12:10 ET Texas A&M and Kentucky
- 12:20-3:00 ET Mississippi State and Tennessee
- 3:20-6:00 ET Auburn and Arkansas
- Andy Staples of SI.com writes on the cocky Gamecocks. “Tuesday, coming off back-to-back 11-2 seasons and clearly enjoying the fact that he had a 6-foot-6, 270-pound Heisman Trophy candidate defensive end answering questions one room over, Spurrier rattled off a 1,445-word tour de force that somehow managed to jab the NCAA, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Notre Dame, Georgia and Alabama. It seemed like the old days, when Spurrier knew his Florida team was going to Fun ‘n’ Gun its way through the league and Spurrier spent his Media Days sessions asking then-commissioner Roy Kramer why major college football couldn’t manage to stage a playoff.”
- Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal writes that Clowney has a Heisman presence. “Clowney makes no secret of his plan to leave South Carolina after this season and turn pro. That was always the plan, he said, to go ‘three years and out.’ He said he’s not worried about trying to win a Heisman. Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997, who also played some wide receiver and returned kicks, is the only defensive player to win the award.”
- David Climer of the Tennessean writes that he would take Clowney over Johnny Manziel. “Clowney’s approach is in marked contrast to Manziel, whose offseason has been filled with public appearances, photo-ops and a few noteworthy missteps, the most recent of which was an early exit from the Manning Passing Academy over the weekend. Asked if he had any advice for Manziel, Clowney took the high road. ‘That’s a grown man,’ he said.”
- Eric Adelson of Yahoo reports that Clowney had a message for Clemson quarterback Taj Boyd. “He is scared every time we play them,” Clowney said of his in-state rival. “I know he’s listening right now but I’m telling the truth. . . . You can tell if a player is scared if he looks at me every time before the ball is snapped.” Clowney did have four-and-a-half sacks against Clemson last season.
- Larry Vaught of the Advocate-Messenger is here in Hoover and reports that Florida doesn’t feel the Kentucky football buzz. “No, I haven’t heard anything about. I’m sorry. There’s no Kentucky buzz in Florida,” Florida offensive lineman John Halapio said.
- Rick Bozich and John Lewis of WDRB ranks the SEC coaches from 1-14. Rick puts Mark Stoops at No. 13. John puts Stoops at No. 11. Writes Bozich, “Stoops has done nearly everything right since taking over from Joker Phillips, but he’s the only guy in this shark tank who lacks head coaching experience.”
- Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun reports on Muschamp’s shot at former Florida coach Urban Meyer, who as the current Ohio State head coach turned in the Gators for a secondary violation of recruiting rules. “We appreciate our friends from Ohio making sure we are compliant with NCAA rules,” Muschamp said. “They certainly know a little bit about NCAA rules.” Ohio State football was on probation last year for violations that happened under former coach Jim Tressel.
- Eric Lindsey of CoachCal.com reports John Calipari is back in the book-selling game. The Kentucky basketball coach is working on a book with New York Times best-selling author Michael Sokolove. The fourth book Coach Cal has penned in his career, ‘Players First: Success from the Inside Out’ gives an unfiltered look into what Calipari thinks separates good teams and coaches from bad ones, the things that are seriously awry in today’s college game, and what he coaches for – his players.” Remember, Louisville’s Rick Pitino has book coming out Oct. 1, co-written with WDRB’s Eric Crawford.
- Kentucky has a new football schedule poster out.
- Tyler Thompson of arch-enemy KSR is here in Hoover and gives her first impressions of SEC Media Days. “8. It is f’ing freezing in this place. I don’t want to get all #firstworldproblems on you guys, but I have been freezing cold all day, and I was wearing pants and long sleeves. The main media room at SEC Media Days was about twenty degrees colder than any of the other rooms. How do media members from 14 different schools and countless national outlets bond? Bitching about being cold. I will be bringing a jacket tomorrow.”
- Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is feeling the heat. “He has evaluated just about anything he could get a hold of to figure out why things fell apart so drastically last year. He changed offensive coordinators and promises that this year’s spread offense will make the needed physical adjustments to play in the much more demanding SEC.”
- Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger writes that Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze tried to lessen the Rebels’ pre-season hype. “‘Unrealistic expectations produce frustration,’ Freeze said over and over as he made the media rounds. Just imagine if Ole Miss had pulled out even one of the three games it gave up fourth-quarter leads in. Those Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and LSU games now serve, players said, as the reality check every time things seem to be going too well.”
- Mark Schlabach of ESPN took time off from penning his Duck Dynasty books to write that no target is off limits for the SEC. “The 2012 college football season ended with Alabama trouncing Notre Dame 42-14 in the Discover BCS National Championship, its second consecutive national title and the seventh in a row won by an SEC school. On Tuesday, the 2013 season unofficially opened with SEC Media Days, and the sport’s most dominant conference did what it does best — it beat up everybody else.”
- Matt Hayes of Sporting News writes on Muschamp, Spurrier and the pressure cooker. “Ron Zook couldn’t last three years following Spurrier. Meyer lasted six years, before walking away and showing up at Ohio State less than a year later—full of vim and vigor and looking nothing like the beaten down coach who months earlier left because of health issues (or an entitled, pampered roster). Muschamp weeded out malcontents in Year 1 and struggled to reach bowl eligibility. A year later, he won 11 games against the toughest schedule in the nation—including four against top 10 teams—but has absolutely zero traction going into this season.”
All photos AP.