Fulmer's Decision Makes Slive Dance

Contrary to popular belief, SEC Media Days went forward Tuesday, despite the news yesterday that Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer decided not to attend the event.

Fulmer's decision to hide out in Knoxville while the rest of the league met in Birmingham was the center of most discussions on radio row, where live radio broadcasts are stationed all day long, as well as among most media members in attendance.

The Southeastern Conference announced it would fine the University of Tennessee $10,000 for Fulmer's failure to show up, and SEC commissioner Mike Slive batted back questions about Fulmer's absence all day and tried to remain as noncommittal as possible.

"You see lawyers on both sides advocating for their clients, trying to put their clients in the best position possible," Slive said to reporters when asked in the hallway of the Wynfrey Hotel. "That's the system. It doesn't matter what I think about it. We've had that system for over 200 years and I hope we have it for 200 more. I'd rather that we were talking about who's going to win our football championship this year, but on the other hand it's part of our system. Intercollegiate athletics and the Southeastern Conference is not separate from the community in which we live."

Later, Slive was more ambiguous when asked if he is concerned about the acrimony building between supporters of Tennessee and Alabama.

"I don't know what you my by ‘Am I concerned?'" he said. "I'd rather that we confine competition to the field. I say that, but on the other hand, you know, I think people have a right to assert their rights.

"Obviously, we'd like some of the rhetoric to tone down. We have a lot of passions, a lot of loyalty, a lot of intensity with our fans and with our institutions. I'd rather have that and some of these other issues than not have that and not have any."

When asked if he thought Fulmer's decision was an overreaction, the commissioner said: "I can't speculate to that. He has input from folks that I'm not privy to."

Notes from Day one of SEC Media Days:

According to Senior Bowl representative Vic Knight, the Alabama football squad has five seniors: Wesley Britt, Evan Mathis, Ray Hudson, Anthony Bryant and Cornelius Wortham, who received "draftable" spring grades by different professional scouting services. These grades put players on the map for NFL team scouts and can fluctuate heavily from spring into the fall season. Players like Todd Bates are hoping jump into the view of National Football League teams and Senior Bowl representatives as the season progresses.

Auburn tailback Carnell Williams listed a chance at winning the Heisman Trophy as one of the reasons he decided to forgo an early entry into the NFL draft:

"I would just have to say I didn't want pass up opportunity to play at Auburn another season of college football," Williams said. "I wanted to stay in school and maybe chase some championships and the Heisman and different individual goals. I felt like the money is going to always be there regardless."

Auburn safety Junior Rosegreen, self-proclaimed as one of the most fashionable players to attend media days, shared his thoughts on a number of issues, including wardrobe. "This ain't nothing. It's just a little something," Rosegreen said in referring to his outfit. "Coach Tub told me that y'all wouldn't be ready for what I had to bring out."

To his credit, Rosegreen didn't dodge one tough question when asked who was the better team in 2003, LSU or USC.

"To me?…," he said. "Both of them are good teams, but I've got to pick one, that what you're saying? I say USC because USC's defense doesn't make the mistakes (LSU's defense) make. But LSU makes up for mistakes with their speed."

Check back with BamaMag.com later tonight for more news and notes, plus photographs from Day one of SEC Media Days.


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