SEC Media Days: Thursday Blog

For all of the news, notes and updates from SEC Media Days, stay tuned to this blog throughout the day on Thursday.

8:50 a.m.

Georgia Coach Mark Richt was the first up today and he said that he plans to continue his energetic coaching style that he employed following the Tennessee game last season. He noted he didn't see any fire in his guys after that game and he said it started with him.

When asked if he had coached a duo as good as Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno it didn't take long for Richt to respond. "I coached Charlie Ward and Warrick Dunn and they were pretty good."

In dealing with the hype of being a national title contender and keeping players grounded: "For us it goes back to preparation and work ethic," Richt said. "It goes back to breaking it down to the smallest frame of time, which is each day. Even within the day each practice and within that each rep.

"If you think too far down the road or you don't prepare on a daily basis you won't be ready at the moment of truth. We gauge or players on their work ethic and I see nothing but work from these guys."

In talking about the celebration against Florida, Richt said he wanted his team to get some energy but he was hoping for the 11 guys on the field to celebrate as a unit. He said at first he was shocked when players ran off the bench, but after he saw the field and the enthusiasm coming from his team he was excited they did it. He added he didn't think about the possibility of a brawl occuring until later when someone pointed it out.

9:06 a.m.

*Georgia's Mark Richt, Houston Nutt from Ole Miss, Nick Saban from Alabama and Phillip Fulmer from Tennessee will be in the spotlight on day two of the three days of SEC Football Media Days 2008.

*Richt says that high expectations for his Bulldogs can be a "blessing or a curse" with his players talking about winning a national championship since its bowl victory over Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. Based on what he has seen so far, Richt says he hasn't seen any signs of the Bulldogs being overconfident.

*Richt says that SEC coaching is strong around the league and points out that Bobby Petrino at Arkansas is a great addition to the league.

Alabama's Nick Saban up next:

Part of the throng waiting in the lobby on Thursday. It was smaller than the crowd for Tim Tebow on Wednesday, which is surprising.

11:19 a.m.

*New Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt says one of his best recruiting successes was convincing Michael Oher to stay on board with the team after Ed Orgeron was fired. Nutt says the big offensive lineman is in "tremendous shape" and has become really committed to being a great player and team leader.

*Nutt says he is excited about bringing in Ole Miss alum Kent Austin to coach the quarterbacks and direct the offense. Nutt, who has always focused on the running game, says Austin has an excellent knowledge of the passing game.

*When asked about the talent level left by Orgeron, who had the reputation as a strong recruiter, Nutt said he inherited a lot of good players, but notes there are "holes" on the roster with the Rebels not being strong at all positions.

*Nutt claims that the SEC is so balanced that there are nine or 10 teams that could win the league title.

*Commenting on transfer Jevan Sneed, who is expected to start at QB, he is a guy that Nutt says he loves with the football in his hand because he makes good decisions.

11:35 a.m.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban didn't mention many players by name, instead focusing on the mental aspect of his team at media days. One player he did mention was quarterback John Parker Wilson. Wilson had a terrible second half of 2007, but performed well in the bowl win over Colorado in the in Shreveport. Saban says that game gave Wilson his confidence back and he's working hard this offseason.

Safety Rashad Johnson was one of the players representing Alabama at media days, and he agreed with Saban's assessment of Wilson. He has been known for sailing one over the middle that ends up in the hands of the safety, so in seven-on-seven workouts this summer Johnson says that Wilson comes to him for advice about reading the safeties and how they react to quarterbacks.

One reporter asked Saban how long fans should expect it to take for Saban to return Alabama to dominance. "It is what it is. We are where we are. I have never put a time table on that," Saban said. His second team at LSU won the SEC championship, but he added, "Other times it takes a while to recruit your way out of it." It doesn't sound like Saban has much confidence in his current players.

Saban was also asked about Les Miles' comments about Alabama losing to LSU and Louisiana-Monroe last year. "He told the truth," Saban said of Miles. "He told it like it was. We need to earn it."

Saban supports the plus-one playoff system and mentioned his 2003 split with USC and mentioned that the plus-one "would have solved that problem the year Auburn got left out." To close his time with the print media, Saban wanted to thank the writers "for the interest and professionalism."

With Saban saying that he has to recruit his way out of the current situation, reporters began asking the coach about incoming freshmen. He chose not to name and names, but Johnson mentioned several players he was impressed with–Jerrell Harris, Mark Barron, Devonte Hightower and Courtney Upshaw. Johnson said the fastest of the freshmen when they ran 40s was B.J. Scott.

"It's good to get the incoming freshmen in and see what they can do and see their work ethic," Johnson said. "They're all really impressive and it will come down to how they grasp things from a mental aspect.

Johnson added that more players are buying into Saban's ways. "We're trying to get everybody on the boat and it's definitely more than last year.

12:39 p.m.

Coach Phil Fulmer

*Reports that he received a subpoena today in Birmingham at SEC Media Days are "BS" Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer said. Fulmer declined to say anything else on the subject and was obviously perturbed by that line of questioning. Several writers at SEC Media Days told Inside the Auburn Tigers that Fulmer was handed a subpoena on Thursday from a Birmingham law firm.

*Fulmer said the current group of head coaches is the best he has seen in his 16 years in the SEC.

*Fulmer, the dean of SEC head coaches, said that Florida QB Tim Tebow is "the best player in the country."

*Auburn's unbeaten 2004 team has been discussed by coaches in the same breath as the league's BCS champs. Fulmer noted that AU team was a special one and he knows that was the case because the Vols played them twice that year.

*Commenting on sophomore defensive back Eric Berry, Fulmer said he is very smart, has high character and a "great work ethic." The coach says he is a guy who works hard in practice to become better and has a chance to be one of the best players to ever play for the Volunteers. "He's just a real pleasure to coach."

*While he says the new 40-second clock is probably a good idea, Fulmer said he is not a fan of constantly changing the rules year after year and said it is a "a in the butt."

*Commenting on running back Arian Foster, he said he hopes that the senior will become the all-time leading receiver in SEC history. He said he is a good all-around player, but notes he is not a "game-breaker" type of tailback.

12:37 p.m.

Talking to Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry and offensive tackle Michael Oher, it sounds like the players in Oxford are taking a liking to their new head coach.

"It's been a great experience. Everybody just wants to be around him and come talk to him," Jerry says of Houston Nutt. "He's a perfect fit for a lot of our players. Everybody likes being around him and I'd even stay with him if I could. He gives good advice and he's got everybody sticking together as a family."

Jerry admitted that talking with the media hasn't always been his forte, but he seemed to be enjoying himself on Thursday morning. "I thought it be Jamarca (Sanford) or somebody else," he says about representing the defense. "I've had fun and I think it's going to be a good experience for me."

Another experience the Rebels are hoping to learn from is all of the close losses last season. Ole Miss was 0-8 in the conference, but lost to Florida by six, Alabama by three and Mississippi State by three. "We have a lot of talent and we feel like we should have beaten a lot of those teams last year. We want to turn that around this year and we have the talent to do so."

The defense should get a lift from former receiver Marshay Green, who has moved to cornerback. "Marshay brings a whole new energy level to the game and I think he'll be a great fit for the defense," Jerry says.

Oher has a huge frame, but my first impression is that he has toned up a bit from last season. His weight was an issue early in his career, but he says he's down to 312 pounds.

For those who don't know, Oher's life story is remarkable. He grew up in Memphis, basically homeless and without parents until he was in his mid-teens. His speech and intelligence was closer to a first grade level when he was in high school. He was well-spoken at media days and is on track to get his degree in criminal justice next spring.



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