Fulmer's filibuster

HOOVER, Ala. — Phillip Fulmer was here, and there were no incidents.

No bodyguards, no protection, and if he had a big orange bullet-proof vest on, I'm not sure we could've known.

He wore his tap shoes and danced around The Issues, all the legalities and threats and charges and theories, the zoo that kept him away from town a year ago.

"I really regret that I wasn't able to be here last year," he said. "I hate all the circumstances that kept me from being here last year.

Before he was done reading some prepared statements, one half expected Charlton Heston, Lassie, Rudy Giuliani, and Lee Greenwood to be at his side humming "God Bless America".

Fulmer's opening with the assembled masses at the Southeastern Conference football media days lacked only trumpets blaring the greatness and goodness of college football, the SEC, the legal system, the NCAA and U by God T football.

One expected a table with milk and cookies, although "stench" was his favorite word of the day as he looked back on the perceptions of his part in helping Alabama find its way into the NCAA doghouse.

"Theatrics that were worthy of Oscars," he said of a year ago. "Legal battles that went on. Even some threats of harm."

He didn't want to elaborate on those threats — I personally am shocked that any group of college football fans in the south went off the deep end — other than to say one came over his cell phone.

Indeed, can you hear me NOW, Coach?

Soon enough, Phillip Fulmer did his best to stretch every comment, observation, and answer into a verbal sojourn. The more he talked, the fewer questions he'd be asked. But he got his points and shots in.

"The college football system of self-governance prevailed. The facts that came through all that: There was cheating in Memphis, Tenn., a lot of coaches and others ... tried to stop it. A few people outside the mainstream of college sports tried to retaliate and lost a lot of ridiculous and absurd conspiracy theories in courts."

Oliver Stone is bidding for the rights.

Urban Meyer was here.

One half expects that any Fourth of July fireworks at the Meyer household fizzled. So seemed the consensus among the skeptics Wednesday.

Meyer really wasn't so bad. In fact, I'd say that zzzzzzz, huh, what? Sorry. I'm up, I'm up.

Oh yeah, Urban Meyer. The new Florida coach didn't approach the flat-line level of, oh, a Jackie Sherrill, a fine cure for insomnia, nor was he as train-wreck wide-eyed Mike Shula a couple years ago. Nobody snored.

He's big on discipline, big on coaches having good personal relationships with players, and being ready to play. He didn't offer too many giggles, to be sure, but nobody was expecting any side-splitting observations.

Meyer is similar to Ron Zook in that there's little memorable from such gatherings. But it's pretty doubtful that anybody will think of Zook once the season starts.

"Ron Zook and Urban Meyer are hard to compare," said UF senior center Mike DeGory. "... from the day that he walked in, you could see, and we knew he was going to take us in the right direction."

It won't be nearly as entertaining a ride as it was, oh, about five years ago.

And Steve Spurrier was here.

Spurrier, the last coach of the day, bore absolutely no resemblance to Fulmer and Meyer.

Thank God.

"It was a lot more fun hanging around the SEC," he said, "than it was the other league I was in a couple of years."

After Meyer's monotone, Fulmer's filibusters, and Ed Orgeron of Ole Miss almost scaring you into believing the Rebels will be better or he'll pummel 'em all, Spurrier's return brought some joy.

"I appreciate all of you hanging around," he said. "I figured everybody would be gone by now."

No way, Coach Evil Genius.

He said there were similarities to Florida and South Carolina when he took over: "Both schools were under investigation."

Spurrier said he wasn't as humbled as people think, because most Spurrierisms didn't come from August to December.

"I wasn't quite as loud and arrogant as all of you thought," he said. "All of our cute comments usually occurred at the Gator clubs in the middle of the summer. When you are talking to your booster people, they want to hear something funny."

Well, we liked them, too.

"It's good to be back," Spurrier said. "As I've said to most all the other media people, I have missed you guys."

Those of us who don't have to worry about wins and losses and verbal rejoinders missed you, too.

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