An excitement surrounds the downstairs area of the Wynfrey Hotel, as fans line the hallways waiting to see Alabama coach Nick Saban. There were 93,000 in attendance for Alabama's Spring football game, and many of them are here.
A handful of media appear surprised that the event has not commenced yet, having failed to review the schedule. SEC Coordinator of Football Officials Rogers Redding is scheduled to kick off Day 2 of SEC Media Days at 8:30 a.m.
SEC is running close to schedule as Redding takes the podium.
Redding concludes. He said some rules had changed, and focused on the kickoff being moved back to the 30-yard line, and some shortening of timeouts. Redding suggests that the kickoff will shorten the game because it will result in fewer personnel changes, as action will occur with kickoffs being returned. Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson will kick off the event momentarily.
Johnson said he is not a fan of moving the kickoff back to the 30-yard line. He suggests that the reason Redding just gave--that it would shorten the game--will not occur, as more kickoffs will take place, rather than less. He may be right.
Johnson is asked about the perception that Vanderbilt just can't get over the hump. He uses Kentucky as an example of a program that has done a fantastic job of doing just that.
Johnson interrupts answering a question about the text messaging ban by sending a quick text message. The joke gets a quiet laugh. He bucks the trend of SEC coaches by suggesting that text messaging had become a problem, as student-athletes were text messaging during classes, under desks, etc.
Johnson talks about one-time Kentucky commitment, and star wide receiver Earl Bennett. Although he suggests that he did not know he would be this close to as many records as he is in his junior year, he knew he was outstanding, and that his character is great, too. Apparently Bennett was honored by an organization in Birmingham yesterday by receiving an outstanding citizen award.
Johnson concludes his interview by suggesting that winning ballgames will do more for recruiting than all the text messaging and "fancy cars" put together. "Fancy cars?" Does he know something he's not telling? His star wide receiver, Bennett, will be interviewed next.
Still waiting on Bennett and linebacker Jonathan Goff to appear. Could be the first snag in the schedule, which has otherwise run smoothly today.
Bennett appears. He shuns discussion of personal records, acknowledging they are nice, but suggests his goal is a BCS game. He also said he is very proud of the Outstanding Citizen award he received yesterday in Birmingham. Bennett also talks about his good friend, Keenan Burton of Kentucky. They became friends during recruitment, and still stay in touch today. Text messaging occurs frequently between the two. No NCAA rule will outlaw that one.
The excitement is building as the $32 million dollar man will be next. Several crimson "Roll Tide" shirts can be seen sporting media credentials this morning.
Dead silence as Nick Saban takes the room. He has the attention of a packed room.
One of the leaders of the Alabama football team is Simeon Castille, according to Saban. A quote from Castille today reinforces Saban's thoughts. Castille, talking about the "voluntary" summer workouts-- "You didn't really have a choice: you either finished or you finished. They wouldn't let you quit."
Saban relates a story about one of his administrative assistants returning to Louisiana for a wedding. Their tires were slashed. Coincidence?
Saban suggests the LSU fans' feelings toward him should not be so personal. "I mean, there was no opportunity for me to go back to LSU. This was a great opportunity that we had at the University of Alabama. We chose it. It wasn't personal. It wasn't meant to hurt or harm anyone at LSU."
Defending national champion coach Urban Meyer of Florida will be next. Surprisingly, several Florida Gator fans were spotted among the Alabama fans in the hallways waiting for Meyer and his players.
Sportswriters and others are flexing and stretching. They're either preparing for Urban Meyer, or this afternoon's golf outing.
Spoke too soon about reading the schedule correctly. It's Sylvester Croom of Mississippi State who is up now. Meyer will conclude the show today, at least prior to the ultra-competitive, no-holds barred golf tournament. KSR's Lonny Demaree has a 1:30 p.m. (local) tee time, while I'll be teeing off at 2:50 p.m.
One of the things that Kentucky fans have debated over time is the question of whether to take the opening kickoff if their team wins the coin toss, or defer to the second half. Croom believes the rule change to move the kickoff back to the 30-yard line makes it an easy decision. "I don't know what other coaches are going to do, but I'm taking (the opening kickoff). Everybody has his choice. With that ball on the 30 yard line, you better believe I'm taking it."
With the text-messaging ban just days away, it has been a popular question for all coaches this week. Croom concluded his interview by addressing how he'll handle it. "Burning up those text messages between now and August the 1st, that's for sure. I understand there's a possibility there may be some adjustments in the rule. We'll know that soon. But we'll adjust to that. You can email them. Still the old fashioned way of writing a note, which we always did. We never stopped doing that as a staff. We still send handwritten notes to our players."
Urban Meyer's boys seem confident. About what you'd expect for defending national champions. It will be interesting to see if Tim Tebow will excel in the passing game this year. He did in high school, but last year he was typically a hard-nosed running quarterback.
Larry Vaught just informed me that the Alabama souvenir shop in the mall, selling hats, t-shirts, etc. opened at 7:30 a.m., 90 minutes earlier than normal to sell to the Alabama fans in attendance today. Amazing.
Event is mostly concluded. SEC Media golf tournament is underway. Until tomorrow....