Today was the banner day for the SEC Media Days, with three of the biggest coaches in the conference – and college football taking the podium. Sorry, James Franklin of Vanderbilt, we’re talking about Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Mark Richt, and the ever-quotable Les Miles of LSU (if he needs further introduction).

In an effort to kick things off with a bang, we’ll start with Les Miles. And no, he didn’t bring any grass with him.

LES MILES (LSU)

On Jeremy Hill, who’s been suspended indefinitely after getting into a fight in a car park, which he pled guilty for: “Jeremy Hill has a legal entanglement. At this point in time he remains indefinitely suspended. I have a track record with really disciplining my team. We go through the same process that all of my guys will go through. Frankly, you know, we’re gathering information as we go. So he’s been separated from his team and teammates for the summer.” He added: “He’s not been in any team meetings, not been in any workouts. We’ve not allowed him in our facility. It’s been very hard on him, I know. Again, we recognize there’s an ongoing process that’s going to be fulfilled. We’re going to sit on the perimeter and watch. We certainly are respectful of all that have responsibility there. We’ll let you know when we know.

On his off-season duties: “I repelled down a building. I don’t know that that was all it was cracked up to be. It was tall. It was up there” and “I had no vacation. I took meaningful hours watching TCU film. But I’m looking forward to football, in case you wondered. I love baseball, I love watching my kids, but there’s an itch that happens. It’s one of those things that you, as a football coach, can’t wait to get to because it’s why you’re here.” You me both, Les Miles.

On Twitter: “Somebody gave me the magic. They said there’s 500 million on Instagram, whatever the hell that is. There’s three billion on Facebook. These are phenomena that are not just youthful. LeBron James, athletes, entertainers, businessmen of our day. I mean, it’s an amazing thing.

On what it’s going to be like after losing a load of talent to the NFL: “We lost eight guys. The good news is we’ll be a talented football team, but youthful.

On youth on the team: “The excitement, it’s not derived from where you’re ranked or how people perceive you. It’s the youth of your team, what you have to get coached, how you approach a practice. I think that each team has its own potential, its own high-side opportunities. Certainly what we’re trying to do is play to our greatest expectations and exceed them. I think it’s more the youth, wanting to get the message across, teach that technique, make sure that that young player is evaluated so that he has the opportunity to play if, in fact, he is one of our best.

And on LSU’s schedule: “I’d have to say there’s a repeated scheduling advantage and disadvantage for certain teams in this conference based on tradition and traditional matchups. I’ll give you an example. Auburn played Florida and Georgia 19 times since 2000. That makes a heck of a difference. Now, how many times has the west gone through each opponent? How many times have they played them? Not that many times. Don’t pretend it’s just a game. In other words, we’re going to play the Green Bay Packers, we’re going to play them 12 straight times. I promise you at the end of that, that team will have found that they’re missing some talent, there’s some skill guys that are injured, there’s some bumps and bruises. I think that scheduling is a tremendously important piece. Currently it’s on the ADs, the chancellors, the presidents, and the conference commissioner.

Now onto Nick Saban, the God of College Football, and boss of Alabama:

On trying to control player’s behavior: “We can be the moral compass for our young people, but we cannot always drive the ship. We always cannot be there to drive the ship.

On comparing him to Bear Bryant: “I don’t think I have any reason that anybody should do that. I think Bear Bryant is probably the greatest coach in college football in terms of what he accomplished, what his legacy is. I think the biggest thing that impacts me is how many peoples’ lives he affected in a positive way, players that played for him, because they all come back and say how he affected their life. They don’t come back and say, we won a championship in ’78, ’79, ’61, whenever it was. They come back and say how he affected their lives. 

There’s a lot of Bear Bryant stories that I’ve learned a lot from, that have made me a better person. I certainly appreciate that, have a tremendous amount of respect for what he accomplished. There’s no way that we have done anything close to what he’s done in terms of his consistency over time, how he changed what he did to impact the times. They threw the ball and won. They ran the wishbone and won. I mean, he changed tremendously to do what he needed to do to be successful. I don’t think that it would be fair that anyone really be compared to what he was able to accomplish, the way he did it, and how he impacted other people.

On scheduling: “Everybody doesn’t play everybody in the NFL. You rotate your schedule. We have to rotate the schedule. The things that I think are important in scheduling is, A, I’ve been over this before, every player plays every team in the SEC in his career. That means you must play at least two teams on the other side. I understand where Les Miles is coming from. I coached at LSU. We played Florida every year, too. So if anybody understands it, I understand it. You understand? All right (smiling). They may not have that same tradition. My question is, is do other coaches understand our circumstance? Do they understand Auburn/Georgia circumstance? Do they understand the other teams in our league that do have rivalries that are cherished by the fans?” Saban has a point. It must also be noted that from 1995  – 2006 in the ‘Third Saturday In October’, Tennessee only lost 3 times. Now, the worm has turned – Tennessee hasn’t won since then – but the balance of power will probably shift.

On scheduling Chatanooga: “Do I think that’s what the fans want to see? Probably not. It’s a great experience for those players that are going to have the opportunity to play at Alabama this year. It’s a great experience for them. I’m not trying to take that away from them. But I think in the world that we live in, it is impossible to schedule more than 10 games with real quality opponents….The more games you play with quality opponents, you’re going to have to play home and home. So you’re going to have less home games. There’s a lot of issues involved in all that. It’s not all about just what the coach wants to do. It’s about the business of college football.

Then, it’s onto MARK RICHT, the coach at Georgia who at this time of the year, seems to have half of his class suspended after run-ins with the Georgia police. He’s done well this year….

On the SEC Championship Game: “It was certainly a gut-wrenching thing to see again the way it finished.

On the Nick Marshall vs Todd Gurley competition: “Both of them want to be what would be considered the lead back. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. They also came in knowing who they were. They’re very good friends. They wanted to share the load. They wanted to not be in a situation where they had to carry 25 to 30 times a game. I don’t think they were interested in that.

On Georgia’s rough start to the season, where they play Clemson, South Carolina and LSU all in the first month of the year: “I told the team we’re in a race, and that is to try to be at mid-season form by game one. That race started back in January.

On Georgia’s drug policy, and whether the rest of the league could adopt it: “Would I like that? I would like that. I think that would be a good thing for the league to be in sync in that regard. I would think it’s going to be very difficult to do certainly at the presidential level, they would all have to agree that it should be done, this is what it’s going to look like.

On Alabama’s domination, and a play-off: “I think everybody is beatable. I think some of it is, quite frankly, the way the BCS is set up. There’s some good fortune. If Ohio State wasn’t on probation, they might have played last year. If whoever lost at the end, Kansas State lost at the end, whoever, there’s just some teams that had to lose to make that opening for us or Alabama at the end of that SEC Championship game….In the future, we certainly know there’s going to be at least a four-team playoff to get it started, maybe a little bit better gauge of getting the right people in that game.

And finally, JAMES FRANKLIN, coach of Vanderbilt….

On the ‘legal incident’, which saw 4 of his players thrown out: “I can’t get into any discussion about this. It’s an ongoing legal investigation” (quickly changes subject to study abroad)

On the QB situation: “We have not named a starter at any position.

On playing on a Thursday night: “You play on Thursday night, for us, we’re going to be playing at 8:00 when everybody’s getting off of work, getting home in time to see the game. Players are going to be home from practice. We’re the only show in town.

On dealing with hurry-up offences: “The only thing that I have an issue with is I want to make sure we’re all playing by the same rules. What I notice time and time again when you’re watching the film is that the officials are not in position to officiate the game. You watch time and time again, not everybody’s set when the ball is snapped, and they can’t officiate that because the pace of the game they can’t keep up with. I don’t really have a concern with the styles. I just want to make sure we’re all playing by the same rules and that the officials have the ability and are put in position to officiate the game all by the same rules for all of us. That’s my only concern.

On moving games to the Tennessee Titans’ field: “We have had some discussions depending on our schedule if we can get an eight-game schedule, the possibilities of taking one of those games to LP Field, which I think would be great for the city as well, great for our program. But we want to make sure that the nucleus, at least seven games, are on our campus every year.

 

 

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