After listening to all 12 SEC coaches and dozens of the league’s best football players the past three days in Hoover, Ala., I bring you these observations from Media Days:
* Florida and new coach Will Muschamp are getting absolutely zero respect (and zero chance, I guess) in the SEC this season. No Gator offensive players on the first three teams of the preseason All-SEC team and zero Gators on the first two defensive teams. In all the years I’ve covered the SEC, I’ve never seen Florida slighted this much on the preseason All-SEC voted on by the media. UF was picked third, which I understand. But the Gators certainly have a great deal more talent than they are being given credit for. This should be motivating stuff for the Gators.
* While the Gators are getting no love, the Georgia Bulldogs are getting all kinds — and they’re coming off their first losing season under Mark Richt. I get it that Aaron Murray is probably the best QB in the SEC and Georgia has a lot of young talent and a chance to win the East. What I don’t get is why the ‘Dogs are getting all love and the Gators are getting none. It will be another interesting late October day in Jacksonville, I’m betting.
* Steve Spurrier is back. Winning has brought him back. At last year’s SEC Media Days, Spurrier bemoaned that, “I’m just a 7-6 coach, I guess.” Not any more. The Gamecocks won the East last season and are the pick to do it again in 2011. Now that he’s winning again, Spurrier is back to being his old self. During his time at the podium, he was funny, engaging and even feeling good enough to take a shot at commissioner Mike Slive, calling Slive’s recommendation of multi-year scholarships a bad idea. The Spur Dog is back and barking. Of course, now the Gamecocks are going to have to deal with expectations like they’ve never experienced before. It will be interesting to see how they handle them.
* New Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has lit a spark in Nashville. After listening to him talk about the advantages he has at Vanderbilt, I’m starting to think the Commodores might actually be competitive this season. But I still don’t think they’ll win many games.
* Gene Chizik is obviously a very good coach and he’s doing a marvelous job at Auburn. But the former Florida walk-on is soooooo boring. I’m assuming he’s a lot different around his players and the AU boosters. But, man, he was putting me to sleep the other day. He sure does know how to dodge a question, by the way.
* Kentucky coach Joker Phillips isn’t much more exciting than Chizik. But when you talk to his players, it’s obvious they love him and are going to play hard for him.
* With games at Alabama and LSU, it’s a tough schedule for Arkansas. But I would not be shocked if the Hogs win the West. Bobby Petrino has dramatically raised the overall talent level at Arkansas.
* Dan Mullen has done a remarkable job in two years at Mississippi State, but I can see why he is not considered much of a recruiter. He’s, well, a little different — a hard guy to warm up to. To me, he seems a bit of an odd fit in the SEC — but he loves Starkville. Good for him.