SEC Media Days 2013: Winners and Losers from Day 3
The final day at SEC Media Days is typically when everyone involved is looking to get out as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Not this year.
The star-studded final day in Birmingham featured players and coaches from Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Vanderbilt.
Did Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban hop on a soap box? Did Les Miles eat grass? How did Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin handle the big stage?
Winner: LSU Head Coach Les Miles
The Mad Hatter's appearance in Hoover started out slow, but picked up steam in a hurry.
After a rather lackluster performance in the main ballroom that included a fake Australian accent, references to hyperbaric oxygen research and a horse and buggy reference (seriously, those were the low points), Miles had a performance for the ages in the radio/Internet room.
As expected, Miles went off on scheduling, challenging the media and the public to present an appropriate solution.
"Hopefully, there will be some people in here that have strength and stand up in the crowd and say THIS ISN'T RIGHT! LET'S DO THIS THE RIGHT WAY! That's going to be YOUR JOB, not mine."
When asked about ninth-grader Dylan Moses—who reportedly has offers from several big-time schools, including LSU—Miles scoffed at the idea that young kids shouldn't get verbal scholarship offers.
"It's amazing, I promise you that I'm the first one who sits back and scoffs. 'Offer an eighth-grader, are you kidding me'?" Miles said sarcastically. "Offer a sixth-grader. I want you to know something, I'm looking at a fourth-graders now. 'How fast do you run? Do you play four square?' It just happens. LeBron James? We would have recruited and offered him in the second grade."
Never change, Les. Never change.
Winner: Alabama QB AJ McCarron
AJ McCarron got a bit annoyed with some of the questions thrown his way on Thursday, but his appearance at SEC Media Days served a bigger purpose.
He donned a bow tie with pink ribbons on it, raising awareness to an issue that recently became personal.
"My cousin got diagnosed with breast cancer about two weeks ago," he said. "I got my mom to call her and tell her that I was wearing it in honor of her. I'm trying to spread breast cancer awareness around the state, if I could in some sort of way to help out."
It was apparent that it was important to McCarron, and good for him for using this stage not only as a platform to spread the message of his team, but also one that can serve a much more important purpose.
Loser: Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick Saban doesn't like this event, and it shows.
His appearance at media days is always one of the happiest times of the year, or so he says.
"I had a great vacation, then I get the opportunity to come here and see 1,200 of my very closest friends all at the same time," Saban said in the most sarcastic tone possible. "So we appreciate that."
Saban is the master of saying something without saying anything at all.
"I don't know about reinventing (how we win), but each and every year, we are trying to improve the process of how we do what we do."
There were a few rather humorous moments, like when he told CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman that he doesn't wear his championship rings because he lets "the players design them and they're as big as ashtrays."
Once, just once, Saban needs to go "full Les Miles."
For the Internet's sake.
Winner: LSU QB Zach Mettenberger
This wasn't Zach Mettenberger's first rodeo, and it showed.
The senior signal-caller for the LSU Tigers made his second appearance at SEC Media Days, and the results were phenomenal.
When asked in the main ballroom how his preparation with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is different, Mettenberger took a shot at New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow, as reported by CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman.
"It's not like I'm Tim Tebow and have terrible mechanics," he said.
But it didn't stop there.
Mettenberger also admitted that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was trash-talking to him before their matchup in Death Valley, a game which the Tigers won 23-21, per ESPN's Mark Schlabach:
"I almost crapped my pants," he said.
Hey, you have to admire the honesty!
Loser: Vanderbilt Commodores
Vanderbilt was put in a really bad position at this year's media days. Not only did the Commodores make the rounds at the same time as Alabama, but it was the last session of the afternoon.
Normally crowded rooms were ghost towns for the Vanderbilt contingent, which is a shame, because head coach James Franklin and his group were a lot of fun.
Offensive tackle Wesley Johnson even discussed offensive line coach Herb Hand's candidacy for the Food Network show Chopped.
"The last time he cooked for us, he made mahi mahi that he caught," Johnson said. "His personality would be great to have on that show."
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews discussed his hatred for Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C.
"They have that chicken that goes off every time something good happens," he said. "So South Carolina is the loudest place I've played."
And who could forget Franklin's fantastic one-liner on public speaking?
"Every time I get the chance to go out and speak, it's an opportunity for me to jedi-mind people."
It's too bad more people didn't hear them.
Winner: Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
While Vanderbilt didn't get the benefit of speaking to as large of an audience as the rest of its conference mates, it still managed to make friends.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews walked into the radio/Internet room, shook the hands of all 30 or so members of the media in attendance and said. "Hi, I'm Jordan."
Matthews was quite confident in himself and his team.
The tandem of he and Chris Boyd is one of the best in the SEC, but he wasn't interested in talking about tandems.
"I don't want to talk about tandems," he said. "But if you're talking about corps, I feel we have the best receiving corps in the country."
Strong words, but he wasn't done. He also feels that his head coach James Franklin has the best job in the country, which is a big reason why he hasn't jumped ship after back-to-back bowl games at a perennially downtrodden program.
"I wasn't scared (that he'd leave). He gets to coach some of the best and brightest players in the game. I think he has the best job in the country."
Winner: Alabama Ring Hat Guy
When Alabama makes the rounds, the lobby at the Wynfrey becomes a mosh pit of crimson and white.
One brave Alabama fan made sure he got a front row seat, and his choice of headgear is sure to not only get head coach Nick Saban's attention, but also the rest of the assembled media.
This ring hat is surprisingly detailed and can be custom ordered, if and when your team unseats the Crimson Tide from its perch or the Alabama dynasty continues for another year.
When it comes to lobby attire, "Alabama ring-hat guy" is much better than the guy with the "I hate Auburn" shirt, who said that when Saban voiced his displeasure, "it's like I went to church and God told me He didn't approve."
*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.