SEC Media Days came and went in Hoover, Ala., reminding us that football is close, but still so far away. Six Saturdays stand between the end of the event and opening weekenda far-too-long lull where far too little actually happens.
But media days do provide us with something to talk about in the interim. It serves us a nice little cocktail of quotes that help slake our thirst until real news starts breaking.
And in 2013, those cocktails were aplenty.
Conference commissioner Mike Slive got the ball rolling on Tuesday by quickly addressing the hot-button issue of college athletics pay—a matter he's championed for years.
His position on the matter was summed up in one tidy quote: "The NCAA has not been successful in meeting the full cost of attendance of our student-athletes."
That declaration loomed large over Hoover all week, setting the tone for a controversial three days of pressers.
And though Slive pledged he would "continue to support the NCAA," he also vowed the conference "will continue to push for changes we believe are in the best interest of our student-athletes."
No quote better typifies Manziel's offseason than this, both a statement of fact and roundabout defense for past and future mistakes: "I’m a 20-year-old college kid."
It was the theme of Manziel's wild Wednesday afternoon, grander than any specific excuse he gave after prematurely leaving the Peyton Manning Passing Academy. And given how much he repeated it, it was clear Manziel wanted to drive the point home.
He is 20 years old. He is sorry for his mistakes. He will continue to enjoy life his own way during the offseason. He won't change who he is.
The summer was fun, but now that's over. It's time to get back to work.
For one reason or another, the people around A.J. McCarron always seem to get more attention than the quarterback himself.
Whether it be the Crimson Tide defenses that allegedly carried him to two national championships, the model girlfriend who loves being in the spotlight or, now, the Heisman Trophy-winning roommate he recently had, McCarron always finds himself being asked about his peers.
I can't answer on Johnny Manziel's part. My name is AJ. Everything that has to do with him, he's his own man. I'm not going to speak on another man's business. That's how I was raised.
McCarron spoke with a quiet confidence all afternoon, sounding self-assured and excited to chase his third ring this season. In order to do so, he is going to focus on himself and himself alone.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema caused a hubbub earlier this summer when he proposed a rule that would slow down no-huddle offenses by stopping the game and letting defenses sub.
When broached about the subject in Hoover, Auburn's Gus Malzahn replied rather flippantly, saying when he first heard Bielema's quote, he thought it was a joke.
Later in the day, when Bielema was informed about Malzahn's joke comment, Bielema replied, "I am not a comedian. Everything I say is things I truly believe in."
He then launched into a mini tirade—loud enough that B/R's Barrett Sallee, stationed in the next room, could hear him bellowing through through the walls.
Auburn hosts Arkansas on Nov. 2, by the way, in what's sure to be must-watch TV...at least as far as SEC non-contenders go.
Spurrier had some actual points to raise, harping on the injustice of unpaid college athletes and the advantage of Notre Dame's non-conference affiliation. But, in classic Head Ball Coach form, it was something said in jest that proved most memorable.
Last year in Hoover, Spurrier made some off-the-cuff remarks about Ole Miss—nothing terribly vindictive, just that he'd rather play the Rebels than LSU. When alerted, coach Hugh Freeze said that he looks forward to changing Spurrier's perspective on Ole Miss football.
This year, Spurrier was asked if and how he and Freeze have become friends. To which Spurrier responded (per the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal):
We have a lot of similarities. We both play golf, we both wear visors, we both call plays. How can you not like a guy like Hugh Freeze?
In the words of Jadeveon Clowney, Spurrier is pretty darn "swagg."
Clowney came out of his shell during media days, displaying a confidence that bordered on arrogance but was just humble (and justified) enough to not be off-putting.
In addition to the revelation of his 4.46 40-yard dash time, Clowney spoke about the fear he can see in opposing quarterbacks' eyes before snaps.
"You can look at a guy and tell that he's scared," Clowney said. "If he's staring at me before the ball is snapped and he's staring at me every play before the ball is snapped, oh we got him. I tell the players that he's shook."
Two people who don't lose control of their bowels around Jadeveon Clowney? How about Tennessee tackles Antonio "Tiny" Richardson and Ja'Wuan James.
On Day 1, Clowney called Richardson "the best at holding and getting away with it"—although, in all fairness, he kind of meant that as a backhanded compliment.
On Day 2, when Richardson heard Clowney had a perfect 99 rating in EA Sports' NCAA 14, the Tennessee tackle said, "He's a good player, but I don't know about a 99. Give that young man a 94."
Later, Vols right tackle Ja'Wuan James implied that Clowney avoids him on the field, saying, "He stays on the other side [of the field]. He won't come over and play with me."
Tennessee hosts South Carolina on Oct. 18.
When Ohio State coach Urban Meyer turned in Florida, his former school, for secondary recruiting violations, it understandably rubbed current Gators coach Will Muschamp the wrong way.
Asked about it, Muschamp delivered one of the best not-so-veiled zingers of the week, saying, "We appreciated our friends from Ohio making sure we're compliant with NCAA rules. They certainly know a little bit about the subject."
The Buckeyes, of course, were ineligible for postseason play last year and still find themselves on probation for violations committed under former coach Jim Tressel.
Les Miles has fought vigilantly for a change in the SEC scheduling procedure, lamenting the process by which he's forced to play Florida each year while other schools may annually get easier opponents.
He kind of has a point. According to the Football Outsiders Almanac (subscription required), LSU's strength of schedule has been top five nationally every year since 2008.
But Miles is sick of crusading alone, and he implored media members to help him. Said the coach, per B/R's Barrett Salllee:
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.
Miles maintained his credo that "scheduling should not in any way decide championships repeatedly or throughout." He doesn't plan on giving up this fight until it's won.
Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley grew up in Staten Island—one of New York City's five boroughs and a place where basketball reigns supreme. So he can be forgiven for not being a polymath on college football lore.
But that didn't make it any less funny when, in Hoover, he told reporters that he didn't know the name Bear Bryant, then asked if it was some sort of "cartoon character."
Some Alabama fans, however, probably still took offense to his ignorance. Especially since their team plays at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
...Or does he?
New Kentucky coach Mark Stoops snubbed two-time defending champ Georgia when asked about his biggest competition in the SEC East, listing two other opponents in its stead.
"On our side of the division, certainly you have to look at Florida and South Carolina," Stoops said on Wednesday, via the Chip Towers and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "You expect them to be very good."
Whether that omission was deliberate or unintentional, one may never know. When the Bulldogs host Kentucky on Nov. 23, however, Stoops' intent won't matter a lick.
Malzahn is used to leaving programs in his wake. Arkansas went 8-4 with him at offensive coordinator, then 13-12 in its next 25 games. Tulsa went 21-6 with Malzahn calling the plays, then 5-7 the following season.
But no drop-off was more dramatic than Auburn, which won a national championship under Malzahn's guidance but stumbled to a program at its nadir once he left, finishing 2012 3-9 and winless in SEC play.
“When I first got to Auburn, we had a team meeting and said, ‘Last year was last year so let’s move on. We had to do some Dr. Phil-ing. There were some mental scars there,” Malzahn said of his return to Auburn, per The Jackson Sun.
Expect to see Dr. Phil signs on every Auburn road trip this season.
Zach Mettenberger underachieved in his one full season as a starting college quarterback, which would seem to make him unqualified to take shots at a former Heisman Trophy winner.
But that didn't stop him from doing it anyway. When asked what kind of tweaks new coordinator Cam Cameron has made on his motion, Mettenberger's response included the line, "it's not like I'm Tim Tebow and have terrible mechanics."
There are plenty of other reasons Mettenberger isn't Tim Tebow. Most notably the 9,285 career passing yards, 2,947 career rushing yards, 145 career touchdowns and three career top-five finishes in Heisman voting that Mettenberger doesn't have.
Maybe he just wants to temper expectations?