The SEC meetings started today in Destin, Florida, and one of the top priorities of commissioner Mike Slive is to tell the coaches to pipe down with the verbal shots that are being taken by some coaches against other programs.
Good luck with that.
You can get these coaches in a room all you want and tell them what not to say, but in the heat of the moment, the SEC is full of bitter rivals and there won't be any punches being pulled anytime soon.
SEC football is the most highly contested league in America, and there is a demand to win and win big more and more each day. Any advantage that a coach can get—be it on the field or psychological—will be taken advantage of.
Just look at the coaches we have in this league right now: Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Les Miles, Mark Richt, on and on.
This league is no place for the faint of heart.
This league is loaded with talent at the head coaching position, and every single one of these guys wants to win right now. Each university is getting more anxious to win right away, and that pressure spills over to the coaches and puts even more pressure on them than there already is.
Obviously much has been made in the offseason about comments that new coach Lane Kiffin has made. He called Florida coach Urban Meyer a "cheater" and then later had to apologize after the SEC office told him to do so.
Kiffin also told a recruit that if he went to South Carolina, he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life, a comment in which he hasn't apologized for to this point.
After Auburn's assistant coaches recently took a recruiting trip across the state of Alabama in a stretch Hummer, Florida coach Urban Meyer said maybe they should be looked into by the NCAA and made general comments that they don't do "things" like that.
Mississippi State new coach Dan Mullen commented on the Hummer as well, and went as far as to say it was basically a big waste of money and uncalled for.
Right after Lane Kiffin was hired, Steve Spurrier questioned whether or not Kiffin was even allowed to recruit yet since he probably hasn't passed the NCAA recruiting test.
A lot of talk has been made about apologies and all of it seems to have been focused on Lane Kiffin. Kiffin actually apologized for one of his comments, none of the other coaches have apologized for any of their comments though.
So I'll give Kiffin some credit there, even if the apology was prompted by the SEC commissioner.
Bottom line: This is a new age in SEC football. The league is as competitive as it's ever been with increasing revenues, bigger stadiums, and larger TV contracts leading to more money.
The pressure is on big time right now in the SEC to produce right now. There's no doubt that the added pressure, combined with some interesting personalities including some huge egos will result in some smart comments, and probably some over-the-line comments as well.
So commissioner Slive, you can try and lay down the law all you want, but the comments will continue, it's just the way it is right now in this conference. Even if they don't continue, this might be the most combustible group of coaches the SEC has seen in years.
You think Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin, Steve Spurrier, and others are the kinds of coaches that will let someone take a shot without retaliation?
Think they will let things roll off their backs?
Me neither, and while the fans and the commissioner might want the bickering to stop, I can tell you one group of people that are loving it right about now.
ESPN and CBS.
Their new TV contracts put the SEC on TV every single week, and with all this side drama added to the already great football that's played, they are counting down the days to kickoff. You can count on that.