SEC Teleconference Notebook: Iron Bowl, Nerves and Will Muschamp on Play-Calling

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 27, 2013

Florida head coach Will Muschamp
Florida head coach Will MuschampStacy Revere/Getty Images

Every Wednesday afternoon, the SEC coaches line up one-by-one on the weekly coaches' teleconference to take questions from the media members from around the country.

The Iron Bowl, nerves heading into rivalry weekend and the play-calling of Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease were some of the notable topics of conversation on the final SEC Coaches' teleconference of the regular season.

Here are some of the highlights.

Hey, Did You Hear that The Iron Bowl is Kind of a Big Deal?

It may be rivalry week for every team in the SEC, but virtually every coach was asked about only one rivalry in some way, shape or form—this weekend's showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones explained that the hype for the Iron Bowl is indicative of just how strong the SEC is.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones (right) with Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones (right) with Alabama head coach Nick SabanKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

"It should be a great game for the SEC," he said, "and shows that this is the best football conference in America."

LSU head coach Les Miles, whose Tigers beat Auburn 35-21 in September in Baton Rouge, also sung the praises of the Iron Bowl.

"I think the turnover battle will be key," Miles said. "I think the team that avoids turning the ball over will do real well. It should be a very competitive game, and it's a rivalry that talks about a state and talks about quality teams. It'll be fun to watch."

How about the coaches who are actually playing in the game?

"Everybody realizes that the Iron Bowl is always a significant game," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "This year, it has a little more significance."

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, in true Malzahn style, got through his assessment as quickly as possible.

"Obviously, we have a big game this week," he said. "The good thing is we're playing at home."

Pressure? Missouri Has No Pressure

Not many people expected Missouri to control its own SEC East destiny during the final weekend of the season, but here the Tigers stand at 10-1 and needing to top Texas A&M on Saturday night in Columbia to claim their first SEC East title in program history.

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel
Missouri head coach Gary PinkelKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

But don't tell that to head coach Gary Pinkel, because he doesn't see this as pressure.

"I don't really look at it as pressure, I look at it as an opportunity," Pinkel said. "You want to be in this position every single year."

As far as his players go, Pinkel has trust that they have a similar mindset.

"What we've done here in terms of playing this year, and if you ask our seniors, they're going to say 'it doesn't matter who we play or where we play, it's about how we play'," he said. "They're aware that we've won a share of the conference title now, and in order to go to the championship game they have to win this game. Your focus now is playing your best game."

Missouri WR L'Damian Washington
Missouri WR L'Damian WashingtonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Will Muschamp Comments on Brent Pease
There's been much speculation in Gainesville as to who's going to take the fall for the Florida Gators finishing with a sub-.500 record for the first time since 1979. 

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease is a good candidate, since they finished with the third-worst offense (334.0 YPG) in the SEC in Pease's first season in 2012, and have followed it up with the SEC's worst offense through 11 games (327.9 YPG) this season.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp
Florida head coach Will MuschampStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

Head coach Will Muschamp attempted to calm the firestorm surrounding his embattled offensive coordinator.

"When you lose three offensive tackles, and two quarterbacks and a 1,000-yard rusher and a receiver, it makes it very difficult to call plays," Muschamp said. "Brent's a good play-caller and an outstanding football coach. It's been frustrating for all of us, including him."

So has he been operating in a manner consistent with Muschamp's philosophy?

"We want to do what we gotta do to win games," he said. "That's what you need to do and we haven't done that this year."

Translation: Brent Pease will probably be looking for work this time next week.


*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.