The 6 Most Entertaining Personalities from College Football Media Days
The chairs have been tucked away. The microphones and cameras have been stored in their mobile hiding places—at least for now—as they wait for what comes next, just like us.
College football’s media-day circuit has come and gone. The most exciting and interesting personalities in the sport flocked to their conference’s destinations, which included stops in Hoover, Dallas, Los Angeles, Greensboro and Chicago, among other places.
They talked. They joked. They jabbed. Some of them (cough, cough...Mike Leach...cough, cough) even excelled in the prop department.
Of course, included in these various stops were unique presences primed for the occasion. Some of these coaches have established themselves as being a character in the sport they teach; others are simply getting started.
Who entertained the masses this year at media days? Let’s have a look.
Adam Kramer is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats courtesy ofCFBStats.com.
Penn State Head Coach James Franklin
You just knew that James Franklin would deliver in his first Big Ten media days appearance, and he did not disappoint. In fact, his energy was evident from the moment he took the podium on Day 1.
His opening statement began with a mini rant about his current elevator situation at the hotel. Apparently, the Penn State logo on his elevator didn’t “align” with his room, and he adjusted accordingly.
“I refuse to ride any other elevator up there,” Franklin said. “So I had to end up walking up the floors.”
His Penn State recruiting pitch started there, and it didn’t stop.
He joked with media, pointing out various clothing issues when there were issues to be highlighted. He sneaked up behind Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and gave him a bear hug, slapping him on the shoulder as he exited the room.
"That dude is just awesome," Nebraska wideout Kenny Bell said.
In a ballroom of voices, his voice seemed to go above and beyond all others. His message throughout was clear. And when Franklin was taken to task, as he was on the recruiting satellite camp at Georgia State that rubbed SEC coaches the wrong way, he didn't back down.
“It gave us an opportunity to get to the part of the country where maybe kids who aren't able to travel to Penn State, we were able to bring Penn State to them,” Franklin said. “And it was awesome. We had a great experience, enjoyed doing it. The colleges that we worked with were awesome, but the reaction, I can't speak on that. All I can talk about is what we're trying to do at Penn State, which is build a world-class program.”
Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach
Let’s start with this.
My heart is so full pic.twitter.com/5E82c8hSXi— Sarah Kezele (@SarahKezele) July 23, 2014
Or how about this?
Mike Leach playing corn hole? Mike Leach playing corn hole. pic.twitter.com/mQAOdu7XBT— JB Long (@JB_Long) July 23, 2014
And then there’s the discussion of how Mike Leach would pick his Pac-12 bear-hunting partner, which somehow makes total sense.
Yes, Mike Leach was busy at Pac-12 media days, making the most of the casual setup. Perhaps this is the perfect time to remind you that Leach recently wrote a book on Geronimo and it is now available for purchase. He made sure to discuss this book at media days, the sign of a true author simply trying to promote.
Consider this the last item on your offseason reading list.
Baylor Head Coach Art Briles
If we’re being honest with ourselves, no coach in college football pushes the “I’d like to have a beer with that guy” reader quite like Art Briles at Baylor. He could read the encyclopedia and it would somehow a) make you laugh or b) sooth your soul.
In Dallas for Big 12 media days, Briles did more than simply read meaningless text. He showcased his range, and it began when he was asked about being a heavyweight in the conference.
"I try to eat as healthy as possible,” Briles said, courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Ben Kercheval. He didn't budge.
His finest work, however, came while responding to comments Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher made regarding the Big 12 and its lack of a championship game. With a meaty softball to swing at, Briles simply couldn’t let this one go by.
“He needs to worry about the ACC," Briles said to Bryan Fischer of NFL.com. "Don’t come to Texas telling me how to do my business.”
Get off his Texas lawn, Jimbo. He means it.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
He began with the obvious at Big Ten media days. The cat.
When asked for an update of his spring game friend, Pelini didn’t run from what began as an innocent tweet to his parody account on Twitter.
"He's enjoying a nap up in the room," Pelini said as the room laughed, unable to gauge whether the coach was being serious. "So he’s here in Chicago and enjoying the Windy City."
Pelini also showed the fire that many have grown accustomed to seeing. As he tried to explain how he harnesses his competitive nature, he couldn't hold back when asked about Damore'ea Stringfellow. The Washington transfer was all set to attend Nebraska, when he had a sudden change of heart. He will instead head to Ole Miss.
He wasn't done. When pushed on the parents’ involvement, Pelini, according to the World-Herald, added:
"Yeah. And especially when it's a clueless parent."
Pelini also addressed the very important topic of Sharknado, Syfy’s dumpster-fire masterpiece. His response, courtesy of Mike Welch of 93.7 The Ticket, was perfect.
He is complicated, unpredictable and, at times, funny. He is must-see media days material at this point.
LSU Head Coach Les Miles
Les Miles decided it was time to take on the state of Texas.
This will be how his visit to the 2014 SEC media days will be remembered, as he recapped his vacation to an anxious room of reporters searching for a sound bite. They didn’t have to search hard.
"I took a vacation, I went to Austin, took my three children with me, so we had six, two parents and four children on that campus," Miles said, courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee. "It was miserable. I hated it. But it was great fun. I mean, it was not a beach, it was not sand, but it was my family, and that was the best."
This is how you properly squeeze “miserable,” “hated it,” “great fun” and “the best” into one thought that, despite its complexity, somehow made sense.
He wasn’t done, though. The rest, courtesy of Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com, was story times with Les.
I mean, it was not a beach, it was not sand, but it was my family, and that was the best. Manny is my eldest son. He's pitching and playing football. FIFA was on TV. He decided to pick up a soccer ball, called up a couple buddies, he was in a soccer game for four hours. Think about that, right? My [youngest daughter] Macy Miles is pitching in fast-pitch softball in Orlando, Florida, at the World Series. Certainly there's a lot of media there, as well. She's in a 10-and-under league. She has a 4-0 win as a pitcher, no hit. A very quality smasher's club that she faced this morning.
He talked some football, too. Although somehow, after all that, it felt insignificant.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
Steve Spurrier didn’t launch golf balls into the crowd or meet his normal quota of coaching-related jabs, but the South Carolina head coach has been grandfathered into this list, and there’s no changing that.
He is the personality, whether he’s in rare form or not.
This is the godfather of SEC media days we’re talking about, and when he holds court—as he did again in Hoover this year—the offseason agony tends to go away while he takes center stage.
Although his 2014 stint was not nearly as eventful as recent performances, he still delivered a handful of gems—including this subtle body blow—while speaking about Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin’s financial security.
"Kevin Sumlin has an excellent record as a coach. He's a good negotiator, we know that also, so he's got a good deal," Spurrier said, courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee. "He's ready to go. But he's got a good team.”
Perhaps Spurrier’s finest jab, however, came against the Big Ten.
As the discussion of trophies in college football surfaced, he took it upon himself to throw the Big Ten somewhat casually under the bus and continue on as if nothing happened with the discussion.
Spurrier: "I don't know if you can have a trophy for every game. I know in the Big Ten they've got several of 'em."— Paul Myerberg (@PaulMyerberg) July 15, 2014