SEC Media Days Notebook: Day 1

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SEC Media Days Notebook: Day 1
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Stephen Garcia will return to South Carolina, but will need to compete for playing time.

Can you win in college football without cheating? Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden thinks it is impossibly to run a 100 percent clean program, but Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive believes it is possible to win without cheating.

“There’s a tendency to overstate—if there’s a school on probation for phone calls or text messaging, you’re going to lump that in with another school who might had done something very different,” Slive said to CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy. “We need to figure out what we really want to stop and go from there.”

Rather than dedicate the entire time allotted to discuss the success of the conference on the field, highlighted by five consecutive BCS championships, Slive addressed ideas to change the way the sport is governed and ensuring players keep out of trouble. Slive would like to see an academic requirement be increased form a minimum 2.0 GPA to a 2.5 GPA in 16 core classes. He also is supportive of the idea of allowing a six-year period for student-athletes to complete their degree.

"We don't have the luxury of acting as if it's business as usual," Slive said. "And that's been made clear by the headlines emanating from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Gulf to the Great Lakes. As NCAA President Mark Emmert has observed, the events giving rise to these headlines indicate that intercollegiate athletics has lost the benefit of the doubt."

Last season's BCS championship participants, Auburn and Oregon, are both under NCAA investigations. Tigers head coach Gene Chizik was involved in a heated exchange with NCAA officials during the SEC's spring meetings and he will be asked some questions about his program when his time at the microphone comes on Thursday.

LSU was placed on a one-year probation by the NCAA for major violations stemming from a recruiting of a junior-college player. Tennessee is also in the middle of an NCAA investigation.

Slive is ready for the NCAA to move forward and wrap up these investigations so he and the rest of the SEC can move on.

Another change mentioned by Slive was the SEC's proposal to update the recruiting rules including the removal or amendments to rules against phone calls, texting and the use of social networking to contact potential recruits. It was the first time a conference commissioner formally used the word "Twitter" on this platform.

"It's time to push the reset button on the regulatory rules on recruiting in order to move away from the idea that recruiting rules are designed to create a level playing field," Slive said. "There are significant differences between institutions in resources, climate, tradition, history, stadiums and fan interest and many other things that make the idea of a level playing field an illusion. Rules limiting text messaging and phone calls won't alter that."


South Carolina QB to return for camp

Stephen Garcia will "in all likelihood" rejoin the South Carolina Gamecocks for preseason camp. Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier said that Garcia will need to compete for the starting quarterback job with sophomore Connor Shaw but Garcia has done everything he needs to do to get back in good graces within the program following a troublesome offseason.

Spurrier seems pleased with his roster heading in to the season. In addition to Garcia, the Gamecocks will return key players in sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Spurrier also said he expects defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to see playing time "early and often." Clowney was the nation's top-rated high school recruit in the Class of 2011.

Muschamp is "a Florida guy"

New Florida head coach Will Muschamp was asked if it was going to be difficult to coach Florida as a Georgia guy. Muschamp responded by saying, "I'm a Florida guy." The new Gators coach does not think there is much that needs to change at Florida in order for the Gators to get back on top of the SEC East, saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

On recruiting, Muschamp believes the process and philosophies that were successful in Texas can work in Florida, with both states having a wealth of talent. Muschamp says he has not spoken with Jeff Demps, who could be leaning toward a career in track. His football future remains a question but Muschamp says that he expects Demps to be in camp and in uniform for this season.

"I don't deal in rumors and I don't deal in message boards, I don't know any good coach who does," Muschamp said. "I deal with people eyeball to eyeball, and I ain't ever been to Italy."

Well then.


Petrino happy with depth

Petrino was the first SEC coach to address the media on Wednesday, and he feels his team is good enough to make a run to represent the SEC on the BCS stage.

“I like our experience and depth—we had to play a lot of guys who were true freshman [three years ago],” Petrino said. “But that group of young men stuck together…and now they’re all matured and grown up. So I’m excited for our senior class.”

Petrino was asked about his history of plugging in quarterbacks at multiple stops and whether or not Tyler Wilson can duplicate some of the success former quarterbacks such as Ryan Mallet and Brian Brohm have experienced under Petrino.

"I think when you look at our success in coaching quarterbacks, one thing I really believe in is it's our job to find out what they do well and then ask them to do that. It's our coaches' job, my job, to find out what our quarterback does best.

"Let's take this nice, fancy playbook we have, set it to the side, and develop the offense around the quarterback and give him a chance to be successful. I think the other thing that helps a lot is when you get the other ten guys to play real well around him."


Quick look at Day 2

Georgia head coach Mark Richt, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik and Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips will all take the stage on Thursday as SEC Media Days continue.

Chizik will be under a spotlight with an NCAA investigation ongoing in to the Tigers and coming off a BCS championship season. Richt always seems to be a debating point as Georgia either falls short of meeting expectations or being overshadowed by other programs. Tennessee's Dooley will also look to move forward from an NCAA investigation that he had no part of.

 

Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Examiner.com. Follow his college football discussion on Google+, Twitter, become a fan of him on Facebook.

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