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Auburn adds 13th commitment

Hey everyone. Auburn has landed another commitment and this guy is a big'un.

Moody High OL Chad Slade, who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs approximately 315 pounds, has promised to sign with Auburn in February. We know this because our friends at AuburnSports, AuburnUndercover and ITAT say so.

He chose Auburn over Mississippi State.

The most popular scouting services aren't impressed. has given Slade one star (out of five) while hasn't yet given him a rank of any kind.

Photo credit:

Tennessee is up


  • "I can't imagine (the first seven months on the job) going better than it has."

  • Kiffin is proud to have signed Bryce Brown.

  • "It is so hard to recruit in this conference. Kids do not want to leave their state. You have to do something really unique and special to get them to leave their state. We had to create national attention immediately. Nobody gives you four- and five-year plans anymore. Winning games is the easy way (to recruit), but we didn't have time to do that. Tennessee is the most talked-about football program. We're creating interest."

  • On toning down: "It's part of the plan. It's part of the timing of things. In the summer, there wasn't anything to focus on. Now there's something to focus on -- real ball."

  • Kiffin doesn't want to moonlight S Eric Berry, a high-school quarterback, at quarterback this season because UT is running a new defense. He thinks that would negatively affect his development.

  • Kiffin accepted help when filling out his preseason All-SEC ballot because "I didn't know as much about the players in the league."

  • On secondary violations: "We definitely have (gotten Mike Slive's message). Not one of the violations that occurred to us is something we planned. We did not set out to do something ... to gain an advantage. Of our 10 coaches, five of them were in the NFL last season. We probably weren't as educated on the rules and how they're interpreted."

  • On signing Daniel Hood, who was convicted in 2006 of kidnapping and aggravated rape: "You have to look at the incident. It happened five years ago. If you research it enough ... and really knew the exact story of what happened ... it was different than how it was portrayed in the media. It took months to figure it out."

  • "I wish the coach could go out in the spring. I don't get to go out and see the guys."

  • "I can't imagine there's a better recruiter out there than Ed (Orgeron)."

  • On if he has won or lost recruits in Memphis: "Wait until signing day happens and evaluate if we got the players we really went after."

  • On Eddie Gran and his work in south Florida: "Eddie Gran has absolutely blown me away as a coach and a recruiter. Eddie was not on the top of my list. Will Muschamp called me. (Muschamp recommended Gran) He is unbelievable. He's going to do a great job for us down there."

  • Kiffin said his staff has been allowed back into Pahokee High. "The one camera I didn't know was there made it seem like it was a national story. We have moved forward from that."

  • On Orgeron's value as a recruiter: "He's relentless the way he goes about it. Anywhere he's been, the recruitment and development of the players has been phenomenal."

  • He's now discussing individual signees.

  • On getting Johnny Majors back in the fray: "He hadn't been to a (UT) practice in 14 years. He's a huge part of our tradition. It was so neat to see him at practice."

LSU is up


  • My co-worker, Josh Moon, says Miles is the "George W. Bush" of college football. I don't know what that means, but it made me laugh.

  • John Chavis, formerly a reviled Tennessee defensive coach, now is LSU's defensive coordinator.

  • Miles voted for Tim Tebow. Nobody asked. We already know that.

  • Miles is interested to see how officials regulate the new emphasis on helmet-to-helmet contact. "It has the potential to be over-officiated."

  • "Championships are how we're measured. You never expect to finish second. Not at LSU."

  • Miles allowed his publicist to fill out his All-SEC ballot, just as Spurrier did. Miles said simply echoed his publicist's decisions. "Those were my calls as well."

  • Miles claims to (personally) fill out his ballot in the coaches' poll.

  • On assistants' salaries: "We're fortunate that those things, market value, are looked at as as a positive thing. It's wonderful that assistant coaches' salaries are escalating. It's deserved. It's a tough time right now. Our economy will come around. If that man is doing a great job, he's deserving."

  • On voting in the coaches' poll: "You have to have a staffer to assist the head coach. There is an opportunity to check or review your selections. The coach that operates in the SEC knows this conference best. Overall, it probably melts down to a very representative selection."

  • On what he thought went wrong last season: "If you had one statistic ... it would be turnover margin. If you look at the year we won, we finished second in the country. We weren't near that last year. You have to start fast on both sides of the ball. I understand what happened at the back end of last season. I suspect our team does, too."

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin at 11:45ish.

South Carolina is up


  • On The Tim Tebow Incident®: "I need to address it right now. In actuality, I didn't do much voting. I didn't fill the sheet out. Some coach made a mistake -- a dumb, careless mistake -- by not voting for Tim Tebow. I signed off on it. (A USC staffer created and submitted the vote) I said: `Surely, we had Tim Tebow.' He said: `Well, it was Jevan Snead.' I apologize to Tim Tebow. We messed up. I messed up. I was able to put Tim Tebow in there (on the first team) today. I tried to correct it as best I can. He's the best football player in the country. He and Danny Wuerffel will go down in history as the two best quarterbacks."

  • Spurrier said that in 17 years, he's never filled out a preseason All-SEC team ballot. "Head coaches do not know a lot about other teams."

Auburn is up


  • "I don't like discussing the issues, who we voted for. I don't want to open myself to answering this every time. I did vote for Tim Tebow."

    NOTE: This is a major reversal from what he said 15 minutes earlier.

  • He said Philip Pierre-Louis and Cam Henderson are on the team.

  • He said WR Montez Billings will play this season.

  • He said Dax Dellenbach is gone.

  • He said all fall practices will be closed.

  • He didn't provide much insight into the injuries involving S Mike McNeil, WR Tim Hawthorne, QB Chris Todd (the lingering shoulder issue) and S Aairon Savage.

  • On the expectations to win immediately: "There's pressure everywhere. We put enough pressure on ourselves to be great. I want to be the best at my trade. With that comes self-imposed pressure. The pressure is going to be there no matter what school you're at. It comes with the territory."

  • On Malzahn: "Gus has a great, great record of being balanced. We're on the same page as far as what we want to do in that direction."

  • Chizik has nothing substantive to add about the quarterback situation.

  • On the billboards: "I don't know how the outside world views Auburn ... and specifically Auburn football. Everything we do will be in the direction of promoting Auburn University. We're very proud of Auburn. So are the Auburn people."

  • On SEC vs. Big 12: "There's no great league than the SEC. You've got great players. You've got great coaches. The interest is at an all-time high. I'm extremely happy to be back in this conference."

  • On his reception: "I feel like we have the greatest fans on the planet. I've lived Auburn for three years of my life. The fans are off the chart. Every place that I've gone, my staff and myself have been accepted with open arms. There's excitement in the air. Our fans have been through a lot. Auburn fans are resilient; they keep coming back."

  • On being low-key all the time: "I've got three children and a wife. I get plenty of attention when I go home. I don't need attention. I have to go out and gather attention to myself. This isn't about me; it's about Auburn. It's just who I am. I'm here to draw attention to Auburn in a positive light."

  • On possibly being considered for the UCF job several years ago: "I don't live in the past, honestly. My steps have been ordered. Where I am is where I'm supposed to be. I know there's a bigger plan for my life. (UCF) is obviously not one of those places where I was supposed to coach."

  • On the rising salaries for assistants: "I love it. These guys sacrifice a lot. There's pressure on the assistants to win as well. They feel it. I love the fact that the money for the assistants is starting to rise. It's very valid, in my opinion. We should do all we can do to take care of them and their families. People say, `They make so much money.' They have a higher risk on their job than most people have, too."

  • Is the recruiting pizazz worth it?: "We recruit the right guy for Auburn. If you look at the commitments that we've got, it's because they're the right guy for Auburn. We don't get validated by the outside world's opinion on recruits. I trust what we see. We're not trying to impress anybody."

  • On the influence of Charlie Pell, who coached at Florida when Chizik was a walk-on linebacker: "He was a tough guy, ran a great program. I've been around a lot of others, too. That had an influence on me, yes."

  • On Emory Blake and Dee Benton: "Not one of them have taken a snap at Auburn. I'll simply say they're talented guys in our opinion. It's going to take some time for them to get used to doing all the things you have to do to play in this league. Those two have a lot of talent. We hope they can step up to the plate and help our offense this season. We haven't even had a practice yet. Only time will tell."

  • On Auburn's perch in the SEC: "The SEC West is tough. Every week is a dogfight. Our plan is to contend for a championship in everything we do. We don't think that's outside the realm of possibility. The goal is to win the SEC West. In this league, anything can happen. It's not like SEC West championships are a stranger to Auburn."

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is ... someone else.

Auburn hits the All-SEC team

Hey everyone.

Auburn had three players named to the Preseason All-SEC Team.

DE Antonio Coleman is a first-team guy.

OL Lee Ziemba is a second-team guy. I'm a little surprised by that one.

P Clinton Durst is a second-team guy. Not surprised.

All we have are the embers

Thanks for doing your part in making our Thursday night Campfire an overwhelming success.

We had a total of 218 participants, which is a significant increase from Wednesday's event. Thanks for that.

We discussed the new verb "chizzing", a fake Lache Seastrunk was banhammered for nebulous offenses, wino said Auburn will go 10-2 and everyone seemed to agree that more commitments from good prospects would be a good thing to experience.

All in all, I call that a success.

Gene Chizik is the first speaker tomorrow. Since I'll be following him around and talking with AC and Trott, I can't say exactly when blog posts will resume. I plan to have stuff up no later than 9 a.m. and we'll go from there.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: "Hatin' With Jay G" will resume tomorrow on Supersport 930 AM out of Jackson, Miss. I am supposed to hit the airwaves/internet at 7:30 in the a.m.

Campfire reminder

We will be holding "Le Campfire de SEC Media Days, Part Deux" this evening at approximately 9 p.m. CDT.

Be there or be rectangular.

Auburn gets another commitment

Hey everyone. This is a quick note to share: Georgia WR Antonio Goodwin has verbally committed to Auburn. We know this because our friends at AuburnSports relayed that information via text alert. has Goodwin listed as a 4-star prospect.

He has offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee and basically every other major school.

Auburn now has 12 commitments.

NOTE: I altered the time of this post so the top of the AUBURN blog has an AUBURN story.

Tim Tebow is up


  • "No, I don't know who did not vote for me."

  • "We've had the best off-season we've had since I've been at University of Florida."

  • On dealing with the spotlight by coming back to college: "I don't look at it as bad. I look at it as a blessing. I can wear something under my eyes and 90 million people will Google it. I wanted to come back and finish this thing strong."

  • On the backlash of so much attention: "You would like to go to a restaurant without reporters or people taking pictures. There's a lot of positive. There have been a lot of great things. There have been a lot of people who have been encouraged to not have an abortion because of the story of my mom. A lot of people have been encourage. I hope the stories have been an encouragement and not a hindrance on anybody."

  • On what the NFL people have told him: "They said very kind things. I was very humbled. That wasn't much of my decision factor (to return to school). It's something I looked at because Coach Meyer wanted me to do that. (Going to the NFL early) wasn't enough to give up the University of Florida. I don't know what would have been."

  • On not being a unanimous choice for the All-SEC team: "I'm a pretty self-motivated person. I'm not going to run sprints thinking about a coach who didn't vote for me."

  • On Meyer's (alleged) new-school style: "If you look at our team, it's not about a dink-and-dunk down the field. We could do three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust stuff. We have the toughness to do that. We take pride in that."

  • "Our mindset is not to go undefeated. We're not going to be heart-broken because we have a loss and still win the national championship. We'll take that."

  • On not playing Ole Miss this season: "We're not worried about facing Ole Miss or getting revenge or anything like that. We're worried about getting to Atlanta."

  • Should we go ahead and give LSU fans your phone number now?: "I know they'll be rowdy and ready to go when we get there."

  • Why can Mullen be successful at MSU: "His enthusiasm is going to create more enthusiasm. It'll make them hungry. I'll miss our little traditions. The little Friday games we played before the games. I'll miss that."

THAT'S A WRAP. That concludes Day Two of SEC Media Days.

Florida is up


  • Meyer has arrived.

  • "I'm the guy who didn't vote for Tebow." (He wasn't eligible.)

  • "I've never been more anxious to coach a football game."

  • On his expectations: "I want to get through these next two weeks. I don't look much past that. Our goals are the same in 2005 as they are in 2009: Get to Atlanta."

  • "Great things happen when you have an unselfish team. That's what we have going for us right now. Our guys like University of Florida."

  • On Bear Bryant: "Up north, we had Woody Hayes. I obviously followed Bear Bryant. Earl Bruce would often talk about Coach Bryant. I have (learned from Bryant's ideas), but moreso it's Woody Hayes."

  • On the (alleged) need for Tebow to work under center more often: "There's a lot made of that. That concern is not coming from professional coaches. I assure you him playing under center has nothing to do with his draft status with the teams we've talked to. If it would help, we'd do that. He has earned that."

  • "Not one guy calls a play at Florida." (Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen is at Mississippi State now.)

  • On Jevan Snead (who de-committed from Florida to sign with Texas in 2005): "I love Jevan Snead. He has one of the great releases in college football."

  • Florida returns everyone on its defensive two-deep chart. "The best thing we have going is our rotation of depth."

  • Is there anything annoying about Tebow?: "You caught me off-guard here. I can't share them right now because I'm not sure what they are. I'll keep thinking about that as we move along here."

  • Why are Florida-based college teams typically very good? "How have you locked it down?": "We haven't locked it down. A big reason why I think Gainesville is the best job in America, you have a lot of talent within five hours in every direction. The quality of high-school football down there (in Florida) is incredible."

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in a few minutes.

Ole Miss is up


  • "When you start believin', you start achievin'."

  • "I voted for Tim Tebow for first team. My SID, Langston Rogers, will confirm that."

  • On beating Florida in 2008: "We were really down (going into the game). That game gave us confidence, genuine confidence, that we can win. (They lost at South Carolina the next week.) Once we came together as a team, it all fell back to that Florida game."

  • Taking a turn at The Tebow Fountain of Love®: "He doesn't just make promises. (Tebow) puts his team on his back."

  • Is it Tebow vs. Jevan Snead in the league these days?: "I don't want it to be like that with Jevan. It took him a few games to get going, but he's been very, very good since then."

  • "The strength of our team is defensive line."

  • Ole Miss lost three seniors along the OL. "The numbers aren't in line."

  • On being an (alleged) front-runner this season: "At the times we were picked high (at Arkansas), we had some major injuries. You'll see that some major contributors were not on the field. There is some attention. You have to handle it. The way you handle it is to go to work."

  • "I'm excited about it for our players. They're handling it the right way."

  • Atlanta or bust?: "We're in the toughest conference in America. Our staff has been to Atlanta before. Twice. It's a difficult journey. I wouldn't say (Atlanta or bust). You feel like things are getting ready to happen. I wouldn't say it's Atlanta or a downer. I don't believe that."

  • On the SEC's new rule that schools can sign a maximum of 28 players: "Was that because of my number? We don't sign 39 every year. That's not our intention. I wish it was 30, but the rule is the rule. Our numbers are going to work out. We'll be at 25."

  • Nutt was proud of beating LSU last year.

  • Difference between hunter and hunted?: Last year, we had an attitude of we're going to go hunt. We're the hunted now. The great teams expect to be picked No. 1. That's where we want to get to. When you get that much attention, you have to have that much more work ethic."

  • On not getting cocky: "We always talk about being humble. If you're working hard and making plays, you'll get enough attention. We won the summer. We did things the right way. Nobody got arrested this summer, knock on wood." (How awesome is that quote?)

  • Does the WILD REBEL formation give you a massive advantage over the one team on earth that doesn't expect it from you?: "We're very multiple. The Wild Rebel ... gives us a lot of variety."

  • "You can't say: `Vanderbilt: Homecoming day.' Those days are over."

  • Nutt was part of the Coaches To Iraq initiative, which also included Tommy Tuberville. All those coaches, and the soldiers they visited, have the HABOTN's respect. I'm surprised more coaches don't do this.

  • Former Auburn assistant Terry Price is at Ole Miss now. He's coaching defensive line.

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is Florida coach Urban Meyer at noon-ish.

Alabama is up


  • There is much anticipation. The crowd was hushed when told of Saban's proximity.

  • Saban has arrived with his posse.

  • He just pulled the mic down.

  • "It's great to be back to work."

  • "We did have a great vacation. I hope you had a great vacation."

  • "It's very difficult to predict what a bunch of adolescents are going to do. We have 100 of them."

  • We have a winner in the Who Can Say Less With More award.

  • "When I worked with Bill Belichick, we only had one sign in the building. It said: `Do Your Job.' We don't have one individual who can make our team great."

  • He just dissed Andre Smith (indirectly) for being a "blinking light" and undermining the Tide prior to the Sugar Bowl.

  • On quarterback Greg McElroy: "The players like him."

  • On replacing Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell: "I don't think you can really replace guys like those guys." (He later referred to Smith as "Smitty".)

  • On opening against Va Tech in a neutral site ... and doing the same thing last season (against Clemson): "Playing that game over there -- win, lose or draw -- helped our team play on the road. It helps your offseason. The players are more intense about what they're doing because they're preparing for a huge game."

  • Coach, how you doin'?: "Great."

  • You look good: "Thanks." (This was hilarious to hear.)

  • He's discussing Marquis Maze and Rolando McClain.

  • On the SEC West: "There are a lot of good teams and a lot of good returning players. There are some great coaches. Every team in our league, on our side of it, has a chance to win the championship."

  • "Auburn has good players coming back."

  • Urban Meyer vs. Bill Belichick: "Urban is a great coach. They work as hard as anybody we know. We're a blue-collar program, so we have a tremendous amount of respect for that. Urban was like that before he met Belichick. I know I coached for four years with Bill Belichick. I probably learned as much from him ... as anybody I've ever been around. His success proves that what he does, the process he uses, is very effective."

  • He claims to have for Tebow as the first-team SEC quarterback. "Everybody should have a right to vote for whoever they want."

  • Saban made the unusual link between people giving their lives for freedom and being able to vote freely for the All-SEC team.

  • On Tebow in the NFL: "It's a difficult evaluation when you play a little different kind of offense. I'm not being critical (of Florida's offense), but it's different. They have a defined prototype that they evaluate for. Nobody is disrespecting him. It's just more difficult to evaluate."

  • "I didn't expect anything from Julio Jones last year."

  • Does the celebrity ever get old?: "My daddy said: `You only have a problem when nobody asks for your autograph.' If there's not a stir downstairs, I know I'm in trouble."

  • Saban spoke about playing a small role in the upcoming movie, "The Blind Side," about former Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher. "It's not the lines that get you, it's the camera angles. You think they get that in one shot. It doesn't work like that."

  • "The concept of a spread offense is great. It's the multiple (formations) that make it difficult."

  • On Mike Slive's asssertion for teams to stop sniping at each other: "What other people do doesn't affect (what he does at Alabama). I've never been critical of anything anybody else does or says."

  • On Alabama's attrition: "We have a demanding program. I'm not talking about football. We have a personal-development aspect of our program. We create the right kinds of habits. We spend a lot of time and money and effort trying to create ... personal characteristics from the players on our team. We have demands. We have players who don't meet those demands. We have a demanding academic system. There are playing who don't meet that. None of these players are leaving because of the football player they are. I tell the players: `I don't want you to leave, but you have to be satisfied with your role on the team.'" I don't know how these things get out. I only address these things when we start fall camp. We have some players who will be grayshirted and know they will be grayshirted. We have some who will be suspended."

  • "I'm not a big statistical guy."

  • On wearing an LSU shirt for the movie: "I hope our fans understand that it's a movie based on a historical event. It's no disrespect to LSU or anybody at LSU. We have a tremendous amount of respect for our fans at University of Alabama. We wanted to do that in the right way for LSU and the fans at University of Alabama."

  • On Alabama's loss in the SEC championship game: "Florida didn't win the game (because) of our lack of execution. They made the plays they needed to make. That's the way you want to win a game."

  • "You are the conduit to all the fans to the players and the program. We thank you for that."

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt at 11:15ish.

Georgia is up


  • On Knowshon Moreno and Matt Stafford being gone: "Maybe subconsciously, we thought we could rely on those two guys. Everybody has to work."

  • On quarterback Joe Cox: "One hundred six of the 115 guys who went through spring exit interviews picked Joe Cox as the team's top leader."

  • He claims to have voted for Tim Tebow as first-team SEC quarterback. "Maybe there's a mistake in the calculation. Maybe a typo."

  • On if he has talked with Houston Nutt about preseason expectations: "No. When we get to Destin, we talk about family. We didn't get into (expectations)."

  • Why are Florida teams so good all the time?: "There are a bunch of tremendous athletes in the state of Florida -- a lot of speed there. A lot of coaches have taken advantage of that and built a cohesive unit that can win a national championship. For a time there, it seemed like the winner of the Florida State-Miami game was going to win the national championship." (Richt coached at FSU for a long time.)

  • He didn't want to comment on the idea of moving the UGA-UF game out of Jacksonville. "I just want to win that game."

  • Richt went lighter on practice hitting last year. He said that was because of depth problems. He cut back after the first scrimmage. "I knew right away that I had made a mistake. You can't slow down because your defense needs the speed."

  • On future Blackouts: "We may wear black jerseys again. I don't know. If the fans don't buy into it, it's no good. They have to have a spirit of cooperation. After what happened against Alabama last year, I'm not sure anybody would wear black."

  • A different vibe from this year's team?: "Players didn't feel accountability. They felt like they needed to be accountable to each other more than they ever have. I think a lot of players got sick of it themselves and they don't want that to happen again."

  • On his non-conference schedule (Okla. State, Arizona State, Georgia Tech): "It's pretty heavy-duty. We might have bit off more than we should have. It was never out plan that we'd have three BCS-conference opponent. I doubt this happens again anytime soon."

  • On the rising price of good assistants: "You want to pay all of these guys well because of their experience and their competence. We distribute our money pretty evenly. Some schools' pool is a little bigger than others. You just want an atmosphere where coaches like coming to work. We try to create a really wonderful family atmosphere, which I know they really enjoy." (Non answer!)

  • On his defense: "We're pretty stout up the gut. If you're weak in the middle, you have problems."

  • He's now talking about individual, backup players. Blah blah blah.

  • On playing against Bob Petrino: "His history has been very, very successful. (Louisville's recent problems) are probably not a coincidence. He knew what he was doing. He has a scheme that will allow his quarterback to be great. He's like all of us -- prove we're the best in any given year. There have been a lot of instances where in the second season they break out. That concerns me a little."

  • On being the dean of SEC coaches: "Every decision I've made since I've been at Georgia, it's been a decision that I thought would help up in the long run. I wasn't looking for quick fixes. Everything I've done, I was making sure we'd be here for the long run."

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is Alabama coach Nicholas Saban at 9:35ish.

Rogers Redding is up

Hey everyone. Good morning.

It's time to get started.


  • "We're ready to get going just like the players and coaches."

  • Redding has been in officiating for 35 years.

  • "There is hardly anything to talk about."

  • No changes to clock rules this season. "There is a general consensus that we're where we need to be with the clock."

  • On illegal formation: Rather than look for seven men on the line of scrimmage, they're looking for no more than four backs. (I'll describe this in detail later.)

  • If the punter carries the ball outside the tackle box before he kicks the ball, there will be no penalties for hitting him. No roughing. He's still protected from flagrant fouls, but the "special protection" he's afforded in the standard punt formation disappears if he leaves the tackle box.

  • The rules committee now will overhaul rules every two years. Before, they were adjusting things every season.

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is Georgia coach Mark Richt at 8:45ish.

All we have are the embers

Hey everyone. We held a fruitful, enthralling, one-hour campfire on Wednesday night.

We discussed Ben Tate, Tommy Trott's rating, Chris Todd, the Cornelia Marie, most exciting Auburn games and where Tommy Tuberville will coach in 2010.

We had a total of 153 total participants during the hour. That is not a great number, but I failed to publicize the event ahead of time.

We will be convening Thursday night at 9 p.m. CDT.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We will resume live blogging at 8:30 a.m. Thursday with Rogers Redding, the SEC's coordinator of officials.

Kentucky is up


  • "I'm going last today. That's where we're picked every year."

  • "I don't see us slipping on the defensive side of the ball even though we lost some defensive players."

  • "I don't think there's a better corner in the nation returning than Trevard Lindley."

  • "The SEC continues to be the toughest division in the toughest league in the country." (That's a stretch in my mind.)

  • All-SEC quarterback vote: "How could I not vote for Tim Tebow? We couldn't stop him the last two seasons. I'm not the guy. Good luck in your search."

  • On Tim Tebow: "He's about as good a leader as you could expect at the quarterback position. He has the skills. How can that not translate into a guy who plays in the NFL? Some people like to pick holes in everyone."

  • On recruiting in South Carolina: "We'll go anywhere we can to find good football players. Hopefully, our exposure for the past three years has increased our visibility and accessibility. We'd like to build on that relationship."

  • On UK showing patience with him: "There's no question the patience level, in society and college football, is at a low. There's not much patience in society today. Every situation is different. The good news is we have improved the talent level that the untrained eye could see that we had improved. Look how dramatically it did turn in 2006. Somebody had the intelligence and guts to weather the storm. Now we need to climb the ladder. We need to win the SEC championship."

  • Brooks is being asked about specific players. I'm not going to get into that. I seriously doubt you care.

  • On his early-season schedule (UK opens SEC play with Florida and Alabama): We were dealt a tough hand. At least we have them at home. Some of our better games the past couple years have been in Commonwealth Stadium. At that stage of the season, hopefully, we'll be a healthy football team."

  • On Twitter: "I'm an old-school guy who has kinda taken a liking to it. My kids can track where I am. It's worse than having a cellphone on you."

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is ... another team tomorrow morning.

Mississippi State is up


  • Of note: MSU is going back to a maroon helmet this season.

  • Mullen pretended to use Twitter to open his appearance. "I'm only going to answer questions through Twitter or Facebook ... so I can be the cutting-edge, young coach up here."

  • He feels "warmth" in Starkville. They're so loving.

  • "Since I was young, when I was a graduate assistant at Syracuse, I kept a big notebook of things I would and wouldn't do as a head coach."

  • "The excitement for our program has been off-the-charts."

  • He's aiming to sell 40,000 season tickets before the season begins. Mullen said 37,000 have been sold to this point.

  • Reminder: Carl Torbush is defensive coordinator at MSU. He used to coach at Alabama. He also is a Person Of Significance for Auburn assistant Tommy Thigpen. Torbush coached Thigpen in college and they worked together at UNC a few years later.

  • "We're a multiple spread team. I want to make sure the defense has to cover us from sideline to sideline. We're going to create the matchups. That's the spread offense. That's the offense we're going to run."

  • On being like Utah and Florida: "We probably use about 60 percent of our offense each year. We have to make sure we pick the right 60 percent of (the playbook) to match the personnel."

  • Mullen claims to have no starting quarterback.

  • "We're going to be an attacking defense. We want 11 guys running to the ball on every play. Our whole team is going to play that way. We'll play with that great effort." (Ever heard that before?)

  • Mullen is going to coach special teams. "I'm going to run the whole show that way. If there's a big issue on the special teams, we play a game, you come right to me, I'll answer those questions for you."

  • On team goals: "If you turn on a game film and you watch a team, all 11 players, playing relentless football ... that'll be a very successful team. That's one of our main team goal. If we win enough games, maybe you'll come see us play one day. I want you to say: `Did you see how hard those guys play?'"

  • On the Urban Meyer Influence®: "There probably are going to be a lot of similarities between our program and the programs he had at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida."

  • On this being a tough first gig. The SEC is tough, right?: "You walk into that first SEC head coach's meeting ... and you get to see guys you grew up watching. Steve Spurrier? I was a huge Steve Spurrier fan growing up. You know you're going to have a sold-out stadium in every place you play in this league. That makes it easy to get up and go to work every morning. I couldn't be happier with this opportunity. You want to compete against the highest level against the best there is. I'm the only undefeated coach in the league."

  • How do you make up for having little experience at quarterback?: "The best way to combat it is to get the quarterback in a position to succeed. We always had (The freshman version of Tim Tebow) in a position to do the things he did well."

  • Is MSU still relevant?: "It's only been 10 years since Mississippi State was in Atlanta." (His goal is to win the league ... blah blah blah.)

  • Toughest thing about being a head coach: "I had a great mentor in Urban Meyer. Not a lot was unexpected. The biggest adjustment is learning how to adjust and budget your time. You don't know there's any way to prepare until you're in that seat making those decisions. Every day is a learning experience."

  • All-SEC quarterback?: Believe it or not, I voted for Tim Tebow. I spent more time with Tim Tebow than I did with my own wife. I don't expect my love for Tim Tebow to change just because he's on the other sideline. (Playing against Tebow) is going to be fun."

  • Mullen said playing Florida will be "fun."

  • "Nobody is staying the same in this life. You're either getting better or you're getting worse."

  • On why the spread is so popular these days: "The spread offense -- people have looked at it and seen the advantages in history. Defenses have to account for that quarterback. People find that the great equalizer. That makes the defense defend all 11 players."

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is Kentucky at 4:15ish.

Vanderbilt is up


  • On his schedule, which doesn't include an off week: "It just worked out that way. I'm really not happy about it, but there wasn't anything we could do to avoid it."

  • More on the schedule: "It's a challenge to play 12 straight games. You have to prepare for it. You have to be smart in the preseason and work on depth. You have to be smart with any kind of contact you have during the week and the length of practices. There's a risk of injury. There's a risk for fatigue."

  • Repercussions of the 2008 season, which included a bowl win: "It was very enjoyable. Hopefully, our players now know what it takes to get that point and continue to do that."

  • Did you vote for Tim Tebow as the SEC's first-team quarterback? "You're looking for the culprit? It wasn't me."

  • On how winning last year translated into recruiting: "We have a fantastic product to go out and recruit with. I think we're being received very well in the recruiting battles. We think we've recruited pretty well the past two or three years. We'll still have to project guys. Those things still have to happen. We're much better on the food chain now as far as recruiting is going."

  • On silencing some critics with the 2008 season: "It was satisfying and necessary. We probably had chances the two years before that and didn't quite get it done. It is satisfying, but it's not satisfying enough."

  • On opening with LSU: "We've got some tough duty (doody?) to go through."

  • Did you earn respect with the 2008 season?: "We weren't seeking respect. We wanted to do the best we could. We're not an automatic win (for opponents) anymore. I'm not motivated by people patting me on the back and say we're getting better."

  • What did the 2008 season mean to you personally? Please show your senstitive side, Bobby: "It was important for our program to do that. We needed to take that next step. Was there one instance? No. There have been many. There have been a lot of long-suffering Vanderbilt fans. They appreciated the effort of our team last year. That meant a whole lot to me."

  • On SEC expectations: "Everybody is impatient. They want immediate success. I'm glad (Vanderbilt officials) weren't impatient. It's highly competitive. There's a lot at stake. They're willing to make changes to get that done. That's the way of life in the SEC. I'm just glad to be here for my eighth season. Not a lot of people thought that would happen."

  • What is the next step for Vanderbilt?: "The key thing is to maintain our momentum. The sky is the limit for Vanderbilt. When we prove that we can win consistently, recruiting will pick up. We expect to compete for championships. Honestly, we weren't that far off last season."

  • Are you winning recruiting battles against SEC teams?: "We don't pay attention to who offered whom. We just go after the players who we think fit our program. We recruit for Vanderbilt. We don't disrecruit against anyone else. Disrecruit? That's not a very good word, is it? Anti-recruit?"

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up is Mississippi State at 3:15ish.

Arkansas is up


  • He recently hired John L. Smith, former Louisville and Michigan State coach, as Arkansas' special-teams czar.

  • Arkansas has entered into a 10-year deal to play Texas A&M in the new Cowboys stadium.

  • On being closer to have the right personnel: "I think we're really getting there. We have two quarterbacks now who have been in the system. We've really progressed."

  • Arkansas' four best DLs and LBs played major roles last season. "There is no doubt we'll be better. We'll be much more aggressive."

  • On Tim Tebow: "You want to find a guy who is a great leader, a great competitor and a great winner. Tim is all of that. There is no question in my mind that he'll be very successful in the NFL."

  • Petrino is surprised by how few quarterbacks these days understand how to command an offense from under center. He believes the proliferation of spread offenses in high-school ball is to blame.

  • On being more comfortable: "We've done a nice job in the offseason, as a coaching staff, of getting to know our players. I have a staff that has a lot of nice components. It's a two-way go -- the coaches and the players are much more comfortable with what what we're doing."

  • On how Arkansas got Ryan Mallett from Michigan: "I had just got there. Tim Horton, a member of our staff and of the former staff, received a phone call. Mallett was interested in transferring. He's from Texarkana. He has a lot of relatives in the state. He said the first phone call was to us. We got a good understand of what we wanted to do offensively."

  • On his team's weak second-half defensive performances last season: "I have blacked those games out."

  • On the importance of experience at quarterback: "It's critical ... just to experience the speed. You have to train yourself to keep your eyes down field as things are flashing around you. Without good quarterback play, it's tough to win a championship."

  • Did you vote Tim Tebow as first-team SEC quarterback? "I'm not crazy. I probably did."

  • "We'll be better. We'll be a better football team. We need to get into the fourth quarter with a chance to win."

  • Mallett, the quarterback, has lost 25 pounds since arriving last year.

  • On Michael Vick's situation: "I hope he gets the second chance that he needs and does a good job." (Petrino coached Vick with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.)

  • Petrino said Arkansas doesn't use a spread offense. It is a "play-action" offense.

THAT'S A WRAP. Next up: Vanderbilt at 2:15ish.

The Commish and ESPN speak

We have arrived at Media Days. It's cold in here.

It's time for The Commish to speak.


  • He says: "We could be in a time that will be considered The Golden Age of the SEC."

  • He's noting the league's five national championships. That's Auburn swimming and diving, Florida football, LSU baseball, Georgia gymnastics and ... another one. Can't remember now.

  • One hundred fifty-nine SEC athletes won 51 medals in the Olympics. "If the SEC was a nation, we would have finished fourth in the medal count."

  • Fall games brought in 6.7 million fans last season. Led the nation again.

  • Spring games brought in 450,000 total.

  • League had 37 players drafted in April.

  • "That's the end of the brag pack for the moment."

  • "There is no safe harbor from the economic recession. We're fortunate that the league entered into its new television package when it did."

  • "There is no safe harbor from the technological revolution. We worked hard to retain the conference's digital rights. We are about to launch the SEC Digital Network."

  • He said they're upgrading the SEC's website and lots of that stuff.

  • "Secondary fractions ... are not new to the conference or the NCAA. In the SEC, secondary violations are reported to the conference office. We then review them. Every report is sent to the NCAA for a final review."

  • He acknowledged that some coaches assess situations with a risk-reward approach.

  • "Anytime they commit a secondary violation, they put themselves, the program, the conference and the prospect at risk."

  • "The SEC will be the most widely distributed conference in the nation this year."

  • He's rambling about the television deals.


  • He's reviewing all the stuff I posted yesterday ... ESPN's regional distribution plans for the Saturday morning games.

  • The ESPNU games will be televised in HD, though you may not see them in HD because of your provider's limitations. (I know ESPNU is not in HD on Dish Network.)

  • "No games will go untelevised."

  • They're going to create the "SEC Academic Network" ... using ESPN360 technology, they'll launch a site that promotes academic endeavors. (Seriously?)

  • They're showing a video promoting the ESPN/SEC partnership. The montage included a shot of Tommy Tuberville's mug. How long ago this video was produced?

    THAT'S A WRAP. Next up: Robert "Bob" Petrino

Auburn game times announced

Auburn's first two games of the season will kickoff at 6 p.m. CDT.

As a refresher:

9/5 vs. Louisiana Tech, ESPNU
9/12 vs. Mississippi State, Fox Sports Net

Headin' up the road

Hey everyone. Media Days begins today. It's the unofficial start of football around the Southeast (wayward Southeasterners included) and means it's GO TIME here at the HABOTN.

I am headed up I-65 as you read this sentence.

Here is what you can expect today.

12:30 p.m. CDT -- The Commish Speaks
1:15 p.m. -- Anything useful I glean from ESPN's presentation
1:25ish -- ARKANSAS coach Robert "Bob" Petrino
2:25ish -- VANDERBILT coach Bobby Johnson
3:25ish -- MISSISSIPPI STATE coach Dan Mullen
4:25ish -- KENTUCKY coach Richard "Rich" Brooks

I'll be liveblogging without interruption from 12:30 until 5:30.

Please stop by and say hello.

The SEC gets its own network

Hey everyone. The Southeastern Conference and ESPN will be teaming to create the "SEC Network" this fall, though it's far less comprehensive than what the Big 10 has done with its network.

Here's the deal. So you know ESPN purchased the rights to the Saturday morning games. Here's what you didn't know ... those games won't be shown on ESPN.

They'll be on these stations instead*
Birmingham-Tuscaloosa-Anniston: WTTO and WABM
Dothan: WTVY/HD (CBS)
Huntsville-Decatur-Florence: WDZX/HD (Fox) and WAMY
Mobile-Pensacola-Ft. Walton: WJTC (IND)
Montgomery-Selma: WCOV/HD (Fox)
Atlanta: WPCH/HD (IND)
Knoxville, Tenn.: WVLT/HD (CBS)
Huntington, W.Va.: WSAZ/HD (NBC)
Columbia, S.C.: WIS/HD (NBC)
Macon, Ga.: WGXA/HD (Fox)
Dallas, Texas: KTXA (IND)
Phoenix, Ariz.: KTVK; won't carry basketball

The "SEC Network" will carry football games on 13 consecutive Saturdays beginning on Sept. 5. The pre-game show will start at 11 a.m. CDT with kickoff scheduled for 11:21 a.m.

Your commentators will be Dave Neal, Andre Ware and Cara Capuano.

Your studio hosts will be Rob Stone and former Georgia lineman Matt Stinchcomb.

*I have attempted to identify all markets where HOTTIES are represented.

Phillips says he's headed to Auburn

That was quick.

Mississippi OL Aubrey Phillips, who spurned Auburn for Florida State on signing day, has reversed course and expects to play for the Tigers this fall. We know this because our friends at, and ITAT tell us it is so.

Phillips' 2009 availability is in question. Though he has been released from his Letter of Intent with FSU, Phillips will need a waiver from the NCAA to compete this season. I'm not sure that'll matter. It's rare that a freshman can playing a meaningful role along any offensive line -- much less in the Southeastern Conference.

Of note is what Phillips said about his reasons for leaving FSU.

Here's what he told
  • Phillips said he arrived at FSU weighing 340 pounds.

  • He participated in summer workouts and claims to have lost 15 pounds.

  • He said his position coach, former Auburn assistant Rick Trickett, initially was supportive of Phillips' work. At some point, though, Trickett's opinion changed and he became dissatisfied with Phillips' work.

  • ``(Trickett) told me I couldn't sit by the linemen at lunch. He told me I couldn't talk to them or be around them. He told me I wasn't a lineman anymore and the only reason I was part of the team was because of the Letter of Intent."

  • Phillips believes FSU's recent troubles with the NCAA, which resulted in the program drawing probation, will help him earn an eligibility waiver.

    ``If I had known about that probation earlier, I would have never signed with Florida State," Phillips told "I wish I could go back to Signing Day and sign with Auburn the way it should have been."

Auburn adds 11th commitment

Hey everyone. Getting started earlier than usual this morning.

ATH D.J. Howard of Lincoln High (between Birmingham and Anniston) has announced plans to sign with Auburn in February. He made his commitment this morning.

He is known mostly for his skills at tailback, though I suspect Auburn is considering him for a variety of gigs. Defense, perhaps? Howard stands 6-foot and weighs 195. He has enough speed to play linebacker and safety.

Cornerback could be a stretch.

Howard also has offers from Arkansas, Clemson, Kentucky, Mississippi State and a bunch of lower-profile FBS programs.

UPDATE: gave Howard a status boost at some point Monday. He was a one-star prospect at the time of commitment. He was a three-star prospect by day's end. rated Howard as a three-star prospect (out of five) while has bestowed only a single star. As a tailback, though, his skills don't stand out when compared to guys whose careers depend on their ability to carry the ball.

Photo credit:

Weekend wrap-up

Hey everyone. So there were a few (at least somewhat) significant development on the Plains this weekend.

PHILLIPS IN THE FOLD: Of primary interest is Aubrey Phillips, the Mississippi OL who spurned Auburn in February to sign with Florida State. He left the Seminoles' program last week, though, and is basically a free agent.

He was on Auburn's campus this weekend. Phillips is considering the Tigers along with Arkansas these days and, as I understand it, could be eligible immediately. That's assuming he gains the necessary academic clearances from Auburn, the SEC and the NCAA.

It appears Phillips will only be eligible in 2009 if his next school coaxes a waiver from the NCAA.

Phillips was one of the Tigers' primary targets last winter. Those coaches were bummed when things turned around at the last minute. Maybe they'll be turning those frowns upside-down in the coming days.

A word of warning: Though Auburn clearly needs help along the OL, particularly at tackle, I don't believe Phillips is going to be a useful option this season. The Sentinel reported that Phillips is heavier than before. It's reasonable to assume he'll need a year with Kevin Yoxall to get into shape.

That's assuming he signs with Auburn, which is one option.

McNEAL SAYS HE'S IN: Georgia S Demetruce McNeal on Saturday committed to the Tigers. He is the 10th player to pledge his services for the 2010 season and beyond.

He's a 6-foot-3 safety. Auburn needs classically trained safeties. and rate him a three-star prospect, which basically means he's intriguing. Those services haven't had a chance to really assess any improvement (or regression) any of these kids have made since November.

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