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SNAPSHOTS: Ziemba has seen agent runners at Auburn

Hey everyone. In talking with Lee Ziemba today, he said something very interesting.

The senior said he's seen agent runners, the guys who do an agent's dirty work, around campus before. How does he know them?

"They usually introduce themselves," Ziemba said.

Isn't that weird?

``You know who you're dealing with," he said, ``and you also know those rules. Not a lot goes unnoticed around Auburn. We know what's going on, what the rules are. Auburn does a great job of telling us."


Josh Bynes said the team has adopted an interesting theme this season.

Eight ain't it.

What does it mean? Strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall developed the phrase to remind players to strive for more than eight wins this season.

``Eight ain't it because eight ain't going to get you nowhere," Bynes said. ``Eight wins might get us to an Outback Bowl or a Champs Sports Bowl. That's not our plan this year. The games we lost -- Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky -- that easily could have changed our season to 11-2. That could have put us in the one of the BCS bowls. Obviously, we didn't finish strong enough. That's why we have to do a better job finishing because eight definitely ain't it."


Ziemba said he looked into the possibility of buying private insurance to protect himself (financially) in the event of injury. One glance at the informational handout ended that idea.

``The premiums are extremely high," he said. ``And it only covers you where you can't play the game again -- not an ACL injury or something like that. I'd have to get a second job (to pay the premiums). I looked at the NCAA policy, too, but once I saw the private premiums, I was like: No."


Bynes was asked about newcomers who have impressed him.

His list included CB Jonathan Mincy, LB/DE LaDarius Owens, LB Jake Holland, DL Jeffrey Whitaker and DL Kenneth Carter.

``(Mincy) has come in and understands a lot of the stuff," Bynes said. ``He's been out there doing his thing. Defensive line, Whitaker and Carter. Carter, for his size, can run. When we do a lot of our sprints, he's up in the front because he can run for his size."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Media Days: LSU

The coach is Les Miles.

  • He has arrived.

  • "Some things, we need to fix and put in the right perspective. We're working toward making real quality adjustments on our team."

  • "We're a better offense. We're stronger; we can run the ball better."

  • "I think we'll be a team that has a very talented, young group of me in there with some veterans that comes together quickly and plays one of the most ambitious schedules." (They're playing North Carolina and West Virginia out of conference.)

  • (Jabbering about his team. Too technical.)

  • On if this is an Alabama-Florida league: ``I don't have anxiety about that. My want is to prepare my team."

  • He likes his 2011 recruiting class. Shocking.

  • On Ken Adams, the former Auburn signee from Enterprise: ``He showed a toughness and an athleticism. He runs very fast, long arms. He's a very, very good defensive end. We expect him to play virtually every game if not start in most."

  • On not messing up games from the sideline: ``I scrutinize the coaching, me and others. In some of those situations, I was prepared for them but ... not the time constraints."

  • They're going to spend far more practice time this season perfecting their two-minute offense and clock-management stuff. "It's not just lip service; we really have changed."

  • On the oil spill: ``I hope the cap stays on. The people of Louisiana -- they handle it by being strong, standing tall, working hard. This is just another example of that. I hope that our government, and the powers that be, give us the power to affect the people. Just to help the people. If they do that, I think they'll be fine."

  • Great question: "Comment on the Western Division, the SEC, from Alabama all the way on down to the Mississippi schools."

  • Thanks, guys. See ya."

  • That's a wrap.

Media Days: AUBURN

The coach is Gene Chizik.

  • He's now at the main podium.

  • On last season: ``We'll never pin success on a number of wins. The foundation of what we were trying to do was extremely important."

  • "We spent the majority of the off-season figuring out how we can be a more consistent football team. That's everywhere on our football team. Look at our offense last year. There are a lot of things we did well. We had some landmarks. What was glaring to us is that we were very inconsistent. There were times when we couldn't run the football. First downs ... there were times when we put pressure on our defense. When you commit to a fast-tempo offense, that's what you do to you defense. There were times on defense when we played really well."

  • "Wins and losses is not something we can pin a number to and say: We're successful."

  • "Lee (Zimeba) is a tremendous Auburn man. He's as happy as he's ever been. He's probably going to break most of the records for consecutive starts at Auburn. We're expecting a big year from Lee."

  • On Bynes: "He played relentlessly through all 13 games. Didn't miss a game. Didn't miss a practice."

  • On Savage: ``He's the epitome of a young guy who fought through so many things ... that could bring you down. He's done everything we've asked him to do. I'm just glad we have him back on the team. The leadership he brings ... is second to none."

  • Is Auburn like Arkansas? "I know Arkansas is returning a very, very good football team. All my effort goes into what Auburn does. I don't know what people are saying. I'm not sure what everybody thinks about the status of Auburn or Arkansas. I don't have time for that."

  • He supports legislation that would prevent players from receiving scholarship offers before their junior year ends: "It's the way recruiting is right now. Technology ... has sped up the recruiting process. Right now, literally you're evaluating sophomore. You're sitting down there talking to a 15-year-old about what it's going to be like 15 years from now. That's really weird. It's like trying to take sand out of the sandbox. It's already out."

  • Does Auburn's offense score too quickly? "When you have explosive plays, it was a different dynamic for us. We scored fast and quick. I'm good with that; that's not a problem. What we need to address that we saw in the offense ... is how can we sustain longer drives. From a team concept, that's where we needed to continue to improve. That means getting first down, driving the football, running the football. We have to do things to keep our defense off the field."

  • On Cam Newton: ``He's done everything we've asked him to do -- on an off the field. When he walks through the door, you can tell he's an athletic young man. The fact that he went to a junior college and was able to guide them to a national championship. That's part of the recipe. He's really, really worked at it ... and a lot on his own. That's what excites me about him."

  • "We recruit against everybody. There's no question that the productivity of us on offense helps us sell Auburn University to a young man who wants to play. There are a lot of things we did last year that we feel were just a glimmer to what we could be. The fact that there are opportunities, the fact that we were an explosive offense ... I think those are intriguing things. I want to make sure nobody outworks us."

  • On Zac: "He eats, sleeps and drinks football."

  • On if energized Auburn fans translates into pressure for the coaching staff: "More pressure for coaches in self-imposed more than anything else. I'm just excited that the Auburn family. It's the same passion and energy and excitement at every place. I wanted to pull the Auburn family back together. The pressure that's involved -- we're in an age when everybody wants to win. Your self-imposed pressure maybe is the biggest part."

  • He said Trovon Reed could play a few roles (wideout, Wildcat). ``We've got to see how fast he develops and see where he feels most comfortable."

  • "We're going to continue to fight every week in the league. It's challenging ... from top to bottom."

  • That's a wrap. For now.

Chizik speaks ... early

Hey everyone. Here is a closed-door run with Your Head Coach.

  • On his summer: ``We were busy with a lot of camps. Recruiting is an op-going process. We've had a ton of recruits coming through. We've had a very busy summer."

  • "We're extremely, extremely excited about August 4."

  • "The majority of our football team have never had ... the same coordinator twice. We were able to keep the continuity of our staff, which was a priority for me. A lot of teams weren't able to do that. We know the players; the players know us. This time last year, we were trying to break the huddle and learn what our team was."

  • On the new guys: ``I met with all the freshmen yesterday. The message was: We recruited you guys and we expect you to play. If you prove to me that you can't, we'll proceed form there."

  • On Zac Etheridge: ``He's very blessed. It's been a journey. A lot of ups and downs. We're going to take this one step at a time. We're going to be very prudent. He has a high level of respect from his teammates. It was big for this team. We'll always be on constant consultation (with the doctors). It will always be hand-in-hand with our medical staff."

  • On almost everyone qualifying: ``That's a rarity. We're looking for the right guy. It was a highly ranked class on paper. We know that. What we're excited about is that they're student-athletes. They've all been doing really, really well this summer. Hopefully, that's the way it's going to be every year."

  • On being near the 85 limit: "We're really close. We're not quite there yet. We brought in 30 and we're still not at 85. We'll be losing a class of 20+ seniors. We have a small class behind him. Next year, we'll be in that same situation where we sign 25 again. We need multiple years like this."

  • On Aairon Savage: "We brought him (to Media Days) because he's a great story. Aairon has a very special place in my heart because of what he's been through."

  • On linebackers: "We'll want to set our three guys in there and say: These are the three we'll play. Last year, it was getting real challenging going two deep. It was a revolving door. We're hoping it won't be like that. You don't know how it unfolds in this league. We're not out of the woods when it comes to depth. We have young guys."

  • On agents: "Our compliance staff ... do a great job of agent education. We've taken extra measures with outside people coming to talk with our guys. We're probably not any different than anyone else. A lot of this has to go back on the young guy. He's got to have an allegiance ... to his university. If they know right from wrong and they choose wrong, they don't really have an allegiance. You have to look at the young man. They know right from wrong."

  • More on that: ``This is not a new problem. It's an ongoing issue that everyone is aware of."

  • On meeting with fans and gauging expectations: "It's been awesome going around talking to all our fans. I know there's a sense of excitement. It seems like to me an extreme sense of excitement ... in terms of how they feel about the future of Auburn football. I think it's rightly so. I'm glad the Auburn people have something to be excited about. Obviously, we have to go on the field and give them something to be excited about."

  • Can Auburn get to Atlanta? ``If you have half the penalties we had at critical times, we win more games. It's that simple. It's a consistency issue. I've been on undefeated teams. It's team chemistry. It's how well your team comes together. There are times in that season where there's the one time when it changes this season. Maybe it's that one loss. Our team changed today. There's a lot of potential variables."


DAY TWO: Wrappin' it up

Hey everyone. That's two days of puffery and inanity out of the way, which means we're past the hump. I'm thankful ... like a South Carolina turkey.

The best is yet to come for you all, of course. Gene Chizik leads off tomorrow morning.

Until then, though, let's review the best of today's drivel.

  1. Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell, pictured at left, revealing that his first job was inseminating turkeys.

  2. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier pats himself on the back for only having one player arrested during his time in Columbia, though he noted the charges were dropped. Why are college players being arrested more often? Spurrier says it's because law enforcement actually enforces the law now.

  3. Caldwell becomes the first SEC coach in history to reference "frog giggin'" when asked about what he did for fun growing up in rural South Carolina.

  4. Georgia receiver A.J. Green's awkward no-comment answers when asked about reports that he attended the spring party in Miami that has piqued the NCAA's interest.

  5. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino reveals that his players must "friend" the team's director of football operations if they plan to have a Facebook page. That allows coaches to monitor what players says on their pages. Gives you that 1984 vibe, no?

  6. Spurrier says he's no longer the coach who gives outlandish answers, explains that he's not winning enough to be that guy.

Photo credit: Butch Dill/AP

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at


The coach is Steve Spurrier.

  • Can you believe he's still here? Not that he'd be fired. I'm talking about him throwing up his hands after all these losses, taking his money and heading for the links.

  • He opens by saying their academics are awesome. He said 13 of 14 seniors graduated.

  • "I don't think we've had but one player arrested ... and those charges were dropped."

  • "Now we need to get past seven wins."

  • He believes USC baseball's championship run can "rub off" on other USC programs.

  • More on the arrest record: ``I do think they're more common now because players are getting arrested for everything they didn't used to get arrested for. Nowadays, as you all know, you go straight to jail if you break the law. There is no room for error. Times are different."

  • On the team in general: "We have belief and hope that our best days are ahead of us."

  • On the offensive zeitgeist: "YOu see a little bit of everything. It starts with your big guys up front. That's what's going to make you a good offense."

  • On Vanderbilt's new coach: "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for him. It appears that Bobby is ready to get out of coaching and do something else. All I know about Robbie is that he's a very enthusiastic offensive line coach."

  • Is USC what he thought it would be?: We didn't think we'd step in there and start tearing it up. We don't have tremendous tradition there over the long haul. We haven't done poorly. We just haven't done super."

  • On following funny guys Joker Phillips and Robbie Caldwell: "I'm not worried about that at all. I don't think I've won enough games lately to have any outlandish quotes. You win a bunch of games, it's easy to give all the answers up here. Right now, I'm just a ball coach."

  • On the NCAA releasing each coach's APR rating: "I think it's a pretty good idea. I never thought I'd get as big a bonus for our guys graduating as I did for the bowl game. I didn't even know it was in (the contract.)"

  • On the perception that he doesn't get along with QB Stephen Garcia: "I'm just trying to express what he needs to do to help our team. Maybe he's playing the best he can. If you don't have enough player to put in there, you move on."

  • On Wesley Saunders, the USC player, who may be involved in the Miami trip: "He went on a trip with several players to Miami on spring break. The question is: Who paid for it? I talked to him briefly. He told me that he's done nothing wrong. We'll let it play out."

  • On the other SEC coaches: "Some of them I like more than others. Some of them are my buddies. Some I don't talk to very much."

  • On if he's scripting more plays now: "We script them in practice. I probably do more scripting stuff than we used to do. When we were at Florida, we'd just start calling 'em and see which ones work. It's not really that complicated."

  • On if he misses Lane Kiffin: ``The former Tennessee coach? I didn't pay much attention. We have our own problems at South Carolina."

  • On if he's changed the attitude at USC: ``Our attitude around there hasn't changed to where we hoped it'd be."

  • Regret leaving Florida? "I love Florida and always will, but I had been there 12 years. At the time, I thought I wanted to coach in the NFL five or six years and that would be the end of it. The NFL is good for a lot of coaches. They could sit in the film room or video room and watch tape all afternoon and love it. They do this year-round. I can't do that year-round."

  • That's a wrap.


The coach is Robbie Caldwell.

  • "It was bittersweet when Coach Johnson retired. I'm just so tickled for him ... he has his health."

  • On Johnson's resignation: "None of us had any idea."

  • His family only heard that Johnson had retired; not that Caldwell had been named interim coach. "You can imagine how they all settled down (once his family learned the full story). We finally got to celebrate the situation."

  • On him being an interim guy: "People make more of that than they should. If it's two days or 20 years, I can say: Hey, I was a head coach!"

  • His lifetime goal (as a youngster) was to be a high-school head coach. ``I never dreamed of (being a college) coach until a few years ago. This is the greatest thrill of my life -- other than my child being born."

  • On if this is a fair situation: "Absolutely it's a fair situation. All they've told me is that they're behind me 100 percent. All I know how to do is work. I'm in place and ready to go."

  • On if he's been congratulated by fellow coaches: "Naw. They don't know me. They have no idea who I am. Coach Spurrier does; we have a little bit of a relationship."

  • "I go from lining the field to head coach in the SEC. I still walk in places and they don't know me. Last night, I held the door open for people and they gave me a tip."

  • On if he'll continue Johnson's no-profanity rule: ``I'm no angel."

  • "I know y'all can't tell it, but I have an education."

  • "I can't be the positional coach and be the emotional, hootin-and-hollerin' (guy) and be the head coach. I need to be even-keeled. I can do that."

  • On growing up in Pageland, S.C.: "You had to like watermelon. It was the watermelon capital of the world, or so we proclaimed, and you had to like huntin' and fishin', frog giggin', I was scared of girls ... and you had to play sports."

  • His first job at the turkey farm?: "I was on the inseminatin' crew."

  • On Rajaan Bennett, the top recruit who was killed in his home earlier this year: "I hate that the world is not going to know Rajaan Bennett. It was a tremendous tragedy."

  • "We feel pretty good about where we're headed."

  • "I'm a country boy; I enjoy my roots. I'm not an angel. I wish I could say that, but I have my faults. Just ask my wife. I've been preparing for this day. I wasn't consumed by being a head coach, but I listened and watched."

  • "Y'all are human just like me. I don't think any of y'all are from outer space."

  • He said domestic turkeys are so dumb that farmers have to use sprinklers during the summer to keep the turkeys from smothering each other. "I guess that's why I work so well with them."

  • On the cultural shock when he first arrived in Nashville: "It was a big adjustment for Vanderbilt! I brought a little flavor."

Media Days: GEORGIA

The coach is Mark Richt.

  • The SEC people already have warned us ... no questions about the NCAA inquiry.

  • On moving to a 3-4: "Players were asking, What position do I play? We're trying to get everybody in the right place. Now, We think we have them in the right place. It's about learning the position."

  • On Bobby Bowden not being a coach any longer: ``He won't be out of college football. He'll be at a lot of football games. Everybody wants him to be at their games."

  • On the next trend in college offense: "It'll be whatever the winning teams are using. I believe you can win running anything. The thing that's important is your personnel. If somebody does something and wins with it, wins on a consistent basis, people will gravitate to it."

  • He supports APRs associated with individual coaches being released. "Ours is going to be very good. We've done a great job with that."

  • On allegedly being on the hot seat: "I can control my attitude. I can control my effort. That's what I can control. The things I can't control? I trust in the Lord for that ... just as I have since 1986."

  • On Damon Evans' demise: "I'm very saddened by what happened."

  • That's a wrap.

  • BONUS A.J. Green says: "This team right here is pretty special."

  • BONUS A.J. Green says of ever traveling to Miami, Fla.: "I really can't comment on that issue right now."

  • "It's not my place to comment on that. I don't feel like I need to."

Media Days: ARKANSAS

Welcome to our first team of the day. They have a really nice stadium and the school was built on a hill.

The coach is Robert ("Bob" or "Bobby") Petrino.

  • Get ready for excitement here. Always a gas, Petrino.

  • On Ryan Mallett: "He's a young man who is a tremendous leader for us. Every week ... he makes two or three throws that make you say: Wow. Nobody else in the country could have made that throw."

  • Their top four receivers are back, though all the back-up guys have graduated. So it'll be freshmen along the second team. That's interesting.

  • Petrino notes that Mallett is something like former Louisville (and NFL) quarterback Brian Brohm. "Brian was really about timing. He doesn't have the arm strength Ryan has. Ryan is a little bit different in that he has the big, strong arm. We actually have to tone him down a little bit ... to tell him not to throw that fastball every time."

  • On what they learned from losing close games last season: "We have to play well on the road. We made a huge step forward when we played at Florida. They don't have to do anything extraordinary; they just have to play Razorback football. We know that the majority of the games are going to come down to the fourth quarter."

  • "I'm not saying we're going to be a ball-control team. What I do believe is: How well you run the ball in the third quarter and fourth quarter -- and how you defend the run in the third quarter and fourth quarter -- makes the difference in those close games."

  • He supports legislation that prevents high-school players from receiving offers before their junior year ends. ``There has to be a lot of thought into it. Will it be a verbal offer or a written offer? A written offer comes out of our office. I can track that. I've never liked the early commitment part -- the way it's changed in the last 10 years."

  • "I like high expectations. You want people to think you're going to be good. You want your players and coaches to be driven by that. I think it's a good thing. The one thing you can't do is shy away from it."

  • On putting Mallett on the cover of Arkansas' media guide ... alone: "The one thing I wanted was for me to not be on the cover."

  • On pimps agents: "It's a concern every single day for coaches. We try to educate our players ... what does an agent do? It's up to us to help them with it."

  • On social media: "It's something we've spent a lot of time educating our players about not doing something stupid. Everybody on our team has to let (the director of football operations) be his friend. There have been times when we had to bring young men in to take something off his Facebook page. It's a new part of the world. I'm confident our players ... will do what's right."

  • On having an off week after playing Alabama: "We messed that up, didn't we?"

  • That's a wrap.

  • BONUS Ryan Mallett says "I didn't want to leave after one season. I didn't think that was ethically right."

  • BONUS Ryan Mallett says "I had an OK year last year."

  • BONUS Ryan Mallett says "I'm obviously not a runner. I move around in the pocket."


He's the coordinator of officials.

  • We'll soon learn what the points of emphasis are this season.

  • He looks just like Hal Baird. It's uncanny.

  • The NCAA has gone to a two-year, rule-change process. It takes two years now. (ie rules are changed/adjusted in odd years only)

  • This is the "off" year, so there are no rule changes to discuss.

  • However, changes can be made if player safety is at stake.

  • It is now illegal to form a three-man wedge to block for the kick returner on a kickoff. We're talking about wedge guys being shoulder-to-shoulder and within two yards of each other.

  • It's a 15-yard penalty (from the spot of the foul).

  • "What we're telling coaches is: Get that third man out of there."

  • Players who are injured in a game and the game is stopped for the injury, cannot return until medical personnel clear him.

  • The replay booth is now using an HD feed.


DAY ONE: Wrappin' it up

Hey everyone. The first day of puffery and inanity has ended. What was worthwhile?

I'm glad you asked.

  1. Nick Saban referring to predatory agents as "pimps."

  2. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen responding to indirect criticism from Saban about the spread offense (favored by MSU) not helping players develop NFL skills. ``I've coached the spread offense and I've had a lot more first-round quarterbacks drafted than he has in his career as head coach."

  3. Commissioner Mike Slive discussing new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and noting that his "predecessor left to return to his western roots." It was a humorous, though diluted, shot at Lane Kiffin.

  4. Florida coach Urban Meyer also taking an indirect shot at Kiffin by praising Dooley as a "high-character" guy ... and how that's a "nice change."

  5. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen saying he'd be happy to expand Scott Field ... as soon as they generate enough fan support to fill the current capacity.

  6. Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey, whose brother allegedly took a payment after the SEC Championship game last year, saying the allegation "ruined someone's name" and seemed sullen about the whole thing.

Media Days: FLORIDA

The coach is Urban Meyer.

  • He'll be here ... unless he changes his mind.

  • On resigning for one day last year: "Some things that went on behind the scenes that led to that. So regrets? No."

  • On someone suggesting that agents be kicked off campus: ``It's one of the most ridiculous statements I've ever heard. They're not on campus. If they are, they're hiding behind bushes."

  • "We've reached a point where the size of college football now is really overwhelming. We have to do the right thing."

  • On Maurkice Pouncey: He said he learned about the accusation five or six weeks ago. ``I went right to compliance and went right to Maurkice. He said he didn't do it. We stand by Maurkice Pouncey."

  • "I have a lot of respect for the new coach at Tennessee. He's a high-character guy. It's nice to see that."

  • On the stress of being a college football coach ... in relation to talk that his one-day resignation was related to stress: "The issue was knowing that something was wrong and what was that? That's been solved. The stress of having a health issue has been relieved."

  • On the future of the spread offense: ``(Strategy) has a cyclical movement."

  • On if the problems that prompted his resignation will reoccur: ``I was in my third year of having some pain that was undiagnosed. It's now diagnosed. I'll just have to maintain a balance that had gotten out of whack. It's a new season. I don't have that same concern."

  • On Dan Mullen's allegedly forward demeanor: "I think he just gives very direct answers ... and very intelligent answers."

  • On Saban calling agents pimps: ``I'm not sure what else you can call them. I call them predators."

  • On possibly cheering when Lane Kiffin's USC program was slapped with NCAA sanctions: ``I'll let the Commissioner speak to that. No comment. Sorry."

  • Meyer was smiling while delivering that last quote.

  • That's a wrap.

Media Days: KENTUCKY

The coach is Joker Phillips.

  • Biggest difference between being Coach In Waiting and the actual head coach: "The hard-core decisions and being responsible for those hard-core decisions."

  • He's talking about hiring assistants. Same ol'. He wants recruiters, teachers and guys who "have the juice." He wants passion and enthusiasm.

  • On trying to recruit South Carolina, which UK has been doing for a while now: ``Absolutely. We cannot stop going into South Carolina. We have guys from South Carolina, which makes it easier to recruit guys in South Carolina."

  • On offense, where it's headed in the college game: ``I see it staying about the same. In the high schools, you're seeing more athletic quarterbacks. There's not as many pro-style guys."

  • On Tee Martin as an assistant: "The No. 1 thing is that he understands Facebook."

  • He then praised Martin for being able to relate with players quite well considering his age. ``He is not that far removed from winning a national championship."

  • "We are the only (SEC) team with a head coach that's undefeated."

  • On monitoring his own players' Facebook pages: "We don't want them to put anything out there that's going to embarrass them."

  • On what he learned from Rich Brooks: "Best advice was: Don't listen to the noise. It's the media. It's the fan. You just have to go about your business. We do speak periodically. In some of those fishing holes where he is in Oregon, he can't get service."

  • "Joker" is not his real name. It's Joe. His grandfather bestowed that name upon Joker.

  • That's a wrap.


OK. On to the next team ...

The coach is Dan Mullen.

  • He opened by telling everyone they had 10 seconds to ring their cowbells. Crickets.

  • He said Auburn has "a ton of talent."

  • He refers to Ole Miss as "the school up north."

  • "Our guys believe in how we played last year. They now believe they can beat any team in this league. We have to bring that drive every week and win those games."

  • On how long it'll take to get MSU to Atlanta: "This December. That's the plan. I don't show up on Sunday saying we're not going to win this one; let's prepare for another one."

  • He said MSU has crossed at least one player off its recruiting list because of things recruits have posted/said on their Facebook pages.

  • On if his spread offense hurts kids' NFL opportunities ... as Nick Saban implied: "I've had a lot more first-round draft picks than he has. It does develop players to get there (the NFL). I also coached the NFL Rookie of the Year last year ... in Percy Harvin."

  • He supports legislation that players shouldn't be allowed to receive offers until after their junior year ends.

  • On stadium expansion in Starkville: "The biggest part for us is making sure we have enough fans to fill the stadium. It would show a lot of our local players than they don't have to leave to play big-time college football. That would be something for us."

  • On Chris Relf, G.W. Carver graduate: ``Before, when I got there, Chris thought he'd just show up when the meetings start and play football and go home. The last offseason, we had to push Chris. Your quarterback position isn't the one you should have to push as a coach. I couldn't tell you one time this offseason where I had to tell him -- you have to pick it up."

  • On recruiting against Ole Miss: "It's a tough battle. One of the big things for me and our staff is that we have to get the best players in Mississippi to come play for us. Ten years from now, it's still going to be tough."

  • Why call it The School Up North?: "It adds to the rivalry a little bit. It means an awful lot to people in the state of Mississippi. That is a very, very important game to the Mississippi State fan base and alums and fans everywhere."

  • That's a wrap.

Media Days: ALABAMA

Hey everyone. It's almost time to start with the annual Media Days buffet of puffery and inanity. I hope you enjoy it.

POINT OF ORDER: Internet here at the Wynfrey Hotel is down. I am on cellular broadband ... along with a lot of people. It's slow. Bear with me.

The coach is Nick Saban.

  • He is here.

  • He claims to be thankful for the "self-gratification" us reporters give his players.

  • He said he doesn't want to talk about last year. "We're not really defending a championship. A championship is part of history."

  • Alabama lost 11 starters, a punter, a kicker and its top kick returner ... though he was one of the 11 starters, too.

  • "Even if we had all the ingredients back, it would be difficult to manufacture the same chemistry."

  • "Every team in the West is going to be better than they were a year ago, in our estimation."

  • On the Dareus situation: "Our compliance people are looking into it in conjunction with the NCAA. We're going to find out."

  • On agents in general: "It's entrapment of young people at a very difficult time of their life. As college coaches, we should look into that. We treat the NFL as well as anybody when they come to University of Alabama. If something doesn't happen ... I'm not sure that same hospitality will be welcomed in the future."

  • "It's not a good situation. It was a bad situation for Reggie Bush at Southern Cal and it's a bad situation all around. We should all drive the speed limit because it's for everyone's safety. I'll be honest ... I drive the speed limit because I don't want to get a ticket. The agent should have consequences. Right now, they don't."

  • On the fans' expectations: "I wouldn't want to somewhere where they didn't have high expectations. I just ask that they be realistic. Our positive fan support has been a real asset of us turning around the football fortunes at University of Alabama."

  • More on agents: "It's not really the NFL; it's the NFLPA. It's something that's affecting college football in a negative. It's not in the best interest of the young people. It's not really good for anyone. I don't think it's anything but greed that's motivating them."

  • "How are they any better than a pimp?"

  • He visited the Gulf Coast recently. He went "quietly" to provide support. I think he meant emotional support.

  • More on agents: "A player's best resume is the way he plays. He doesn't really need an agent until the season is over."

  • That's a wrap.


Hey everyone.

I forgot that Mike Slive, the SEC's commish, is speaking first.

So let's hear what he has to say:

  • The 86 Southeastern Conference games played last season drew 6.5 million fans. That's a 76,000 average.

  • The SEC had 49 players drafted last season.

  • On disciplinary troubles: "The problematic behavior of few casts a dark cloud over many."

  • He goes on to discuss players who have done great things. First up was Jordan Anderson, the Auburn swimmer who was named a Rhodes Scholar.

  • He acknowledged the Alabama/Dareus situation and provided a little information about how the SEC requires the school to provide an extensive review. "It's difficult, if not impossible, for institutions to know what might have taken place."

  • "It is time to re-examine the NCAA rules that relate to agents. This is a national problem that requires a national agent strategy for agents -- from enforcement to an assistance-based issue."

  • "We in the SEC look forward to being active participants in this review."

  • On expansion: "As it turned out, the paradigm shift never materialized. In the future, there may be continued interest in conference expansion by some."

  • He spoke/memorialized Myles Brand, the NCAA president who died suddenly last year.

  • This will be Slive's ninth season with the league.

  • That's a wrap.

Etheridge speaks

Hey everyone. Zaccheus Etheridge, whom you may know better as Zac, was gracious enough to call me a few minutes ago. Here's what he had to say.

  • On the general situation: ``I'm very excited. I couldn't be more happy than I am right now."

  • On if he had a sense about the doctor's opinion prior to the tests: ``I kind of had an idea, yeah. I didn't go in with a negative thought. Not one negative thought. I went in there feeling positive about it. I knew I had been feeling great."

  • He was given an MRI scan, a series of tests to assess the strength of his neck muscles and an x-ray.

  • He has been meeting with his Birmingham-based neurosurgeon, Dr. Swaid N. Swaid, once a month since the initial injury.

  • On when he began to feel good about his chances to play again: ``Once I got out of the brace, it was all uphill. When the doctor told me that I didn't need surgery, that my body fixed itself, I knew I was in good shape."

  • On if he would have considered hanging it up even if the doctor provided clearance: ``No. I never considered not playing. I've been telling everyone that I was going to play again regardless. I can't stop now."

  • On the psychological toll the injury will take during two-a-days: ``I'll be dealing with that for a little while. It's that way with anyone coming back from an injury. Once I put my hat on somebody and get that first good hit, I know I'll feel good about it. I know there's going to be some tough days when I first get out there. I'll get through it."

  • On if he's currently ready for the rigors of camp: ``I've been working out, running, lifting weights. I'm in good shape. There's always a little time in there beginning when you get used to the helmet and the weight of the pads. It'll be just like any other season, getting ready for the season."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Etheridge cleared

Hey everyone. Safety Zaccheus Etheridge, often referred to simply as "Zac," has been deemed fit by physicians in Birmingham. He is expected to play this season.

The Troy native missed Auburn's final three regular-season games, the Outback Bowl and spring practice after suffering a serious neck injury against Ole Miss. He was forced to wear an invasive neck brace for three months.

Still, those days appear over. Etheridge said he'll play this fall.

``This is certainly quite a boost for all of us," defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. ``He was so tough about it -- he never sulked, never had that poor me attitude. He knows what he wants to do and he did everything possible to make that happen. It's inspiring it what it is."

Auburn lands six on the Preseason All-SEC team

Hey everyone. I'm headed to the Montgomery Kiwanis Club meeting momentarily (Thanks, Phred!) and I'll be joined there by Ted Roof. Should be fun.

The news at this hour is that six AU players are on the coaches' Preseason All-SEC team. Here they are:

LT Lee Ziemba (legit)

WR Darvin Adams (behind AJ Green and Julio Jones; legit)
C Ryan Pugh (behind Mike Pouncey; legit)


MLB Joshua Bynes (should be on the same team with Stevens)


SLB Craig Stevens (should be on the same team with Bynes)
CB Neiko Thorpe (legit)

** SOMEWHAT RELATED NOTE (has to do with an Auburn player): Zac Etheridge just finished his diagnostic MRI in Birmingham. He's meeting with doctors today to make a final determination on his fitness.

** UNRELATED NOTE: Dont'a Hightower on the first-team defense? Seriously?

Jacobs speaking for all?

Hey everyone. As I mentioned in the comments section earlier today, I got a good laugh from something Jay Jacobs said during his Q-and-A with Columbus Ledger-Enquirer ace Andy Bitter.

What's so funny? This section, which deals with the athletic department's apparel deal with Under Armour:
"It's been fabulous. It's been great for us. And it's been great for Under Armour. And we'll renegotiate that contract with them and hopefully extend that sooner than later."

It doesn't take much searching to find someone at Auburn who isn't thrilled with the apparel deal. Under Armour is a non-player in the world of college basketball, where top prospects become aligned with shoe companies at an early age. College coaches also are aligned with shoe companies -- and there's often a commonality there when players sign with schools.

Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger wrote an entire book about this subject.

Tony Barbee is a Nike guy. Always has been. Now he's at an Under Armour school that gleefully signed away all flexibility associated with its shoe contract. So Barbee now is, in some ways, the odd man out at prospect camps that often are sponsored/funded by shoe companies.

(Read: Nike and adidas.)

Here's what Barbee had to say about this situation in May:
  • Will you have any flexibility with the deal? South Carolina is Under Armour, too, but (Darrin) Van Horn was able to strike an independent deal with Nike.

    ``The Under Armour deal is an all-school deal. It's already in place. That's where we are."

  • Does that complexity to your recruiting tasks?

    ``It does just from my perspective because I've always been with Nike. All my relationships and contacts are there. In college basketball, unlike any other college sport, show companies have a big influence on where prospects end up. This (the Under Armour deal) adds a different dynamic for me because it's outside my comfort level, where I've been."

  • Is there any way you can get out from under that?

    ``To my understanding, we're with Under Armour through 2015-16. That's a ways down the line."

  • Does that create a backlash against you and the program from the Nike people?

    ``They understand that I have no options, that I have no choice with it. I hope it's not a problem. This business is about relationships -- not just with the sneaker companies. It's recruiting, coaches, AAU coaches, contacts. It's about building relationships and maintaining them. I'll stay close with those people even if Auburn is with with Under Armour. Even though you may not get the first (prospect), you may get the second one. You never want to burn bridges."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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