Mark Stoops calls it “too much juice.”
The it being his animated sideline displays from time to time often directed at calls by officials with which he might disagree.
Early in Stoops’ time at Kentucky, one of his offensive linemen joked with his head coach that he had too much juice.
“Which means calm down,” Stoops explained with a smile.
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The staff member who was specifically responsible for being that calming presence on the sideline when Stoops was defensive coordinator at Arizona is now Kentucky’s director of performance.
But Corey Edmond declined that extra duty when he arrived at UK.
“He will not do that here,” Stoops joked in 2014. “He’s done with that. So we got some other guys.”
The goal is really to change coaching behavior.
Steve Shaw, SEC coordinator of football officials
Those “other guys” will have to be extra diligent in 2017 thanks to a new rules change discussed Tuesday morning at Southeastern Conference Media Days.
The league is calling it “sideline management,” which in essence means if a coach comes onto the green part of the field to argue a call with officials, he will be flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Two flags and he’s ejected, clarified Steve Shaw, the SEC coordinator of football officials as he went over rules changes for 2017.
“The goal is really to change coaching behavior,” Shaw said.
If a coach stays on the boundary, on the white stripes separating the sideline from the field, he will be given “all of the latitude that they’ve gotten over all these years.”
After his rules discussions in the main media room, Shaw fielded more specific questions from the SEC Network panel, which asked about inconsistent enforcement among other things.
“That was the big concern,” Shaw said. “That’s why we’ve made the specifics if you’re on the field of play, your feet are in the green grass and you’re debating, arguing, questioning.”
Officials are encouraged to interact with the coaches on the sideline to discuss concerns.
Shaw continued: “These guys are the faces of our game. To come out on the field and dispute an officiating decision is a bad look.”
It’s definitely something coaches are going to test. Stoops and Kentucky’s players won’t answer questions about the rules changes until Wednesday when it’s their turn at Media Days, but Georgia Coach Kirby Smart noted it will be a challenge.
“Our coaches are going to hang on to us and make sure we don’t go across that line,” Smart said. “I’m obviously concerned about it at a critical time, but it is the rule, and we follow the rules. And I think as head coaches we’ve got to set a good example, and I think that’s what the rules are in place for.”
Other rules adjustments
While the rule keeping coaches on the sidelines will get the most attention, there were a couple of other changes that fans will want to know, including rules about players leaping and hurdling on field goals and extra points.
The rules committee simplified the rule. Now it says if a defensive player runs forward and leaps or hurdles to block a field goal or extra point, then it’s a foul.
▪ Horse collar tackles have been more broadly defined to include the nameplate area of the back of the jersey. “So if a player grabs, you know, in the collar or in the nameplate area, and we get that immediate snapback, then that is a horse collar,” Shaw explained.
There will be a leaguewide concerted effort to guarantee that halftimes are 20 minutes and no more to speed the game along.
Lions, sharks and bears, oh my
Media Days has been a fairly vanilla event but there have been a few eventful lines and exchanges. Tuesday had a few.
One included Florida Coach Jim McElwain having to answer questions about the frustration of being confused for a naked man lying on top of a shark earlier this year.
“You know, I love the humor in it, all right, and yet, you know what, what it did, that actually not only attacked the university but attacked my family, when you know it’s not you — you know, I bust chops with the best of them now, and yet when it got personal,” he said before trailing off to complete silence in a crowded ballroom.
▪ McElwain had a few less serious lines Tuesday. When asked about his quarterback competition and whether it was decided, the Florida coach replied: “I know we will start a quarterback, I guess.”
On if he’d ever encountered any bears or other wild animals at his vacation home in Montana: “Truth is, it ran through the breezeway of the cabin, and it looked hungry. But I’m not sure who was more scared, us or him, you know?
“So, we got a mountain lion out on the island now that actually kind of worries me a bit, too. But just keep an eye on your pets.”
SEC Media Days
When: Through Thursday
Where: Hoover, Ala.
Schedule of teams
Wednesday: Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas A&M
Thursday: Auburn, Ole Miss, South Carolina