John Clay: 10 takeaways from the SEC media circus

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was surrounded by reporters during the Southeastern Conference football Media Days.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was surrounded by reporters during the Southeastern Conference football Media Days. AP

This intrepid columnist spent three days last week in Alabama having his cranium stuffed with pigskin from near dawn to dusk at the SEC Football Media Days in its sweet home of Hoover.

There were 14 coaches. There were 42 football players. There were 1,239 media members. There were 10 winners.

1. Johnny Manziel: As fate would have it, this intrepid columnist ended up riding shoulder-to-shoulder in a Wynfrey Hotel elevator with the Texas A&M Heisman winner and off-season bad boy. From my vantage point, he appeared (a) smaller than I thought and (b) just fine.

After that, you couldn't get close to Manziel thanks to the media crush. But all in all, he appeared to handle the mosh pit well. As the questions got tougher, his answers got better. And you've got to give the kid credit for showing up given all the off-season controversy he's generated.

2. Bret Bielema: Talk about a house on fire. Big house, too. The new Arkansas coach, formerly Bucky Badger's head coach at Wisconsin, rolled into Hoover full of energy and hard-nosed responses.

Told that Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn thought Nick Saban and Bielema were joking about no-huddle offenses causing injuries, Bielema fired back that he wasn't a comedian as you could almost see his blood pressure rise.

Despite his Big Ten background, Bielema wasn't boring.

3. Jadeveon Clowney: A correspondent from the website asked the android defensive end from South Carolina the name of his "style" and who did his dreads. Another wonderful example of modern-day reporting.

Clowney made some news by saying various quarterbacks are afraid of the 270-pounder who ran a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash recently. But, honestly, did you see "the hit" Clowney delivered on that poor Michigan back in the Outback Bowl? Terrified might be a better word.

4. The SEC: This goes without saying since the only media event that gets more media credential requests is the Super Bowl. For now, anyway.

5. Alabama fans: With the event being held just outside of Birmingham, Bama fans crowded the lobby of the Wynfrey Hotel in an attempt to get autographs, chant "Roll Tide" and exhibit their addictive nature. One wore a large hat shaped like an Alabama championship ring.

Luckily, there were no reports of any tree poisonings.

6. Will Muschamp: Florida's Coach Boom went "boom" on Urban Meyer, sending a shot the former Florida coach's way when asked about reports that Meyer and his current employer Ohio State turned in the Gators for a secondary recruiting violation.

"They certainly know a little about that subject," said Muschamp of Ohio State, which was banned from a bowl last season because of NCAA probation.

Boom, indeed.

7. Mark Stoops: The first-timer may not have been the most entertaining on the podium during the triple-header but he was among the more genuine. He was also interesting enough to elicit a surprisingly large number of questions.

I asked Stoops afterward if he was becoming more comfortable with his media obligations.

"Little bit," he said.

8. Bow ties: There were more bow ties at these SEC Media Days than at a Pee Wee Herman look-alike contest.

Our intrepid UK football beat reporter Jennifer Smith reported that the UK players in attendance had a difficult time tying their bow ties. I recommend this be added to high-performance coach Erik Korem's list of duties.

9. ESPN: The Worldwide Leader televised SEC Football Media Days on ESPNU, and judging from the fan tweets I saw this week, plenty of people were watching.

That reminds me, the launch date for the SEC TV Network is Aug. 21, 2014, at 7 p.m.

10. Mike Slive: The SEC commissioner and all-knowing, all-powerful wizard will go down as the most influential person in NCAA athletics since Walter Byers, who was the body's first executive director, serving from 1951 to 1988.

Slive's next goal is to improve SEC basketball. If anyone can do it, he can.

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