Sidelines with John Clay

SEC Football Media Days links from first day

Florida coach Jim McElwain smiles will speaking to the media at SEC Football Media Days 2016 in Hoover, Alabama on Monday.
Florida coach Jim McElwain smiles will speaking to the media at SEC Football Media Days 2016 in Hoover, Alabama on Monday. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Tuesday:

Jim McElwain doesn’t see Nick Saban slowing down. Michael Casagrande of reports, “Jim McElwain spent a few years in Tuscaloosa. He got a feel for how Nick Saban ticks in his four seasons as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. So Florida’s second-year head coach has a few thoughts on how long his former boss might work before retirement calls.”

Carl Lawson blames Auburn’s struggles on complacency. Mike Niziolek of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports, “Auburn defensive lineman Carl Lawson has spent much of his career as a silent leader letting his work ethic help set a high standard in the locker room. For what could be his final go-around on the Plains early as a projected first round draft pick, Lawson is taking a different approach heading into his junior year. “

SEC coaches go from rock stars to the hot seat. Pat Forde of Yahoo writes, “They will take the podium this week, these battered SEC Western Division coaches, and try to explain how it got away from them. And how they’re going to get it back. On Monday, the first day of SEC media days, it was Gus Malzahn of Auburn.”

Mitch Barnhart won’t say it’s bowl or bust for Mark Stoops. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports, “On a sunny Saturday high atop Commonwealth Stadium, Mitch Barnhart surveys millions of dollars worth of investment in the Kentucky football program. The UK athletics director has spent part of his summer doing meet-and-greets with football season-ticket holders on his corner balcony overlooking the brand new, $45 million practice facility on one side and the expansive stadium renovation on the other.”

Will Muschamp’s former players talked about him at Media Days. The new South Carolina head coach was head coach at Florida and then defensive coordinator at Auburn before replacing Steve Spurrier in Columbia. Josh Kendall of The State reports, “Jarrad Davis came to Florida three years ago as a three-star prospect. In one more year, he might be the first linebacker selected in the NFL Draft, and he credits Will Muschamp with helping him bridge that gap. “

Derek Mason must sell well and knows it. Joe Rexrode of the Tennessean writes, “Up the escalator Gus Malzahn came, cameras jostling to get a clean shot of the Auburn coach, then circling him as he got to the second floor of The Wynfrey Hotel and strolled to the SEC Network set for a live hit on ESPN. He had just been heckled by an Alabama fan on the first floor — the fans are roped off here as if lining up at a trendy nightclub, hoping the bouncer will let them in — and about 20 folks continued filming him as he talked on set.”

Florida is flying under the radar. Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun reports, “There is not even the slightest bit of buzz surrounding the defending Eastern Division champions this week at SEC Media Days. Not a hint. Nada. None. It’s all swirling around Tennessee and Georgia — two teams the Florida Gators beat on their remarkable and unlikely run to the division championship last season in coach Jim McElwain’s first year.”

Florida players ignored the Tennessee hype. Greg Ostendorf of ESPN reports, “The media predictions for the SEC won’t come out until later in the week, but that hasn’t stopped people from talking up Tennessee this offseason. The Vols return 19 starters from a team that won nine games last season, and they were one fourth-down stop from potentially winning the East. But don’t tell Florida that. The Gators were quick to remind everybody at Day 1 of SEC media days that they’re the reigning division champs.”

Family hires put TCU in the mix for UK target. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports, “The recruit-in-the-family college basketball coaching hire drawing all of the national attention this offseason has been Washington’s addition of assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., the father of top-five recruit Michael Porter Jr. Another interesting hire: New Texas Christian head coach Jamie Dixon taking on Corey Barker as an assistant. Barker, who joins TCU’s staff after spending last season at Louisiana Tech, is the first cousin of five-star forward and UK recruiting target Jarred Vanderbilt.”

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