2013 SEC Media Days power rankings: Bret Bielema challenges Steve Spurrier's reign

USA TODAY Sports

A sports-related event has happened: SEC Media Days is done with for the year. Thus, we must rank things. Coach press conferences it is.

1. Steve Spurrier

The dye-job: fresh, immaculate, and an unnatural shade of brown-red you only find in expensive furniture made from tropical wood.

The pace? Brutal, as in the first five minutes featured Spurrier throwing gasoline on Notre Dame, the inability of institutions to share even paltry sums of money with players, and SEC scheduling inequities. Gigging the Bulldogs? Yes, via mentioning how badly they played against South Carolina and perhaps also by noting their easy schedule. Reminder of how much younger he is than other people his age? Yup, by noting that most of the people at his 50th high school reunion were asleep by 9:30 while STEVE SPURRIER JUST WANTED TO ROCK.

He even said he has two good quarterbacks, setting up the inevitable QB-swapping for the media's convenience.

Rating: Five buckets of range balls out of five.Range_252520balls_jpg_medium

2. Bret Bielema

An utter lack of fear, a florid complexion, and a refusal to not attack every question like a police dog hitting a fleeing cop in a padded training suit? The arrival of Bret Bielema means there is a little bit of Hayden Fry in the SEC now, and we're fine with that, particularly when Bielema goes off on emotional (and totally unsubstantiated) critiques of the hurry-up offense and its alleged safety risks, and then calls his style of football "normal American football."

He also stated he is not a comedian or a scientist, and that's good because John L. Smith claimed to be both, and got within three doors of the reactor room at Arkansas Nuclear One last year before he was stopped.

Rating: Four tallboys in brown paper bags.

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3. Mark Richt

As the dean of SEC coaches, Richt is standing on three "World's Best Dad" mugs out of five by default, but his smug/amiable dad act did add some value: casually noting he'd been on board with the hurry-up before it was cool as an assistant at FSU, confirming that Mike Bobo -- his oft-beleaguered offensive coordinator -- is a very good coach indeed, and that Georgia was five yards away from playing for the national title last year. No big deal, of course, since Richt seems seconds away from nodding into a very satisfied sleep at any given moment, and has for 13 seasons now.

Rating: Three and a half "World's Best Dad" mugs.

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4. Nick Saban

Do we want football to be a continuous game? (I don't have the answers.)

Is Nick Saban happy? (Oh, no, no, no, of course not.)

Did Alabama do anything right last year? (Sure, but that's not what Nick Saban talked about for the first five minutes of his time at SEC Media Days.)

Did he mention pumping gas in West Virginia for his dad as the worst possible theoretical outcome in his life? (Of course.)

Did he equal the fury from previous Media Days? (No, but he did put himself above merely average by noting how the media, 4-17 in picking SEC champions over the last 21 years, would be working in said gas station if it produced that record as a coach.)

Is Nick Saban's father the scariest human to ever walk the earth? (Possibly.)

Rating: Three burnt houses.

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5. Les Miles

I'll be honest: I missed Les Miles live because I was throwing up some bad barbecue. I did go back and watch him, and Les Miles a.) giving some real information re: the Jeremy Hill case and b.) doing a horrendous Australian accent on camera is good enough for two grassy knolls alone. Throw in a third for Miles' ongoing 495-car pile-up of mangled syntax, and 2013 has a want to give the SEC's chestiest coach a good grade for the year's media session.

Rating: Three grassy knolls.

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6. Kevin Sumlin

Almost an afterthought, since Sumlin addressed those who weren't stuffing themselves into the smaller TV and radio rooms to listen to Johnny Manziel. Used a lot of words, didn't say much with them, and in college athletics that's a passing grade for a coach desperate to avoid controversy and simply run out the Media Days clock.

Rating: Two and a half beveled Ts.

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7. Will Muschamp

Earned the "Most Excited" award for using the word 12 times in his opening monologue/assault on the senses. (Nick Saban, for the record, did not use the word once.) Ripped through the entire depth chart in a 2,576-word opening statement and played ball control by stretching that out into well over half the allotted time. Said little of controversy; confirmed he had never been to Big 12 Media Days, since he coaches in the SEC.

Rating: Would have earned three muzzled dogs out of five, but someone's got to punish him for nearly killing the transcription people on an annual basis.

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8. Mark Stoops

Humble, admits to having no standing in conference, but was loose in the use of the word "excited," a first-year coach's crutch of crutches. Dodged a difficult question about his brother Bob's comments on the SEC's weak bottom, i.e. teams like ... well, Mark Stoops' Kentucky team.

He didn't do anything wrong, certainly, so let's give the man about to take on one of the SEC's most daunting jobs a clean passing grade.

Rating: Two and a half hugs.

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9. Gus Malzahn

Had the second most SEC accent, and is not Gene Chizik, both significant improvements already at Auburn. Lobbed a grenade at Normal American Football enthusiasts by suggesting concerns about player safety in the no-huddle were "a joke." Otherwise, Malzahn was perfectly boring, something Auburn football could use a little of both at the podium and beyond.

Rating: Two bagmen.

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10. James Franklin

Pros: freshly shaved head reflected the lights well. This may not seem like an asset, but after three days of indoor confinement it provided the first thing like actual sunlight.

Cons: bragged about Vanderbilt academics at SEC Media Days, and no one like nerds, James, especially in an Alabama-heavy crowd. It may be a sign of growing confidence at program-building Vanderbilt that he felt comfortable enough to not recruit the room, or that every reporter in the place was sleepy after lunch and just wanted to go home.*

*The latter. It was the latter.

Rating: Two Bob the Builders.

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11. Dan Mullen

Sang "Strangers in the Night" on the way into Media Days in the car (per his SID), and that's far more interesting than anything Mullen said. He did note that Johnny Manziel may have been in the building that day, and that's dry-ass New England humor for you, but being pleasant and unremarkable is what you have to be after losing to Northwestern in your bowl game. (And that's exactly what he was.)

Rating: Two Sinatras (one Frank, one Nancy).

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12. Butch Jones

Unremarkable, save for noting that Tennessee had lost 260 pounds of fat over the offseason. If you find this fat, please return to the Tennessee football facilities immediately. Winter is just around the corner, and you need every scrap of fuel to survive the harsh conditions of an Appalachian January.

Additionally, Butch Jones does look a bit like a Battletoad.

Rating: One and a half Battletoads.

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13. Hugh Freeze

We know he's charismatic -- and allegedly terrifying on the practice field -- but two years running Freeze has talked a streak of mayonnaise at the podium. He did sort of remind us of Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad in this respect, since a man who flourished in Memphis with that genteel a face and public demeanor has to be some kind of secretly ruthless gangster.

Rating: One Gus Fring.

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14. Gary Pinkel

Skipped the event to stop and look around for once in this life, man.

Rating:

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