Live coverage from Birmingham, where SB Nation is taking in the spectacle of SEC Media Days.
Derek Dooley bounds up the steps to the dais and thanks a roomful of journalists for their work promoting college football, with his trademark deprecatory wit: "We've certainly done our part in giving you material to write about over the last year, but that's what a good relationship is all about." More from Precious at the podium:
• On Tyler Bray's ever-entertaining tendency to improvise his more spectacular throws: "It's a little bit like parenting. They don't do what you want, but then it works out, and you go 'Well, that wasn't so bad after all.'" On Bray in 2011: "I think we're all gonna be impressed with what his production is."
• On interim AD Joan Cronan, Pat Summitt's boss and now his: "Joan has been phenomenal." On finding Mike Hamilton's permanent replacement: "I am not involved in the hiring process, nor should I be, because that's gonna be my boss."
• On injured and essential linebacker Herman Lathers: "I don't know when he's gonna be back, and I can tell you this: It's not any time soon."
• On Tennessee's depth issues: "We can't complain about our numbers anymore. We got enough bodies to go out there and put a football team together. The only thing we have right now is youth." He estimates Tennessee's roster to be composed of 70% freshmen and sophomores.
• On Commissioner Slive's proposal to make athletic scholarships multi-year awards, Dooley points out that academic scholarships can be revoked for poor performance, so he doesn't see why athletic scholarships should come with differing standards.
• On recruiting services: Dooley says he cut $50,000 from Tennessee's budget for video scouting his first year, and $25,000 his second year, because of his impoverished coaching background at Louisiana Tech: "My instinct was to cut money, and then I realized we had a hundred million dollars, and I was like, 'Why did I do that?'" Still, "We spend a lot of money on it. I dont apologize for that. We recruit all over the country."
• Asked about recruiting regulations, Dooley gets on a bit of a tear: "Things aren't level. Things aren't equal. That's just the way it is." Off on one of his patented elocution safaris, he snaps back to earth: "I don't even know if I answered your question."
• Reminded that Steve Spurrier claimed yesterday to have the best back in the country in Marcus Lattimore, Dooley says he relayed the quote to Tauren Poole, and told him he agreed with Spurrier. "He just smiled, and said, 'I heard that, Coach." Poole will tell us later that he watches every guy he competes against ("Every. Guy."), and thinks he's more of a Trent Richardson-type back.
• Last question: "Coach, you had a couple games that ended peculiarly ... " Dooley throws up his hands. "I almost got outta here."