Some of the most entertaining head coaches in all of college football convened in Alabama for the spectacle that is SEC Media Days this week, and we were all better for it. From newcomer Will Muschamp, who speaks fast enough and with enough exuberance to cause keyboards to melt as reporters try to transcribe on the fly, to Les Miles, who never disappoints, SEC Media Days yielded plenty of entertainment, if nothing else.
Mike Slive took the podium first and immediately laid out his plans for college football's grand conference. Chief among them was raising the mandatory GPA from 2.0 to 2.5, as well as the idea of paying an athlete's cost of attendance, above and beyond the bounds of a typical scholarship. Slive hit on other topics, ranging from recruitment rules to NCAA investigations, but it was the extra benefits and GPA requirement that stole the show, and should continue to be talking points for quite some time.
Bobby Petrino talked about his quarterback situation and his former quarterback, Ryan Mallett, giving away Arkansas' hand signals on national television. Knile Davis also bench pressed 430 pounds just before SEC Media Days, so that's something.
Petrino was followed by Muschamp, who talks like a machine gun and has more than enough enthusiasm to go around. Among the topics at hand: Jeff Demps is still fast, oversigning is bad and Florida doesn't do it, and the SEC coaching fraternity is like the Brady Bunch.
Much to the dismay of the reporters in attendance, Steve Spurrier did not show up shirtless carrying a cold beer. He did, however, praise the talent assembled at South Carolina, noting Marcus Lattimore is probably the best running back in the country. And, of course, Steven Garcia came up, with Spurrier laying out his thoughts on the situation and how his young quarterback has been bullet proof in a nice, handy soundbite. "Well, I guess we don't wanna kick him out for stupidity," Spurrier said. Indeed, sir. Indeed.
Dan Mullen pitched Starkville as a vacation destination and zinged Steve Spurrier, saying "Well, I've never played Augusta National, so that can't be right." after the Old Ball Coach had previously zinged Mississippi State's boosters. Yep, just like a big, loving family.
Joker Philips took the podium. Moving on.
Mark Richt still likes fancy uniforms and continued the zinging theme, going at Muschamp for his new-found "I'm a Florida man" mantra. Georgia's backfield is fine, he went on to say. There's nothing wrong with the depth chart at all, if you were wondering.
Gene Chizik talked, but couldn't say a ton about pending investigations and isn't the most entertaining chap in the world anyway, so the room decided to nap.
Derek Dooley hyped up Tyler Bray while comparing coaching him to parenting, which is always a backhand comment, but a compliment nonetheless; he told the room they'd be surprised by Bray's production. Dooley also doesn't mind flaunting Tennessee's budget.
On day three, Nick Saban went through the motions. He was happy, he was angry and his mood changed from question to question. Notable quotes were few and far between, however.
James Franklin was eager and ready for action as another one of the newbies, but had plenty to talk about with the growing buzz surrounding Vanderbilt. He knows his recruiting class is good, though he can't talk specifically about his soon-to-be players, and now has to translate it into ticket sales. Franklin also came dressed to the nines.
Houston Nutt did what Houston Nutt do, delivering what Holly Anderson called a Birmingham sermon while somehow managing to praise the BYU football team. Nutt also has no idea who Jeremiah Masoli is, nor does he want to talk about this fictional scrambling quarterback.
And, finally, the moment everyone was waiting for: The Les Miles Show kicked into high-gear. He was fashionably late, lovably aloof and so Les Miles. Grass diets came up, as did the mid-game turf spread found at the Georgia Dome, and Miles was as amazing as always. If your Internet handle is "Slick Willy," Miles would like you to know your opinion is invalid, as well.
With that, SEC Media Days ended and the realization that college football is upon us sank in. The preseason media show is all but over, and all that's left is real football. Finally.