SEC Media Days 2012: Okay, Everybody Out Of Birmingham

SEC Media Days is over and done with, and SB Nation was all over the scene. Texas A&M and Mizzou made their intros, John L. Smith dazzled, and LSU is your preseason pick. Spencer Hall: Day 1 Recap (With Doodling), Day 2 Morning Recap (Yes, Doodling), Day 3 Evening Recap (Doodling, Of Course!)

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28 Total Updates since July 17, 2012
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2012 SEC Media Days: Embedding In The Alabama Fan Horde

After two days and 10 sessions of 2012 SEC Media Days, SB Nation's Steven Godfrey decided to hit a local Wal-Mart, gear up and join the Crimson Tide faithful for a morning.

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SEC Media Days 2012, Day 3: An Ornery Cat Named Nick Saban

SEC Media Days is over and we learned that coaches take the podium much like their teams do.

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SEC Media Days 2012: Mark Richt Dismisses The Congregation (And Troublemakers)

Hoover, Ala. -- The question you'd most like to ask Mark Richt probably has to do with departed players. After losing Isaiah Crowell and suspending at least a handful for the early going, the dean of SEC coaches always finds roster management questions at the ready. But there will be no answers to those questions today. Only cornerback Sanders Commings' two-gamer is official.

Richt has no qualms about his school's especially tough drug policy, which has cost him players and somehow created a reputation for the Dawgs that doesn't square with their actual standards. He says he hasn't lobbied the SEC for a uniform drug policy and calls it "what's right for Georgia."

Georgia is the media's pick to win the SEC East. "We hope the media is right," Richt said, "We hope we get back to Atlanta and hopefully play better this time around. Georgia's got a tremendous opportunity to win the Eastern Division."

Beyond conference title games, Richt has a four-game playoff as something like the ideal format, as he worries about a Florida-Georgia loser still going on to make the championship, thereby stealing some of the meaning from the Cocktail Party. (That's a game that was the CBS main event even during the general bleakness of 2010, so it might take more than a playoff there.)

Double duty man Malcolm Mitchell could play as many as 80 snaps a game later in the year, with Richt noting Champ Bailey played something like 100 during his time in Athens. Aaron Murray isn't with us this weekend, as he's helping out fellow young quarterbacks at an Elite 11 camp

If UGA does make it to the SEC Championship Game, it very well could face hot-armed quarterback Zach Mettenberger, whom Richt kicked out of Athens after a Valdosta bar run-in. "He's a fine young man, and LSU should be excited to have him."

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. John L. Smith
  2. Steve Spurrier
  3. James Franklin
  4. Les Miles
  5. Derek Dooley
  6. Mark Richt
  7. Kevin Sumlin
  8. Nick Saban
  9. Will Muschamp
  10. Dan Mullen
  11. Hugh Freeze
  12. Joker Phillips
  13. Gary Pinkel
  14. Gene Chizik

For more on UGA football, visit Georgia blog Dawg Sports, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills and SB Nation Atlanta.

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SEC Media Days 2012: Hugh Freeze Lighting The Long Road Out

Hoover, Ala. -- "I'm a realist," said Mississippi's Hugh Freeze, perhaps the coach this year's assembly is the least familiar with. "Our program is in a spot none of us are happy with."

And then the recruitment began. Eli Manning still loves Oxford, the Rebels have won SEC championships before, Oxford is the nation's best college town, Patrick Willis and Michael Oher went there, and if the gathered reporters "wanna tweet that out, that would be great." Consider it tweeted.

But by no means is Freeze unaware of his challenge. He talked repeatedly about renewing accountability and various beatitudes in a messy program. At least attrition shouldn't be anywhere near what some had feared, thanks to a major reshuffling of the athletic department's academic protocols. As for the number of players in grades trouble, "We have serious concerns about four kids."

"Winning the day," Freeze said, "is the process of getting out of the wilderness."

It sounds as if at least half the depth chart is solid, despite Freeze's apparent admission that Arkansas State had more depth last year than his new team does. "Defensively, we've got some quality leaders," he said, "and offensively, I think we've got to get more." As expected, Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace will compete for the quarterback job, perhaps even "early into the season." Officially, they're "co-No. 1s." Freeze listed defensive back Charles Sawyer first among team leaders, calling him a workout maniac.

"In 2013, they're on our schedule," Freeze said of South Carolina, whose coach cracked two days ago that he wishes he got to play the Rebels instead of LSU. "We will circle that date, and look forward to changing his perspective on Ole Miss football."

But first, the 2012 schedule, which is the SEC's toughest. Freeze finds light even in the impending Longhorns, naming that game as a possible College GameDay destination.

The freshly announced four-year series with Memphis feels like a run of home games to Freeze, as Memphis is as much Mississippi as it is Tennessee. Playing so close also frees up a little bit more recruiting budget, in addition to maintaining Ole Miss' presence the nearest big city.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. John L. Smith
  2. Steve Spurrier
  3. James Franklin
  4. Les Miles
  5. Derek Dooley
  6. Kevin Sumlin
  7. Nick Saban
  8. Will Muschamp
  9. Dan Mullen
  10. Hugh Freeze
  11. Joker Phillips
  12. Gary Pinkel
  13. Gene Chizik

For more on Rebels football, visit Ole Miss blog Red Cup Rebellion, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

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SEC Media Days 2012: Derek Dooley's Reinforcements Finally Arriving

Hoover, Ala. -- "For the first time, we have a settled roster," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley began. "We have a full 85. We are deeper than we've ever been."

Taking on the SEC with an offensive line that boasts more than 100 starts -- instead of one with a mere three -- Dooley is expressing confidence for perhaps the first time. "The SEC has enjoyed taking advantage of our tough times. You're not gonna have Tennessee to kick around any more."

Injuries were a massive challenge for the Vols last year, but Dooley names offensive lineman Antonio Richardson among the players set to make an impact returning from setbacks. "He brightens up a huddle. We played 32 true freshmen the last two years, so he's a wily veteran since he's a sophomore." Linebacker Herman Lathers is another whose post-injury "level of commitment" gives cause for hope.

Firethrower Tyler Bray has made some "lifestyle changes," we've learned, as "you have to live as a quarterback at Tennessee."

"The receiving corps is getting a lot of publicity, and that's a good thing, but we really only have one guy who's been through 12 games in the league," Dooley said of his team's primary attraction, which features studs Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers.

Like Alabama coach Nick Saban, Dooley favors a nine-game SEC schedule, for the sake of familiarity and preserving "what makes this league special." He touts his father's vision of a plus-one playoff game "20 years ago," so of course he calls the new playoff system "healthy."

And you might be surprised to learn "a lot of publications" are picking N.C. State to win the ACC, but that's how coach is selling the Chick-fil-A Kickoff undercard matchup.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. John L. Smith
  2. Steve Spurrier
  3. James Franklin
  4. Les Miles
  5. Derek Dooley
  6. Kevin Sumlin
  7. Nick Saban
  8. Will Muschamp
  9. Dan Mullen
  10. Joker Phillips
  11. Gary Pinkel
  12. Gene Chizik

For more on Vols football, visit Tennessee blog Rocky Top Talk, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

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SEC Media Days 2012: Nick Saban's Only Warning The Big Ten Once (Unless There's A Rematch)

Hoover, Ala. -- Among the biggest laughs so far at SEC Media Days: when Nick Saban hoped during his opening remarks that the assembled media has "all had a nice summer so far." It was a tension-easing laugh.

Saban talked about the challenges of sustained success before reporters had their turn, mentioning the Yankees and Roger Federer among the sporting institutions that have had established themselves as the classes of their trades. For the Tide, which have won two titles in three years and [/counts on fingers and toes] all-time, these are the peers.

In defense of rematches, Saban essentially called everyone insisting on only conference champs in the playoffs a declared enemy of the SEC and of conferences with more than one good team. He cited the NFL and UNC-Kentucky basketball along the way.

Offering a suggestion on Penn State instead of feelings ("I don't really have a lot of feelings," was a popular quote), Saban recommended the school add some sort of a tax on game tickets, with proceeds going to child abuse charities. "Probably not a good idea, and maybe I shouldn't have said it." Seems like a really good idea to me. Also on Penn State, Saban denied that football is out of control at Alabama -- he cited the process (process) for dealing with crimes and violations, but you'd have to agree that even if football isn't bigger than the school for those on the inside, it surely is for many on the outside.

Injured running back Eddie Lacy is "doing extremely well" and expected to be fine for practice. Barrett Jones is one of the "very few" seniors Alabama has this year. The Tide have one of their customary neutral-ground openers against a major conference foe this year. Saban said the Michigan game will enhance preparation, much like all those Chick-fil-A games have.

And on the subject of tough scheduling, Saban has no fear of nine-game schedules. He compared it to the SEC Championship Game, which was supposed to make it too tough for a SEC team to win the national title -- here's more on that line of thinking.

New conference colleague Gary Pinkel ("I know he was up here talking about how he's younger than me"), with whom Saban crossed paths at Toledo, made for a chance to talk about coaches Saban himself looked up to, and thus we had a memorable quote on Saban looking up to "older coaches" like Steve Spurrier. "I was going to consider wearing a visor this year, but I'm afraid I'd throw it."

Also no hard feelings for other coaches around the league ("The idea that you have to dislike somebody to compete against them is not something I've ever bought into") and his proteges-turned-rivals Derek Dooley and Will Muschamp.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. John L. Smith
  2. Steve Spurrier
  3. James Franklin
  4. Les Miles
  5. Kevin Sumlin
  6. Nick Saban
  7. Will Muschamp
  8. Dan Mullen
  9. Joker Phillips
  10. Gary Pinkel
  11. Gene Chizik

For more on Tide football, visit Alabama blog Roll Bama Roll, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

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2012 SEC Predictions: LSU-Georgia Title Game, Tide And Tigers Dot Players List

The media's preseason All-SEC picks are out, with LSU and Georgia picked to rematch in the SEC Championship Game. The complete expected standings, and, yes, Ole Miss did in fact receive one pick to win the SEC this year:

East West Champ

Georgia LSU LSU

South Carolina Alabama Alabama

Florida Arkansas Georgia

Missouri Auburn South Carolina

Tennessee Texas A&M Arkansas

Vanderbilt Mississippi State Auburn

Kentucky Ole Miss Florida

Ole Miss

Also, the complete first-, second-, and third-team All-SEC preseason teams, which feature 13 players from LSU and 12 from Alabama, plus 10 from Auburn and eight from Arkansas. Why yes, the West is believed to be stronger than the East right now -- why do you ask?

OFFENSE
First-Team Offense
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
QB Tyler Wilson
Arkansas
6-3
220 Sr. Greenwood, Ark.
RB Marcus Lattimore
South Carolina
6-0
218 Jr. Duncan, S.C.
RB Knile Davis
Arkansas
6-0
226 Jr. Missouri City, Texas
WR Da'Rick Rogers
Tennessee
6-3
215 Jr. Calhoun, Ga.
WR *Cobi Hamilton
Arkansas
6-3
209 Sr. Texarkana, Texas
WR *Ryan Swope
Texas A&M
6-0
206 Sr. Austin, Texas
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen
Auburn
6-5
256 Sr. Marietta, Ga.
OL Alex Hurst
LSU
6-6
340 Sr. Bartlett, Tenn.
OL Luke Joeckel
Texas A&M
6-6
310 Jr. Arlington, Texas
OL D.J. Fluker
Alabama
6-6
335 Jr. Foley, Ala.
OL Larry Warford
Kentucky
6-3
343 Sr. Richmond, Ky.
C Barrett Jones
Alabama
6-5
311 Sr. Germantown, Tenn.
Second-Team Offense
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
QB Aaron Murray
Georgia
6-1
211 Jr. Tampa, Fla.
RB Eddie Lacy
Alabama
6-0
220 Jr. Geismar, La.
RB Zac Stacy
Vanderbilt
5-9
210 Sr. Centreville, Ala.
WR Justin Hunter
Tennessee
6-4
200 Jr. Virginia Beach, Va.
WR *Emory Blake
Auburn
6-2
197 Sr. Austin, Texas
WR *Odell Beckham Jr.
LSU
5-11
183 So. New Orleans, La.
WR *LaRod King
Kentucky
6-4
222 Sr. Radcliff, Ky.
TE Chris Gragg
Arkansas
6-3
236 Sr. Warren, Ark.
OL Alvin Bailey
Arkansas
6-5
312 Jr. Broken Arrow, Okla.
OL Chance Warmack
Alabama
6-3
320 Sr. Atlanta, Ga.
OL Chris Faulk
LSU
6-6
325 Jr. Slidell, La.
OL Gabe Jackson
Mississippi State
6-4
320 Jr. Liberty, Miss.
C T.J. Johnson
South Carolina
6-6
319 Sr. Aynor, S.C.
Third-Team Offense
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
QB A.J. McCarron
Alabama
6-4
205 Jr. Mobile. Ala.
RB Spencer Ware
LSU
5-11
223 Jr. Cincinnati, Ohio
RB Christine Michael
Texas A&M
5-11
220 Sr. Beaumont, Texas
WR Malcolm Mitchell
Georgia
6-1
184 So. Valdosta, Ga.
WR T.J. Moe
Missouri
6-0
200 Sr. O'Fallon, Mo.
TE Michael Williams
Alabama
6-6
269 Sr. Reform, Ala.
OL Jake Matthews
Texas A&M
6-5
305 Jr. Missouri City, Texas
OL Dallas Thomas
Tennessee
6-5
305 Sr. Baton Rouge, La.
OL Xavier Nixon
Florida
6-6
309 Sr. Fayetteville, N.C.
OL Elvis Fisher
Missouri
6-5
295 Sr. St. Petersburg, Fla.
C Travis Swanson
Arkansas
6-5
305 Jr. Kingwood, Texas
DEFENSE
First-Team Defense
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
DL Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina
6-6
256 So. Rock Hill, S.C.
DL Sam Montgomery
LSU
6-4
245 Jr. Greenwood, S.C.
DL Corey Lemonier
Auburn
6-4
240 Jr. Hialeah, Fla.
DL Barkevious Mingo
LSU
6-5
240 Jr. West Monroe, La.
ILB *C.J. Mosley
Alabama
6-2
234 Jr. Theodore, Ala.
ILB *Nico Johnson
Alabama
6-3
245 Sr. Andalusia, Ala.
OLB Jarvis Jones
Georgia
6-3
241 Jr. Columbus, Ga.
OLB Sean Porter
Texas A&M
6-2
230 Sr. Schertz, Texas
DB Tyrann Mathieu
LSU
5-9
175 Jr. New Orleans, La.
DB Bacarri Rambo
Georgia
6-0
218 Sr. Donalsonville, Ga.
DB Eric Reid
LSU
6-2
208 Jr. Geismar, La.
DB Johnthan Banks
Mississippi State
6-2
185 Sr. Maben, Miss.
Second-Team Defense
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
DL John Jenkins
Georgia
6-3
351 Sr. Meriden, Conn.
DL Devin Taylor
South Carolina
6-8
267 Sr. Beaufort, S.C.
DL Jesse Williams
Alabama
6-4
319 Sr. Brisbane, Australia
DL Sharrif Floyd
Florida
6-3
305 Jr. Philadelphia, Pa.
ILB Jon Bostic
Florida
6-1
243 Sr. Wellington, Fla.
OLB Alonzo Highsmith
Arkansas
6-1
233 Sr. Missouri City, Texas
OLB DeVonte Holloman
South Carolina
6-2
241 Sr. Charlotte, S.C.
DB Robert Lester
Alabama
6-2
210 Sr. Foley, Ala.
DB D.J. Swearinger
South Carolina
6-0
210 Sr. Greenwood, S.C.
DB Prentiss Waggner
Tennessee
6-2
185 Sr. Clinton, La.
DB Matt Elam
Florida
5-10
210 Jr. Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Third-Team Defense
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
DL Josh Boyd
Mississippi State
6-3
300 Sr. Philadelphia, Miss.
DL *Dominique Easley
Florida
6-2
286 Jr. Staten Island, N.Y.
DL *Abry Jones
Georgia
6-3
309 Sr. Warner Robins, Ga.
DL *Damontre Moore
Texas A&M
6-4
250 Jr. Rowlett, Texas
DL *Rob Lohr
Vanderbilt
6-4
290 Sr. Phoenixville, Pa.
ILB *Alec Ogletree
Georgia
6-3
236 Jr. Newnan, Ga.
ILB *Daren Bates
Auburn
5-11
211 Sr. Memphis, Tenn.
ILB *Jelani Jenkins
Florida
6-0
233 Jr. Olney, Md.
OLB Zaviar Gooden
Missouri
6-2
230 Sr. Pflugerville, Texas
OLB A.J. Johnson
Tennessee
6-3
245 So. Gainesville, Ga.
DB Dee Milliner
Alabama
6-1
196 Jr. Millbrook, Ala.
DB Charles Sawyer
Ole Miss
5-11
175 Jr. Miami, Fla.
DB Akeem Auguste
South Carolina
5-9
188 Sr. Hollywood, Fla.
DB *E.J. Gaines
Missouri
5-10
190 Jr. Independence, Mo.
DB *Sanders Commings
Georgia
6-2
217 Sr. Augusta, Ga..
SPECIALISTS
First-Team Specialists
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
P Brad Wing
LSU
6-3
184 So. Melbourne, Austraila
PK Caleb Sturgis
Florida
5-11
187 Sr. St. Augustine, Fla.
RS Tyrann Mathieu
LSU
5-9
175 Jr. New Orleans, La.
AP Dennis Johnson
Arkansas
6-0
180 Jr. Texarkana, Ark.
Second-Team Specialists
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
P Steven Clark
Auburn
6-5
235 Jr. Kansas City, Mo.
PK Drew Alleman
LSU
5-11
183 Sr. Lafayette, La.
RS Andre Debose
Florida
5-11
186 Jr. Sanford, Fla.
AP Johnthan Banks
Mississippi State
6-2
185 Sr. Maben, Miss.
Third-Team Specialists
Position Name Team Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
P *Dylan Breeding
Arkansas
6-1
211 Sr. Hoover, Ala.
P *Tyler Campbell
Ole Miss
6-2
220 Sr. Little Rock, Ark.
PK Zach Hocker
Arkansas
6-0
180 Jr. Russellville, Ark.
RS Dustin Harris
Texas A&M
6-0
175 Sr. Livingston, Texas
AP Bruce Ellington
South Carolina
5-9
197 So. Moncks Corner, S.C.

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SEC Media Days 2012: Les Miles, Opposite Of Bland

Hoover, Ala. -- The headlining act of Day 2 began his opening statement by talking a little fast-pitch softball. Why yes, of course Les Miles did.

Among the things that were then discussed: Missouri and Texas A&M ("they'll be able to compete" despite "a learning curve"), the LSU strength program, Zach Mettenberger ("a talented guy" who needs to "take it a day at a time"), the offensive line that returns 77 starts and Odell Beckham (a mere sophomore at Media Days). He also talked up other weapons including Sam Montgomery and Eric Reid and company*, the esteemed Brad Wing and even the long snapper, who'll probably score a touchdown this year.

The first question he fielded was about recording that NCAA 13 commercial with the Tigers mascot. "The lines were narrowed so that I could perform them effectively," he said, "but Mike the Tiger stole the show." This is not the sort of question Nick Saban will get to open with.

On whether he's rewatched the national title game, he says he's watched it "a couple of times," but that there weren't all that many offensive plays to review. Speaking of championships, Miles envisions every conference having to have a league title game, all of which will be played on the same weekend. That would equalize strength of schedule concerns somewhat throughout the country, but I don't believe that's been widely proposed at the public level.

There's one really, really big game on the schedule this year. As with everybody else so far at Media Days, it's all eventually about Alabama. Tyrann Mathieu's "verbal squabble" with A.J. McCarron on Twitter shouldn't be characterized as a "rant," says Miles, who points out "no game is won on a Twitter page." As for the rest of the schedule's degree of difficulty, "We play everybody but the Green Bay Packers. And we enjoy it."

But which rival would LSU rather face at the end of that schedule? "I don't know how we can play Arkansas and Texas A&M on the same weekend," he said.

Miles is the first coach so far to acknowledge that A&M's addition will boost the SEC's ability to recruit in Texas. "We've been in Texas pretty routinely. I just think we'll be in Texas even more."

One thing we did learn: Miles's noted affinity for stick-and-ball sports only goes so far:

Mark Ennis @Mengus22

"Will I be mentioning Stony Brook? No. I won't." - Les Miles

* Miles later defended coordinator John Chavis from a reporter's charge that the D's schemes are "bland," having the questioner repeat the assertion before zeroing in on the "bland" part. A man as spirited as Les Miles might not even know the meaning of the word.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. John L. Smith
  2. Steve Spurrier
  3. James Franklin
  4. Les Miles
  5. Kevin Sumlin
  6. Will Muschamp
  7. Dan Mullen
  8. Joker Phillips
  9. Gary Pinkel
  10. Gene Chizik

For more on Tigers football, visit LSU blog And The Valley Shook, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

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SEC Media Days 2012: Gene Chizik, Heartland Harbinger

Hoover, Ala. -- Clad in pinstripe and escorted by the largest entourage of any coach thus far, Gene Chizik began his Media Days remarks with thanks for the support his school has received in the wake of this summer's Auburn shooting tragedy. After that, it was praise for Tigers new and old and a warning that the SEC's Big 12 imports might be tougher than anybody thought.

What to expect from new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who's replacing mad genius Gus Malzahn? Not everything will change entirely, says Chizik, though you'd be wise to expect a whole lot more fullbackery and time-killing. Loeffler's quarterback coaching history will help with recruiting the position, the coach feels, with Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley still "in the mix" for the starting job this year, to be decided in two-a-days. SEC vet Brian VanGorder takes over the other side, and Chizik cites his lengthy relationship with the former Georgia and Falcons DC.

Looking down on Missouri and Texas A&M, cocky SEC fan? Gene Chizik brings troubling news back from the Big 12: "These are dang good teams with good coaches." He spent quite a while toward the middle defending the SEC's latest acquisitions, which his Iowa State team went 0-3 against while giving up almost 50 points per game:

Hugh Kellenberger @HKellenbergerCL

Gene Chizik going rogue, telling us that Texas A&M and Missouri don't get enough credit. Someone in here may shout him down.

There's also that ever-budding rivalry with Clemson in the Georgia Dome to open the season. Chizik paid compliments to every portion of the Tigers program, especially new defensive coordinator and former Big 12-mate Brent Venables.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. John L. Smith
  2. Steve Spurrier
  3. James Franklin
  4. Kevin Sumlin
  5. Will Muschamp
  6. Dan Mullen
  7. Joker Phillips
  8. Gary Pinkel
  9. Gene Chizik

For more on War Eagle football, visit Auburn blog Track Em Tigers, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

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SEC Media Days, Second Morning: The Dan Star Enters The Room

More observations (and doodles!) from SEC media days, where Spencer Hall survived the Muschampalanche, escaped the gravitational pull of Dan Mullen's noggin and tasted John L. Smith's special blend of crazy.

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SEC Media Days 2012: Joker Phillips, Basketball-Powered Football Man

Hoover, Ala. -- What can you tout when you're Kentucky's football coach in 2012? You can talk about a respectable four-game finish, that included a long-awaited win over Tennessee, a win over Ole Miss, and a nine-point fall at Georgia. You talk up your recruiting classes, but reference Wisconsin as a team that succeeds despite not recruiting at the same level as its conference's traditional powers.

Kentucky: a basketball school. Is all of the basketball good for football or not? "I'm a Kentuckian," Phillips responds. "I'm selling the basketball program. We wanna hitch our wagon to the basketball program," he said, before listing the names of recent NBA Draft picks who've been through Lexington. Phillips takes UK football recruits into John Calipari's locker room before games, and the two even coordinate on dual-sport recruits.

Kentucky has the same kind of roster now as it did when it began its program-record five-bowl streak in 2006, Phillips argues, pointing out all that redshirt depth. Quarterback remains an issue -- with incumbent Morgan Newton set to leave after the season, the position is hardly settled.

But is that seat hot? That seat's hot after two straight losing seasons, ain't it? "I'm not sitting down right now," he said. "There's nothing hot."

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. John L. Smith
  2. Steve Spurrier
  3. James Franklin
  4. Kevin Sumlin
  5. Will Muschamp
  6. Dan Mullen
  7. Joker Phillips
  8. Gary Pinkel

For more on Cats football, visit Kentucky blog A Sea Of Blue, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

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SEC Media Days 2012: John L. Smith, Vintage John L. Smith

Hoover, Ala. -- Does Arkansas' transition from Bobby Petrino to John L. Smith rank among the biggest exuberance upgrades in college football history? I believe it does. From shaking hands with camera guys while waiting on his introduction to asking if he could introduce his players before taking questions (he could not) to giving one poor reporter a smiling post-introduction "WHO?" Smith did everything but dazzle the assembly with yarns from his past life as a turkey farmer.

"We have a lot of pressure, because we're gonna put it on ourselves," Smith said of his loaded offense and his team's chances at competing for the national title in his 10 brief months as a Hog. "We expect to score points. We have to contribute on the other side of the ball as well."

Despite all that talent, Smith is still replacing his former boss, a proven winner at multiple programs. "The transition has been as easy as it could be," he says of returning to the school he left to take over the head job at his alma mater, Weber State. He calls his new gig a surprising opportunity, but ran low on interest in Petrino discussions at one point:

Seth Emerson @SethEmerson

John L. Smith's deadpan response to a question: "Can we move on to a question with some intelligence." It was too deadpan. He was kidding.

"I see [Missouri] as developing into a big rivalry for us, and hopefully for Missouri," Smith said of replacing the distant South Carolina series with a border war thanks to conference realignment, a far cry from Gary Pinkel's statement that, "When the time comes, we'll be very excited about it." We'll be excited now, dammit!

In roster matters, we learned fullback Kiero Small will get a shot at linebacker and new guy Demetrius Wilson will end up playing all over the offense.

(About that 10-months thing ... Smith responded with, "Well, certainly! Do I look stupid? Wait, don't answer that," to a question about whether he'd like to coach beyond just one season. He does not look stupid.)

A brief motivational interlude was among the highlights, during which Smith urged all within the sound of his voice to work hard and not be "what if" people. All in all, Robbie Caldwellesque, and there was a small debate in our region about whether it was all standing ovation-worthy or not.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. John L. Smith
  2. Steve Spurrier
  3. James Franklin
  4. Kevin Sumlin
  5. Will Muschamp
  6. Dan Mullen
  7. Gary Pinkel

For more on Hogs football, visit Arkansas blog Arkansas Expats, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

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SEC Media Days 2012: Dan Mullen Has A Starkville To Promote

Hoover, Ala. -- The SEC's two primary underdogs tend to use every opportunity they have to recruit their programs. Last year, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen spent a lot of time talking about the beauty of Starkville -- this year, he focused more on depth charts and what have you, but didn't mind veering into doing a little recruiting, such as when he responded to a billboards (they're in the news!*) question by electing one about a Miss Mississippi winning streak his favorite. Also, such as when he claimed MSU is "not all that far from a national championship" and "could be the best college town in the country."

Of his new starting quarterback, Mullen points out Tyler Russell has "played in just about every stadium in the league" and is more prepared as a junior to meet the very high expectations placed on him when he first arrived. "He's developed himself to be ready for that role."

We also got some math:

The knock against Mullen's otherwise successful time at MSU has been his record against non-Rebel SEC West rivals. He got a question or four along that line, including two about the opener against Auburn, calling to mind the threatened hazing Kevin Sumlin and Gary Pinkel endured during their debuts on Tuesday. You gonna turn tail on back to the Big 12, Mississippi State?

We did get a "that school up north of us" mention during remarks on starting up series against other Mississippi schools like Southern Miss. Mullen also mentioned State's scheduling of the SWAC's Jackson State as another local opponent.

* As we learned during our own Spencer Hall's time in Starkville, Mullen spends a lot of time on stuff like this. Wednesday he also mentioned having a lot of input in uniform decisions and the like.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. Steve Spurrier
  2. James Franklin
  3. Kevin Sumlin
  4. Will Muschamp
  5. Dan Mullen
  6. Gary Pinkel

For more on Bulldogs football, visit Mississippi State blog For Whom The Cowbell Tolls, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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SEC Media Days 2012: Will Muschamp, Human News Ticker

Hoover, Ala. -- After listening to Will Muschamp's opening address, I'm considering starting up some sort of Wikipedia site devoted to keeping up with his quotes. The man simply jams more information into each breath than anybody else on earth. He's either the Twista or Phil Steele of college football coaches.

Seriously. So much information:

Jon Solomon @jonsol

Here's how much Will Muschamp studies football. He accurately said Texas A&M ran 106 plays in its spring game

After running through virtually the entire depth chart (and noting he and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease are "on the same page," acknowledging depagination with Charlie Weis last year -- however, he did say he talked to Weis yesterday and blamed much of the struggles on John Brantley's ankle injury against Alabama), Muschamp commented on the development of the defense and Lerentee McCray taking over the pass-rushing Buck position.

As for the future:

Alligator Army @AlligatorArmy

Reporter: "Florida has not had a losing season since 1979." Muschamp: "Yeah, I know, I was told a couple times."

News happened, as Muschamp revealed previously arrested and suspended tight end A.C. Leonard will transfer. He also clarified that freshman Dante Phillips has indeed been released from his letter of intent, said the injured Ronald Powell will play this year, and said receiver Stephen Alli and defensive back Marcus Maye both had surgery and should be fine. Corner Jeremy Brown will have wrist surgery, and should also be good to go.

With a season-opening game against newcomer Texas A&M, Muschamp praised the "exotic" offenses fielded by the Big 12 imports and called College Station an "SEC-like atmosphere; it'll be loud and it'll be fun."

He talked up starting hot, playing tough at home, avoiding "immaturity," being in shape, beating rivals, defended the first amendment from Twitter knucklehead sanctions, declined an Isaiah Crowell comment and closed with a neat little zinger for his primary SEC rival:

SBN College Football @SBNationCFB

"Coach [Vince] Dooley never complained about it being in Jacksonville." -- Will Muschamp on the Cocktail Party's location

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. Steve Spurrier
  2. James Franklin
  3. Kevin Sumlin
  4. Will Muschamp
  5. Gary Pinkel

For more on Gators football, visit Florida blog Alligator Army, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills and SB Nation Tampa Bay.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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SEC Media Days, Day 1: Hope Arrives In A Sport Coat

This year's SEC media days opened with familiar claustrophobia, new neighbors to meet and a wellspring of hope for the glory days ahead. Spencer Hall got bored and doodled, mostly.

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SEC Media Days 2012: James Franklin Recruits World, Dodges Babies

Hoover, Ala. -- A pair of first-year coaches made the headlines on the first day in Birmingham, Ala., but it was the conference's real upstart who made the Vanderbilt Commodores noteworthy at SEC media days for the third year in a row. Three!

James Franklin opened with a story of his first trip to SEC media days last year, when he walked through radio row, into the mall and back without anyone noticing him. Times have indeed changed. And from a bowl bid in year one to new facilities, the man in the gold tie is still selling Vandy.

With star running back Zac Stacy headlining nine offensive starters coming back, Franklin expressed excitement at getting to send out players familiar with his system, including "driven and competitive" quarterback Jordan Rodgers, whose "light" Franklin said has "really gone on." Considering his theory that defensive starters are easier to replace than offensive ones, confidence should be reasonably high for 'Dores fans when it comes to points.

As with every other coach here in Alabama, there was a Nick Saban mention.

"He was like a rock star" last year, Franklin said of Saban. "People were throwing babies at him." It's true.

How about that blossoming rivalry with Georgia, in light of Franklin's postgame spat with Todd Grantham? "We have tremendous respect for that program," Franklin said, before repeating his familiar assertion that these days, the Commodores back down from no man.

The Tennessee game "doesn't feel like a rivalry," as it's been "a little one-sided," Franklin said, but he talked up the state regardless, and placed the program's focus on the Thursday night opener against South Carolina, which he said has his players "unbelievably motivated." (He was also asked about whether UT's downfall is good for Vandy, but declined to pile on.)

"The sky is the limit for us," he said about his chances of winning the SEC East. "If you have a son, he's coming to Vanderbilt." Just as he did with our own Steven Godfrey, James Franklin is recruiting everything in sight right now. There was a lot of talk about branding, from "Anchor Down" to the team's new helmets, and the whole thing really did feel like a refined pitch.

That's all nice, coach, but Vanderbilt can't sustain its sudden success, right?

"Maybe you see that," he said, "but kids don't see that."

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. Steve Spurrier
  2. James Franklin
  3. Kevin Sumlin
  4. Gary Pinkel

For more on Vandy football, visit Vanderbilt blog Anchor Of Gold, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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SEC Media Days 2012: Gary Pinkel Dismisses Your Dismissiveness

Hoover, Ala. -- How is Mizzou going to adjust to the SEC? If Gary Pinkel's early going at SEC media days is any indication, they're going to hit the ground running.

The coach's opening remarks might not even have lasted a minute, and then it was right onto questions about how terrified the Tigers are of the big, mean SEC (Pinkel: "I'll be disappointed if we're intimidated"). Unlike Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, Pinkel responded not with restrained intensity, but with more of a shrug.

The most important item for Tigers (and Georgia) fans: Injured quarterback James Franklin should be "100 percent ready to go," with his "accuracy improving" as the season nears. That's no major surprise, but I said it was important, not surprising. (In other unsurprising yet important news, Pinkel doubts Henry Josey will be playing this year.)

"I'll be disappointed if he doesn't have a real good year in a real good league," Pinkel said.

Your funnest Pinkel quote of the day came when he was asked about his relationship with Nick Saban: "He's older than me. Let's make that clear." He also had many nice things to say about his former Kent State teammate and fellow motorcycle enthusiast. (He was also asked about the best restaurants in Columbia, Mo., but deferred to, like, the city board of tourism, I think.)

Hey, how about that new rivalry with Arkansas? Pinkel hopes it can become something great, as the two are "neighboring states" and Arkansas has been "very successful," and "when the time comes, we'll be very excited about it." As for further rivalries, he said he "probably won't be here" when those emerge OMG HOT SEAT.

Missouri will mean a new look for "some great defenses," as Pinkel expects to "run our offense, be multiple," and generally continue with this whole not-lining-up-in-a-big-pack-and-running-straight-ahead thing. He still had to defend the quality of Mizzou's previous competition, shooting down one question that described the transition as "like jumping from JV to varsity." Despite the new territory, Pinkel ascribes to the theory that teams with strong lines do the best recruiting, regardless of league affiliation (and they'll still recruit Texas). Still, Mizzou fans are excited about all these SEC teams coming to campus.

Pinkel was also the first recipient of a question on concussions. He's in favor of awareness and better rules.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. Steve Spurrier
  2. Kevin Sumlin
  3. Gary Pinkel

For more on Mizzou football, visit Missouri blog Rock M Nation, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills, SB Nation Kansas City and SB Nation St. Louis.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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SEC Media Days 2012: Steve Spurrier, Still Got It

Hoover, Ala. -- And just like that, the star attraction. After a (perhaps golf-related) schedule adjustment, the SEC's all-time top quipman took the podium with a trademark, "I've been here 20 years now ... Coaching in the SEC, it's not a stressful job. I know some of these coaches will tell you how stressful it is." South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and his blazing red blazer, hitting the notes.

Here's your highlight (other than this), which came in response to a question about how big that Arkansas game is now:

"We've been recruiting better guys," Spurrier listed among the program's achievements, adding that Carolina's first SEC title remains the goal. "Probably better coaches, strength coaches, all that," for a school with a new culture, where the coach has finally convinced his fan base to no longer applaud close losses and that "just beating Clemson" is no longer a successful season. Though it does still need an indoor facility, he reminded. (The departed Ellis Johnson "did a great job," Spurrier noted of the new Southern Miss coach.)

A longtime playoff proponent, Spurrier called for an eight-team playoff with six autobids and two wild cards, noting "it's not gonna happen, but, anyway." On the subject of selection committees, the focus remains on winning the SEC East, then "winning in Atlanta." So, no, he doesn't care about selection committees. (Also in non-Gamecocks-specific items, Joe Paterno "was revered for doing the right things" as a college football coach, Spurrier remembers, but he declined to go into the "terrible" scandal.)

On the subject of quarterbacking, Spurrier noted Connor Shaw is the first Gamecocks passer he's ever brought with him to SEC Media Days. He touted Shaw's football background and media aptitude, appreciating his "lack of interests outside helping our team be successful" and his mobility (Shaw ran for 525 yards last year). Expect South Carolina to "pick spots" to throw the ball. "At times Stephen Garcia played pretty well, but we did not have real consistent game-after-game quarterback," Spurrier said of Carolina's recent QB play, further talking up Shaw's wheels as a way out of trouble and referencing Tim Tebow.

"The doctors can do wonderful things with those knee surgeries," Spurrier said of Marcus Lattimore's rehab and return. "He should be ready to go."

The Cocks will be without a heap of talent -- the coach pointed out the high draft spots enjoyed by Melvin Ingram and Alshon Jeffery -- but have plenty of veteran depth in the defensive front seven, Spurrier said. Shaw's Birmingham accomplices Ace Sanders and D.J. Swearinger didn't redshirt, the coach recalled with some surprise as he commented on the program's ever-increasing depth.

How about that SEC schedule! Spurrier praised Mizzou and A&M as quality additions, but doesn't expect to recruit Texas any time soon, keeping his focus on Carolina and its "border states." "They're gonna be even better," he said of Vanderbilt, a team that "had a shot at Florida, had a shot at Georgia," and so on. He named Georgia and Missouri as perhaps the two biggest games on the schedule.

Regarding the future, Spurrier turned the clock back to his first year, when he said he planned to remain for "seven, eight, ten years, something like that." Now that he's in that range, he just wonders how long these writers are gonna keep asking him how long he's gonna keep coaching.

Your updated Recruitedness Power Rankings, in which we rank how recruited we feel to each program after each coach has taken the podium:

  1. Steve Spurrier
  2. Kevin Sumlin

For more on Cocks football, visit South Carolina blog Garnet And Black Attack, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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SEC Media Days 2012: Kevin Damn Sumlin On New Rivals And QBs

Hoover, Ala. -- "That's about the fourth time somebody's asked me that," Kevin Sumlin said about being asked if he realizes his schedule includes the teams that won the last six national champions. The new Texas A&M coach with a new quarterback and new conference and all sorts of newness going on, but declares his "realistic expectations are to win" despite the room's heavy air of provincial apprehension.

When asked about whether the spectacle of SEC Media Days compared to Conference USA's equivalent has made his arrival "real" for him, Sumlin said it was rather sitting with his 13 peer coaches for the first time. "To have your home opener at Texas A&M be a SEC game, it's a big deal," he said, talking up increased ticket sales and general interest around College Station.

He also says "damn" a lot. At least four times, I believe.

Sumlin said having a returning veteran at quarterback would make the whole thing feel a lot better, but noted the competition inherent in his ring of potential starting youngsters, with a starter being revealed "a couple weeks at the latest before the Louisiana Tech game." The newness might be a boon since it's a whole new system anyway, Sumlin claims. (That La Tech team, by the way, will be a full plate for the Aggies, Sumlin assures.) The good news is running back Christine Michael is ready to go.

On a potential Texas A&M-LSU end-of-year to-do taking the place of the Lone Star Showdown, the coach noted he's learned he has nothing to do with scheduling, but points out the Tigers would mean a border showdown with a recruiting edge at stake, and "hopefully that game becomes one of those games that people look forward to. You create your own rivalries, and they change, but just from the proximity standpoint, that would be an extremely important game and could replace a big-time rivalry game."

As for other SEC rivalries, Sumlin says he'd prefer to see the Arkansas series played on campus.

"We've been able to adapt things to utilize our personnel," he said regarding the SEC's alleged size and speed advantages. He defended Houston's run/pass ratio as not out of whack with his new league's preferred manball style, but added, "Being called pass-happy, that's fine with us." He lamented A&M's lack of depth up front to this point, noting that happens during the shift from a 3-4 to a 4-3.

His level of anxiety about his new opponents was a popular theme among those asking questions. "My assessment? It's a pretty damn hard league." If nerves are getting to Sumlin, he is not betraying them. I'd probably be afraid to make too much racket if I was a nerve of Kevin Sumlin's. But if A&M's getting this kind of treatment in Birmingham, Also:

Seth Emerson@SethEmerson

Kevin Sumlin is asked: "Have you always been this cool and laid back?" Such hard-hitting journalism is what made this country great.

For more on Aggies football, visit SEC blog Team Speed Kills and SB Nation Houston.

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2012 SEC Football Media Days Schedule, From Steve Spurrier On

SBNation.com, EDSBS, and Team Speed Kills will be on the scene in Hoover, Ala., for SEC Media Days, which kick off with Steve Spurrier's stylings on Tuesday. Starting with the conference's finest quote is a welcome treat, and proves once again that the greats are their own opening acts.

(Also, here's the complete schedule of when other conference media days are happening.)

You can watch live online at ESPN3.com, as well as on TV at ESPNU. There's also this item, which will evidently show footage from the alternate rooms:

Also on Day 1, new guys Kevin Sumlin and Gary Pinkel introduce themselves along with a few of their associates, James Franklin and Vandy will probably go ahead and recruit all of us into trying out with the Dores (though it's a tragic occurrence that Mizzou's casual dress James Franklin couldn't appear on the same day).

Here's the complete 2012 schedule for Tuesday and onward (all times Central):

Tuesday, July 17
1:00 p.m. - Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
1:10 p.m. - Ace Sanders, South Carolina
1:20 p.m. - Sean Porter, Texas A&M
1:40 p.m. - D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
2:10 p.m. - Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
2:20 p.m. - Ryan Swope, Texas A&M
2:30 p.m. - Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
3:00 p.m. - Commissioner Mike Slive
3:20 p.m. - James Franklin, Vanderbilt
3:30 p.m. - Connor Shaw, South Carolina
4:00 p.m. - Trey Wilson, Vanderbilt
4:20 p.m. - Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt
4:30 p.m. - Elvis Fisher, Missouri
4:40 p.m. - T.J. Moe, Missouri
4:50 p.m. - Gary Pinkel, Missouri
5:40 p.m. - E.J. Gaines, Missouri
5:50 p.m. - Zac Stacey, Vanderbilt

Wednesday, July 18
8:30 a.m. - Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
8:40 a.m. - Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
8:50 a.m. - Mike Gillislee, Florida
9:10 a.m. - Tyler Russell, Mississippi State
9:40 a.m. - John Bostic, Florida
9:50 a.m. - Lerentee McCray, Florida
10:00 a.m. - Will Muschamp, Florida
10:50 a.m. - Joker Phillips, Kentucky
11:00 a.m. - Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
11:30 a.m. - Larry Warford, Kentucky
11:50 a.m. - Matt Smith, Kentucky
12:00 p.m. - Knile Davis, Arkansas
12:10 p.m. - Tenarius Wright, Arkansas
12:20 p.m. - John L. Smith, Arkansas
1:10 p.m. - Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
1:20 p.m. - Collins Ukwu, Kentucky
2:20 p.m. - Les Miles, LSU
2:30 p.m. - Zach Mettenberger, LSU
2:40 p.m. - Corey Lemonier, Auburn
3:00 p.m. - Eric Reid, LSU
3:30 p.m. - Emory Blake, Auburn
3:40 p.m. - Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn
3:50 p.m. - Gene Chizik, Auburn
4:00 p.m. - Odell Beckham, LSU

Thursday, July 19
8:30 a.m. - Derek Dooley, Tennessee
8:40 a.m. - Ja'wuan James, Tennessee
8:50 a.m. - Damion Square, Alabama
9:10 a.m. - Herman Lathers, Tennessee
9:40 a.m. - Barrett Jones, Alabama
9:50 a.m. - Michael Williams, Alabama
10:00 a.m. - Nick Saban, Alabama
10:50 a.m. - Mark Richt, Georgia
11:00 a.m. - Tyler Bray, Tennessee
11:30 a.m. - Tavarres King, Georgia
11:50 a.m. - Abry Jones, Georgia
12:00 p.m. - Mike Marry, Ole Miss
12:10 p.m. - Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss
12:20 p.m. - Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
1:10 p.m. - Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
1:20 p.m. - Jarvis Jones, Georgia

While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s Youtube channel:

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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