BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – SEC Media Days 2014 has finally arrived and WHNT News 19 is your inside source for the first look at the 2014 football season.
We’re going to be in Birmingham all four days bringing you the inside scoop on your favorite teams, coaches, and players.
This four-day event kicks off at 11:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham with an address from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, followed by Auburn, Florida, and Vanderbilt.
Keep this page open all day for updates. It will automatically refresh when new news is posted.
Slive is “bragging on” all the impressive SEC sports accomplishments, not just football.
Slive says he wants the fans to continue to have a positive experience. The SEC has a project going on to measure fan expectations, allowing them greater input in the conference.
Slive says the new SEC Network will debut in August. It will feature SEC football, basketball, baseball, and softball games in addition to classic games, highlights, and other programming.
Slive believes intercollegiate sports are a cornerstone of the college experience, but says that education must remain number one.
He says the SEC must change to support the vision of intercollegiate sports. The NCAA will be restructured with the support of student athletes at its core, according to Slive.
The five conferences put their heads together to review the NCAA governing structure. Scholarships will be transitioned from the standard model to a “length of stay” model, providing assistance to student athletes for the duration of their stay in school, among other changes.
The NCAA will continue to allow each conference to remain autonomous, establishing a voting threshold.
Slive calls this restricting of the NCAA a bridge to help all intercollegiate athletes excel in school and sports.
Commissioner Slive has left the stage without taking questions.
He focused on helping student athletes excel in both sports and education, the new SEC Network, and the reforging of the NCAA.
Coming up shortly, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn will take the stage.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has taken the stage.
He called the 2013 season one of the most memorable seasons of his career.
“Our players and coaches are motivated for this coming season”
Malzahn says entire staff is back for a second year, he thinks that is huge.
On spring training: “We focused on being more balanced, I really feel like we accomplished that.”
Says defense tried to be more consistent this spring during practice.
“Nick has been a model student, teammate, and citizen. Nick made a mistake and he’ll have to deal with those consequences.” –Malzahn on Nick Marshall’s citation
On Nick Marshall: He lost the privilege to come to SEC Media Days.
Malzahn did not say what other consequences Marshall will face.
When asked if Marshall could face suspension from games, Malzhan says he’s not to the point of determining what consequences Marshall will face yet.
Malzahn on quarterback situation: “The great thing is we got Jeremy Johnson, which could start for a lot of teams around the country, a majority of them.”
On opening the season against Arkansas: It’s a challenge to open the season against a conference team.
“We expect Arkansas to be much improved.”
Malzahn on expectations: “I think it’s completely different, last year we weren’t on anybody’s radar…this year we know we’re going to be circled.”
He says it’s good pressure. The program is back where it should be.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Bret as a coach, when we’re in meetings we communicate. I know he’s going to get that program where he wants it to be.” –Malzahn on relationship with Bret Bielema
Malzhan and Bielema have disagreed publicly in the past over Auburn’s no-huddle offense. Bielema feels that the no-huddle offense is possibly dangerous to players, while Malzhan is an advocate for it.
On Nick Marshall working to become a better quarterback:
“That was the number one priority in the spring, to be more balanced.”
Malzahn on new playoff system: “I think it’s safe to say the SEC champion will be in the final 4.”
Malzahn on use of marijuana by student athletes: “We have school rules and of course I have team rules and we abide by them.”
Short answer followed by quiet chuckles from media in the ballroom.
On the number of new quarterbacks in the conference: There are a lot of growing pains at the start of the season. Games are different from scrimmages. It takes about four games to learn what they are capable of.
On Bobby Bentley: “We’re excited to have Bobby, he’s an outstanding coach, he’ll be very successful, he’ll be a big time college coach.”
Reporter asks if Malzahn recruits his players to play in NFL vs. Auburn: “We feel very good about our staff preparing our guys for the next level, obviously they’ll play for Auburn first.”
Says each individual player has goals and dreams. He’s proud of his guys that get a shot at NFL.
Malzhan says from a coaching standpoint, he knows what he’s going to get with his team this year, but there will be some learning.
Malzahn on the passing of Lutzenkirchen: There will be definitely something to honor Philip. That was an extremely tough, he was the first person I ever recruited as an Auburn coach.
On Philip Lutzenkirchen: That was a tough blow to the Auburn family.
On playing Alabama: They make you earn it. They have some great players.
Malzhan says he was on vacation when he heard news of Lutzenkirchen’s passing. He says he was in shock.
“He was just a phenomenal person…it was extremely tough.”
Coach Gus Malzhan has left the stage. The student athletes from Auburn will take the stage shortly.
Auburn senior tight end C.J. Uzomah. Uzomah replaced Nick Marshall after Marshall was cited for marijuana possession on Friday.
Uzomah is very comfortable in front of the media. In the 2013 season he caught 11 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown against Mississippi State.
The Auburn players have moved to the television interview rooms. Be sure to watch WHNT News 19 tonight to see and hear the latest on what the coaches and players have to say.
What do you think about the new College Football Playoff National Championship trophy?
Read our story about it and let us know if you love it or hate it in the comments.
University of Florida head coach Will Muschamp will take the stage shortly. The Gators have three National Championships and eight SEC Championships under their belts.
Coach Muschamp has taken the stage.
“After a very disappointing season at the University of Florida, it falls on my shoulders.”
There will be a lot of “hot-seat” talk, but that comes with the job, according to Muschamp.
“I feel like we need to make some changes on offense. I feel like our kids kind of lost confidence on offense last year,” Muschamp said.
The most excited Muschamp has been about football comes from quarterback Jeff Driskel.
Muschamp said he’s happy about the NCAA rule change allowing coaches to visit players during the summer while they are working out. He was with his players this morning while they were working out.
“Defensively, we have some talent. We do lack some experience, but I will take talent over experience every time,” Muschamp said.
About the “hot-seat” talk: You come back from “hot-seat” talk and have a great season. You can only control the things you can control.
Muschamp said having an experienced quarterback is reliving for both him and his offensive staff.
Though there are many new quarterbacks in the conference, Muschamp said he’s not counting anyone out.
On his seven-game losing streak last season: It’s very frustrating. It’s not what we’re about at the University of Florida.
Muschamp said it gives him more motivation to step his game up this year.
On players entering the NFL Draft before their eligibility is over: Muschamp said he recommends to players not to enter the draft early unless they are a first round pick. He said he always tells his players that they can spend more time in college football to improve their game.
Coach Muschamp has left the stage.
The Florida student athletes will take the stage shortly.
Dante Fowler, Defensive End http://localtvwhnt.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/imag0804.jpg?w=770
“There’s a big buzz around the program. We just have to find a way to put that on the field,” quarterback Jeff Driskel said.
Driskel started three games before suffering a season-ending fracture in his leg last year. He threw for 477 yards, completing 42 of 63 passes in his limited action.
He suffered the injury in the first half of the game against Tennessee.
The Florida players have left the stage.
Coming up at 4 p.m., Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason will take the stage.
Mason served as associate head coach and Willie Shaw Director
of Defense for the 2013 Pacific-12 champion Stanford Cardinal until he was named head coach at Vanderbilt in January.
Derek Mason has taken the stage.
He says the turnover at Vanderbilt has made the program fresh. He also says there are similarities between Vanderbilt and Stanford, where he was Director of Defense.
He said Vanderbilt attracts a “similar type of young man.”
He said he’s truly excited about learning “who we are.”
Mason said if his team is to be successful, they have to solidify the quarterback position. There are currently six people on the team with the ability to fill that position, according to Mason.
“The biggest addition to our program will be our incoming freshmen. We don’t believe in red-shirting at Vanderbilt,” Mason said.
“When you invest in freshmen and get them on the field, you have less problems off the field,” Mason said.
Mason said he’s not going to be pressed into naming a head quarterback. He added that the time to name a head quarterback will be on the first game, saying that he will develop potential quarterbacks until that time.
On playing against Tennessee, who Vanderbilt has won two straight games against: “The rivalry is huge…We don’t looks to move backwards.”
Mason says his recruiting is as strong as recruiting at Vanderbilt has ever been. “It’s not what we’re selling, it’s what we have to offer. I just have to present what we offer to recruits.”
Coach Derek Mason has left the stage.
The Vanderbilt student athletes will be in momentarily.
“There’s no question that we have more talent now than we ever have in the past few years,” tight end Steven Scheu said.
“On the field, coach Mason is the most intense man I’ve ever known. He means what he says,” Scheu said.
Steven Scheu played in 12 games, earning six starting
assignments at tight end last season. He opened the season against Ole Miss
with a 2-catch, 43-yard performance that included a 34-yard TD reception. He finished year with nine catches, good for 123 yards and a TD.
Steven Scheu played in 12 games, earning six starting assignments at tight end last season. He opened the season against Ole Miss with a 2-catch, 43-yard performance that included a 34-yard TD reception. He finished year with nine catches, good for 123 yards and a TD.
The Vanderbilt student athletes have left the stage.
That concludes the Monday press conferences. Tune in to WHNT News 19 tonight to hear what the head coaches and players from Auburn, Florida, and Vanderbilt had to say.
Tune in tomorrow here at WHNT.com for more coverage of SEC Media Days 2014.
Tomorrow, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and Tennessee are up.