SEC Media Days 2014 Live Blog: Day 1

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SEC Media Days 2014 (Photo: Drew Galloway/WHNT News 19)

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.

Claire Aiello July 14, 201410:43 am

On this first day of SEC Media Days, there’s apparently a new look for the new championship trophy.  It seems the crystal ball is gone.  We’ll be asking about this…

Drew Galloway July 14, 201410:45 am

The WHNT News 19 Team arrives in Hoover!

WHNT News 19 Sports Director Ryan Cody, Sports Reporter Chase Horn, Photographer Alex Lynch, and Interactive Content Producer Drew Galloway are here to bring you the latest from SEC Media Days 2014.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201410:54 am

Security stands guard to keep people from entering the media area upstairs at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham. Don’t worry, though. We will show you what the media sees!

Drew Galloway July 14, 201410:57 am

Upstairs is a madhouse. National sports news anchors are getting ready to go live at the end of the room, while photographers fight for space to get their cameras set up in the side media rooms.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:05 am

In the main media room, hundreds of journalists from around the country are gathered to write and blog the press conferences.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:27 am

The stage is set. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive will begin his address shortly.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:31 am

Slive has welcomed the media to the 30th SEC Media Days.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:33 am

Slive is “bragging on” all the impressive SEC sports accomplishments, not just football.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:40 am

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:42 am

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:46 am

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:48 am

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:50 am

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:52 am

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201411:53 am

Coming up shortly, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn will take the stage.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:01 pm

Gus Malzahn was the 2013 National Coach of the Year.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:03 pm

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”

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:03 pm

Malzahn says entire staff is back for a second year, he thinks that is huge. 

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:04 pm

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. 

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:05 pm

“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

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:05 pm

On Nick Marshall: He lost the privilege to come to SEC Media Days.

Malzahn did not say what other consequences Marshall will face.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:06 pm

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.

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:07 pm

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.” 

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:07 pm

Auburn head coach Gus Malzhan.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:08 pm

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.”

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:09 pm

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. 

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:12 pm

“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

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:13 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:14 pm

On Nick Marshall working to become a better quarterback:

“That was the number one priority in the spring, to be more balanced.”

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:16 pm

Malzahn on new playoff system: “I think it’s safe to say the SEC champion will be in the final 4.” 

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:17 pm

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. 

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:20 pm

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.

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:20 pm

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.”

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:22 pm

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. 

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:23 pm

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.

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:26 pm

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. 

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:26 pm

On Philip Lutzenkirchen: That was a tough blow to the Auburn family.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:26 pm

On playing Alabama: They make you earn it. They have some great players.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:27 pm

Malzhan says he was on vacation when he heard news of Lutzenkirchen’s passing. He says he was in shock.

Megan Hayes July 14, 201412:27 pm

“He was just a phenomenal person…it was extremely tough.” 

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:27 pm

Coach Gus Malzhan has left the stage. The student athletes from Auburn will take the stage shortly.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:38 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:48 pm

Reese Dismukes, Center

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:49 pm

Gabe Wright, Defensive Linemen

Drew Galloway July 14, 201412:55 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:28 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:31 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:33 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:34 pm

“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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:37 pm

The most excited Muschamp has been about football comes from quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:38 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:39 pm

“Defensively, we have some talent. We do lack some experience, but I will take talent over experience every time,” Muschamp said.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:43 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:45 pm

Florida head coach Will Muschamp

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:49 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:51 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:57 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20142:59 pm

Coach Muschamp has left the stage.
The Florida student athletes will take the stage shortly.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20143:18 pm

Vernon Hargreaves III, Cornerback

Drew Galloway July 14, 20143:19 pm

Dante Fowler, Defensive End

Drew Galloway July 14, 20143:20 pm

Dante Fowler, Defensive End

Drew Galloway July 14, 20143:21 pm

Jeff Driskel , Quarterback

Drew Galloway July 14, 20143:27 pm

“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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20143:31 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20143:43 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:15 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:16 pm

He said Vanderbilt attracts a “similar type of young man.”

He said he’s truly excited about learning “who we are.”

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:18 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:18 pm

“The biggest addition to our program will be our incoming freshmen. We don’t believe in red-shirting at Vanderbilt,” Mason said.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:20 pm

“When you invest in freshmen and get them on the field, you have less problems off the field,” Mason said.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:21 pm

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:22 pm

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.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:27 pm

On playing against Tennessee, who Vanderbilt has won two straight games against: “The rivalry is huge…We don’t looks to move backwards.”

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:30 pm

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.”

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:38 pm

Coach Derek Mason has left the stage.
The Vanderbilt student athletes will be in momentarily.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:54 pm

Andrew Williamson, Safety

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:55 pm

Steven Scheu, Tight End

Drew Galloway July 14, 20144:55 pm

Drew Kaser, Punter

Drew Galloway July 14, 20145:00 pm

“There’s no question that we have more talent now than we ever have in the past few years,” tight end Steven Scheu said.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20145:01 pm

“On the field, coach Mason is the most intense man I’ve ever known. He means what he says,” Scheu said.

Drew Galloway July 14, 20145:04 pm

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. 

Drew Galloway July 14, 20145:05 pm

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. 

Drew Galloway July 14, 20145:16 pm

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 for more coverage of SEC Media Days 2014.

Tomorrow, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and Tennessee are up.