SEC Media Days 2014 Live Blog: Day 4

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

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

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Today is the final day of SEC Media Days 2014, and boy what a day it is. The coaches and players from Georgia, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Kentucky round out the event.

We’ve been here at Media Days all four days to give you the inside scoop on the 2014 season.

If you missed a day, check out the other live blogs here:

Keep this page open all day for updates. It will automatically refresh when new news is posted.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20148:55 am

Today marks a big day at SEC Media Days 2014. It’s the final day of the four-day event, and the day Bama fans have been looking forward to all week.

The schedule for today is:
9 a.m.-12 p.m. Georgia and Ole Miss
12:10 p.m.-3:10 p.m. Alabama and Kentucky

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:03 am

Georgia head coach Mark Richt has taken the stage.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:04 am

Richt says his team has had a positive off season that has established a good tone for the season.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:06 am

Richt on losing Aaron Murray: When you lose a guy like that, it can be tough. The good thing is that a guy like Hutson Mason has stepped up and taken that leadership role. I think we will transition well.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:07 am

Georgia head coach Mark Richt

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:08 am

Richt said he’s ready for the rematch against Clemson this year–the team’s season opener.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:13 am

Richt said that he thinks the SEC is wide open to any team and no one can be counted out. He gave the example of Auburn not winning a conference game in 2012, then going to the National Championship game in 2013.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:17 am

This is Richt’s14th season at Georgia. He came to Georgia from Florida State after an almost equally long stay at that school.

He said the best part about staying at a school that long is seeing players grow up and mature.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:21 am

Players coming out early for the NFL Draft hasn’t really affected the way Richt handles recruiting. He said he wants players to make the best decisions with as much information as possible.

Richt said he wished all players understood the value of their degree. He said from a business decision, sometimes it makes sense to come out early, but there are other factors to consider.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:24 am

Richt says he doesn’t know how the eighth official in games will affect the tempo of games going forward.

“More eyes, more penalties. That is a possibility,” Richt allowed.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:27 am

When asked about the College Football Playoff, Richt said, “I really don’t know how they are going to handle their business. I’m just going to try to win as many games as possible where they don’t have a choice but to put us there.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:31 am

Richt has left the stage. The student athletes from Georgia will be up shortly.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:37 am

Ramik Wilson, Linebacker

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:41 am

Chris Conley, Flanker

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:52 am

Conley said there’s not really one particular matchup he’s looking forward to this season.

“I look at games as a whole. There area a lot of teams that I’m ready to play…It’s just the fact that I have one more season to play in the red and black. It motivates me.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 20149:53 am

When asked about the differences between Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason’s style of play, Conley said, “Both have tons of experience, the both know the offense to a tee. Hutson has a lot of touch on his pass and Aaron has a lot of zip. That’s one of the differences.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:01 am

When asked what game he’s looking forward to, senior linebakcer Ramik WIlson answered, “South Carolina. That’s the game we are looking for. Two years ago we played there and it didn’t turn out well. So we have a little revenge and we’re ready to go over there and handle business.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:03 am

The Georgia student athletes have left the main media room.

Up next is Ole Miss. Head coach Hugh Freeze is scheduled to speak at 10:30.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:38 am

We’re waiting on coach Freeze to take the podium.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:44 am

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has taken the stage.

Freeze said it’s an honor to represent the Rebels for a third year.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:46 am

Freeze said, “Year three of our journey–we about being ‘all in.'”

He added their spring practice was all about that attitude and he’s excited to start fall camp.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:48 am

When talking about the players who have stepped up as leaders on the team, Freeze said, “I think Bo Wallace has matured nicely.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:50 am

“Offensively, we’ve got to get better in the red zone.” Freeze said that contributed to the team not finishing the season as strongly as it was started.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:53 am

When asked about his expectations for the 2014 “The journey that we’ve been on has been faster than I thought.”
He added that he expected Ole Miss to be competitive in every game this season.

“There’s no question in my mind that we are a better team than we were year one and year two.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201410:57 am

Freeze said that his daughter, Regan, keeps a personal ranking of SEC coaches. He said that coach Les Miles tops that list, to the laughter of the reporters in the media room.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:01 am

Freeze said it’s big to have both Alabama and Auburn at home this season.

He added that the Rebel Nation will be important to the team getting to the fourth quarter in both games.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:03 am

Freeze said mental fatigue took some of his younger players that he had to rely on last season.

“I do believe it took somewhat of a tole on them.”

Freeze said that it on his mind this season.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:04 am

When asked about Collins Moore injury this week, Freeze said, “Losing him for four-to-six weeks doesn’t help. And that’s all we anticipate–four to six weeks.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:09 am

Freeze said that if quarterback Bo Wallace continues to improve, he will break out as a leading quarterback in the conference.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:14 am

“Looking on paper, I feel a lot better about going into this year than I did last year,” Freeze said as he ended his press conference.

The student athletes from Ole Miss will be in shortly.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:22 am

Bo Wallace, Quarterback

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:22 am

CJ Johnson, Defensive End

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:23 am

Cody Prewitt, Safety

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:27 am

When asked about the pressure on being a legitimate dark horse in the west, senior quarterback Bo Wallace said, “Well no, we don’t feel any pressure at all. We are confident that we can get into lat game with those teams. That is our goal–to get late into the fourth quarter and see what happens.

“Like I said, we are a dark horse and we know that and we are working every day to try and win an SEC Championship.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:29 am

Wallace said he is looking forward to playing on the LSU field one last time.

“My sophomore year we got beat late in the game, but it was one of the most fun times I’ve had playing football and it’s a fun atmosphere to play in, especially being a rivalry game. So, I’m very excited to play LSU.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:34 am

When asked about having his likeness used in video games, Wallace said that it’s not a big issue for him or his team, but he feels like the right thing to do is to offer some compensation to the players, possibly in the form of paying for the player’s cost of living.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201411:41 am

The student athletes from Ole Miss have left the main media room.
After a short lunch break, Alabama head coach Nick Saban will give his opening statement and take questions at 12:10 p.m.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:04 pm

A new record for media attendance at SEC Media Days: 1,267 media personnel

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:11 pm

Coach Saban should be taking the stage shortly.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:12 pm

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has taken the stage.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:13 pm

“Football season is here.”

Saban is telling us about his summer–a new grandchild and a newly engaged daughter.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:14 pm

“We have to reestablish our identity as a team at Alabama.”

Saban said that dealing with success and complacency are key to Alabama doing well this season.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:15 pm

“We’re basically an unproved team in some areas. There’s a lot of question marks because of players we have lost and new players. And they are key positions, like quarterback.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:17 pm

The defense will have new specialist and a new punter, Saban said, adding to these “question marks.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:18 pm

“Lots of interest in Lane Kiffin, who players have responded to really well.”

Saban said Kiffin is doing things that will help the team offensively.

“It’s a difficult transition to make, and I think Lane has handled it very well.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:19 pm

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:23 pm

Saban is talking about helping students make the best decisions possible and how he reacts when someone makes a bad decision.

Alabama defensive lineman Jarran Reed was arrested and charged with a DUI on Sunday.

“My point is, we need to help this process and it takes a while to develop this process, this discipline.”

Saban says he is committed to helping young people be successful.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:26 pm

On going into a season with a young quarterback, Saban said every quarterback goes through a process of development, with decision making, accuracy, and leadership are critical to a quarterback’s development.

“That’s the challenge with a young quarterback. How long is he going to take to go through that process.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:28 pm

On the new College Football Playoff, Saban said, “I’m hopeful that when we choose the teams in the playoff, we take the 13 years of experience of the BCS and use it to pick the best teams.”

“When you look at the BCS, they usually got it right. The controversy came when there were more than two teams who deserved it…The same thing will happen. There will be a fifth team that deserves it.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:34 pm

On underclassmen coming out early for the NFL Draft: My philosophy is…When they make the decision to come out, we support them. But, we try to help them make the best business decision possible.

Saban said he believes that staying in school will help a player sustain a better and longer career by being a higher draft pick, due to the investment teams’ make in their higher draft picks.

Saban said he has been hearing about possible restrictions on the amount of juniors that can enter the NFL Draft, due to the high numbers of players doing so.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:41 pm

On the College Football Playoff committee picking the teams for bowl games: “I think they should pick everybody, like they do in basketball.”

Saban said that he was worried that schedules could be manipulated to get a certain team into a bowl game.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:44 pm

About rumors he was offered $100 million to coach for the University of Texas, Saban said, “I didn’t have any conversations with them and nobody offered me anything.”

“I think the University of Texas is a fantastic place…But this is about the station I am in my life.”

“I’m very happy at Alabama…This is where we choose to end our career some day.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:47 pm

Saban ended the press conference by pointing out that the 2014 pre-season Media Days predicted order of finish has been wrong more than it has been right. He said that when the media has chosen Alabama to win it, they have lost, and when the media chooses Alabama to not win it, they do.

Alabama was selected as the 2014 SEC Champion by the media this year.
“I just want you to know, we’re evaluating you, Saban joked.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:48 pm

Saban ended the press conference by pointing out that the 2014 pre-season Media Days predicted order of finish has been wrong more than it has been right. He said that when the media has chosen Alabama to win it, they have lost, and when the media chooses Alabama to not win it, they do.

Alabama was selected as the 2014 SEC Champion by the media this year.

“I just want you to know, we’re evaluating you, Saban joked.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:48 pm

The student athletes from Alabama will be in shortly. Stay tuned to hear from them.

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:53 pm

Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:54 pm

Landon Collins, Safety

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:54 pm

Christion Jones, Wide Receiver

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:57 pm

Junior wide receiver Amari Cooper loves playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium, saying, “It seems like the fans love the game more than the players. They are excited each week. It’s crazy out there.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 201412:59 pm

Cooper said, “Coach Lane Kiffin is a great coach and a great person to be around. He brings that quality to the team. I think we can constantly compete for a championship. Coach is a likeable guy. He wants every player to execute their job. He also wants you to have fun playing football.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:01 pm

Cooper said that coach Nick Saban’s passion for the game doesn’t scare players, saying, “I think a lot of outsiders have a different perspective that the insiders do. Coach Saban is a great leader…He’s a great servant and blessing to other people. That’s what I take from him.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:03 pm

Here’s a photo of coach Saban reviewing his notes just before speaking.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:09 pm

Eager Alabama fans wait for an opportunity to get an autograph or selfie.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:13 pm

The Alabama student athletes have left the room.

We will have more coverage on them and coach Saban on WHNT News 19 tonight. Be sure to tune in to see what else they had to say.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:41 pm

University of Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has taken the stage.

He thanked the SEC for saving the best for last.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:43 pm

“I think the area where we needed to improve the most was leadership. I think the players have worked hard to be leaders,” Stoops said.

Stoops said his players are physically better now, which he said will hopefully contribute to more wins.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:45 pm

When asked how he measured success, Stoops said “How we measure success is how we prepare, how our players pay the price.”

He said that attitude extends all the way up to the coaching staff.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:50 pm

Stoops said he’s excited about his defensive ends this year, saying they are bigger and more versatile.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:52 pm

On the six-win-minimum for bowl legibility, Stoops said, “I don’t want to put that mark on it, because I want win the other six, too.”

“I want to see them amend that,” Stoops added.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:57 pm

When asked about recruiting and his contract extension after 2-10 record last season, Stoops said, “The recruiting is awfully important to us. That’s where it starts…And the contract extension shows that the administration believes in us and what we’re doing.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:58 pm

When asked about the changes to the summertime workout rules, Stoops said, “I feel very good about that. I think it’s a wise choice by the NCAA…It’s good for us to be out there and support them…especially the younger guys.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 20141:59 pm

Coach Mark Stoops has left the stage.

The student athletes from Kentucky will be in shortly.

Drew Galloway July 17, 20142:30 pm

Za’Darius Smith, Defensive End

Drew Galloway July 17, 20142:31 pm

Jordan Swindle, Offensive Tackle

Drew Galloway July 17, 20142:36 pm

Bud Dupree, Defensive End

Drew Galloway July 17, 20142:38 pm

When asked what a successful season looks like to him, junior offensive tackle Jordan Swindle said, “I feel like success for our team is going to a bowl game. That is my personal goal as a team for us. So, I’m going to work my butt off trying to get us to a bowl game.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 20142:40 pm

When asked about the team’s quarterback situation, Swindle said, “I feel like having four quarterbacks that are in the running is actually kind of beneficial…Because there are four fighting for it, each of them has been working their butt off trying to make sure the are the starter.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 20142:49 pm

Senior defensive end Bud Dupree said preparing to face new quarterbacks in the conference will be hard, saying, “In situations like that, we will just have to worry about what we’ve got to do first, in spite of thinking about what he will do. It will be more capitalizing on big plays, capitalizing on situations that we are put in. It’s going in there with the right mentality and going hard on every play.”

Drew Galloway July 17, 20142:51 pm

The players from Kentucky have left the room.

That concluded the press conferences from the coaches and players from the SEC teams.

We will have much more coverage on SEC Media Days 2014 tonight on WHNT News 19 and here on WHNT.com.

Thank you for joining us for SEC Media Days 2014.

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