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Hobbs Column: The best three days in all of sports

Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 2:46 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

HOOVER, Ala. — After three days, one commissioner, 14 coaches, 42 players, 1,300 media members, a gazillion TV cameras, seven interview stations, two ESPN GameDay sets, 34 talk radio booths and the usual mob of Nick Saban worshipers at the foot of the South’s most famous escalator, there was one burning question left unanswered from SEC Media Days.

Why didn’t Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron wake up Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel from his extended slumber at the Manning Passing Academy?

That’s the beauty of what has become more of a phenomena than event, a glorious, three-ring extravaganza that each year seems to take on a life of its own. It can become a living, breathing organism, better than anything on reality TV, as story lines bob and weave, get planted, nurtured, analyzed and, if all else fails, often invented right on the spot.

It just might be the best three days in all of sports and not one game gets played.

If anyone from the Fourth Estate was to inquire about, say, the replacements for Mississippi State’s offensive line, they just might get their press credential revoked and thrown unarmed and defenseless to the blood-thirsty Roll Tide crowd.

This is not about whether Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon or Georgia’s Todd Gurley is the league’s best running back.

That reeks far too much of actual football, which is still almost a month and a half away, and really has no business here.

We want to good stuff, or at least the goods on somebody, the juicy gossip, the unconfirmed rumors, the tattle-tale stuff.

We want to be Entertainment Tonight for three days.

I can safely report that all 14 coaches who traipsed through here are dad-gum excited about the upcoming season, even Kentucky. The newbie coaches are even more excited about what the future of the programs will be and the breathtaking support from near and far.

Maybe that’s what put Johnny Football to sleep in the first place.

Better to debate whether, after winning nine games for the first time since 1915, Vanderbilt is to be taken seriously.

Much better to discuss whether Twitter really could eventually be the ruination of college football everywhere.

Better to wonder aloud if South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is such a beast he should be kept in a cage between Saturdays.

Clowney, best known for sending a Michigan helmet into earth orbit in the Outback Bowl, came armed with a list of quarterbacks, including Aaron Murray of Georgia, that he said had fear in their eyes looking at him across the line.

The press corps was kind enough to pass on the remarks to Murray, of course. He wasn’t much help, taking the high road to suggest that Clowney mistook the word “fear” for “respect.”

But Georgia coach Mark Richt did say “I’d be scared of him if I was in the game.”

One of the key media duties here — sort of like high school — is to make sure each coach hears what another may have said about him.

So now the Arkansas-Auburn game takes on new meaning after first-year coaches Brett Bielema of the Hogs and Gus Malzahn of the Tigers had some innocent remarks mangled in the relay translation.

Malzahn said it was a “joke” that the trendy new fast-paced offenses are dangerous to defenses, and Bielema went on a fire-and-brimstone rant that any coach could see player safety as a joking matter.

You just stand back and watch the fireworks.

This story might have legs, though, as right now the SEC is just about split down the middle between the no-huddle crowd and the traditionalists.

For that matter, Notre Dame still hasn’t responded to Steve Spurrier’s demand that the Irish get themselves in a conference like decent folk. The vote was 14-0, Spurrier said, among SEC coaches.

We also got to see Saban and LSU’s Les Miles agree to disagree about the fairness of those vague SEC scheduling policies — or lack thereof — that always seem to coddle the Tide with East Division lightweights.

When Saban reminded the masses that he used to coach at LSU and thus understood what it was like to play Florida every year, was it just a not-so-subtle reminder that he started the purple and gold success that Miles has continued.

To some, it wasn’t that far of a reach.

Mainly, though, this was the Johnny Manziel Show, specifically why he slept in on Archie, Peyton and Eli and what were the circumstances of going home a day early.

After hours of extensive digging during Manziel’s appearance, it was learned that he and McCarron had actually been roommates at the Manning academy.

It begged the question — in July, at least — of how McCarron could be pictured with Johnny Football out on the town in Thibodaux and yet manage to fulfill his own counseling duties the next day while Manziel slept on.

Once Manziel let it slip that he shared a room with McCarron, you could see the lightbulbs going off in media minds.

Not much of a wing man to let him sleep like that.

Unfortunately it was more than 24 hours before McCarron arrived, and he’d been coached up to expect the question.

He wouldn’t bite.

But it was a good week anyway.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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