Let’s hope their coaching is more colorful
There’s talk that after returning to its old stomping grounds in Hoover, Alabama, next year, the SEC will start taking its highly acclaimed Football Media Days out on the road.
Just a hunch. But they’re going to need some better material.
This show is not quite ready for Las Vegas yet.
Maybe the Catskills. But definitely off Broadway.
If you’re looking for a good song and dance, a little light humor, this league has just lost too much coaching talent in recent years to keep the show going.
Mostly the media critics gather now and reminisce about the glory days, when in a span of 10 minutes Steve “Aw-shucks” Spurrier would get a dig in at all 13 other coaches and probably the standing commissioner.
You don’t lose Uncle Les’ hilarious recaps of the latest Miles Family Vacation and think the show will go on.
In the SEC, because It Just Means More, you tend to have a lot of coaching turnover.
So there were five new coaches this year in Atlanta who did little to invigorate the cast, although the one role change — Dan Mullen from Mississippi State to Florida — is a welcomed and promising scenario.
The most notable absence this year was former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who was always good for an impromptu anecdote or two to bring down the house.
He was sorely missed.
But we’ll trudge through the annual entertainment rankings for all 14 anyway, from worst to first, the best of a mediocre lot.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky: I honestly don’t remember a thing he said, although Kentucky will apparently field a varsity this season.
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee: If he really was Tennessee’s, like, 22nd choice to be the new head coach, then the other 21 or so must have really bombed the job interview.
Barry Odom, Missouri: He does little to remind you or excite you that, yes, Missouri really is in the SEC.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: One of the funniest moments of the week was when, while he was speaking, the SEC Network ran a graphic with his Waffle House dining preference — scattered, smothered, covered and chunked — on his famous postgame visits. Give the network credit. Nothing Malzahn said came close to it.
Chad Morris, Arkansas: I had no idea what to make of him, but I didn’t feel like I was listening to a coach. I guess that’s a good thing. Stay tuned on this one.
Kirby Smart, Georgia: If you’re the rest of the SEC East, Smart is scary. Those steely eyes just exude man’s-man confidence, stopping just short of arrogance. It mesmerizes you, no matter what he says.
Ed Orgeron, LSU: Much, much better than last year when he recited the phone book, uh, depth chart in a snooze fest. It doesn’t really matter what he says, nobody outside the Louisiana media can understand a word he utters anyway.
Will Muschamp, South Carolina: Seems to really be at ease on the podium. The comedy highlight is still his good-natured sparring with the Florida media he used to deal with daily, but at least, unlike many, he doesn’t look like he’s just trying to get the day over with.
Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State: The only known living man who can compare being a head coach in New York City to the same job in Starkville, Mississippi, should have unlimited material. And he wasn’t bad, particularly his bemused take on the South’s obsession with bacon. I suspect he’ll rank higher in subsequent years. Real potential here.
Matt Luke, Ole Miss: Just an all-around good guy. Nothing particularly hilarious comes from him, but it all seems to come straight from the heart. He seems to really just be himself on stage, which is half the battle.
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: The SEC stenographers’ nightmare, he wore them out in his 20 minutes with his absolutely-positively-has-to-betherebytomorrow cadence. You can never hope to transcribe him, you can only contain him. But he seemed to cover everything honestly with minimal coach-speak. Welcome addition to the SEC.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: Go, coach. You go. Nobody takes him seriously because he’s talking about Vanderbilt. But he’s convinced the Commodores can be relevant. We all know how it will end, but he’s on such a roll nobody has the heart to tell him any different.
Nick Saban, Alabama: All petty business comes to a halt when Saban takes the mic. What he says matters. What he says usually makes sense. I’m convinced that mankind, if not the Crimson Tide, would be better served if he was Commissioner of College Football rather than specializing in Bama. He was one good rant away from taking over the top spot. And since he’ll never be on the hot seat, he’s allowed to smile.
Dan Mullen, Florida: Maybe Mullen is a testament to how far the entertainment factor has fallen at this gala. Mullen even brings his own props — his shoe game, a staple from his Mississippi State days — that never fails to dazzle. He seems to really enjoy his bits, which helps, and every now then — just enough for it not to get old — he reminds you that he used to often be confused with Cousin Eddie from “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mississippi State NCAA college football head coach Joe Moorhead speaks during Southeastern Conference Media Days Wednesday, July 18, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)