Hoover, Ala.–Gus Malzahn, Auburn’s third year head coach, got the 2015 SEC Media Days off to a lively start on Monday morning.
Malzahn, whose first Auburn team in 2013 came within 13 seconds of winning the BCS National championship, was asked about satellite camps, where coaches like Jim Harbaugh of Michigan come South to be guests at camps of potential recruits. The SEC, which does not allow its coaches to participate in camps more than 50 miles from campus, is asking the NCAA to ban the practice because, in its view, those are simply recruiting camps and the recruiting calendar is already crowded enough.
Malzahn said he doesn’t think it’s a big deal.
“The chances of a team up North coming into our state and getting a player that us or Alabama wants are slim to none,” said Malzahn.
Boom! Take that, Mr. Khaki Pants.
But Malzahn conceded that if the NCAA keeps the practice in place, “we’re going to do it.”
**–Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium has installed the largest video board in all of college football for the 2015 season.
“It’s big. It’s real big,” said Malzahn. “I think it’s really going to be a great thing for our fans. It will do nothing but help our atmosphere, which is already off the charts.”
Malzahn that he will take his team into the stadium to practice with the scoreboard on “so it won’t be a shock to us that first game at home (Sept. 12 vs. Jacksonville State.)”
**–Jeremy Johnson was in the ninth grade when Gus Malzahn started recruiting him out of Carver High School in Montgomery. Six years later, Johnson will finally be Malzahn’s starting quarterback when Auburn opens the 2015 season against Louisville in Atlanta.
Auburn’s offense in 2015 will feature a bit more of the vertical passing game. Why?
“He (Johnson) can flat out throw it,” Malzahn said. “He can make every throw you ask him to do, but he’s a better runner than people think.”
Johnson, who has two career starts at Auburn, is pretty excited too. “Even when I wasn’t playing I’ve always been competing as a starter,” he said. “My time is here now and I’m blessed.”
**–For the first time since 1990, somebody not named Roy Kramer or Mike Slive made the opening remarks for SEC Media Days. Greg Sankey, 50, took over for Slive on June 1 and in his opening remarks put out a road map for the future.
Sankey said that as good as the SEC has been for the past 25 years, both on and off the field, “the best days of the Southeastern Conference are ahead of us.” Sankey said his goal moving forward is for the SEC to “Never give back a championship; never take down a banner; never vacate any wins.”
After a brief video on a group of SEC student-athletes, Sankey said: “I’m the commissioner of the SEC but THEY are the SEC.”
**–When everybody gets to campus this summer, Florida will have a of total 16 offensive linemen. Six of them will be true freshman and a bunch of them are going to have to play right away. “I told them that it’s going to be like going to Disney World,” said first-year coach Jim McElwain. “You’re not standing in line to get on the ride any more. You’re in the Fast Pass lane.”
**–McElwain on the most important thing he looks for when evaluating a quarterback: “How people around him play when he is in the huddle. Guys look up to quarterbacks who know how to take care of their business on and off the field.”
Sophomore Treon Harris, who started several games last season, and redshirt freshman Will Grier are still competing for the job.
**–Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III on the frustrations of watching the Gators’ offense struggle last season: “It was easy to get frustrated but the fact is they didn’t need anyone to tell them they were struggling. Instead of complaining we need to pick them up. They can’t win without us and we can’t win without them.”
Hargreaves is considered to the the best cover corner in college football. When asked about it, Hargreaves agreed.
**–Former Florida coach Will Muschamp, who coached Hargreaves the past two seasons, is now the defensive coordinator at Auburn. Kris Frost, the Tigers’ senior linebacker, could have gone to the NFL but decided to return to school. One reason was the opportunity to play for Muschamp.
“I love what he brings to the table as far as the credentials he has,” said Frost. “I feel like that was a major (reason) to come back.”
**–Derek Mason, Vanderbilt’s second year coach, knows that the heat will be turned up a bit after his first team when 3-9, 0-8 in the SEC.
“I made some assumptions about our football team,” said Mason, who was the defensive coordinator at Stanford before coming to Nashville. “I assumed that because we were in the SEC we would play like an SEC team.”
That assumption proved to be painfully false and Mason made some difficult changes, firing both of his coordinators and bringing in a new strength and conditioning coach (James Dobson) from Nebraska. He will serve as his own defensive coordinator.
Mason said after his first year as a head coach he is “a year older and a year wiser.” We’ll see if that translates into wins.
Vanderbilt opened last season with a 37-7 loss to Temple. This season the Commodores open at home with Western Kentucky and quarterback Brandon Doughty, the most valuable player in Conference USA last season with 4,830 passing and 49 touchdowns.