A maroon and white jet touches down in a small, private airfield on the outskirts of Bessemer, Alabama. The exit door folds down, revealing two stewardesses that even on their bad days make Jennifer Anniston look like Rosie O'Donnell. Out steps a confident, middle aged man with a million dollar smile, donning an Armani Suit, gold cufflinks and a gold Rolex. Behind him emerge 3 young men who look like 6 foot 6 inch greek god statues, if greek god statues wore suits that nice. As they all converse and laugh and count 100 dollar bills they just found on the ground over there like 2 seconds ago, they climb in to the back of a black, unmarked Suburban with bullet proof glass and speed off.
I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING, and no this isn't the opening scene to Ocean's 14 or or a new TAKERS movie, this is Mississippi State's arrival to the 2011 SEC Media Days, at least from The Ole Ball Coach's eyes:
Wednesday kicked of the 2011 version of SEC Media Days. A day when 900 guys pack into a crowded Conference room with no internet in Downtown Birmingham and tweet and blog about what Commissioners and Coaches are saying, all while the other 1,000,000 of us men who live between Arkansas and the east coast study their phones and computers religiously, waiting for any and every bit of information they(we) can get.
Wednesday also equals the first sniff of football we've all had since January, and we love it.
On the first day of Media Days, Commissioner Mike Slive, Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino, Florida Coach Will MUSTCHOMP, Sakerlina HBC Steve dontwannabhere Spurrier, and MState Coach Dan Mullen all addressed the media answering and avoiding all types of questions. Here are the talking points of Commissioner Slive and Coach Dan Mullen's talks with the media types.
As detailed in Ross Dellenger's article today for the Clarion Ledger, Slive define 4 goals for the SEC for the near future:
2) Strengthen Academic Eligibility Requirements for Athletes (Min GPA from 2.0 to 2.5 for first year student athletes)
3) Modernize Recruiting Rules
4) Support NCAA's Efforts to Improve Enforcement
Here's how I enterpreted these 4 Goals:
1) Free Beer and Pizza for athletes on Tuesday's at Old Venice
2) 2014 Southern Miss will sign all of MS Dandy Dozen
3) Houston Nutt will be banned from tweeting the same tweet to 8 different recruits
4) Will start punishing schools who cheat (and are not up for a national championship that year, of course)
In all seriousness, Slive's speech addressed some issues that needed addressing. If I had to guess I would assume that current recruiting rules are as ancient as A Three Stooges Rerun. Now talking about reforming rules and actually doing so are two different things, so we will wait and see what changes do, in fact, take place. I did find it interesting that Slive wanted to raise incoming athlete GPA's from 2.0 to 2.5. Joking aside, this could do 1 of 2 things:
1) Cause some prized recruits to look outside of the SEC due to their academic ails
2) Cause coaches, parents and teachers to become more "creative" in a star athlete's schoolwork grading, etc.
Rest assured that if rules are changing, then cheaters are finding ways to change too to step around those new rules.
After Slive finished his driveling (and officially disappointed all by not announcing his retirement), Coaches Petrino, Muschamp, Spurrier and Mullen addressed the media. Comment's on coaches talks are link as available below:
Petrino's recap at Media Days isn't up here, but here is the Arkansas SBNation Page
And then it was Coach Mullen's turn. Mullen addressed the media like he was out campaining for the upcoming State elections (As a side note, if he announced his candidacy after his talk at Media Days today, I would vote for him). Mullen fielded questions ranging from his thoughts on Starkville to questions on the Billboards throughout the state showing his picture and the phase "WELCOME TO OUR STATE". Here are a few excerpts from Brandon Marcello's story on Mullen addressing the media today:
While talking about how rich the SEC has become and how it’s directly affected all of the schools, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier made a crack — well, maybe not — at MSU, saying, "We operate pretty cheaply around (South Carolina) for some reason. I saw Dan Mullen. Mississippi State has a jet airplane out there. We pulled our little KingAir next to it. They’ve got a lot of money at Mississippi State."
I asked Mullen about Spurrier’s quote and he fired right back with a lighthearted jab at the Ol’ Ball Coach: "I’ve never played Augusta National, so I can’t be on his level. He’s probably a member there."
Dan Mullen 1, Ole Ball Coach ZERO
Several questions concerned the city of Starkville, and the perception that it’s not necessarily a "destination" town in the SEC. I wouldn’t say Mullen took offense to the questions, but he tried to make his point when he described the small college town as a "hidden gem." He later added: "Everybody that comes to visit us, that’s the challenge we’ve had. Once they come on campus, whether it be recruits, parents, even fans, they say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know what a beautiful place this is, what a great place to live, what a great community Starkville, Mississippi is."
Mullen for Starkville Mayor/Head Coach 2012???
On the subject of the "Welcome to Our State" billboards at the major entrance points into Mississippi, a reporter hailing from Louisiana mentioned the signs on his drive to SEC Media Days. "Did you enjoy your time there?" Mullen asked. Mullen then went into his charge to bring a championship to MSU, a verbal pledge he made this spring during visits to booster clubs across the state. "I’d love nothing more than to win a championship for the people of Mississippi," he said. "They deserve to be champions."
We would love a Championship Coach, there's no doubt about that.
Also, our SBNation brothers and sisters at Every Day Should Be Saturday attended Media Days, and honestly, between the tweets and the blog posts, I don't know which I laughed harder at. The stories on each segment of media days today as follows: