SEC Media Days will once again drawn hordes of media from across to the country to suburban Birmingham, Ala.
BY DAVID JONES Florida Today
Published: July 15, 2013
Updated: July 15, 2013 at 11:50 PM
HOOVER, Ala. - The BCS era concludes in January with the national title game. In 2014, college football will go to a playoff to determine its national champion. But it's business as usual in the Southeastern Conference. Once again, the SEC can boast of having the defending national champion in Alabama and a Heisman Trophy winner trying for a repeat in Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. And more than 1,000 media members will pack into an Alabama hotel for the next three days as the league launches the 2013 season with its annual SEC Media Days event. Nick Saban, who coaches the Crimson Tide, doesn't expect even the birth of a playoff to alter the league's domination, with his team considered the favorite by many to win a third straight national title and the league's eighth in a row.
But there are some changes coming. Four new coaches - Mark Stoops at Kentucky, Gus Malzahn at Auburn, Butch Jones at Tennessee and Bret Bielema at Arkansas - will bring different styles into the SEC in 2013. Offenses are expected to be more explosive with several top quarterbacks returning. In short, the toughest league in the country looks even tougher. "This whole concept of playing fast, not letting the defense get lined up, doing a lot of different formations and motions and sort of having things orchestrated is challenging," Saban said. "I think as more people do it - I think last year we had like nine teams do it to us - our players are going to get more and more used to it. ...We need to change the way we practice when we play people like that so that our players understand how to play at that pace."
Nobody was better at running a fast offense than Manziel, whose arrival at media days on Wednesday figures to create a circus-like atmosphere. Another Heisman candidate is scheduled to arrive today in South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who could lead the Gamecocks to the top of the SEC East. With coaches and players from all 14 teams expected to speak during the event, storylines will be plentiful. Florida coach Will Muschamp, who is scheduled to appear today, has to rebuild a defense that seemed to fall apart in a lopsided loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, a Plant High product, returns for his senior season. And LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger should be better as the Tigers once again have national-title aspirations. Murray and Mettenberger are scheduled to speak Thursday.