Originally Published: July 14, 2014

SEC Media Days: Day 1 Awards

HOOVER, Ala. -- While SEC media days are a great way to kick off another football season, they're also the perfect time to see who's bringing his fashion A-game, who is most quotable and, of course, which historical figures Mike Slive is going to name-drop.

Best historical references: Mike Slive, SEC commissioner
In his opening remarks in the main media room, Slive quoted Muhammad Ali, Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Nelson Mandela. When bragging about the SEC's accomplishments, Slive channeled the former boxing champ by saying, "It's not bragging if you can back it up." Keep raising that bar, commish, like a boss.

Quote of the day: Will Muschamp, Florida
"Keep your quarterback healthy."
Muschamp used those four simple words repeatedly, both when asked what he learned about last year's struggles and what advice he'd give to first-year SEC coach Derek Mason at Vanderbilt.

Best-dressed coach: Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Go bold or go home. Mason did just that with a patterned gold-and-black jacket and a black bow tie. The SEC's only first-year coach this season, Mason acquitted himself well, carrying a confidence that was infectious and made him a hit on the opening day of this media circus. Oh, and don't forget about his sweet metal business card.

Best-dressed player: Dante Fowler, Florida
We're fans of the bow tie here at the SEC blog. The junior defensive end rocked a three-piece suit with an orange bow tie. It was sleek with a touch of flair and his sense of style was accompanied by a laid-back, easygoing personality that made him one of the most enjoyable interviews of the day.

Surprise of the day: Jeff Driskel, Florida
When asked who had the biggest appetite on the team, Driskel claimed the honors, citing a victory over junior offensive lineman Trip Thurman in a contest to see who could eat the most Krystal burgers. Driskel, at 230 pounds, claimed he ate twice as many as the 305-pounder.

Biggest no-show: Nick Marshall, Auburn
Really the only no-show, but his absence dominated the storylines on Day 1. C.J. Uzomah, Marshall's replacement, filled in for Marshall, but we still wanted to hear Marshall speak for himself rather than coach Gus Malzahn and his teammates speak for him.

Sam Khan Jr. | email

ESPN Staff Writer

Translating Day 1 of SEC media days

By Sam Khan Jr., Greg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough | ESPN.com

HOOVER, Ala. -- We know the drill at media days. Coaches can't be completely honest. They have to give tons of credit to their opponents and not say anything controversial. But what if they could say what they really wanted to? Here are our best guesses for what a few people at media days would have said if they could really speak freely:

Gus Malzahn on discipline for Nick Marshall's marijuana citation: "Well, we have school rules. Of course, I have team rules. We abide by them."

Translation: I see where you reporters are going with this, and I'm not biting. I'm not even going to tell you our team rules ... because I don't have to. Our QB made a mistake and seeing as we didn't bring him here, we're trying not to talk about it. If you think Nick is the only college student to ever get in trouble for this, you're fooling yourself.

Mike Slive on the desire for autonomy among the Big 5 conferences: "If we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interests of our student-athletes."

Translation: You hear that, Mark Emmert? Do the right thing and give us autonomy now. If you don't, we're outta here. We're only letting you think you're in charge, so act accordingly. Because if we go, so goes your bottom line. And isn't that the whole reason we're here?

Derek Mason on redshirting players: "The biggest addition to our program will be our incoming freshmen. We don't believe in redshirting at Vanderbilt."

Translation: First, regardless of the talent James Franklin left behind, I want to build my program with my own players. Second, I'm sending a clear message to 2015 recruits: Commit to the Commodores and you can play right away. I might be an SEC media days rookie, but I know what I'm doing.

Gus Malzahn on his relationship with Nick Saban: "We have a professional relationship when we're around each other in meetings and stuff like that. I've got a lot of respect for Coach Saban as a coach, and he's been ultrasuccessful."

Translation: Saban is a good coach, but are you kidding me? We're not friends. I want to beat his brains out every time we take the field against each other.

Will Muschamp on handling the hot seat: "Well, I think you combat the hot seat talk with having a good team and winning games. Control the controllable is always what I've said. Control the things you can control. I haven't always practiced it, but try and just control the things I can control. That's coaching our football team, developing our football team. There was never any time in my mind that I didn't think I would be retained. It's the great thing about having an athletic director like Jeremy Foley that has a strong pulse on not only our program, but every program in the athletic department. At the end of the day, he understood circumstances we dealt with. We're looking forward to getting them amended this year."

Translation: If I win, everybody will shut up and all you media types will stop talking about last year. Go see how the other teams in the SEC fare when they lose that many key players. Heck, we were losing guys before the season even started. So, no, my athletic director wasn't about to can me for something freakish and out of my control.


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