"We have a lot to play for … we have a lot going on," Richardson said. "If we were to make it (to a championship), this team right here, it would mean so much to so many people. "The older guys you don’t have to say anything because they know what’s going on. Myself? I remind myself all the time, you have so much you’re fighting for. It’s my family that I’m fighting for. Basically I’m trying to get the team on my back and we’re going to ride."
Why it's No. 1: Given that the SEC has won the last five national championships, and that the winner of the West this season figures to be the league's leading national title contender, this could be considered the biggest game of the year in college football.
Remember how wide open the Southeastern Conference East Division race was in 2010? Expect more of the same, and maybe even a crazier finish in 2011. Meanwhile, the only team with the talent to duplicate Auburn’s 8-0 SEC record last year is LSU, which won 10 games last year while ranking 107th in the nation in passing, and in 2011 will lean heavily on its ultra-fast defense and power running game against a manageable schedule. Auburn will have to replay last year’s magical highlights on its video board for its fans to enjoy this season. Alabama and Arkansas have the pieces in place to repeat their 10-win seasons of a year ago.
The LSU Tigers have self-imposed recruiting restrictions, plus a two-scholarship reduction, for a former assistant coach's overeager phone recruiting and other indiscretions from 2008 to 2009. The NCAA's Committee on Infractions accepted those penalties and put the program on one year of probation. However, the NCAA praised LSU for taking the investigation seriously. LSU coaches will miss out on 10 percent of their official recruiting visit opportunities for the next two years. That scholarship penalty will also last two seasons.
1. The national title contenders: LSU and Alabama, Alabama and LSU. There’s little difference between the two – LSU is SN’s preseason No.1 and Alabama No.3 – and there’s little doubt the November 5 game in Tuscaloosa will decide the SEC West Division, which will decide the SEC Championship, which will decide who plays in the BCS National Championship Game. From there, we all know what happens when the SEC gets in the big game.
If there is anything weightier to SEC Media Days than the relatively light-hearted nature of the gatherings -- this is a bunch of reporters asking football coaches and players about playing a game -- it is that football season is on the horizon. And for a pigskin-crazed state looking for any kind of distraction from a clean-up and recovery effort that's still very much an active process, it can't get here soon enough.
"I think what everyone wants — and this wouldn't necessarily be restricted to coaches — is that when issues arise, that they be handled in a timely way," Slive said. "And that's not always easy when you're dealing with a process that doesn't have subpoena power and power to compel answers to interrogatories. My sense is that what Julie and Dr. Emmert are trying to do is find a way without those resources to reconfigure their staff and how they do things to try to address the question of timeliness."
FOR NICK SABAN:
"How will you turn the tornado into a recruiting tactic?" <---SOMEONE WILL ACTUALLY ASK THIS WATCH
"Coach Saban, that was you laughing during the first fifteen minutes of Up, wasn't it?"
"Coach Saban, Coach Saban… PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWLLLLL. I'll hang up and listen" *takes seat*
"Do you think Peter Dinklage has done a good job portraying the plight of your people on Game of Thrones?"
It sounds crazy now, especially after five straight national titles by the SEC. But the conventional line of thinking used to be the SEC couldn't play for them. Too many games. Too much beating up on each other. "Oh yes, everybody had their own interests and complaints," former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer recalled. "I think you've found that argument not too strong."
Unlike coaches in football, basketball and a few other Division I sports where full scholarships are the standard, college coaches in most sports make a practice of offering partial grants. As a result, the practice of bidding for players, searching for bargains and saving scholarship room from year to year is the norm. They compare the process to the work of NFL and NBA salary-cap managers.
CBSSports.com: Does it amaze you that essentially there is no bylaw to govern what Cecil Newton did? (Offer his son's services in exchange for $180,000 at Mississippi State.)
Meyer: "The person that has to make the conscious decision [to cheat] is very well aware of the [response] that will take place. It's kind of a difficult situation. I don't think the objective is to catch everyone. I think it's to deter behavior. There's only one way to deter behavior and that's to have a risk/reward situation in place where the risk is so great people will quit doing it. "If you are asked a question and are untruthful with the NCAA, everyone has to know what it [punishment] is. The case with Dez Bryant was clear, it was a year of eligibility."
Surprisingly, the individual who believes the coaches are the root of the evil also just happens to be a head coach -- Bronco Mendenhall of BYU. Mendenhall said the current corruption in college football "absolutely" can be attributed to the huge amount of money made by coaches, especially the SEC where 10 of 12 earn more than two million a year. "Absolutely," Mendenhall said. "It kind of takes the amateur part out of sports when someone is making [$5] million to coach, doesn't it? "With the economy the way it is, I mean, it doesn't make much sense to me."
Kelly McBride of Poynter wrote that ESPN would have avoided having the awkwardness of having one of its reporters working directly with someone suing it if there were a firm policy against as-told-to books. ESPN had agreed to let Feldman write the book. To write the book, McBride said: "Feldman had to assume Leach’s point of view, right down to the cadence of the coach’s speech. How do you do that for a side job, then go back to the independent, more distant point of view for your day job?" She said there was still no uniform policy about such books. "ESPN should have insisted Feldman walk away from the book and offered him the financial and legal help to do," McBride wrote, adding that "the conflict was untenable" and ESPN should have known it.