With SEC Media Days — and the college football season in many respects — kicking off tomorrow in Birmingham, we got to thinking about whose press conferences is the most likely to produce a stir. You have media from across the country gathered in one location. They’re all looking for a story. Typically that means that one quip or one wild idea from a coach on Tuesday will become the topic of literally dozens of columns by Wednesday.
So who’s most likely to create a Birmingham buzz this week? Here’s our list of 12 guys most likely to say something that will get the sporting world’s attention:
Bret Beliema, Arkansas (3:20-6:00pm ET Wednesday)
The Razorbacks’ new head coach doesn’t lack for confidence. While he later said it was a joke, earlier this offseason Bielema was quoted as telling an Arkansas booster group that his Big Ten record was better than Nick Saban’s. That will come up again this week. Now consider that Bielema will also be asked about his anti-SEC remarks while at Wisconsin and about the differences between the two leagues. Toss in the fact that someone will probably ask him about Bobby Petrino and the Hogs’ crash and burn without him and there’s a high probability that something Bielema says will go viral. If Bielema gives a good answer, expect to see a half-million “SEC versus Big Ten” columns come Thursday.
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (4:50-7:20pm ET Tuesday)
The media will be all over the Gamecocks’ defensive end-turned-Superman. Don’t be surprised if he’s asked about insurance policies and his decision to actually play football this season rather than sit out and protect his body for next year’s NFL draft.
James Franklin, Missouri (2:00-4:40pm ET Tuesday)
The Tiger QB makes the list mainly because he’ll be forced to answer questions about his decision not to take a pain-killing shot before Mizzou’s game with Arizona State last season. He can thank his head coach for making that issue public back in September.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt (12:20-3:00pm ET Thursday)
Franklin is another coach who has a history of saying things that upset rival fanbases. Think anyone will bring up his “Nicky Satan” comment about Alabama’s coach? Oh, and there’s the whole “four-guys-dismissed-from-the-team-due-to-rape-allegations” thing. Vandy’s coach will most likely be peppered with questions on that unpleasant topic. As a follow-up expect someone to ask about whether or not his program has had to bring in a different type of player to be successful on the field.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (9:30am-12:10pm Wednesday)
Good Lord, this one could be epic. Texas A&M’s quarterback has spent his offseason jetsetting and tweeting about it. He’s set himself up for a lot of questions about his own focus as well as the scrutiny he gets from fans and media. His tweet about wanting out of College Station will come up. So will this past weekend’s departure from the Manning Passing Academy. Johnny Football hasn’t proven to be much of a wallflower so it’s anyone’s guess as to how he’ll handle Wednesday’s media barrage. With the attention he’ll get and the answers he’ll likely provide, we suspect there will be a Twitter avalanche that rivals even “Sharknado.”
Les Miles, LSU (9:30-12:10pm ET Thursday)
The Mad Hatter has a new offensive coordinator and he lost — it seems — half his squad to the NFL as early departees. Both topics will come up. So will the situation with running back Jeremy Hill who pled guilty last week to battery after a bar beating was caught on cell phone video. It’s Hill’s second arrest. To date, Miles hasn’t booted the player from his team, so expect this one to come up early. Also, knowing Miles’ penchant for using flowery language — and his occasional mangling of the King’s English — we think his session could go a little something like this.
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