HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Here are five things to know ahead of the Southeastern Conference’s Media Days beginning Tuesday:
JOHNNY FOOTBALL OR JOHNNY DRAMA? Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was undeniably spectacular on the field during a freshman season that culminated in a Heisman Trophy. His off-the-field resume isn’t nearly as impressive. The face of college football was in the news again Monday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from a 2012 bar fight close to campus. He also recently left the Manning family’s football camp a day early after missing some of his assignments as a camp counselor and coach. He’ll be the main draw of these SEC Media Days — and will likely face some hard questions when he takes the podium Wednesday.
CLOWNEY’S HEISMAN HOPES: The league’s defensive version of Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney — a playmaking force who can sometimes take over a game — takes the stage Tuesday to talk about what could be a mammoth season. The towering South Carolina defensive end has a $5 million insurance policy, a signature, helmet-toppling hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl and already a sixth-place Heisman finish.
A NEW CROP OF COACHES: Four new coaches will make their debut at SEC Media Days, and all of them will take the podium during Wednesday’s interview sessions. Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and Tennessee’s Butch Jones all inherit different sets of circumstances at their respective schools, but will be judged by the same stark standard: wins and losses in the cutthroat league.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH: The mighty SEC has already claimed seven straight BCS titles, and has no shortage of candidates to keep the string going. Perhaps LSU or Manziel’s Texas A&M in the West. Maybe Florida, Georgia or South Carolina in the East. And Alabama might be the odds-on favorite. Chances are most of those coaches would rather talk about their teams’ supposed “deficiencies.”
ROLLING TIDE: That “dynasty” word is already getting tossed around regarding Alabama. Winning a third straight national title and fourth in five years would just make it official — if it’s not already. Coach Nick Saban, quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley will no doubt avoid the D-word on Day 3.