HOOVER, Ala.—Greetings from Day 2 of SEC Medi. …Make that Johnny Manziel Media Day.
Yep. The Texas A&M quarterback will meet the press.
No, David Gregory isn’t here (at least as far as I know). Neither is Chris Wallace.
Manziel will presumably answer why he got shown the door (or left) the Manning Passing Academy.
And his other issues this offseason since striking a pose in New York with the Heisman.
Think Kentucky first-year coach Mark Stoops is pumped to follow Manziel in the big media room here at the Wynfrey Hotel?
Thanks to expansion last year, this again is the busiest days of Media Days with a whopping six teams hitting the scene.
Other coaches on hand today: Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Tennessee’s Butch Jones and (after a lunch break) Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema.
Lots of new SEC coaches on the block today.
Manziel is here! Manziel is here!
He’s hanging out by the SEC set before going on the air. Reporters are crowded around the back of the stage in the Wynfrey Hotel lobby, making it looks something like a College GameDay set.
“Just another day,” Manziel said before going on air.
Meanwhile at the same time, SEC coordinator of officals Steve Shaw called the new “targeting” rule, the most significant of his tenure.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin’s first question was on guess who.
It dealt with Manziel on and off the field.
“I think that obviously he has done an exceptional job,” Sumlin said. “Otherwise, the nation’s spoke. The writers’ spoke (with the Heisman). Off the field, there’s no question he’s made some mistakes. Today will be a great experience for him. A great experience for a lot of people because he has made some mistakes. We’ve had discussions about that. The way we view things it’s like having kids. …How we handle things are in-house. He has done some things that he’s not very proud of and has made some poor decisions. He’s made some good decisions. Unfortunately, the poor decisions are ones that are publicized. It’s a growing process.”
Manziel handled himself about as well as could be expected in more than 30 minutes with reporters in the big room.
He stayed for the duration and answered all questions that came his way.
On attention and criticism“I wouldn’t say fair or unfair. At times it’s blown a little bit a little bit out of proportion. At the end of the day, I hope people still see that I’m a 20-year old kid in college. I’m just trying to enjoy my life. Hopefully that doesn’t upset too many people. I’m continuing to learn as the days and the weeks go on. I’ve made my mistakes obviously. I’ll continue to learn from them and not make the same one twice.”
On his offseason: “We worked so hard last year. I think we deserved to have a little bit of fun this offseason. Some people did it in different shapes or form.”
On what happened at the Manning Camp: “It wasn’t football-related. I was tired. It was exhausting. It had nothing to do with activities the night before. It had nothing to do with anything involved with the Manning camp. Just a really busy schedule for the month of June and July.”
On if he was told to pack his bags at Manning Camp: “I was not asked to leave. It was a mutual decision. I wanted to be there but at the end of the day I was pretty tired and wanted to get back to College Station and just relax. …The speculation of me being too hungover or whatever it was to show up for meetings and the next day and that’s the reason I missed were absolutely incorrect.”
How soon they forget.
Two-time SEC East division champion Georgia didn’t get a mention from new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops when he was asked about how he sees the SEC East shaping up.
“In our side of the division, certainly you have to look at Florida and South Carolina, expect (them) to be very good. Shoot, we’re just worried about ourselves to be honest with you. We have so much work to do. All the teams in the league are good. We all know that.”
Former Georgia defensive assistants John Jancek and Willie Martinez are now coaching in the SEC East for Tennessee.
Jancek is the coordinator now and Martinez coaches the defensive backs.
Martinez was defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2005-09 and Jancek was linebackers coach. Both were fired after the 2009 regular season.
“One of the things is, of putting the staff together, I wanted individuals who understood what it was to recruit and compete at a high level in the SEC,” Volunteers first-year coach Butch Jones said. “So these individuals have brought a lot to the table. Obviously, Willie being a former defensive coordinator in the conference, having great success at Georgia. John being a co-defensive coordinator at Georgia, as well.”
The last coach of the day was the best in terms of entertaining the room.
That seems to be the consensus of Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, the former Wisconsin coach.
He shot back at Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who dismissed the notion that no-huddle offenses can be a safety issue.
“He thought it was a joke?” Bielema asked. “I’m not a comedian. Everything I say is what I believed in.”
Bielema actually had the room laughing, particularly when he mentioned that a reporter in the front row after the sixth and final coach of the day appearing was nodding off.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marc.weiszer