published Sunday, July 13th, 2014

SEC expecting record turnout for media days

COMING THIS WEEK

• In addition to daily coverage in the sports section this week, get real-time coverage from the SEC media days at Hoover, Ala., at timesfreepress.com. Plus listen to Sports Editor Jay Greeson and SEC beat writer David Paschall interview some of the biggest names from college football’s best conference on “Press Row” daily 3-6 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 FM and on timesfreepress.com.

THE GUEST LIST

The three player representatives from each school this week at SEC media days:

Alabama

• S Landon Collins

• WR Amari Cooper

• WR Christion Jones

Arkansas

• OG Brey Cook

• S Trey Flowers

• DB Alan Turner

Auburn

• QB Nick Marshall

• C Reese Dismukes

• DL Gabe Wright

Florida

• QB Jeff Driskel

• DE Dante Fowler

• CB Vernon Hargreaves III

Georgia

• FL Chris Conley

• TB Todd Gurley

• LB Ramik Wilson

Kentucky

• DE Bud Dupree

• OT Jordan Swindle

• DE Za'Darius Smith

LSU

• OT La'el Collins

• TB Terrence Magee

• LB D.J. Welter

Ole Miss

• DE CJ Johnson

• S Cody Prewitt

• QB Bo Wallace

Mississippi State

• S Jay Hughes

• LB Benardrick McKinney

• QB Dak Prescott

Missouri

• C Evan Boehm

• DE Markus Golden

• QB Maty Mauk

South Carolina

• OG A.J. Cann

• DT J.T. Surratt

• QB Dylan Thompson

Tennessee

• OL Mack Crowder

• LB AJ Johnson

• DE Curt Maggitt

Texas A&M

• CB Deshazor Everett

• P Drew Kaser

• OT Cedric Ogbuehi

Vanderbilt

• DL Adam Butler

• TE Steven Scheu

• S Andrew Williamson

There were countless images last summer of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel trying to navigate his way through hundreds of reporters at the Southeastern Conference's annual football media days event.

Manziel, who was hounded repeatedly about his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy, is no longer in the SEC. The reporters will be back at media days, however, and in even greater number.

"We're probably looking at the most preregistered media that we've had, but we don't have any final numbers," SEC associate director of media relations Chuck Dunlap said this past week. "Last year we had 1,239 people credentialed, which included the players, coaches and corporate sponsors. I would think that when we're done on Thursday, this year will top that."

No player had commanded so much attention as Manziel at the SEC's July extravaganza, which runs Monday through Thursday in Hoover, Ala. Tennessee second-year coach Butch Jones will be at the podium Tuesday afternoon, with Georgia's Mark Richt scheduled for Thursday morning and Alabama's Nick Saban for Thursday afternoon.

Alabama is expected to be picked as the conference favorite, a topic Saban often loathes addressing, and the four-time national championship coach likely will continue having to discuss the hiring of Lane Kiffin as his offensive coordinator.

"Lane did a fantastic job with our staff and with our players," Saban said after spring practice. "Both parties have a lot of respect for his knowledge and enthusiasm and experience. Any time you make a change, people have to make some adjustments, and we tried to keep some of the things we were doing while allowing Lane to do some of the things that he wants to do.

"I think everyone has bought into that and that it's working out really, really well. He's a great asset to our staff in terms of his knowledge and experience, and it's been great for me, too, to have a guy who's been a head coach before and had some of the issues and problems that we have."

Media days will open with conference commissioner Mike Slive, who is certain to provide updates on the SEC Network as well as where the league stands in the NCAA allowing new governance for the power five conferences.

Slive will be followed by Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who led the Tigers to the SEC championship in his first season. The Tigers had dramatic down-the-stretch victories over Georgia and Alabama and will be hard-pressed to match their 12-win total with a schedule that contains Alabama, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Kansas State and Mississippi State.

Auburn opens its title defense Aug. 30 against visiting Arkansas, the first time the Tigers have commenced with a league foe since 1995.

"We do have a veteran team, and any time you open up a season with a conference game, you want a veteran team," Malzahn said. "And we're playing at home, so I'm hoping those two factors will help."

Quarterback Nick Marshall is scheduled to be one of Auburn's three player representatives at media days, but the senior was cited Friday in Reynolds, Ga., for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Malzahn issued a statement expressing his disappointment in Marshall, who was not arrested, adding that he would handle the incident accordingly.

As of Saturday evening, there had been no word as to whether Marshall still would be representing the Tigers this week in Hoover.

Also taking the podium Monday will be Florida's Will Muschamp and Vanderbilt's Derek Mason. Muschamp is under a lot of pressure after the Gators bottomed out last year with a 4-8 record, while Mason is the only new head coach in the league.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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