Before GoGamecocks’ David Cloninger can cool off from his SEC Media Days coverage in Hoover, Ala., he had to compile this list of winners and losers from the past week:
One of the men who everyone came to see, Clowney didn’t disappoint. He said whatever was on his mind whenever he felt like it. He matter-of-factly claimed that some quarterbacks — namely Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd — are scared of him; did his impression of coach Steve Spurrier; hastily removed his suitcoat, shirt and tie to pose shirtless for a few promos; smirked at questions if he could catch Johnny Manziel in the open field; and nonchalantly confirmed that he ran a recent 40-yard-dash in 4.46 seconds. Everybody wanted a piece of his time, so much so that Spurrier got agitated and told him to stick to the schedule. South Carolina knows it has a spotlight with Clowney, but that doesn’t mean the Gamecocks want it to shine all the time. Good luck on that. After Clowney left Hoover, went to L.A. and picked up an ESPY for Best Play.
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The reigning face of the Heisman Trophy was going to be popular anyway, but he made himself more so after he reportedly left the Manning Passing Academy under cloudy circumstances. Many want to know if Johnny Manziel is a normal college kid living under a microscope, or if he’s going to keep exhibiting behavior that will ruin his image. Whatever the case, the crowds surrounding him as he walked from room to room bordered on Beatlemania.
ALABAMA (as usual)
The Crimson Tide draw a crowd. Although there’s maybe room for 50 people in the cordoned-off area of The Wynfrey lobby, Alabama fans pack it every year, hoping for a glimpse of a player or a short meet-and-greet with coach Nick Saban (or in past years, Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula, etc.) Coming off two straight national championships, the mood in the lobby was as festive as ever.
DRESSED TO IMPRESS
There were several candidates for the best suit at Media Days, and although Ole Miss’ Mike Marry rocked a pink sportcoat, pink shirt, pink plaid tie and sky-blue pants, Missouri’s L’Damian Washington won the prize for best dressed. Washington wore a black shirt and pants with a dull gold tie, and completed it with a white sport jacket.
He’s a well-respected coach, but Mullen and his Mississippi State contingent seemed to want to dash through every event and get back to Starkville. It’s not surprising, considering the Bulldogs have been winning recently, but nothing that’s matched their 9-4 season two years ago. MSU went 7-6 in 2011, then began 7-0 in 2012 before losing five of its final six, including back-to-back throttlings in the Egg Bowl and Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs were picked to finish next-to-last in the SEC West this season, and their schedule ends with South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss. No wonder the guy didn’t want to talk too loudly.
JOHNNY FOOTBALL’S EXCUSE
Manziel said that the reason he left the Manning Academy was a mutual decision, due to missing a meeting because he “overslept.” At first his phone was “dead,” then it was “off,” and he wouldn’t answer questions on if the rumors of him partying the night before were true, only saying that it was “absolutely not” true that he missed the meeting because he was hung over. His Academy roommate, A.J. McCarron, also said he wasn’t going to comment on why he didn’t wake Manziel for the meeting, which he made on time. It all sounded flimsier than Chrissy Teigen’s ESPY outfit.
But it wasn’t the Commodores’ fault. They had the last session of the event, so most of the over 1,200 credentialed media was already heading home. Their rooms were quiet, so much so that wideout Jordan Matthews went into one and personally introduced himself with a handshake to every media member. The “not” status may only last as long as the preseason — Vanderbilt has a great chance to do some damage this year, with the nothing-to-lose status that has served it so well under coach James Franklin in full effect.