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    SEC Media Days Notebook: Day Two

    Hoover, Ala. -- The 2011 edition of the Southeastern Conference media days continued on Thursday morning at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. Here is a quick run-down of the events that occurred on day two with Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

    Steve Shaw, SEC Coordinator of Officials
    •    Shaw emphasized that the SEC was going to stay in the forefront of technology and utilize it to help the officials’ performance on the field.
    •    The SEC has implemented a new system for improved video archiving and a database where officials can recall plays and do queries.
    •    The SEC is going to have video sharing for all officials.
    •    The SEC will respond to coaches with video and voice over instead of a written reply on plays that the coaches want reviewed.
    •    Shaw says the SEC has worked to re-vamp its grading system, not just to grade the officials, but also for training and improvement.
    •    The SEC and Big Ten have combined to do a “by position” referee clinic, one in Chicago and one in Birmingham.
    •    Shaw emphasized the importance of having transparency in the officiating process, doing so with the SEC Digital Network and other outlets. He wants to implement transparency in “a way that protects the conference, the teams, players and officials, and is good for the fans.”
    •    Shaw said a new rule will now penalize an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the spot of the infraction, rather than implementing it on the extra point or kickoff.
    •    There will now be television monitors in the coaching booth to help coaches determine if they want to challenge a play.
    •    Another significant rules change will be a 10-second subtraction if a team commits a foul that causes the clock to stop in the last minute of either half.
    •    Shaw said blocking below the waist is now illegal in almost all cases, except for a few exceptions.
    •    Shaw said, for the most part, any other officiating changes were more editorial changes.
    •    Shaw: “I know you want perfection from our officiating staff. Our fans demand perfection. Obviously in the conference office, we desire perfection on every play in every game. But I cannot guarantee you that. What I will guarantee you can expect from every official that we have working is a strong work-ethic to improve every week.”

    Joker Phillips, Kentucky Head Coach
    •    Phillips introduced Kentucky’s theme of “Rise” saying the team is challenging its veterans and younger players to fill the void of some talented departing players.
    •    Phillips said “Rise” means winning championships, not just reaching bowl games.
    •    Phillips continually mentioned that he thinks the way Kentucky can take its program to the next level is to be the most disciplined and hardest-working team in the country.
    •    Phillips mentioned the positive coaching changes he has made in the off season with Rick Minter as the co-defensive coordinator and Steve Pardue as the running backs coach.
    •    Phillips lauded strength and conditioning coach Rock Oliver for increasing his team’s strength and quickness.
    •    Phillips said that Kentucky wants to be more attacking and aggressive on defense because defense has been a key to success in the SEC.
    •    Phillips mentioned his relationship with his mentor, Rich Brooks, and said his own “Coach of the Future” situation was a little different than at other schools because he was a part of Kentucky’s rebuilding process and is a Kentucky graduate, so it meant more to him.
    •    Phillips said running backs have been a huge part of the SEC ever since he set foot on Kentucky’s campus in 1981.
    •    Phillips noted that Kentucky has beaten some of the “traditional powers” in the conference and the goal is to beat them consistently.
    •    Phillips said he believes 95 percent of the game is mental and he watches a lot of other college football games to test himself with other game situations.
    •    Phillips said it was important to him to have a coaching staff full of Kentucky natives and former Wildcat letterwinners.
    •    When asked about social media, Phillips said he tells his players to consider that they are writing their Tweets or Wall Posts to their prospective general manager in the NFL. “Dear General Manager,” he said.

    Mark Richt, Georgia Head Coach
    •    Richt emphasized the importance he is placing on the team’s season opener against Boise State, noting they are the winningest football team in America over the last 10 seasons.
    •    Richt said the team’s season-opener vs. Boise State and the SEC opener vs. South Carolina will be challenging, but has energized his program in a big way.
    •    Richt said the players he currently has on his team are excited about the future and are willing to put forth the effort needed to be successful.
    •    Richt called quarterback Aaron Murray a “coach’s dream in how he approaches the game.” He lauded Murray’s preparation and his team-driven approach.
    •    Richt noted that he wanted to play Boise State in the season opener to help his program get back to the level that it wants to be at.
    •    Richt talked about his team’s defense in its second year under coordinator Todd Grantham, saying it takes a while to adjust to a new system. He said his players have spent less time learning the defense this year and more time trying to perfect technique.
    •    Richt thinks that his 3-4 defense can match up well against any type of offense, praising its versatility.
    •    Richt said his team learned from its bowl loss to UCF. It showed them they need to compete harder and finish better.
    •    Richt used the word ‘passion’ to describe what sets the SEC apart from any other conference in the country. “When you line up to play, you’re going to play a supremely talented team, a supremely well-coached team and a team that is supremely supported by their fan base.”
    •    Richt said he agrees that the SEC Western Division is probably this season’s stronger division, but his team’s only goal is to win the SEC Eastern Division.
    •    When questioned about his team’s new uniforms, Richt said that college football is “a grind” and when players have the opportunity to have fun, they should take advantage of it.
    •    Richt discussed the importance of being aware of the sickle-cell trait in his players, noting that his son David has the same trait.

    Gene Chizik, Auburn Head Coach
    •    Chizik called the past year an “incredible journey for myself, our assistant coaches, our players, our fans and our Auburn family.”
    •    Chizik said his team isn’t dwelling on the successes of the 2010 season, but have a single-minded focus on the 2011 campaign. He noted that he feels very good about the current direction of the program.
    •    Chizik detailed that Auburn will be a very young team in 2011, as the Tigers graduated 20-plus seniors from a year ago.
    •    Chizik called the spring season “a blast” and said it was one of the most fun springs that he has ever had as a collegiate head coach.
    •    Chizik said the difference between this year and last year is that at this time last year, his players didn’t know what ‘great’ looked like. He said, they now know and know what it will take to reach that point.
    •    Chizik mentioned that Auburn will soon be unveiling its $16-million indoor facility and he appreciates the support from his school’s administration.
    •    Chizik says his defense hasn’t “arrived” but they are working hard to get to that point.
    •    Chizik called the Iron Bowl game one of the best rivalries in college football.
    •    Chizik said he is looking forward to his team’s game with Samford and thinks it’s important to play in-state schools and regional teams.
    •    Chizik claimed that he wasn’t trying to replace any particular players from last year, he was looking for guys who “love football, love academics and love Auburn.”
    •    Chizik addressed the Toomer’s Corner incident, saying that regardless of what happens, the tradition is going to live on, because the tradition is in the rivalry.

    Derek Dooley, Tennessee Head Coach
    •    Dooley said the 2011 edition of the Tennessee football team would be the youngest he has ever been a part of.
    •    Dooley told his players that he wasn’t going to allow the team’s youth to be an excuse for failure.
    •    Dooley said that despite the youth, he believes his team has more experience on offensive coming in this year than it did last season.
    •    Dooley claims that all he has asked his players to do was to come to work every day and try to make their team and themselves better than it was the day before.
    •    Dooley noted that he has spent a lot of time teaching his team what it means to play for Tennessee and emphasizing the importance of pride.
    •    Dooley praised the support of interim athletics director Joan Cronan and said there hasn’t been any noticeable impact in his program with the merger of the athletics departments at Tennessee.
    •    Dooley said linebacker Herman Lathers is not going to return from injury any time soon. He reported that the injury would be monitored week-to-week.
    •    When asked about the strange endings he had in several games last season, Dooley quipped “I told everybody I was 8-7 in post-game handshakes last year. It was a remarkable feat.”