Hoover, Ala. -- The 2011 edition of the Southeastern Conference media days concluded on Friday morning at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. Here is a quick run-down of the events that occurred on day three with Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
Nick Saban, Alabama Head Coach
• Saban said Alabama is excited by the standard that the Crimson Tide have been able to develop in their program, both on and off the field. He called the players “our greatest asset.”
• Saban noted that the players in Alabama’s program have won 36 games over the past three years.
• Saban touched on the tragedy of the tornados in Alabama, saying the people of the state “have been stellar in how they reacted to help each other rebuild our communities.”
• Saban says the 2011 edition of his team has more maturity, better leadership and more experience than his squad a year ago.
• Saban said two goals his team had in the offseason were to play better fundamentally and to eliminate mental errors. He noted his coaches did a quality control assessment on last year’s team.
• Saban said he likes playing in-state schools because it has the ability to promote all the programs in the state.
• Saban stressed the importance of fans demonstrating class and showing respect to opponents in rivalries, saying they “aren’t personal.”
• Saban said he believes that the SEC can consistently have a team in the BCS title game competing for a national championship on an annual basis. He said the fact that four different teams have won the last five championships speaks to the parity of the SEC.
• Saban says he needs to address the depth at running back with his younger players.
• Saban noted that linebacker Don’t’a Hightower has had a good offseason, but may not be fully recovered from his injury.
• Saban discussed using maturity and experience in the right way, and not using it to create a comfort zone.
• Saban says he has two athletes competing for the quarterback position headed into the fall.
• Saban said it is important for his quarterback to be a ‘game manager’ to give the entire offense confidence.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt Head Coach
• Franklin said that Vanderbilt will focus on its unique strengths to be successful – strong academics, playing in the SEC and being located in the city of Nashville.
• Franklin says he thinks it would be attractive for players to come in and be among the first to accomplish a number of “firsts” and lay a foundation for the future.
• Franklin admitted that he understands the challenges of coaching at Vanderbilt, but is focused on the positives: “First of all, we talk about big challenges, but bigger opportunity.”
• Franklin reported that every player on his team is going to earn his job in preseason camp to create a highly competitive environment.
• Franklin said he’s not concerned with what has happened in the past, he is focused on the direction his program is headed. He called his players “hungry” and said they are only worried about what they can control.
• Franklin noted that Vanderbilt is focused on recruiting nationally and wants to sign any player worldwide who is the “right fit” for Vanderbilt.
• Franklin provided a call to action for Vanderbilt fans, saying “We need this fan base to unite like it never has before.”
• Franklin said he is really impressed with the depth at the defensive line position.
• Franklin said that he has enjoyed reaching out and embracing the Nashville community.
Houston Nutt, Ole Miss Head Coach
• Nutt said that he is proud of the attitude and work-ethic his team has shown during the off-season, coming off a disappointing year in 2010.
• Nutt mentioned the addition of Gunter Brewer, Keith Burns and David Lee to his coaching staff, saying they were great additions who came to his program at the perfect time.
• Nutt said his team really wants to focus on being a physical football team and he praised the offensive line, which has continued to grow and improve.
• Nutt mentioned that Ole Miss has not been to the SEC Championship game and said that it’s one of the team’s main goals moving forward.
• Nutt assessed the SEC West in one word – “Tough” and said that teams had “better buckle up both chin straps and be ready for a full, full day.”
• Nutt said his team has to play with more passion, play harder and play smarter.
• Nutt reported that if the season started today, Barry Brunetti would be his starting quarterback, but that there is going to be some competition for the position during pre-season camp.
• Nutt claimed he was most impressed with his team’s attitude, work-ethic and approach to the upcoming campaign.
• Nutt says he has a lot of respect for his team’s season-opening opponent in BYU, but he says he is more concerned about his own football team first.
• Nutt said it was good to have Kentrell Lockett back for a sixth year, praising his leadership and calling him a “winner.” He said, according to team doctors, Lockett is just about 100 percent.
Les Miles, LSU Head Coach
• Miles said he was pleased with the summer that his team has had, calling the team “very ambitious” and saying his players had a “wonderful mindset.”
• Miles reported that his team has 16 seniors and he feels like it is a good blend between the veterans and the young players on the 2011 edition of his team.
• Miles praised the addition of new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe and said he has done great things in the development of quarterback Jordan Jefferson.
• Miles thinks his team’s veteran offensive line will be one of the squad’s strengths.
• Miles called his team’s corps of defensive ends “as talented as I’ve been around.”
• Miles said he thinks the identity of his 2011 team has already been defined and he likes the direction in which they are headed.
• Miles discussed the team’s season-opening game with Oregon, saying it will be a great early challenge for the Tigers. He said it will help prevent his team from looking ahead to big games later in the season.
• Miles credited Jefferson’s ability to handle competition and said that the signal-caller has been a very productive player for LSU.