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VOL. 129 | NO. 136 | Tuesday, July 15, 2014

SEC Media Days Notebook: July 14

By Don Wade

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Editor’s note: Reporter Don Wade is in Hoover, Ala., for SEC Football Media Days. Check The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com, each afternoon this week for the latest news and notes.

HOOVER, Ala. – Florida coach Will Muschamp stood while addressing the masses at SEC Media Days, which was appropriate because he is the one league coach clearly on the hot seat.

The Gators endured a 4-8 season (3-5 in the SEC), the program’s first losing season since 1979. There was a humiliating 26-20 defeat at the hands of Georgia Southern and a seven-game losing streak that will be in tact when Florida opens the season on Aug. 30 against Idaho.

“It falls on my shoulders,” said Muschamp, who is starting fourth season at Florida (22-16, 13-11 in the SEC). “There will be a lot of chatter about hot-seat business. The way you combat that is having a good football team.”

In Muschamp’s defense, last year’s team was thinned by injuries and the Gators lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel in the third game of the season with a broken leg.

“It was loaded,” Driskel said of the trainer’s room. “Never a good thing if there’s a waiting line in that room.”

Muschamp has brought in Kurt Roper, longtime assistant to Dave Cutcliffe at Duke and Ole Miss, to be his third offensive coordinator in as many years. Muschamp says the players are used to the change and embracing the up-tempo, shotgun-oriented offense.

“In college football there is going to be a lot of turnover,” Driskel said. “We don’t have a huddle and we’re up-tempo, but at the same time a football play is a football play.”

SEC scheduling: Last May, the SEC determined it would continue with an eight-game league schedule, but league commissioner Mike Slive said they also wanted to make sure the non-conference schedule was tough enough now that college football has a four-team playoff format.

“Each team is required to play at least one non-conference team from either the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 or the PAC-12 on an annual basis,” Slive said.

Among notable games this year: LSU vs. Wisconsin on Aug. 30 in Houston and Tennessee at Oklahoma on Sept. 13 in Norman.

Staying power: Since SEC Media Days began in 1985, who do you suppose holds the record among coaches for most SEC Media Days attended with the same school?

Would you believe former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer, who was here 15 times and would have been here 16 times but didn’t come in 2004, under advice of his attorneys, to avoid being issued a subpoena? He was served a subpoena anyway, in 2008 at SEC Media Days, to testify in a libel and defamation suit tied to the Alabama/Albert Means investigation.

Steve Spurrier is the leader in SEC Media Days appearances with 21 split between Florida and South Carolina.

Support for Nick Marshall: Auburn QB Nick Marshall was absent from media days after last week’s citation for possession of marijuana. Coach Gus Malzahn described Marshall as a “model student, teammate and citizen” prior to this incident.

Said Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah: “Our trust in him hasn’t faulted at all. He made a mistake and he’ll get back on track.”

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