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Ashway: SEC coaches preview the upcoming season
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Forsyth County News

It won’t be long now!

With the Olympics safely in the rearview mirror, time now to focus on the season at hand:  college football!

This preview is brought to you by the SEC coaches themselves.  Those masters of obfuscation pontificated at length during SEC Media Daze.

The event is held annually in mid-July, in the hope that no one will remember anything that was said by the time the season actually kicks off.

So they hoped.

After an entire month analyzing transcripts provided by, we’re happy to jog your memories.  Here’s what each coach had to say—and what he really wanted to say:

Will Muschamp, South Carolina:  A lot of unknowns on our roster right now.  You look, on offense, you have 42 scholarship players.  34 of them are freshmen and sophomores.  Very little playing experience.

Translation: I really want to thank coach Spurrier for lowering everyone’s expectations before we got here.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn:  There’s a lot of carryover, as far as our defense last year and defense this year, which I think is important.  And I think we got a chance to have one of the best, if not the best, defenses we’ve had at my time at Auburn, which I think is very important.

Translation: I think it is very important that we don’t always have to score four touchdowns just to win a game.

Barry Odom, Missouri:  University of Missouri changed my life in the late ‘90s when I was a student athlete there.  And that’s something that, every day, when I drive in to work, I don’t forget.  I’ve got an opportunity to change lives of 120 kids a year.  And that is what is really, really special to me, to have the opportunity to do that.

Translation: I’m really going to take the opportunity to change the nation’s worst offense, south of Kent State.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: We’re coming off consecutive nine-win seasons, which never happened before.  I know I said eight years ago, I got up here and said we want to change the expectations of Mississippi State football.  I think we’ve been able to do that.

Translation: We get Auburn, A & M, and Arkansas at home, and we draw Kentucky and South Carolina out of the East.  My expectations are pretty high right now!

Mark Stoops, Kentucky: The biggest change I’m excited about is the culture change within our program.  I think it’s very easy to change a climate within a program and very difficult to change the culture.  I’m very proud of the administration, our coaching staff, our players, to continue to push for that winning culture.

Translation:  We’re this close to getting Kentucky football back to the glory days of coach Claiborne.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: December 31st of last year, we had to make some tough decisions, I did, in the direction of the program.  Some of those were not easy, but those decisions were made.  We brought in three new coaches.

Translation: Combining the past two years, we started 10-0; we finished 6-10.  For what we pay our assistants, they ought to be able to coach beyond September.

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt:  Excited to be here.  Excited to be back on this stage.  Very pleased to represent Vanderbilt University.

Translation: We’ve won two conference games in two years.  I’m excited to still have a job.

Les Miles, LSU:  9-3 last year, and should have been a 10-win season.  16 straight bowl appearances.  16th straight year with at least eight wins.  Return 18 starters, and we were 7-0, number two ranked in the country, in position to finish, and we did not.

Translation: Who in their right mind would want to fire me?

Kirby Smart, Georgia:  In December, I was given an opportunity of a lifetime, and I haven’t slowed down since.  We had a very productive spring that was capped off by an SEC attendance record: 93,000 hungry Dawg fans came out.  And with that, I say it means more at the University of Georgia.  To have 93,000 people there is incredible.

Translation: I hope we make this honeymoon last.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas: So, we went 0-8, 2-6, and last year to go 5-3, I look at the three losses, and realized we lost in overtime to A&M, lost a heartbreaker on a game-winning field goal against Mississippi State, and led Alabama at half and couldn’t close it out. I realized we’re getting really close to where we want to be.

Translation: Thank goodness Toledo isn’t in our conference!

Butch Jones, Tennessee:  We’re going to continue to build the Tennessee program for sustained success.

Translation: Sustained success comes easy when you close with Kentucky, South Carolina, North Texas, Missouri, Vandy, and Northwestern.

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: We’ve got an exciting season ahead of us, and Lord knows we’ve got to prepare for the month of September with the difficulty that we face there.

Translation: Our toughest opponent will be the NCAA.

Jim McElwain, Florida:  Really took pride in giving themselves an opportunity to get to Atlanta.  And going into year two, you know what, things are good at the University of Florida, and that’s the way it should be.

Translation: Coaching in the SEC is a piece of cake!

Nick Saban, Alabama: Our team has had a very good offseason.  I’ve been very pleased with the progress that we made.

Translation: Coaching in the SEC is a piece of cake!