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July 16, 2012

Seeking answers at SEC Media Days



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The Missouri Tigers will meet the media as a member of the Southeastern Conference for the first time on Tuesday. The conference media days open in Hoover, Alabama and the Tigers will take center stage on Day One (along with Vanderbilt, South Carolina and fellow newcomer Texas A&M).

Media days are generally a bit of a superficial parade. It's a place for reporters to write big-picture previews and newspapers to get enough on every team to fill their preview sections. But this year holds special intrigue for Tiger fans. Everything around the football program is brand new. Here are five questions for which we'll seek answers this week.

What does the league think of its new additions?


Sure, everyone will likely say the right things, but this will be the first chance for most of the media to ask the players what they think about a 14-team SEC and the first chance for many of us to talk to the league coaches. Questions about Mizzou and A&M, the new-look schedule and the changes the SEC has undergone will likely be the most common of the week.

Are the Tigers fueled by their doubters?


Since the day it was announced Mizzou was going to the SEC, there has been a healthy dose of skepticism about whether the Tigers can compete in the country's top football conference. As the season approaches, that skepticism has not disappeared. Just this week, Andre Ware picked Missouri to start the season with six losses in its first seven games. Whether the critics prove to be right will take weeks to answer. The more pertinent question may be, Are the Tigers using the doubts as motivation for the season?

What will Steve Spurrier say?


There is no more quotable coach in the SEC, and likely in the country, than the boss at South Carolina. Over the years, he's said you like to play Georgia early because they'll have a couple of players suspended, he's taken his fair share of shots at Clemson and he's said "you can't spell Citrus without UT" in reference to Tennessee's inability to beat Florida while Spurrier was in charge in Gainesville. The best one I've heard (and it could be urban legend, but I like it) is that following a fire in the library at Auburn, Spurrier said it was a shame to lose all those books, especially when half of them hadn't been colored. At some point on Tuesday, Spurrier will leave reporters laughing.

How big will week one of league play be?


The SEC has always put its league center stage by starting conference play sooner than the other power leagues. While most BCS teams are fattening up on cupcakes, the SEC features games that can go a long way toward deciding conference champions before the leaves even turn. On September 8th, Auburn will visit Mississippi State. But the focus will once again be on the league's newcomers. Missouri hosts Georgia in a game that Gary Pinkel and Mike Alden have already said they expect to be unlike anything the Columbia campus has ever seen. The same day, Florida visits College Station in A&M's first conference game. They are likely the two biggest games in the country that day. College GameDay will probably be at one of them and virtually every national media member will be at one of the two. It will not only be the SEC's chance to showcase its new teams, but also the first chance for the Tigers and Aggies to make a statement that as long as they're in the league, they'd like to go ahead and win a few games.

Is James Franklin ready to go?


The first four questions here have been big picture issues. But this is the one forefront in the minds of Tiger fans. For all the excitement over the SEC, all the new things Tiger fans will experience this season, once the games start, it's just football. It's in new places against new teams, but it's still about scoring more than the other guy. And Missouri's chances to do that go way, way up if its starting quarterback is ready to go. The Tigers open fall camp in a little more than two weeks and the plan has been for Franklin to be ready to go full speed. Is that plan still on track? You can bet it will be the first question Pinkel is asked to answer on Tuesday afternoon.

Here is the full schedule for media days. PowerMizzou.com will have three staff members in Hoover and will cover every session. We will have daily notebooks, video interviews and much, much more throughout the week.

Tuesday, July 17
1st session: (1:00-3:30 pm CT)


Texas A&M Aggies
Head coach Kevin Sumlin
OT Luke Joeckel - Jr.
OLB Sean Porter - Sr.
WR Ryan Swope - Sr.

South Carolina Gamecocks
Head coach Steve Spurrier
WR Ace Sanders - Jr.
QB Connor Shaw - Jr.
FS D.J. Swearinger - Sr.

2nd session: (3:20-6:00 pm CT)

Missouri Tigers
Head coach Gary Pinkel
OL Elvis Fisher - Sr.
CB E.J. Gaines - Jr.
WR T.J. Moe - Sr.

Vanderbilt Commodores
Head coach James Franklin
QB Jordan Rodgers - Sr.
RB Zac Stacy - Sr.
DB Trey Wilson - Sr.

Wednesday, July 18
1st session: (8:30-11:20 am CT)


Florida Gators
Head coach Will Muschamp
ILB Jon Bostic - Sr.
RB Mike Gillislee - Sr.
LB Lerentee McCray - Sr.

Mississippi State Bulldogs
Head coach Dan Mullen
DB Johnthan Banks - Sr.
OL Gabe Jackson - Jr.
QB Tyler Russell - Jr.

2nd session: (10:50 am-1:30 pm CT)

Arkansas Razorbacks
Head coach John L. Smith
RB Knile Davis - Jr.
QB Tyler Wilson - Sr.
ILB Tenarius Wright - Sr.

Kentucky Wildcats
Head coach Joker Phillips
C Matt Smith - Sr.
DE Collins Ukwu - Sr.
OG Larry Warford - Sr.

3rd session: (2:30-5:00 pm CT)

Auburn Tigers
Head coach Gene Chizik
WR Emory Blake - Sr.
DE Corey Lemonier - Jr.
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen - Sr.

LSU Tigers
Head coach Les Miles
WR Odell Beckham, Jr. - So.
QB Zach Mettenberger - Jr.
SAF Eric Reid - Jr.

Thursday, July 19
1st session: (8:30-11:20 am CT)


Alabama Crimson Tide
Head coach Nick Saban
C Barrett Jones - Sr.
DE Damion Square - Sr.
TE Michael Williams - Sr.

Tennessee Volunteers
Head coach Derek Dooley
QB Tyler Bray - Jr.
OL Ja'Wuan James - Jr.
LB Herman Lathers - Sr.

2nd session: (10:50 am-1:30 pm CT)

Ole Miss Rebels
Head coach Hugh Freeze
ILB Mike Marry - Jr.
WR Donte Moncrief - So.
DB Charles Sawyer - Jr.

Georgia Bulldogs
Head coach Mark Richt
DE Abry Jones - Sr.
OLB Jarvis Jones - Jr.
WR Tavarres King - Sr.



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