Nick Saban batted clean-up for what proved to be a pretty tame SEC Media Days this week save for a huge influx of bow-ties.
The Alabama coach did, as usual, come ready with some key talking points for the media.
* Saban said he’d be all for playing Alabama’s entire schedule against opponents from the Big Five conferences.
"You know, it’s what the fans want," he said. "We need to be more concerned about the people who come to support the programs and the university and see the games. … I’m all for playing as many good, quality games for the players, fans and the betterment of our game."
* On what he described as the evolving culture of young people in our society, Saban said he’s noticed the maturity gap between the older guys and the younger guys in his locker room seems to widen every year. "I think we have to support them and teach them and get them to do the right thing. Controlling these impulsive behaviors is a little bit different for us now than it was when we were 17, 18 years old. We need to help this process. You see that the process (The Process) really does work. It has a tremendous effect."
He also pointed out several times over the course of the day that no player he’s ever kicked out of his football program has ever gone someplace else and had any success.
"Discipline is not punishment," he said. "Punishment is only effective when it can help change someone’s behavior."
* When asked about the potential for the College Football Playoff to expand beyond four teams, he said he doesn’t like answering hypotheticals but if it does expand maybe they should get rid of conference title games.
* Saban is pleased with new ‘Bama OC Lane Kiffin: "He’s smart, players respond to him well. So far, so good."
* Oh, and Saban hopes the media finally nails a preseason prediction. As he noted a few times Thursday: In 22 preseason polls, the media have never been right when picking Alabama and have never picked Alabama in the years that the Crimson Tide has won the SEC title.
"You’ve been wrong five years in a row, and every year we’ve won it,” Saban said. “But I’m rooting for you."
Conley takes Hoover
The Most Interesting Man in the SEC is Georgia wideout Chris Conley, who wrote and directed a "Star Wars" fan film, "Retribution." The 6-foot-3, 206-pound senior basically charmed everyone in Hoover on Thursday, including the cameramen shooting his interviews. (Conley could talk about the type of film he’s using for his movies.)
He said he’s working on a 30-minute short film about superheroes. "I think there’s a lot of fans of that genre," the big receiver said, who wore his Batman socks in honor of the new project.
Conley appealed to the NCAA so he could fund the film. Initially, it was denied, but then he won an appeal. A Kickstarter campaign begins in the fall in hopes of raising $50,000-$70,000. Shooting for the trailer starts soon, he said.
Asked if Lucas Films hasn’t been in touch with the budding filmmaker, Conley smiled: "I’m kinda hoping that they don’t because that might mean a lawsuit."
Conley and I spoke about his frustration over the negative perception some have about college football players with all the police-blotter news in the offseason these days. "It is frustrating because I know that is just the 1 percent," he said. "I know hundreds of other guys are doing it right and they’re not out there making a fool of themselves or their university, but no one wants to report on that. And that is unfortunate about the way media works today.
"I think there’s not enough publicity for the players that are doing it right," he said. "We’re looking at this college experience as an opportunity. I feel like we should be showing more of that, and it really encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing and to push the limits and see how much more you can do while still being a successful student-athlete.
"We have to learn how to portray a better image so we can help others."
And, no, in case you were wondering, he has zero interest in someday getting into politics.
* Bo Wallace is one of the most proven QBs in the SEC this season, but this fall, he’s hoping to prove he has a big-time arm. Wallace said he’s bulked up 15 pounds to 223.
He also has given a lot of credit to noted biomechanics whiz Tom House, whom he spent a week working with in Los Angeles this summer (Full disclosure: I’ll have a lot more on this stuff in my upcoming book, "The QB," later in the fall.)
"My sequencing was out (of whack)," he said. "Usually, your hips come first and then your shoulder, and it creates the torque. I was getting no torque. It was almost a complete overhaul (of Wallace’s throwing motion.)"
Wallace believes the work will enable him and the Rebels to be able to work downfield in the passing game a lot more.
* Ole Miss DE C.J. Johnson on touted sophomore D-lineman Robert Nkemdiche getting even bigger this offseason: "I ain’t never seen anybody 295 pounds with abs like he’s 125 pounds like him before."
* Kentucky’s Bud Dupree was a member of this year’s Freaks list and said he plans to more than back that up on the field this fall and at the NFL Combine down the road.
The 268-pound DE says he expects he’ll vertical 42 inches and broad jump well more than 11 feet. "I will blow the Combine up."
Dupree credits a big change in his diet for his development this year. He cut out eating fast foods and fried foods entirely after he used to eat it five days a week. Now he says he eats grilled chicken and fish almost exclusively.