Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason impressed many on Tuesday when he spoke confidently at his first-ever SEC Media Days.
That doesn’t remotely compare to what he did Wednesday.
Mason drove to the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to personally give a No. 1 jersey to the family of Michael Sloan.
A six-year-old Commodores fan, Sloan is fighting for his life after being found at the bottom of a pool last Friday.
At the hospital, Mason also told Sloan’s parents that his program is retiring No. 1 this season in support of Michael, their “No. 1 fan” (no current player was wearing the number).
On Monday, doctors informed Sloan’s parents that he had suffered brain damage. On Tuesday, Sloan had yet to regain consciousness and doctors were not optimistic about his recovery. “It’s a guessing game, as far as how much he’ll improve from here,” Michael’s father, P.J. Sloan, told a Nashville station. “They don’t know.”
1. It’s difficult to transition to football after that, but we’ll try. Today is the fourth and final day of SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, and Alabama coach Nick Saban will speak, along with Georgia’s Mark Richt, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops.
2. Day 3 in Hoover brought us Les Miles, and in a way only Les can, he went about a family trip to Austin, Texas, and how he “hated it” because it’s not a beach . Freshman running back Leonard Fournette, who wasn’t in Hoover, also got a lot of attention; senior RB Terrence Magee shared some words on his new teammate.
We also had Arkansas’ Bret Bielema and Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel, and what you need to know is, no, they still don’t agree on player safety in regards to up-tempo offenses. Pinkel called the health argument against tempo “fiction,” and Bielema said, “I’m more of a reality based movie guy than fiction.” Fun times.
1. Our Bruce Feldman had a story post later Wednesday afternoon that could numerous ripple effects. Texas A&M convinced tackle Cedric Ogbuehi – a project first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft – to return to school for another season by picking up the full tab for his insurance policy, which cost the school more than $50,000. Read Bruce’s story for the details on how the Aggies were able to do that. I’m fascinated in what this means for future players, particularly top recruits. If Leonard Fournette told all schools during his recruitment, “I want insurance paid for starting the first day I step on campus,” I presume many teams would have given in to that demand in order to land a rare talent. That sounds like a box of headaches waiting to be opened.
2. According to a new book, Texas boosters were willing to offer Nick Saban a compensation package exceeding $100 million to leave Alabama and come coach the Longhorns. Who knows how accurate that really is, but Saban will likely be asked about it when he speaks at SEC Media Days today, and his response will be one of the days more notable storylines. (yes, I know, there’s nothing he can actually say and therefore that should render it a pointless question. But, alas, you know how this works.)
3. On National Signing Day, Auburn prematurely published a bio page for Rashaan Evans, who ended up signing with Alabama. According to al.com, the school determined this was an NCAA violation and claimed it a “hack” by media in documents released to several outlets. The Tigers reported 21 total secondary violations but doesn’t believe there will be any penalties related to Evans since he signed with another school, writes al.com.
THREE THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW
1. Texas Tech freshman cornerback Nigel Bethel was reinstated to the team after assault charges stemming from a basketball fight were dropped. Bethel was originally dismissed from the team. He’ll be suspended for the first three games of the season (Central Arkansas, at UTEP, Arkansas).
2. UCLA unveiled some pretty sweet new uniforms – called “LA Steel” – that they believe will make their players, because of the material used, harder to tackle.