Muschamp understands SEC skepticism but says physical play sets league apart

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Florida coach Will Muschamp, who spent three seasons in the Big 12 as defensive coordinator at Texas, understands why Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops considers the elite reputation of the Southeastern Conference a bit overstated.

Asked Tuesday about Stoops’ assertion in May that the perceived gap between SEC teams and the rest of the country is “a lot of propaganda,” Muschamp acknowledged he could understand Stoops’ perspective.

“If I was Bob, I would say the same thing,” Muschamp said during the first day of the SEC football media days at the Wynfrey Hotel.

But Muschamp, who led the Gators to an 11-2 record last season, made it clear that he sees a fundamental difference between the pass-happy Big 12 and the more physical nature of the SEC, the league that has produced the last seven BCS national champions. That difference, said Muschamp, makes it difficult for finesse teams to match up against SEC foes that feature a downhill, two-back running game.

In the SEC, that is the majority of the title contenders.

“The thing about our league that I think is a little different is you have to prepare for the two-back set. You can’t do that in a week,” Muschamp said. “That’s a physical style of play. You’ve got to understand how to fit the power, the counter, the direct runs, the north and south runs, which are an issue if you haven’t done it and your guys aren’t used to it. I think you saw us wear some people down last year because of our physical style of play.”

In the Big 12, where the majority of teams rely on one-back spread offenses, the power running game is less prevalent. Wide-open passing games keep “constant pressure on the defense” and create plenty of headaches, Muschamp said. But they make for an easier weekly defensive adjustment than a power running game, in Muschamp’s estimation, if that is not a team’s base offense.

A&M telecasts

SEC officials set kickoff times Tuesday for Texas A&M’s first two non-conference games. The Aggies’ opener, Aug. 31 against Rice in College Station, will be a noon telecast on ESPN. The team’s Sept. 7 game against Sam Houston State will start at 6 p.m. and will be a pay-per-view telecast.

CBS officials previously announced a 2:30 p.m. start for the team’s Sept. 14 contest against Alabama at Kyle Field. Game times for other contests will be announced at a later date.

Home, sweet home

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he’s looking forward to playing Texas A&M in Columbia, Mo. this year after meeting the Aggies for three consecutive years in College Station (twice as Big 12 foes, once as SEC opponents).

“I whined and nobody listened,” said Pinkel, whose teams made three consecutive trips to Aggieland because of conference realignment issues. “Nice to have them come up and play at our place. We’re excited about getting them up in Columbia.”

Spurrier weighs in

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said SEC football coaches voted 14-0 at the league’s spring meetings in favor of a stipend ($300 per game) for players to help them meet the actual cost of attending college above the value of a full scholarship. He also called on Notre Dame to end its independent status in football and compete for a conference title in the ACC, its new league, “like all the rest of us” under guidelines of the College Football Playoff, which begins in the 2014 postseason.

“I know the Notre Damers will get mad at me,” Spurrier said. “From all the rest of us that are in a conference ... it’s sort of hard to figure out why they aren’t.”

In terms of the player stipend, Spurrier said: “This is tiny compared to the money that’s coming in. We all know that.”

Slive chides NCAA

SEC commissioner Mike Slive voiced support of the NCAA but called for changes in the governance structure and rules enforcement process that he considers overdue.

“As Albert Einstein once said, ‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,’” said Slive, who seeks more autonomy for current BCS leagues. “I think we can get to where we need to be. But it’s really a question of refining and clarifying and then acting in a way that gets us to the issues that need to be addressed in a logical, timely and productive way.”

Asked the alternative if no change takes place, Slive said: “I’m going to let you decide that.”

SEC media days

Through Thursday,

Hoover, Ala.


Tuesday: Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina

Today: Texas A&M, Kentucky, Mississippi St., Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas

Thursday: LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Vanderbilt

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

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