HOOVER, Ala. — Votes – one recent and one forthcoming – were popular topics Wednesday during the first round of interviews at Southeastern Conference football media days.
Kentucky’s Rich Brooks began his remarks by noting that he was the last of four coaches to appear before the assemblage of print and online media.
“I get to go last, that’s where we’ll be picked every year anyway,” he said. “So it’s kind of appropriate.”
He was referring to the media projections, which will be released Friday along with the preseason all-conference team. Media in attendance for the three-day event will vote for both.
Before long, Brooks was asked – as were Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino, Vanderbilt’s Bobby Johnson and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen – which quarterback he voted to the first team on his ballot for the coaches’ preseason all-conference team, which was released last week.
The consistent query was in response to the fact the Florida’s Tim Tebow was not a unanimous selection on offense. The former Heisman Trophy winner was the choice of all but one of the coaches – not counting Florida’s Urban Meyer because rules prohibit coaches from voting for their own players.
All four on Wednesday said they voted for Tebow, although the degree to which they were convincing was different. Petrino said, “I probably did, yeah,” while Johnson offered, “You could tell him it wasn't me.”
Just before Brooks left the podium, he revisited the issue of the pending media vote.
“Have some fun with it,” he said. “I’m having fun trying to prove you wrong on occasion.”
Petrino said one of his goals for the season is to win every home game. To do so, his team will have to win three different places.
The Razorbacks traditionally play five games on campus in Fayetteville and one in Little Rock. Beginning this fall, they’ll also play one game ever season against Texas A&M in Dallas at the new Dallas Cowboys’ stadium.
“Since (Cowboys’ owner) Jerry Jones is a graduate of Arkansas, we’re claiming that as a home game as well,” Petrino said.
He also expects the series with A&M will have an impact well beyond home.
“It will be great for our recruiting,” Petrino said. “It already has helped our recruiting in the state of Texas. I think it will give us a lot of recognition throughout the country.”
Petrino said quarterback Ryan Mallett, who is projected to be the Razorbacks’ starter, has dropped nearly 30 pounds from the 265 he weighed when he transferred from Michigan. The loss of weight is expected to make Mallet more mobile in the pocket.
Conversely, Brooks noted that UK cornerback Trevard Lindley, an All-American, is up to 190 pounds, approximately 12 more than at the start of last season and 20 more than after the Wildcats’ final contest.
“I think he knew he had to be physically stronger,” Brooks said. “He's gone about taking care of that.”
Mullen paused when he stepped to the microphone and said that he had to finish a Twitter update, which read “I am on stage.”
The 37-year-old then joked that his preference was to conduct the entire press conference via mew media.
“I'm tech savvy right here,” he said. “I'm only going to answer questions through Twitter or Facebook, so I can be the cutting edge young coach up here.”
Kentucky sophomore Randall Cobb, an SEC All-Freshman quarterback in 2008, will not even be the first-team quarterback for the Wildcats this fall.
The 2007 Tennessee Class AA Mr. Football primarily will play wide receiver.
“Randall Cobb turned out to be a great athlete,” Brooks said. “He will be a receiver most of the time, and we'll have a package for him in our Wildcat formation in the backfield.”
QUOTE OF NOTE
“At this point, I'm the only undefeated coach in the league. I have my little sticking point until we get this season rolling. I can be real happy if I can come back here and say the same thing next year. That would be a pretty neat deal.” – Mississippi State’s Mullen, a first-time head coach.