It’s been five days since Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen had a day to forget at SEC Media Days.
Mullen entered his time in the media circus surely knowing he would be questioned at length about the Bulldogs’ decision to suspend incoming freshman defensive end Jeffery Simmons for just one game after a video of Simmons punching a woman surfaced this spring.
Despite the months to prepare for what questions he would field, Mullen still fumbled several questions regarding his treatment of Simmons, especially when he was grilled by SEC Country’s own Kyle Tucker.
Mullen’s mishap at the microphone got us thinking about some other memorable media gaffes in recent SEC history, so let’s take a look.
Houston Nutt attacks media member
If you paid attention to Houston Nutt’s last two seasons at Ole Miss, you know his final days in the SEC weren’t pretty. That became even more evident following the Rebels’ narrow 29-24 loss to No. 10 Arkansas, which happened to be Nutt’s former team, in 2011.
Earlier in the week, RebelGrove.com’s Neal McCready predicted that Ole Miss, which entered the game 2-4, would lose to the Razorbacks 49-10. Obviously, that score prediction was way off, and Nutt made sure McCready knew it.
“They played real hard,” Nutt said. “They played harder than that 49-10. Right, Neal? One of my players told me. I don’t read your stuff. They tell me what you say. One of my freshmen told me that Neal McCready wrote that we were going to get beat 49-10. It wasn’t no 49-10. It was a real effort.”
When you are bragging about losing by less than everyone predicted, you know your days are numbered. Sure enough, Ole Miss announced Nutt would not be retained at the end of the season after losing to Kentucky two weeks later, and the Rebels ended the season 2-10.
Lane Kiffin calls out Urban Meyer
Everyone knows Lane Kiffin’s time as the Tennessee coach didn’t result in great on-field results, but it didn’t go well off the field either.
While he was speaking with fans at an event following National Signing Day in 2009, Kiffin called out then-Florida coach Urban Meyer about the recruitment of Nu’Keese Richardson, who ended up signing with the Vols.
“I’m going to turn Florida in right now in front of you,” Kiffin told the fans. “Nu’Keese was here on campus (on his recruiting visit) and his phone kept ringing. One of our coaches said, ‘Nu’Keese, who’s that?’ He said, ‘Urban Meyer.’ Just so you know, when a recruit is on another campus, you can’t call him. I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him.”
That saga ended with SEC commissioner Mike Slive issuing a public reprimand to Kiffin, who later apologized for the comments.
In a world where everyone knows everything in recruiting is not done above water, it’s rare to find coaches publicly going after other programs within the conference when it comes to recruiting wars.
When Kiffin gets his next opportunity as a head coach, we’ll see if he’s learned from his past mistakes.
Nick Saban compares losing to a national tragedy
Although it’s hard to imagine that a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team could lose to Louisiana Monroe, it happened in Saban’s debut season as the Crimson Tide head man.
And if there’s anything we’ve learned about Saban during his time in the SEC, he’s not a very happy guy when things don’t go his way. That was never more evident than the tirade he went on following the shocking 21-14 loss to ULM.
“Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event,” Saban said. “It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to a catastrophic event. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event. I don’t think anyone in this room would’ve bet that we would lose back-to-back games to Mississippi State or ULM; no disrespect to those teams.”
Let’s make one thing very clear. No matter how seriously the SEC takes its football. You can’t compare a terrorist attack to losing a football game, even if it’s to ULM.
Saban later apologized for those comments, and now with nine years of dominating the SEC behind him, that loss did lead to a new era in Alabama football.
Bobby Petrino lies about motorcycle accident
In what was arguably the hottest scandal in the last decade of SEC football, Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle accident is among the most memorable moments in SEC history.
However, it was Petrino’s lies following the accident that led to his eventual firing at Arkansas and his placement on this list.
Petrino initially said he was alone during his wreck before it was found out that 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell, who Petrino had recently hired to join the football staff, was accompanying the Arkansas coach when the accident occurred.
Petrino then admitted to athletics director Jeff Long that he had lied about what had happened and that he had been involved in an “inappropriate relationship” with Dorrell.
Those developments took the college football world by storm and led to Petrino’s firing and the subsequent downfall of a promising time for Arkansas football.
Laremy Tunsil’s NFL Draft night saga
It’s hard to have a bad night when you are drafted with the No. 13 overall pick in the NFL draft, but former Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil proved it can happen.
Tunsil’s Twitter account was hacked on draft night this past April when a video of Tunsil wearing a gas mask to smoke what appears to be marijuana surfaced minutes before the draft officially began.
To make matters worse, Tunsil’s Instagram then fell in control of a hacker, who posted what appeared to be screenshots between Tunsil and an Ole Miss football staffer, as Tunsil made his way to the stage. Tunsil looked to be asking the coach for money in the screenshots.
When media asked Tunsil if he ever received money from a coach during his time at Ole Miss, he initially answered no before stating, “I’d have to say yeah,” after being questioned about it a second time.
That statement took over social media and added even more limelight to Ole Miss’ NCAA investigation, which re-opened because of the screenshots.