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SEC MEDIA DAYS: Mum's the word on ex-Gator Hernandez at Media Days; QBs glad UGA's Jones left for NFL

Murder suspect Aaron Hernandez, right, reportedly got into all sorts of trouble while he was at Florida, but received little — if any — punishment for his actions, leading some to wonder if his behavior these days may have stemmed from the fact he never had consequences when he was in college.

Murder suspect Aaron Hernandez, right, reportedly got into all sorts of trouble while he was at Florida, but received little — if any — punishment for his actions, leading some to wonder if his behavior these days may have stemmed from the fact he never had consequences when he was in college.

SEC quarterbacks glad UGA’s Jones is gone

HOOVER, Ala. — Former University of Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was not at Southeastern Conference Media Days this year, but that didn’t stop opposing quarterbacks from talking about him.

The former Columbus standout was a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in April after deciding to leave Georgia following his breakout junior season.

Florida’s Jeff Driskel and Missouri James Franklin both talked about how difficult it was to play against Jones.

Driskel was asked who hit him the hardest: “Jarvis Jones hit me the hardest,” Driskel replied, “and the most.”

Driskel added that, “I’m very, very, very glad to see him go. He made millions of dollars off us.”

Jones had perhaps his two best games against Florida. Last season, he had a career-high 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and three sacks. The year before, he had four sacks.

Franklin was asked which defense was the toughest to deal with last year: “Honestly, probably Jarvis Jones and Georgia.”

Against Missouri, Jones had eight tackles, a sack and an interception.

Jones played two seasons at Georgia was named an All-American both seasons.

He started all 26 games he played in and finished with 28 sacks, third most in school history, 44 tackles for loss, 155 tackles, nine forced fumbles and an interception. He led the nation in sacks (14.5), tackles for loss (24.5) and forced fumbles (seven) in 2012.

Jones will report to the Steelers’ training camp laster this month.

HOOVER, Ala. -- Will Muschamp never mentioned Urban Meyer by name. Mike Slive never mentioned Aaron Hernandez. In both cases, it wasn't necessary.

Meyer is no longer in the SEC. Hernandez is no longer a free man. So neither was at SEC Media Days, but both loomed large.

Football players have had trouble with the law for a long time, but Hernandez's arrest this summer on a murder charge has sparked a new the debate: Is a head coach responsible for the behavior of his players?

Meyer, the former Florida head coach now at Ohio State, has pushed back on the notion that he didn't do enough with Hernandez, who had at least one failed drug test at Florida and another arrest.

But Muschamp, now entering his third year as Meyer's replacement at Florida, did not hem or haw when asked a general question about player behavior.

“But you're 100 percent responsible for young men. Everything that happens,” Muschamp said.

Muschamp didn't leave it there.

“I can't possibly know everything that happens every single night with our football team. You also can't stick your head in the sand and pretend everything is OK, either,” he said. “You need to be very aware of the kind of guys your guys are hanging out with.”

Slive raised the issue earlier in the day, in remarks he later said he thought over for awhile. After first listing all the success the SEC has had on the field, the commissioner said he could not ignore the "off-field incidents involving both current and former student-athletes.

“Notwithstanding the fact that our institutions have mechanisms in place to recognize problems, support systems to address personal issues, policies to provide implementation of discipline and the willingness to enforce these policies, it is a crushing disappointment when, despite all of these efforts, a young person throws away the opportunity for a promising future,” he said.

It was an unusual deviation, and a concession by Slive that it was a serious issue.

But what can be done? Critics have pointed to Hernandez reportedly failing multiple drug tests at Florida. (The number of failed tests has not been made public). The SEC does not have a uniform drug policy, and Georgia has led the fight to institute one. But it has been a lonely fight, and Georgia will remain one of the few schools to suspend first-time drug offenders.

Speaking later in the day, Slive said a uniform policy has been discussed “several times,” but it has become clear that most schools favor developing their own policies.

“You're really dealing with the student and the institution, and the faculties and the administration determine through their own judicial system how they manage behavior,” Slive said. “And it isn't something that they would or should delegate to an umbrella organization that in no way can know all the nuances of what took place. Because it's not just the event. It's one of the motivating factors: How can you deal with these issues, and how can you help the student? And that's not something that I think can be done from afar."

Slive also pointed out that it's an NCAA violation for a school not to follow its own drug policy.

"Part of it's medical, part of it's behavior, and each school was in the best position to know how to handle their own kids," Slive said. "So that's sort of the long and short of it."

The debate over coaching responsibility will rage on. Although some would rather not engage in it.

“I'm gonna go ahead and take a pass on that subject,” Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said.

But teammate Dominique Easley dove in.

“They should be responsible. But in reality we're grown men,” Easley said. “We take the steps that lead to making decisions. We should be responsible.”

QUITE THE AD-VISOR: Auburn’s Gus Malzahn recently admitted that he started wearing a visor as a high school coach due to his admiration of Spurrier. Turns out, so did Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.

“When I was a high school coach, I wanted to be like Steve Spurrier,” Freeze said. “That’s the truth. ... He likes it. He calls me his ‘Visor Guy.’ ”

Said Spurrier: “Hugh and I have a lot in common. We both play golf. We both wear visors. We both call the plays. How could you not like a guy like Hugh Freeze?”

No more two-a-days: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel plans to eliminate two-a-day practices in preseason.

“Two years in a row, we’ve had the most injuries we’ve ever had since I’ve been coaching,” Pinkel said. “I want to get my team to September to play.”

Injuries to quarterback James Franklin and the offensive line hurt Missouri during a 5-7 (2-6 SEC) season last year. “Just having (Franklin) back and having a healthy offensive line will do wonders for our offense this year,” wide receiver D’Damian Washington said.

SEC Network update: The all-SEC cable television channel, scheduled to launch in August 2014, “continues to take shape,” conference commissioner Mike Slive said.

The SEC Network will have a “signature” two-hour pregame show each Saturday during football seasons, Slive said. The show, which will lead into a tripleheader of games, will broadcast live from a different campus each week.


Star Peach State recruit apologizes after picking Tennessee over Georgia

ATHENS — Cortez McDowell, the state’s No. 1 prospect at safety, has apologized to UGA fans for comments he made after committing to Tennessee over the Bulldogs and Auburn on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the Locust High School star was asked for his reasons for not selecting UGA and responded that it had to do with the “trouble players get into” and other safeties being committed to the Bulldogs.

Some people were offended by those remarks, and took personal shots at McDowell on Twitter.

On Tuesday night, the soft-spoken McDowell apologized for his comments:

“Georgia is a good school, but it’s just not the school for me. It’s hard to break the news to some in-state fans that sometimes an in-state school is not the best fit for a kid,” he said. “I’m trying to tell Georgia fans to please don’t take my comments the wrong way. Tennessee was just a better fit for me. Georgia is a good school, and they get good players, too.”

“I apologize to all Georgia fans if I rubbed them the wrong way. I don’t want to create any tensions between myself and Georgia fans and Georgia the school. I send out my sincere apologies to them.”


Georgia QB Murray back on O’Brien list

ATHENS — Georgia senior Aaron Murray has been named to the 2013 Davey O’Brien Award Watch List for the second straight season.

This is the 37th year that the Davey O’Brien Award will be given to the nation’s top quarterback. The field will be narrowed to 16 semifinalists on Nov. 4. The Foundation and the selection committee will then announce three finalists on Nov. 25.

The 2013 Davey O’Brien winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards on December 12. The Annual Davey O’Brien Awards Dinner will be held Feb. 17, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Murray, a native of Tampa, Fla., is one of the nation’s elite at his position. In 2012, Murray ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency at 174.82. He became the first Southeastern Conference quarterback in history to have three consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons last year.

In his 28 wins as a starter, he has 74 touchdowns to just 16 interceptions. Murray is the SEC’s leading active player in total offensive yards (10,301), completions (696), touchdown responsibility (105), touchdown passes (95) and passing yards (10,091).

Murray was a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award last year and is already on the watch list for this year’s Maxwell Award, which is given to the collegiate player of the year.

The Bulldogs start the season with a non-conference matchup at Clemson on Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. ABC will televise the game from Memorial Stadium.