HOOVER, Ala. - There are few rules in life, but one consistent trend is that Steve Spurrier reigns supreme at SEC Media Days.
The Head Ball Coach works a large crowd like a seasoned politician. His smile, his charm, his wit - everything is tailor-made for the spotlight. Which made it surprising - no, shocking - when Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin held his own against Spurrier on Tuesday.
Both coaches were tremendously entertaining. Spurrier teased Sumlin earlier Tuesday morning, calling him a "good negotiator" after the Aggies coach signed a $5 million contract this offseason. Spurrier received a contract raise to $4 million in February.
Sumlin was informed about Spurrier's "negotiator" comment Tuesday afternoon. Here's how the question was phrased:
"Steve Spurrier was in earlier and he complimented you on your coaching record and skills, then he really complimented you on your salary negotiating skills. What thoughts do you have about matching up against him in the opening game?"
Sumlin smiled before answering.
"The question didn't have anything to do with your comment," he said. "Just had to get that out there, didn't you, right? See you guys stirring the pot, trying to bring me in. It's year three, you're not going to get me on that."
Sumlin then went on to praise Spurrier.
"I consider him and (wife Jeri Spurrier) great family friends," Sumlin said. "I think you guys know we went on a trip a year and a half ago, two years ago, with (Oklahoma coach) Bob Stoops, went to Southern Ireland, played some golf, hung out and talked some football.
"But as a young coach growing up, it's hard to say he wasn't the standard. He is the standard. You look at what he's done at South Carolina, three 11 win seasons. That's incredible in this league. South Carolina, the recruiting that has gone on, playing in a championship game, no matter where you are in the country, what conference you're in, whatever it is, you cannot deny his accomplishments as a head coach."
Sumlin had more memorable moments during his 30 minutes with the media. He didn't try to hide his weariness with question regarding former Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel, especially when asked about Manziel's party photos that were published after the Cleveland Browns drafted him in the first round.
"Is this the SEC Media Days?" Sumlin rhetorically asked, before pausing. "No, that's a great question . about the Cleveland Browns. Anybody else got something?"
Spurrier was more reserved than usually Tuesday. He never really threw a verbal jab, something that's always expected from the Head Ball Coach.
Sumlin had one theory for why Spurrier has been more laid back this offseason.
"He's been awful quiet," Sumlin said. "That means he must think they're pretty good. We're going to have our work cut out for us going there the first game."
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