By David Brandt and John Zenor
AP Sports Writers
Slive celebrates SEC's hiring of minority coaches
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) - Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive says that the lack of minority head coaches in the league is no longer a headliner.
Slive emphasizes it was a big story when he took over a decade ago that the conference had never had a black head football coach.
Now, the SEC has three. Two of them - Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Vanderbilt's James Franklin - will take the podium Tuesday before hundreds of reporters.
Slive notes that the SEC has eight minority men's basketball coaches and five leading women's hoops programs. He says he takes "great personal satisfaction in how far we've come in this area."
Slive also referenced the turmoil at Penn State, saying that no individual can be allowed to "derail the soul of an institution."
Spurrier has South Carolina near top of SEC heap
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) - Steve Spurrier finally has South Carolina near the top of the Southeastern Conference heap.
He also believes he has the talent to keep the Gamecocks there.
One year after leading South Carolina to an 11-win season, Spurrier said Tuesday that "we're getting a little bit of a name out there." The 67-year-old Spurrier is entering his eighth season at South Carolina. After five mediocre seasons, he is 20-7 the last two years.
Spurrier said he expects junior quarterback Connor Shaw to be improved this fall after playing well late last season. He also expects star running back Marcus Lattimore to be completely healthy after a knee injury wiped out the last half of his 2011 season. The Gamecocks also have a senior-laden defense.
Vandy's Franklin carries swagger into Year 2
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) - Vanderbilt coach James Franklin isn't backing down going into Year 2.
He says "the sky's the limit" for the Commodores and that there's an abundance of fan excitement around the program. Franklin took the podium Tuesday at Southeastern Conference media days with a bold recruiting pitch.
His message for recruits: "If you're truly the best and the brightest where else would you go?"
Franklin led the Commodores to six wins and their second bowl appearance since 1982 in his debut season.
With 17 returning starters, they'll get a chance quickly to show how much ground they've made up in the SEC East.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says Franklin has the Commodores believing "they can beat everybody they play." Vandy opens the season against the Gamecocks.
Texas A&M Joins Tough SEC West
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) - First-year Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin says his "realistic expectations are to win" despite being placed in the toughest division in college football.
The Aggies were the first team to take the podium at SEC Media Days, a three-day event that attracts more than 1,000 credentialed media members. The 47-year-old Sumlin was optimistic about Texas A&M's future but also said "we understand the challenges that are ahead of us."
Texas A&M joins the SEC Western Division, which is home of the last three BCS national champions. The Aggies and Missouri joined the SEC in July.
The Aggies return 14 starters from a team that finished 7-6 last season. They must find a replacement for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who left for the NFL.
Pinkel: Missouri not intimidated by SEC foes
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Missouri coach Gary Pinkel says his team won't be intimidated playing in the Southeastern Conference.
Pinkel says there's a perception that "we play a bunch of high school teams." He says the Tigers know they have to earn respect in the SEC, but they have already played in a tough Big 12 Conference.
Pinkel says Missouri fans have gone beyond excitement over playing in the SEC and "have become fanatical about it."
Missouri will open the season with standout quarterback James Franklin and the nation's top prospect in wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
Franklin had shoulder surgery in March. Pinkel says his trainer said a couple of weeks ago that the dual-threat quarterback is expected to be 100 percent.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.