The Place To Be Seen

By Adam Caparell - January 23, 2008

MOBILE, Ala. - Baseball has its Hot Stove and Winter Meetings where deals get done and being seen on the scene is half the fun for many. Football, on the other hand, is starting to rival American's Pastime with the Senior Bowl as the week long postseason event is quickly becoming one of the premier venues for both college football and the NFL.

The week long event, once nothing more than a postseason afterthought, attracted a record number of media members and NFL personnel this year.

Over 800 NFL coaches, administrators and scouts are credentialed for the week, conducting scouting reports, interviewing players and coaching both the North and South squads. And over 150 media credentials were handed out this year, a record number for the event.

And just like baseball with its Winter Meetings, the Senior Bowl has become a place where business is conducted and where the boldface names are out in droves.

Last year, fired Miami coach Larry Coker was roaming the grounds, trying to keep his name in the mix for future openings while this year rumor has it Alabama coach Nick Saban was out about the city in search of an offensive coordinator. USC coach - and rumored to be future NFL coach - Pete Carroll was around town Wednesday along with LSU coach Les Miles, who both visited with some of their players participating in Saturday's game.

Recently fired Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick was seen around Ladd-Peebles Stadium as well Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and current Jaguars assistant and former Minnesota head coach Mike Tice.

Fighting Spirit: The highlight of Wednesday's practice was a fight that broke out near the end of the 1:30 session between LB Kendall Langford of Hampton and OL Heath Benedict of Newberry College.

Out of nowhere, the two were engaged in a shoving match that quickly escelated to punches/slaps being thrown at each other while the coaches and players let the two go at it.

"Positive from the standpoint that when guys are fighting about something it means it's important to them," South coach Mike Nolan said. "You don't fight about something you don't care about it. The bad side of it is when you're fighting and you have a helmet on you don't hit someone in the face because you could break your hand. If you're going to take a shot you hit them in the gut because that's the only place that there aren't any pads. So I look at it two different ways. You're fighting, that's okay. But when you're swinging at the head I think the guy's not as smart as I thought."

"I was just trying not to back down from anyone out there. You know, be out there and be a tough guy," Benedict said. "

Benedict has done a pretty good job so far against the pass rush and adjusting to its speed, but has let a few players slip by from time to time. Still, he feels he belongs.

"i think the last three days I've definitely proved that I'm here and here to stay," Benedict said.

Rubbing It In: LSU won the BCS Championship a little over two weeks ago and for at least one Tiger, the idea that they're national champs has already sunk in.

"It did, but I had to come off my horse pretty quick," LSU running back Jacob Hester said. "I went out and trained two days later so it was a great feeling, something I hope I can go back and relish a little bit, but I've got so many things ahead of me that I can't really enjoy it."

For another Tiger, cornerback Chevis Jackson, the fact that he has a ring coming his way is still going to take some time to settle in. But Jackson was sure his new teammates didn't forget who ended the season at No. 1.

"When I first got here I was kind of rubbing it in," Jackson said.

That was made easier by the fact there are no Ohio State players on the North roster.

Cold, No Problem: Jacob Hester's a southern boy, raised in Shreveport, La. and proud LSU Tiger.

But what may surprise some people is that Hester is not enamored with playing in a warm weather city. In fact, he wouldn't mind one bit playing for a team in the Northeast for the Midwest.

"New England? That'd be great, playing in that weather," Hester said.

Hester grew up playing soccer and regularly played games in frigid temperatures. So any cold weather prowess certainly can't hurt the Tiger running back considering he'll be playing to impress the scouts this week. Hester's a projected fifth-to-sixth round pick.

Skinny Colt: Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan not only has to contend with proving he can master a new offense in one week, but also that he's big enough to play at the next level.

And proving any doubters wrong got off to a rough start considering the QB just got over the flu that had him sick as a dog for a few days and also caused him to drop some weight.

"I only had a week of working out before I got out here and came down with a stomach flu so I unfortunately didn't show up where I wanted to be in terms of size and weight," Brennan said.

Brennan, not the biggest guy in the world to begin with, looked on the thin side Wednesday after the South wrapped up practice in the afternoon. Brennan didn't specify his weight, but looked under his listed playing weight of 201.

"I'm working really hard to get my weight up as much as possible and show up to the combine and have a great couple of days at the combine and work even harder to get bigger and stronger to prove I can play in the NFL," Brennan said.

Switching Sides: For the most part, Lane Kiffin and Mike Nolan, the North and South coaches respectively, haven't had a lot of time to scout and get to know the players on the other team. That'll change Thursday night when the North coaches entertain the South players and vice versa.

The 30 minute session will be broken down by positions as the players and coaches from opposite teams get to sit and chat for an extended period for the first time this week.

Early Loss: LSU wide receiver Early Doucet could miss Saturday's game with a nagging injury. Mike Nolan said that if Doucet is healthy enough to play Saturday that he'll play. But there's a good chance he'll be sent home Thursday and no replacement would be added.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 08:11 PM on January 23, 2008

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