We are now less than 40 days away from college football kicking off but before we get to the actual games being played, we get what most people would call a tone setter in SEC Media Days. SEC Media Days are held in Atlanta, Ga. every year and host all of the head coaches from every school along with some of the best players from each conference. This event gives fans an opportunity to hear from their schools’ head coaches and players and always creates excitement. This year did not disappoint and below I’ve summarized my three biggest takeaways from SEC Media Days.
1. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey – Conference Realignment
Conference realignment has been the biggest talk in college football so it’s no surprise that it came up at conference media days. What has been the more interesting take about conference realignment is how each commissioner has been approaching the subject when asked about it. Some say that SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is the most powerful man in college – not just college football – because of the strength of SEC sports. Commissioner Sankey exuded confidence at SEC Media days and showed a high level of calmness when asked about conference realignment, stating that “he is not looking to just make a move.”
“If there were opportunities that were right in the future, then we would act,” he continued.
These quotes supported the notion that the SEC as a whole is confident in their positioning and fans should only expect the SEC to make a move if it is calculated and makes sense for the conference for decades to come. The SEC has had 12 of the last 16 college football champions come from their conference, and they are adding two more powerhouse schools in Texas and Oklahoma. It’s only right that they are very comfortable with the schools that they have in their conference. I believe that Commissioner Sankey believes that they are in the best position of any conference moving forward, so they will only entertain possible additions from schools that have national brands like Notre Dame, Miami and perhaps Florida State.
2. Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin – NIL/Boosters
Unfortunately, SEC fans did not get any classic quotes from Nick Saban or Jimbo Fisher on NIL to continue to fuel this rivalry between the two legendary coaches and their programs, but there was one coach who addressed NIL in a rather interesting fashion. Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin addressed the topic of NIL in a seemingly frustrated fashion and called it “legalized cheating.” According to Kiffin, under the current model, the schools with the best boosters will do the best with managing NIL because they have the most money. Kiffin went on to discuss the structure of NIL and how boosters’ involvement with players needs to be regulated. He gave a scenario in which a booster gives a player a large sum of money expecting that player to play and if he doesn’t, now the head coach and the booster have to talk things through.
Personally, I never thought of it from this perspective, but I have to say I agree with Kiffin. As a head coach I would not want a booster dictating who plays on my roster because he has given this player money expecting him to play. I am all for players getting paid, but I am totally against boosters being heavily involved in the football side of things. The NCAA needs to find a way to handle this issue because it’s only a matter of time before this becomes an issue and the actual integrity of the game is compromised.
3. South Carolina Head Coach Shane Beamer – South Carolina Buzz
Every year there seems to be one head coach who steals the show at SEC Media Days because of his good energy, and this year it was South Carolina Head Coach Shane Beamer. The Gamecocks’ coach discussed many things throughout his presser and one of them was the status of his program. Compared to last year, he talked about how he feels that his team is being discussed a lot more because of the roster additions they had. This offseason they added two former Oklahoma players, one being quarterback Spencer Rattler, and the other being tight end Austin Stogner. These additions have added buzz around the Gamecock program and have given fans something to get excited about in Columbia. Throughout the presser Beamer came off as an intelligent guy who is excited about getting this program back to the days when they had Steve Spurrier as head coach.
I am here to tell South Carolina fans to be patient. The Gamecocks are still facing an uphill battle being in the SEC, so they have to temper expectations a little bit. But I do believe that Beamer is the right head coach for the job.
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