SEC Media Days: Day 2 Recap
Welcome to Day Two of my SEC Media Days recap. I hope you all enjoyed the Day One recap, and learned enough to impress your coworkers. You know the drill. Here we go.
First to the podium: Steve Shaw, SEC Director of Officials
Hold on to your hats, there’s a lot of information being dropped about rule changes for the upcoming season.
The craziest: If the last play of the game is a score, and the winning team is up by 1 or 2, they can choose to NOT kick the extra point. All college football gamblers just screamed in unison. I can’t wait until that kills a point spread…
If there’s less than a minute left in either half, and in instant replay is used to reverse a call, and the correct ruling would not have stopped the clock, there will be a 10 second run off to simulate game play. A team may use a time out to negate the run off. Did you understand that? If not, just DM me and I’ll try to explain it in 1,000 words or less.
There will now be a 40 second time clock starting immediately after a kickoff to help speed the game up. Instead of lasting for 5 hours, games will now last 4 hours and 55 minutes.
In an attempt to reduce injuries on kick offs, players can now signal for a fair catch anywhere inside the 25 yard line and have the ball placed on the 25. I expect in three years, possession will be dictated by Paper, Rock, Scissors.
For player safety: the stomach and back plate (if used) must be covered by the jersey. Thank God this wasn’t passed when Chance Warmack was at Alabama. Also, the knees must be covered by knee pads at all times.
For penalties, field goals will now be treated like extra points. If the defense is charged with a personal foul on a successful field goal attempt, the kicking team can elect to keep the points and enforce the penalty on the ensuing kick off.
Players are no longer allowed to block below the waist starting five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Looking at you, running backs. Any blocking below the waist outside of the tackle box must be done from the front. Inside the tackle box, it’s like Mad Max at Thunderdome.
There will be a vote at the end of July to limit coaching headsets. Nick Saban will only be allowed to break four per game.
Kirby Smart, Georgia
Ok, we’ll start with the best one. Smart was asked what it was like to have Eason, Fromm, and Fields together on the same team. Yes, that was a real question. Now, for those playing at home, you probably heard that Jacob Eason transferred to Washington after last season. To his credit, Kirby was polite and basically said, “well Eason transferred” and went on to discuss the other Fromm and Fields. Honestly, I wanted to see some ruthlessness here from Smart. He should have curb stomped this reporter in front of the world. That’s the attitude that brings home national titles! You think Saban would have skated past that? Hell. No. Now, we’ll get to Smart’s opening remarks.
Kirby opens by thanking pretty much everyone in existence, from Greg Sankey to his own players. He speaks to the momentum of last season helping them win recruiting battles and setting a tone for the team heading into this season.
“This season for us is going to be simple. It’s going to be the measure of potential versus effectiveness…. And we talk to our players all of the time, the pressure is really a privilege. You should feel privilege to have pressure to win games, to have expectations.”
How can you not have a soft spot for Kirby Smart?
Coach Smart was asked about Jonathan Ledbetter. Ledbetter has been in some trouble in the past, being arrested twice. Smart comments on how mature Ledbetter has become and leadership role he’s earned at Georgia.
Smart is a big fan of Monte Rice. He says Rice learned a lot from Roquan Smith and is more than capable of stepping into that role.
That classic “culture question”: The first year was tough getting everyone to buy in. (Isn’t it always?) Last year was better with more players buying in to the new system.
Kirby touches on the pressures of social media on players. Players are constantly told about themselves from every school during recruitment and then are expected to represent themselves on social media constantly. As their media footprint grows, more is expected of them.
He watched the game tape of the National Championship game, and then moved on to focus on this season.
Smart believes the biggest asset of the team is their work ethic. Players embrace the challenges and thrive on them.
Going into year three, Smart has been able to delegate more responsibilities to other coaches while feeling comfortable with it. He does wish he had Butch Jones to get him coffee. Probably.
Justin Fields has taken on the role of QB2 immediately, and has thrived for being a young guy.
On what lessons he learned in the National Championship: “Humility is a week away.” They should put that quote in the locker room at Notre Dame.
Matt Luke, Ole Miss
Though not a new head coach, after taking over last year for Hugh Freeze, this is Matt Luke’s first Media Day as head coach for the Rebels.
He opens by talking about ending last season with positive momentum that has translated into a top 25 recruitment ranking. Matt Luke is creating a positive culture in the Ole Miss locker room. (Coincidentally, I’m creating a drinking game around the use of the word “culture” at Media Days. This game will probably kill anyone that tries to play.)
Coach Luke is really happy with the returning starters on both sides of the ball, specifically the offensive line.
The receiving corps is called the NWO: the Nasty WideOuts. I’m officially an Ole Miss and Matt Luke fan. I’ll buy that shirt.
Luke considers Phil Fulmer to be one of his mentors. Insert your own joke here.
Ole Miss will lean on their returning defenders to help stop the run this season. Or they’ll run some fishing line to trip the running backs at the line of scrimmage.
After learning what the sanctions were going to be last year, they were able to move past them.
As a new head coach, Luke has learned to be more efficient with time management. This is my favorite answer outside of the NWO thing.
There has been a major battle among the running backs to contribute and help replace Jordan Wilkins.
Coach Luke is a fan of the new red shirt rule because of the flexibility it provides for the players to develop at their correct speed.
The second half of the Auburn game last year was a turning point for the team. (Ole Miss was down 35-3 at half, but continued to fight in the second half. They still lost 44-23 though. This isn’t a Disney movie.)
Expect A.J Brown to be a major key to the offense and one of the biggest targets.
A lot of excitement for a bowl game style atmosphere when Ole Miss and Texas Tech open the season. Should be one of the better match ups.
Offensive lineman Greg Little is a projected first round draft pick and has been working hard in the weight room.
The win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl validated all of the hard work the team put in all season. I’ll drink to that.
With the bowl ban, the team hasn’t lost motivation. They focus on playing for each other instead of a bowl.
Look for Jordan Ta’amu to continue his success from last year. Having a seasoned offensive line protecting him and putting in some serious work in the off season could reap major rewards.
Chad Morris, Arkansas
Another new head coach, and first Media Days appearance, Chad Morris opened up by asking who left their water on the podium. I’m all in.
New coach stuff here: thank you, excited, honored, great players, work to do. You get the idea. Morris discusses the three players that made the trip to media day and how they are team leaders. They are helping build a program from the ground up.
Expect a fast paced, up tempo offense from OC Joe Craddock. He wants his offense to adapt and evolve as the season progresses.
DC John Chavis was one of the first calls Morris made after accepting the job.
“Special Teams is nothing more than a mindset.” – Put it on my tombstone.
Nobody will place higher expectations on the Razorbacks than Chad Morris, and 4-8 is not acceptable. (Unless you’re Kentucky.)
“Our biggest rival is the Arkansas Razorbacks” – Chad Morris, who doesn’t understand how rivalries work.
They have not chosen a quarterback yet, and will let the competition continue to get the most out of each player.
Being a teacher and high school coach is one of the more defining things that makes Chad Morris a solid college coach.
Joe Craddock is one of the bright young minds in college football. He’s exceptional at managing the tempo of a game with little alterations to the offense. You’ll get no argument from me.
Chad Morris is also a big fan of the new red shirt rule.
De’Jon Harris is an exceptional player that took a lot of responsibility for the failures of last season. He’s versatile, can play several positions, and doesn’t accept mediocrity.
Dan Mullen, Florida
It’s Mullen’s 10th year at Media Days, but his first at Florida. He calls his shoes “swagged-out” and I love Dan Mullen.
Generic new head coach talk: excited, honored, effort, and returning the program to the top.
The margin for error in the SEC is very small, and you have to bring your best every week.
The goal for the team is to compete for the SEC Championship. The goal for the program is to build a consistent championship contender.
Mullen loves the rivalry with Georgia, and how the two schools are similar which makes it a “healthy rivalry.”
Already being familiar with Florida made it an easy decision to take the job and leave Mississippi State. (Mostly because it’s a place where he can actually win championships.)
He told his quarterbacks not to expect to run the offense that Mississippi State ran last year. He’ll mold the offense to the strengths of his quarterbacks.
Recruiting in Florida is much different because of the nationally recognized brand of Florida athletics and the massive amount of in-state talent. Florida > Mississippi.
Mullen is counting on his fourth year seniors to lead the transition into the new program and build a system based on winning.
Since his first year at Mississippi State to his first year at Florida, he’s learned to delegate and not over analyze every decision for the program.
Martez Ivey is the anchor of the offensive line and has worked relentlessly to better himself for the coming season.
When asked about discipline, Mullen reflects on his time as a young man and is thankful there were no camera phones. I wish there were. Wasted Dan Mullen could be my favorite Dan Mullen.
Discipline will revolve around being accountable for one another as teammates and to learn from all mistakes. Cheers to that.
Advice to new coaches in the conference: “Just get ready for Saturdays. There’s nothing like SEC football.” Please also add that to my tombstone as well.
Florida for the last four seasons has been inconsistent, with two 4-win seasons and two SEC championship games. Mullen aims to increase consistency with training, confidence, and discipline.
He loves the pressure and high expectations. And Tim Tebow called him about taking the job before he accepted. Tebow basically can do anything. Except be a QB in the NFL.
Mullen looks forward to traveling to Mississippi State, and brushes off any anger felt about him leaving. He passed on a lot of jobs while at Mississippi State, but couldn’t pass this one up. Because the shoes are swaggy-er in Florida.
That’s it for Day 2 folks. See you tomorrow!
Poppa Bear is the Lead SEC Analyst for the SoBros Network, and serves as our resident expert on the human anatomy, fixin’ stuff, and tomatoes. Follow on Twitter:@SoBroPoppaBear