Are we in the trust zone?
Because I have to get something off my chest: Southeastern Conference Media Days, from a television spectator standpoint, can be a little overrated.
While the event can serve as a cheerful reminder that football is about a month away, the only other substance provided is all 14 of the league’s football coaches stand at a podium and give fairly generic answers to questions from reporters. Approximately 95 percent of whom haven’t been around the team, because the ones that are typically have their own non-televised session with whatever players and coaches are representing the school they cover.
If you’re watching a press conference of any other team than the one you root for, there’s a good chance you’ll be bored to tears (and you still might be anyway if you watch the home team’s segment).
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.
Answer me this: if the purpose of SEC Media Days is strictly to entertain or garner ratings, what if every coach went off the deep end and actually said what was on their minds? It would make for television gold.
So I’m here to offer some (not so serious) suggestions on what each coach can do to ensure the spotlight remains on their program for the day, sorted by the order each program head is slated to speak.
Day 1, Monday
Before we begin, a note regarding SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey: The hot-button topic league wide when Sankey makes his annual state of the union address will probably be the new policy that gives conference schools the option to sell alcohol at sporting events. Sankey will probably say some line about how this will encourage more responsible drinking, but if you look closely enough, you’ll see dollar signs mired in his eyes.
Anyway, on to the main event.
Mizzou coach Barry Odom: The Missouri man can start off the coaches’ press conferences with a bang by screaming “make it right” every three sentences. For context, those three words are the athletic department’s new slogan in response to the NCAA’s one-year bowl ban on the Tigers for academic fraud. Considering the punishment is a result of a tutor that went rogue from the administrative staff and helped 12 students (all of whom no longer attend the university) cheat from around 2015 to 2016, maybe the NCAA made an honest mistake and gave Missouri the penalty it meant to give North Carolina. Oh yeah, when Odom isn’t flipping the college football overlords the bird, he can just boast about his new transfer prize, former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Florida coach Dan Mullen: Recruiting might be a sore subject for the former Mississippi State coach depending on if you believe former top-rated 2019 Florida signee Chris Steele transferred because Mullen refused to accommodate his request to change dorm rooms/roommates or not. So, Mullen can boldly state his Gators will catch Georgia in the SEC East this season, so long as he doesn’t revisit the film of that ill-fated meeting a year ago.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron: Orgeron should … who are we kidding, he can say whatever he wants and it’s going to be entertaining.
Day 2, Tuesday:
Georgia coach Kirby Smart: There’s two things Kirby Smart has going for him. One, he’s tied for the best name of any coach in the league with Jimbo Fisher. Two, it’ll take a minor miracle for Smart’s Bulldogs to avoid winning the SEC East, unless Florida resurfaces or a team like Missouri comes out of nowhere. In honor of what’s primed to be another successful season in Athens, Smart can show everyone his hotel accommodations already booked for the SEC Championship on Dec. 7 in Atlanta.
Ole Miss coach Matt Luke: Luke’s press conference will turn into a 30-minute seminar on Mississippi’s new strength and conditioning program: whatever the hell D.K. Metcalf did.
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher: It’s probably not a good idea for ole’ Jimbo to come out guns blazing with bravado, considering the Aggies face three of what could be the four College Football Playoff teams in Alabama, Georgia and Clemson. Fisher can spend a good chunk of his allotted time getting some practice arguing his team is better than its record indicates, because he’ll need it.
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt: Maybe Pruitt can assure Vol Nation his offense will be much improved from a year ago. It can’t be much worse, considering Tennessee was dead last in the nation in total plays run, but what’s a few minor details?
Day 3, Wednesday:
Alabama coach Nick Saban: Because he’s a consummate pro, Saban will do his damndest to avoid rolling his eyes every time a reporter starts a question with “talk about.” But eventually, Saban will cut off all questions and announce he’s leaving to get back on the ‘Crootin’ trail.
Arkansas coach Chad Morris: Entering his second year in charge of the Hogs, Morris will boisterously announce his policy of “no players shall ever talk to members of any spirit squad” is back and better than ever, failing to acknowledge Arkansas had roughly a billion players decide to transfer. He will end every answer to a question with “Woo Pig!” Actually, anything that doesn’t involve talking about his actual team sounds pretty appealing.
Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead: Moorhead can save himself three weeks of answering the same question worded in different ways by just naming a starting quarterback for Week 1. Especially when it’s not a big secret who the starter is likely to be. I’m not naming any names (Tommy Stevens), but it would clear a lot of things up.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp: Truthfully, I have no snarky remark to make here besides it’s unreal that we officially have two teams in the SEC playing Georgia, Alabama and Clemson in the same year. This could be a pretty grim year for the Gamecocks considering they play Missouri on the road, Kentucky at home, Florida at home and A&M on the road. That’s potentially four losses right there, which would put South Carolina below .500 and Muschamp in hot water.
Day 4, Thursday:
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason: A good place to start for Mason is to remind everyone the Commodores play other sports in the SEC besides baseball. That’s the easy part. The trick will be convincing anyone Vanderbilt can take a step forward without a proven quarterback, standout running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn aside.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops: Mark should take a page out of the movie Step Brothers, and bring along his brother Bob to SEC Media Days, where they will be handling the interview as a team. In all seriousness, Mark has completed one of the more fascinating turnarounds in the SEC, and he deserves all the recognition that comes with it.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn: Whatever Malzahn does, it’s probably best to avoid direct eye contact with his athletic director, Allen Greene. If reports coming out of Auburn are accurate, Malzahn may be skating on thin ice entering 2019.
Garrick Hodge is the sports editor for The Commercial Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge or email him at email@example.com
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