Mississippi State coach Mike Leach and two Bulldogs players took the stage Wednesday afternoon at 2021 SEC Media Days at The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama.
Here’s what Leach, linebacker Aaron Brule and wide receiver Austin Williams had to say.
1:30 p.m. — Leach forwent an opening statement behind the lectern. “Alright, I’m not a big opening statement guy, and you guys are going to ask questions anyway, so let’s get started.”
1:35 p.m. — Asked about WR JaVonta Payton, who transferred to Tennessee, Leach said he thinks there are “way too many” players in the NCAA transfer portal. “I think too often there’s a temptation to cut and run, and I don’t think that’s always the best course because you learn a lot by persevering and sitting through there and pushing through adversity.”
1:39 p.m. — Leach praised quarterback Will Rogers. “I thought Will did a very good job. True freshmen don’t start very often, and part of the reason is because they’re true freshmen.”
1:42 p.m. — Leach said a possible 12-team College Football Playoff wouldn’t be enough teams: “It’s never enough. … I think 12 teams is a huge step in the right direction. I personally would like to see 64.”
1:45 p.m. — Leach said both Mississippi State and LSU were “evolving teams” when the Bulldogs pulled off an upset in Baton rouge last Sept. 26 and that MSU’s struggles later on were partly attributable to its youth. “I think that in some cases, our experience caught up with us … but we got better as the year went on.”
1:48 p.m. — Leach discussed the new name, image and likeness legislation. “I think Mississippi State’s a great place to establish your brand.”
1:53 p.m. — Leach said he talked to Tennessee a few years ago about coaching the Volunteers. “Nothing ever got nailed down, and pretty soon, they had a coup d’état there. … I didn’t end up in the middle of the coup, so lucky for me.”
1:54 p.m. — Leach was asked about COVID-19 vaccination. “We let the doctors handle all that, so I don’t have anything to do with that. We let the guys that know what they’re doing handle it.”
1:56 p.m. — Leach was asked if he himself is vaccinated, saying he’d leave it to doctors. “If I was or I wasn’t, I wouldn’t share it with you,” he told Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network.
1:58 p.m. — Leach said he thinks it’s a good idea to get rid of the permanent SEC crossover game, which currently pits the Bulldogs against SEC East opponent Kentucky every year.
2:02 p.m. — Linebacker Aaron Brule takes the stage.
2:04 p.m. — Brule was asked about defensive coordinator Zach Arnett’s mindset. “It’s an attack-first mentality. There’s no excuses for anything.”
2:09 p.m. — Brule called the Bulldogs’ Air Raid offense the “most successful offense just about of all time.” “You don’t mind being background to that,” he said.
2:12 p.m. — Wide receiver Austin Williams begins his media session.
2:14 p.m. — Williams also praised Rogers’ leadership. “He’s a leader in the locker room. Coming in as a true freshman, he’s taken it over, and he’s gotten everyone bought in.”
2:16 p.m. — Williams said he was glad for the help he’s received on offense. “Having Mike Leach as your tutor is awesome. He knows the ins and outs of it. He’s been doing the Air Raid forever.”
2:18 p.m. — Williams denounced the fight during the Bulldogs’ bowl game against Tulsa on Dec. 31. “That’s not reflective of who we are as a team and a program.”
2:20 p.m. — Williams fields his last question of the day, wrapping up the Bulldogs’ media session.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.