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Previewing SEC Media Days

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Later today, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and the first wave of head coaches and players take to the podium and kick off the four-day circus that is SEC Media Days in Nashville. While the Big 12 has already had its media days event, the arrival of SEC Media Days always, if unofficially, signifies the end of the interminable offseason and the appearance of talking season.

College football values talk more than any other sport and nobody likes football and talking about itself more than SEC coaches, media, and fans. So, what can we expect over the next four days? Here’s a quick preview of what I expect (and hope) to hear.

Sankey’s State of the Union

There’s no denying that Greg Sankey views the SEC as the preeminent power in college football and as commissioner, he regularly pontificates as though he occupies a similar position. In the past, it might have felt like a presumption on his part. Not any longer.

As we enter the next iteration of the SEC: a 16-team super conference in the age of a 12-team expanded College Football Playoff, Sankey officially is what he has seemingly always believed himself to be. He’s in charge of college football. At least, he’s in charge of the league that’s in charge of college football. For that reason, his addresses at Media Days have regularly featured soaring language about any number of topics, not just football.

This year should be no different for Sankey. Observers should be prepared for Sankey to roam far and wide to lobby for the SEC’s position on issues ranging from the desire for federal NIL legislation to even broader reforms of what remains of the NCAA’s tattered governance over college sports.

The Next Generation of Quarterbacks

If you watched the NFL Draft, you might have noticed that the SEC had one hell of a year at quarterback in 2022. At Georgia, Stetson Bennett completed Georgia’s back-to-back national championship run with a dominant 2022 season. Alabama’s, Bryce Young was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, and Florida’s Anthony Richardson went No. 4 overall to Indianapolis. Kentucky’s Will Levis followed thereafter, going No. 33 overall to Tennessee. Hendon Hooker, despite injury, went in the third round as well.

Who steps into those respective shoes and how confident coaches are that their offenses won’t experience a steep drop-off will dominate conversations across the conference. Is Devin Leary fully healthy and ready to find his 2021 form while playing for Liam Coen at Kentucky?

What does it say that despite a quarterback room filled with blue chip prospects, Alabama was unnerved enough to nab the Notre Dame quarterback who got recruited over for Sam Hartman? Florida tried everything it could to find an additional quarterback but couldn’t. Will Billy Napier try to tell the world with a straight face that they’re all in on…Graham Mertz?


Gone are the days of Steve Spurrier showing up to Media Days to jab Georgia fans about arrests or saying Peyton Manning came back for his senior year so he could win four straight Citrus Bowls. There’s no Steve Spurrier in the SEC these days. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t expect some good, old-fashioned pettiness in Nashville.

After all, we’re only one year removed from Jimbo Fisher suggesting someone should beat up Nick Saban due to his narcissism. Or, Mark Stoops jabbing at South Carolina’s Shane Beamer for his antics in promotional videos or social media.

And there’s always Lane Kiffin.

One topic sure to be addressed by each coach is the ongoing debate over the SEC playing eight or nine conference games once Texas and Oklahoma join the league for the 2024 season. Some members want the promise of an even juicier home schedule that more frequent matchups against Alabama, Georgia, and LSU bring while others look at an additional conference game as just piling on to the already impossible task of competing and ascending in a league filled with giants (and two more on the way). We should expect heavy lobbying from advocates on both sides of the debate this week.


I refuse to be the next person to make the mistake of declaring Alabama’s dynasty over. It’s not. But it isn’t what it used to be and that’s because Georgia has become what Alabama used to be. The SEC has witnessed countless efforts over 14 years to replicate what Saban implemented at Alabama. Georgia did it.

I suspect we will see other coaches try to praise Georgia for the dominant program it has become without giving Nick Saban any additional motivational materials to work with. Regardless, this will be the first season since Saban arrived that coaches are likely to frame their goals in terms of catching Georgia instead of the Tide.

And since we’re talking about Georgia, we’re going to hear a whole lot of talk about the eventful offseason Kirby Smart and Georgia players have had in 2023. Tragedy, lawsuits, demands for retractions, and even mundane things like coordinator turnover, we pretty much never stopped paying attention to Georgia even after their second consecutive national championship. Expect Kirby Smart to come out prepared to do one of the two things all SEC coaches better be good at-firing back and filibustering.

Even if the vast majority of what we hear over the next four days in Nashville is empty rhetoric, the arrival of Media Days means we’re that much closer to the return of college football. Amen.

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