ATLANTA –– “Talking Season” is here, which means SEC football is around the corner. Day 1 of SEC Media Days featured commissioner Greg Sankey, LSU coach Brian Kelly, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz and three players from each team.
Here are the winners and losers from Day 1.
The SEC: Sankey voiced how the SEC is still the conference to beat despite the challenges it faces. USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten did not faze the “super-conference” commissioner.
“We wanted to be patient,” Sankey said. “We wanted to communicate. We’re comfortable at 16 (teams). There’s no sense of urgency, no sense of panic. We’re not just shooting for a number of affiliations that make us better.”
Historically black colleges and universities: Lane Kiffin was open to the possibility of playing Jackson State, an in-state HBCU that has gained a lot of attention under coach Deion Sanders.
“It’s been great to see Deion’s success, coach Sanders’ success, and how well he’s doing,” Kiffin said. “I don’t know future plans on that, but that would be exciting.”
HBCUs have been gaining notoriety through the success of Sanders at Jackson State. The popularity has grown to other HBCUs hiring prominent coaches like Eddie George (Tennessee State) and Hue Jackson (Grambling State).
Jackson State playing against Ole Miss would be another step for historically black colleges and universities to gain more recognition.
Nick Saban and Alabama football: Kiffin and Kelly could not avoid Saban and Alabama football questions despite the Crimson Tide failing to win the national championship.
When asked about Saban on the main stage, Kiffin said: “Well, Kirby Smart used to say sometimes you come up here and just (talk) about Alabama. So our first question somehow is about Nick Saban, so. … That’s pretty usual.”
A reporter asked Kelly, “How much did the lopsided losses to Alabama play into the fact that you wanted to leave Notre Dame for LSU?”
Alabama football and Saban take the stage Tuesday.
LSU quarterbacks: Brian Kelly remained uncommitted about naming LSU’s starter.
“We’re really going to have to set the offensive structure and its installation to the skill set of the particular players,” Kelly said. “No. 1, they’ve got to take care of the football. No. 2, they have to get the ball to playmakers. … No. 3, they’ve got to make plays.
“The ultimate decision-making on who that quarterback is, he’ll have to hit those three notes.”
Name, image and likeness: Sankey, Kiffin and Drinkwitz targeted NIL in relation to recruiting incentives for transfers and incoming players.
“If you have boosters out there deciding who they’re going to pay to come play, and the coach isn’t involved in it, how does that work?,” Kiffin said. “They could go pick who they want, pay him however much. Are the boosters going to tell you who to play, too? When they don’t play, how is that going to work out?
“Again, this is not thought out at all, in my opinion, and has created a massive set of issues, which I think when people really thought about it, from a coach’s standpoint, could have predicted this was going to happen.”