ATLANTA — Wednesday’s slate at SEC Media Days featured the defending national champs, four teams that brought their starting quarterbacks, a coach making his introduction to the league and plenty of silly nonsense.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and Florida coach Billy Napier all took their turns at the podium from the College Football Hall of Fame Wednesday.
Each coach got the chance to talk about their players, their team and the state of college football. But, as always, it’s more fun to focus on the absurd, the unexpected and the downright weird.
In true Arkansas fashion, Pittman devoted a portion of his time at the podium to waxing poetic about a slobbering hog.
Pittman has a razorback statue on his property. It’s massive. It’s lavish. There’s a sign in front of it that says don’t sit on the hog. People come by every day and sit on the hog. It’s a lot.
Pittman explained the origin and function of the hog statue.
“I bought the marlin house, had a big marlin over here, had a guy catching a marlin over here. The guy over here, he was like this, he was hooking the marlin on the other part of it,” Pittman explained.
“Jamie and I bought it on August 1st. August 3rd the storm came through, knocked the marlin down. Marlin shot water into the lake. So my mind went to a slobbering hog. Insurance company came through. Brandon White was the guy I called about the hog. I just thought the hog was going to be out there. This thing is incredible, to be honest with you. He’s got lights on him, red, whatever color lights you want. The water shoots up. It looks like he’s slobbering down into the lake.”
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Loser: Luscious locks
SEC football coaches aren’t exactly notable for their hair-care choices. But coaching coifs were a topic of conversation.
Smart told the story of Georgia’s Christmas party last December. Smart was in the front of the room for a team meeting when linebacker Nolan Smith sprinted in holding a box, exclaiming the team had bought Smart a Christmas present.
When Smart opened his gift, he found a Just for Men hair coloring kit to take care of some of his stray grays.
“He said he’s still got it in his office,” Smith added. “I say, ‘You need to use it.'”
Napier was asked about his ‘do, specifically why he sports a buzzcut even if he’s not at risk of going bald.
“It’s simple, it’s what I will tell you,” Napier said. “It takes no time to get ready in the morning. I got a lot of other things to worry about besides my hair, I can promise you that.”
Loser: Being full
The key to repeating as national champions? A strict diet.
Smart is confident his players aren’t going to be complacent heading into 2022 as the defending national champions. Replacing a record number of NFL Draft picks off one of the best teams in modern history isn’t easy. But like someone with a weight-loss resolution on January 2nd, the Bulldogs are seeing results by staying hungry.
“Yeah, hungry,” Smart said. “I talked about it earlier. There’s a hunger among this group. A lot of guys want to prove that they can replace the other guy. They don’t want to be the other guy, they want to be the next guy. You look across the board, we had some high-profile players on defense and offense when you count the backs and receivers that we have to replace those guys. The hunger comes from the opportunity the talented players behind them have.”
Georgia fans like to use the catchphrase “let the big dog eat.” Let’s hope Smart is being figurative and not literal with his hunger comments or else the phrase might need to apply.
Winner: Evelyn Stoops
Stoops’ 10 years in Lexington have been uncharacteristically successful compared against the rest of Kentucky football history. He’s already coached the most games and most seasons in school history and, with two more wins, he’ll pass Bear Bryant as the winningest coach in school history.
Hearing those accolades only makes Stoops feel old. Instead of taking too much pride in a decade of success, instead he’s giving credit to his mother Evelyn for the success she raised Stoops and his brother Bob, the winningest coach in Oklahoma history, to have.
“I do honestly just personally think about my mother, because I want her to be there,” Stoops said. “For her to have two sons that have the all-time wins at Power Five programs, with Bob at Oklahoma, myself as Kentucky, that’s really the only focus I have, is on my mother to be able to be there and share in that moment.”
Contact Nick Suss at email@example.com. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.