The SEC will stick to an eight-game conference football schedule for the foreseeable future. Greg Sankey, the league’s commissioner, said the league is pleased with its current format and indicated a move to a nine-game conference schedule is not imminent.
“I do not anticipate any major change in our approach,” Sankey said.
Keeping two cross-division opponents for each team, with one rotating, will also continue.
“The divisional structure has supported a number of really important, really healthy rivalries and sectional games,” Sankey said. “Could that change? That’s why we have conversations every year.”
2. Rolling the dice
A Supreme Court ruling in May opened the door for states to permit legalized sports gambling on college sports. Sankey said the SEC has consulted with professional sports leagues on the possible impact, and acknowledged that gambling has become more accepted by society.
“For us, the integrity of our games is of the utmost importance,” the commissioner said.
3. Coaching turnover
Five head coaches are making their SEC Media Days debuts this week, and that doesn’t include new Florida coach Dan Mullen, who was previously at Mississippi State.
Nick Saban is going into his 12th year at Alabama, making him the longest-tenured coach in the league. Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Mark Stoops are next in length of tenure, a statement on the conference’s high turnover rate.
“That’s not a good thing,” Stoops said. “I’ve only been here six years.”
“It gets your attention. I’ll definitely say that.”
– Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher on facing national contenders Alabama and Clemson in the season’s first four weeks
“You don’t want to turn it into another form of free agency. None of us want that.”
– Kentucky coach Mark Stoops on more liberal transfer rules
“It starts when you make a mistake.”
– LSU coach Ed Orgeron on making a change at offensive coordinator after his first season
Monday’s dumbest questions
Gather more than 1,000 media people in front of football coaches and players for four days, and there are going to be some questionable queries. Here is a sample of some of the dumbest questions asked at SEC Media Days on Monday:
Give him a minute
Texas A&M’s new coach, Jimbo Fisher, was about 15 minutes into his first appearance at SEC Media Days when he got this question:
Q: What’s your timetable for winning a national championship at Texas A&M?
A: Well, I think your timetable is as quick as you can put things in place and everyone buys into what you’re trying to do. You have a timetable; your timetable is now.
Any football questions?
Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen got grilled about grilling more than what happens on the field by one questioner. A sample:
Q: What is your weirdest dorm memory?
A: I got locked out of my room just in my underwear, so I had to walk the hallway to the (resident assistant), so they could let me back in. It was a little awkward, but really funny.
Q: What’s your go-to on the grill, what’s it look and taste like?
A: I just recently started to grill. … They have one in my apartment. I didn’t even know how to turn it on … but hamburgers, hot dogs, and I want to learn how to grill chicken because everyone can grill hamburgers and hot dogs.
Q: Must-have tailgate side?
A: Potato chips. You can’t kick those.
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
2017 Record: 7-6 (4-4 SEC)
Returning Starters: 16 (8 offense, 8 defense)
Toughest question Fisher faced: “In all your years, you meant a lot to Florida State. In hindsight how do you look back on your years, any regrets about how it ended, and was it because of commitment?”
Fisher’s reply: “Florida State was an amazing place and I have some great memories there. I grew up loving them around the Bowden family and Coach Bowden had taken me in a long time ago. … When you leave is there ever a good way to leave? You try to do it the best you can. I wish we could have finished out the season, but that’s the way it came about. But like I said, I had no intentions of ever leaving.”
You need to know: Texas A&M has one of the toughest schedules in the country with championship contenders Clemson and Alabama in the first four games and then a stretch of three straight away games – at South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn – in the middle of the season.
Best player quote: “It definitely humbled us and it made us want to change that. When he came in, he brought the mentality with him of toughness, effort, discipline, and pride. … And he’s really instilled that tough mentality on this team and made us want to be tougher.” Junior center Erik McCoy on Fisher calling the team “soft”
Head Coach: Mark Stoops
2017 Record: 7-6 (4-4 SEC)
Returning Starters: 17 (8 offense, 9 defense)
Toughest question Stoops faced: “How critical is it for the program to finally get over that hump with Florida?”
Stoops’ reply: “I always look forward to that annual question. My answer my first three or four years was I really wasn’t certain about it. I was trying to build a culture at Kentucky, win games, and get in a good position. But you do hear it. So you can’t hide from the elephant in the room; it’s been a long time, and we need to beat Florida, but we need to beat a lot of teams on our schedule.”
You need to know: No quarterback on Kentucky’s roster has thrown a pass in a major college game; one candidate, Terry Wilson, has junior college experience.
Best player quote: “We can’t think about it as Florida. We just have to think about it as a game that we want to win to be 2-0. That’s a little goal, but not our ultimate goal. … We want to make it to a SEC championship.” – Senior linebacker Josh Allen
Head Coach: Ed Orgeron
2017 Record: 9-4 (6-2 SEC)
Returning Starters: 10 (5 offense, 5 defense)
Toughest question Orgeron faced: “You’re going into your second full year at LSU, and you’re already in the middle of the pack in terms of tenure at your SEC School. What was it like going to the spring meetings having five new coaches in the league and Dan Mullen at a new school? And what do you think about the job security in this league?”
Orgeron’s reply: “I was glad I had my seat at LSU. But, you know, this is why you come to the SEC. You know that expectations are high. You know the expectations are high at LSU. So you invite those challenges and you’re going to the play in the SEC West, perhaps the best conference in the United States, and you’re going to play against some of the best coaches.”
You need to know: The 2018 season marks the first time LSU is not returning a running back who has scored a rushing touchdown since at least 1974.
Best player quote: “It makes our quarterbacks want it that much more. There is going to be less reps, less playing time for guys to show what they have… so I think they’re going to have to take those a lot more seriously. The competition is really going to heat up come fall camp.” – Senior tight end Foster Moreau, on the addition of Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow to the roster
– Compiled by Carlyle Rickenmann