Also see: MONDAY RECAP
Here are the hot topics from Tuesday at SEC Media Days:
1. New rules
New rules governing blocking and kickoffs will be be introduced in 2018. Steve Shaw, coordinator of football officials for the SEC, went over changes Tuesday at SEC Media Days.
In short, blocking below the waist outside the tackle box now has to be head-on, and all blocking below the waist 5 yards or more downfield is now illegal.
A fair catch on kickoffs inside the 25-yard line will now be spotted at the 25 to start the ensuing series.
There will also be a 10-second runoff after replays in the final minute of either half if the ruling is overturned and the clock would have kept running had the play been called properly.
There are also new wardrobe rules: uniform pants have to cover knee pads, and other equipment (like back pads) must be covered by the uniform.
Another new rule allows players to participate in four games and still redshirt.
“I really like the flexibility that rule provides,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said.
2. New coaches
Of four coaches who took the podium Tuesday, two were making their first appearance and another was wearing new colors. Arkansas coach Chad Morris, who was hired from SMU, made his first appearance at SEC Media Days. Luke coached Ole Miss last season, but was promoted after Hugh Freeze abruptly resigned shortly after last year’s league preseason media event. And while Dan Mullen is no SEC newcomer, he is now representing Florida after nine years at Mississippi State.
Kirby Smart of Georgia was the day’s only carryover from 2017, making his third appearance.
New Florida coach Dan Mullen was asked about the Gators’ rivalry with Georgia. Kirby Smart and his Georgia players were asked a lot about Alabama, although the schools aren’t traditional rivals. Ole Miss players and Luke talked about the Egg Bowl with Mississippi State. And new Arkansas coach Morris said his team’s biggest rival is the Arkansas Razorbacks, adding that he tells his players that they are the ones who can defeat themselves by making the wrong choices.
“After our first season going 8-5, we didn’t change a whole lot. But we demanded more.”
– Georgia coach Kirby Smart
“Once all the actions were delivered and everybody knows what you’re dealing with, you can then move forward.”
– Ole Miss coach Matt Luke, on sanctions that were handed down last December after a long NCAA investigation
“Right now I would say that our biggest rival is the Arkansas Razorbacks.”
– Arkansas coach Chad Morris
“The goal for this year’s team is to go, to get back, the first week of December and compete for an SEC championship.”
– Florida coach Dan Mullen
Tuesday’s dumbest questions
Check the roster
Georgia has some highly-rated quarterbacks on its roster, but not all of the ones mentioned in this question directed to Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart:
Q: With (Jacob) Eason, (Jake) Fromm and (Justin) Fields, have you ever seen a better stock of quarterbacks in your career?
A: Yeah. If we had all three of them we’d be sitting pretty good. Eason is gone. He transferred (to Washington).
Pop culture sometimes finds its way to SEC Media Days. Just ask Georgia receiver Terry Godwin.
Q: A lot of former Georgia guys who have gone on to the Bachelorette. Would you ever do that? Or who of your teammates might be on there next?
A: To be honest, I can see J.R. Reed getting in on that.
Some reporters are fascinated with the off-the-field lives of players. Georgia defensive back J.R. Reed was one who was asked about it.
Q: What do you do outside of football to get away from it: relax, stress relief, that kind of thing?
A: I like to go to the lake. I like jet skis.
Ole Miss defensive tackle Josiah Coatney got a more specific query.
Q: Do you have a go-to dance move?
A: No. I’m not a dancer. I just don’t really dance.
– Tommy Deas, Carlyle Rickenmann and Ben Jones
Head coach: Kirby Smart
2017 record: 13-2 (7-1 SEC)
Returning starters: 13 (8 offense, 4 defense, 1 special teams)
Hardest question Kirby Smart faced: “Coach, what lessons did you take as you led your team to the playoffs last season and how important are those lessons going to be for the players returning this year being in those high pressure situations?”
Smart’s reply: “I think being in the SEC, we all know it’s week to week. Humility is a week away. Every team you play has the ability to defeat you. I think you see that every year top to bottom, and people can say what they want about our conference; it’s tough and physical and demanding.”
You need to know: Georgia lost eight of its defensive starters from the College Football Playoff, including all four linebackers. Two of those linebackers, Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter, were drafted by the NFL in the first and third rounds.
Best player quote: “As a team, we are not using that as motivation or any type of fuel. We are just trying to build off of it. … We are going into this season and offseason trying to be the best Georgia Bulldogs we can.” – Senior wide receiver Terry Godwin on the loss to Alabama in the national championship game
Head coach: Matt Luke
2017 record: 6-6 (3-5 SEC)
Returning starters: 15 (8 offense, 7 defense)
Hardest question Matt Luke faced: “How tough has the bowl ban been to deal with? How do you handle that with the players?”
Luke’s reply: “Everybody asks me ‘what is my motivation?’ What’s been impressive about this team is how they’ve gotten up every morning at 6 a.m.; They’ve gone to work and they’re competing and playing for each other.”
You need to know: The Ole Miss offensive line has a combined 103 starts going into this season.
Best player quote: “You have all of these outside perspectives trying to write this narrative, and that is just not the case in our locker room. That is a testament to Coach Luke coming in and instilling this culture.” – Senior offensive linemen Sean Rawlings on the presumed “dark cloud” over Ole Miss and the bowl ban
Head coach: Chad Morris
2017 record: 4-8 (1-7 SEC)
Returning starters: 19 (9 offense, 8 defense, 2 special teams)
Hardest question Chad Morris faced: “A lot of magazines might put you last in the SEC West, how do you deal with that for your team and what are your expectations?”
Morris’ reply: “No one is going to have higher expectations on this program than I am. Whether we are picked to finish first or last is irrelevant at this time, that’s the way I’ve looked at it. … We’ve heard it and our players have heard it. You can’t help but not to hear it. It’s how hungry is this football team going to be because of it?”
You need to know: New defensive coordinator John Chavis has spent the past 23 years as a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, LSU, and Tennessee.
Best player quote: “It’s not fun to lose, and it’s really, really hard not to start pointing fingers once it goes south. I was mad at myself because I felt like I fell in that same boat. … The only thing you can do is look yourself in the mirror.” – Senior offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt on the struggles last season
Head coach: Dan Mullen
2017: 4-7 (3-5 SEC)
Returning starters: 20 (10 offense, 9 defense, 1 special teams)
Hardest question Mullen faced: “You mentioned the fan base at Mississippi State and how there’s a lot of animosity for you there given all your time there. How do you feel about that? And do you think there’s anything that could have been done differently?”
Mullen’s reply: “My family and I, we gave it all we have. I was at Mississippi State for nine years, and I had a lot of opportunities to go other places. … The opportunity to become the head coach at the University of Florida is something that I couldn’t pass up.”
You need to know: Since 2009 (the end of the Tim Tebow era), there hasn’t been a Florida quarterback who has accounted for more than 16 touchdowns in a season.
Best player quote: “Even my friends who knew nothing about football could tell me like what we were going to run, and at least 95 percent of the time they were right. That’s the biggest thing about it, we’re not as predictable anymore.” Senior Offensive Linemen Martez Ivey on the predictability of the offense last year
– Compiled by Carlyle Rickenmann