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ATLANTA – There have been many strange things happen at SEC Media Days over the years.
Then-Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell brought the crowd of reporters to their knees in 2010 in Hoover, Alabama, when he brought up one of his pre-coaching jobs. What was the job?
Why, he was a turkey inseminator in South Carolina.
In 2004, then-LSU coach Nick Saban’s dog Lizzie wandered out of Nick and Terry’s Saban’s Wynfrey hotel room in Hoover when a maid went in. Terry was shopping. Nick was working. The boxer followed her master’s scent all the way to the main press conference hotel ball room. Lizzie didn’t ask any questions.
Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz did something different on the first day of the Media Days here Monday at the College Football Hall of Fame. He started out waxing poetically about the game amid the impressive environs.
“What a great venue to celebrate what’s great about our sport,” he said. “Just walking around, seeing all the wonderful things that make the memories of college football so special. It’s such an incredible game that we have that’s built on the pride of university communities and passed through generations through story telling, like this Hall of Fame, through great moments, through tailgates, through bitter rivalry defeats, through incredible rivalry wins. It’s what makes college football so awesome.”
Then he went old man. Or did he?
“My hope is that we don’t lose sight of that moving forward with college football and college athletics,” he said. “I know that the college football world and college athletics is changing. For any of you Simpson fans, I’m not the old man yelling at the clouds that we want to go back to the way it was.”
In The Simpsons, a ground breaking cartoon that premiered in 1989 on FOX, the main character Bart Simpson’s dad was the often angry Abraham Simpson – Bart Simpson’s grandfather who liked to yell at the clouds.
“But I do worry,” Drinkwitz said. “And I do question what are the guiding principles for college football and athletics moving forward.”
Drinkwitz was addressing Name, Image & Likeness, which for the last year has allowed college athletes to be paid legally. He also jumped in on the ongoing Big Ten television deal with FOX that could pay member schools $100 million a year and recently enticed USC and UCLA to skip the Pac-12 for the Big Ten for 2024.
“I sure hope it’s not, as Pat Forde wrote, about the almighty dollar,” Drinkwitz said. “I hope it’s bigger than TV deals being the college football guiding principles, because every action we take moving forward, we lose sight of what we love about this game.”
Many coaches have criticized NIL over the last year along with the newfangled NCAA transfer portal that allows players to switch schools now without sitting out a year.
“We’re entering, and rightfully, into a new era of college athletics with student-athlete rights, the ability to transfer through the transfer portal, generating of earnings through NIL, all things that were much needed and need to continue to be embraced,” he said. “But it’s also time for college athletics to set a course and a vision for the future. Let’s make sure that the core principles and guiding principles that we have reflect the values that we want it to be moving forward.”
If the NIL and transfer rules are not at least tweaked, though, college football coaches and many fans and media will continue to just yell at the clouds.
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