SEC Media Days Edition 3 Wraps With Spins On Never-Ending Saga That Is Name, Image & Likeness

ATLANTA – We have made it to the fourth and final day of SEC Media Days.

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel with quarterback Hendon Hooker, wide receiver Cedric Tillman and defensive back Trevon Flowers will make appearances on Thursday morning at the College Football Hall of Fame/CNN Center, followed by Auburn coach Bryan Harsin along with tailback Tank Bigsby, tight end John Samuel Shenker and defensive end Derick Hall.

Then Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher will close the four-day proceedings with defensive back Demani Richardson and offensive lineman Layden Robinson.

Texas A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith was scheduled to appear, but he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, marijuana possession and carrying a concealed gun with a full magazine early Wednesday in College Station by Texas A&M police. He has been suspended. Fisher will likely be asked about him on Thursday.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman, Georgia coach Kirby Smart, Florida coach Billy Napier and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and three players from each team spoke at press conferences on Wednesday.

Pittman put on a show, discussing everything from the back story of his Razorback statue at his lake house to singer Stevie Nicks.

Then Smart delivered one of the better comments on Name, Image & Likeness, an NCAA rule approaching its one-year anniversary that allowed players to be paid.

“I don’t think what’s going on in college football right now at some places is sustainable, meaning, can you do that year in and year out and repeat that? Can you honor the commitment that some people are trying to make to kids to get them to go to their school? It’s not good for college football, what’s out there,” he said.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JANUARY 10: Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart celebrates after the Alabama Crimson Tide versus the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship, on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Smart also pointed out the good side of NIL.

“For Dan Jackson to be a walk-on from Gainesville, Georgia, come in and get an opportunity to earn money for his education, that is good,” he said. “For a young man that has a father that’s on dialysis in south Georgia, and he can’t support his father unless he goes back and works or he gets NIL, that is good.We have 95 players right now with NIL deals that are on our roster. That’s incredible, the depth of that. There’s so much good there.”

And he said what needs to be fixed.

“It’s the guardrails. It’s the parameters that we need to protect our game,” he said. “Not only protect our game, guys, it’s protect young men, okay? So, NIL can be a good thing and they can learn to manage money at a young age. But to use it as inducement to get a young man to go to your school is not good for anybody or the game. I don’t have the answer for how to guardrail that, but NIL has been good to Georgia, and it’s been good to our players and it will continue to be.”

Smart also talked football and explained that his defending national champion team is on the hunt – not being hunted.

A possible end to the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville, Florida, was covered. First-year Florida coach Billy Napier wants to experience it for the first time at least before it becomes a home-and-home series, which is what Smart would like to see.

Stoops, meanwhile, discussed chasing the Bear. He is two wins away from surpassing Paul “Bear” Bryant as the winningest coach in Kentucky history. Bryant coached at Kentucky before going to Texas A&M, then Alabama.

Stoops also made a stirring comment on the combination of NIL and the NCAA Transfer Portal.

“I don’t know if there’s ever been a more volatile, uncertain and ever-changing period within college athletics,” he said. “In much of this we have very little or no control over as a head coach.”

Find it all here on Thursday and throughout the weekend at SEC Media Days Central.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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