SEC Media Days: Greg Sankey Honors Covenant Shooting Police Officers, Jimbo Fisher Downplays Petrino Drama; Can LSU Catch Georgia?

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NASHVILLE – The loud construction noise outside the hotel hosting SEC Media days was finally drowned out when Commissioner Greg Sankey took the stage. With 35 radio outlets with a table outside the main ballroom and over a thousand media members, Monday represented the official kickoff for the 2023 college football season.

It was business as usual for Sankey. But there was a moment that went off-script compared to past gatherings. The commissioner honored the lives lost in the Covenant shooting that happened in this city, while also bringing on stage the police officers who made first contact. This turned into an emotional moment, with the ballroom of media members applauding the officers.

There was ongoing discussions about NIL, where Sankey again pleaded with congress to get involved. This unfortunately has become an ongoing discussion that isn’t going away, but he should get the picture now that congress leaders aren’t getting involved right now. But again, this is nothing he doesn’t know already.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey honors police officers who helped stop the Covenant shooting
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey honors police officers who helped stop the Covenant shooting

SEC Media Days Approve 1,200 Credentials

Over 35 radio stations lined the hallways outside the main ballroom, with just over 1,200 media members scoured the halls. It’s chaotic, loud, sometimes obnoxious and most certainly intimidating for the new people.

There was certainly a different feel this year without Mike Leach, with Sankey going without a tie on Monday to honor the former Mississippi State coach.

But the rapid movement of folks walking through radio row, completes the tradition that is SEC Media Days. The movement is always fluid, with producers walking around trying to line-up guests for each one of their shows. All of this feels like a 12-hour media boot camp according to one personality, which isn’t a bad comparison.

SEC Media Days
SEC Media Days

In 2024, the event will be held at the Omni hotel in downtown Dallas. This also happens to coincide with the MLB All-Star Game, which should make for a crowded event. Usually the new member schools are put through the ringer in the first few years, but Texas, and even Oklahoma, are getting a welcome basket when they join the league.

It should certainly be a trial by fire that the new members are sent to Hoover, Alabama, for their first media day in the SEC. Sankey wants to expand the reach of the conference, but at least make the newer members have to take a trip to the Birmingham area.

Jimbo Fisher Needs An Offensive Turnaround In 2023

While Jimbo Fisher spoke about the upcoming season, it wasn’t hard to notice the confidence in his voice for a team that will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. In 2022, the season couldn’t figure out what to do on offense.

The solution to this was hiring Bobby Petrino as offensive coordinator. This was a big decision for Jimbo, knowing many in the football program wanted him to hand over play-calling duties. In terms of who’s actually calling plays or fixing the offense, Fisher has steered clear of saying he’s staying out of the way.

“You are still involved in what goes. I’m not trying to avoid anything. Bobby (Petrino) was hired for a reason. He is a tremendous mind. Hopefully, he will call the game. Every coach is always involved.”

Right. The first time this offense starts to sputter, the tug-of-war between Petrino and Fisher will begin. A relationship that was build on desperation as the ingredients to explode, we all know this. How else would you describe a situation where Jimbo Fisher turns-over play calling duties to Bobby Petrino? Now the question will be can these guys get along for enough time to put together a playoff run?

This is where it gets tricky, with a tough schedule awaiting Texas A&M.

LSU’s Brian Kelly Certainly Sounds Confident This Year

Brian Kelly took the stage for his second appearance with the SEC backdrop lingering behind him. This season is much different than 2022, where the Tigers came to a crossroads following a loss to Tennessee. Now, Brian Kelly has a veteran quarterback in Jayden Daniels that took over following that disappointing home-loss to Hendon Hooker and the Vols.

But in terms of catching a team like Georgia, Brian Kelly is convinced that if the Tigers can continue to recruit at this pace, they’ll keep up with the pace of Kirby Smart.

“I know that based upon how we’ve recruited and how we’ll continue to recruit that we’ll have a football roster that will be able to compete against Georgia,” Brian Kelly mentioned. “Is that right now? No, it’s not. But if we continue to do what we’re doing, we’re going to have a roster that can compete against Georgia, and then it’s just a matter of getting it done on the playing field so everybody then can assess they’ve closed the gap.”

LSU Quarterback Jayden Daniels Answers Questions At SEC Media Days
LSU Quarterback Jayden Daniels Answers Questions At SEC Media Days.

Yes, the accent question was asked this year to Brian Kelly, rightfully so. But, thanks to the LSU coach, he mentioned that his accent has gotten better through the recruiting process.

“I think my accent is pretty good and has gotten better throughout the recruiting process,” Kelly noted. “It depends on if I’m in northern Louisiana or southern Louisiana. Sometimes I get over to Lake Charles, it’s got to change a little bit.”

Only in the SEC would a coach talk about his accent for two consecutive years. But there’s nothing conventional about Media Days in the Southeastern Conference, which you should know by now.

This was only the first day, so settle in for some interesting moments this week in Nashville.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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