We are officially kicking off SEC Media Days this week. You know what that means? The college football season is just around the corner. The conference makes its return to the gridiron on Saturday, Sept. 4, which is only 47 days away.
Since it’s now Day 1 of SEC Media Days, here are some of the top storylines you should be keeping an eye on as the day progresses. Some of these will be talked about at great length, while others might not catch the traction they deserve.
Where: Hyatt Regency – The Winfrey Hotel (Hoover, Ala.)
When: Monday, July 19
Coverage Starts: 9 a.m. ET (8 a.m. CT)
TV Channel: SEC Network
Streaming: ESPN app, SEC Network+
Lineup (Day 1): Florida (Dan Mullen), LSU (Ed Orgeron), South Carolina (Shane Beamer)
Top Storylines for Day 1
1. SEC Media Days are officially back!
Folks, it’s been a long time coming. If you can believe it, it’s now been almost two years since the last SEC Media Days event took place. Of course, none of us knew the cancelation was coming last year, but not even the coronabros couldn’t stop it this time around.
All signs point to full capacity stadiums, and we’ll get to watch all these various coaches and players from the SEC discussing getting back to some sense of normalcy. Someone who wasn’t been shy about his beliefs is Dan Mullen, so it’s fantastic timing to see him on Day 1.
2. Questions about the new transfer, NIL rules
There have been two significant changes to college football over the last couple of months.
Last year, they changed the rules to allow players to transfer without the penalty of having to sit out a year — even if that transfer is within the conference. And now, student athletes can profit off their name, image and likeness.
Both of these rule changes have been met with some push back, so it will be interesting to see how the coaches navigate questions on either topic. Will we get complete honesty? Probably not, but these two rules have changed college football forever.
You can guarantee they’ll come up at some point on Monday.
3. Georgia or Alabama: Which team has more buzz?
Neither Georgia nor Alabama are going on Monday, but I’m certain we’ll get at least some discussion about which team is favored to win the SEC.
Will it be Alabama and the West due to the program’s reputation and ability to reload? Or will Georgia’s returning stars, plus new additions out of the transfer portal convince the media to lean Dawgs and the East? I’m fascinated to see the conversation unfold.
The West is expected to be a lot more competitive, but the pressure is on Kirby Smart to finally take the next step. A return to the College Football Playoff would be nice, but even something as monumental as that might not satisfy Georgia fans.
4. Florida’s loss of top offensive firepower
We know Alabama has the ability to reload, but the same can’t be said for Dan Mullen and Florida — at least not yet. The Gators are losing an arsenal of offensive talent, both with players and coaches, that could lead to significant regression in 2021.
That list of losses includes:
- Kyle Trask, Quarterback
- Kyle Pitts, Tight End
- Kadarius Toney, Wide Receiver
- Trevon Grimes, Wide Receiver
- Stone Forsythe, Offensive Line
- Brian Johnson, Offensive Coordinator
You can bet that Mullen is going to face questions about all these losses, and those questions will probably include his thoughts on Emory Jones taking over at quarterback. You can also bet that his answer will be heavily dissected.
5. Coach O, LSU involvement in Title IX lawsuit
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a massive Title IX lawsuit against LSU going on for the way the school mishandled sexual assault and harassment allegations. Last month, head coach Ed Orgeron was added as a defendant to that lawsuit.
Normally, the main storyline surrounding LSU’s program would include what type of bounce back season we can expect from the Tigers. And yes, I’m sure that will also be a top talking point on Monday, both for the media and Orgeron.
Make no mistake though, there will at least be some rumblings about the program’s current issues off the field as well. Orgeron may even get asked about it personally, which will probably provide us with a viral soundbite or two.
6. Shane Beamer’s debut at SEC Media Days
Most of the talk is going to be about Florida and LSU on Monday, but we can’t just ignore that this is Shane Beamer’s first opportunity as a head coach. South Carolina isn’t expected to be a competitor in the East, but there are a few things to like about the Gamecocks.
MarShawn Lloyd returns to share a backfield with Kevin Harris, the league’s returning rushing leader. Luke Doty has a little experience under his belt, and the defensive front looks talented and deep. That won’t be enough to make them bowl eligible, but it’s a start.
How is Beamer going to handle the spotlight though? I’m sure he’ll be fine, especially with the lack of expectations for Year 1, but it’s at least worth bringing up. There are way bigger personalities in the SEC, but Beamer needs to try and stand out as much as possible.
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Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.