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Lane Kiffin stole the show at SEC Media Days on Tuesday. After getting bombarded with various questions about Alabama and Nick Saban, the second-year Ole Miss coach left reporters with plenty of soundbites and quotes to work with for the rest of the day.
Of course, Kirby Smart and Mark Stoops provided some content as well, and Josh Heupel had a nice debut at media days as the new coach in Knoxville. But now it’s time to turn our attention to a big Day 3 in Hoover, Ala.
Below is how you can watch the SEC event, followed by some of the top storylines fans should be looking out for on Wednesday. With some of the conference’s top programs finally making their appearance, it should be another eventful day.
Where: Hyatt Regency – The Winfrey Hotel (Hoover, Ala.)
When: Wednesday, July 21
Coverage Starts: 9 a.m. ET (8 a.m. CT)
TV Channel: SEC Network
Streaming: ESPN app, SEC Network+
Lineup (Day 3): Alabama (Nick Saban); Vanderbilt (Clark Lea); Miss State (Mike Leach); Texas A&M (Jimbo Fisher)
Top Storylines for Day 3
1. Bryce Young reaching 7-figures off new NIL law
On Tuesday, Nick Saban strategically let the cat out of the bag that starting quarterback Bryce Young was approaching seven-figure money off new name, image and likeness deals. Folks, that is a massive amount of money for a quarterback who hasn’t taken a single starting snap.
Why did Saban let this information slip? He was in the state of Texas, and announcing news like that in one of the country’s top recruiting hotbeds was a brilliant tactic that could have five-star quarterbacks lining up in Tuscaloosa.
But with that news will come a ton of questions, and you can expect a lot of those to come on Wednesday. We have officially entered a new age of college football, for better or for worse, and now it’s time to see what the coach with seven national championships thinks about it.
2. Alabama looking to rebuild, not reload once again
Young’s new wealth won’t be the only big storyline surrounding the Alabama program. In fact, the signal caller is one of several new starters on the offensive side of the football for the Crimson Tide. Most assume that Saban will reload and not have to rebuild, but that doesn’t mean it won’t at least be a talking point.
- Mac Jones, Quarterback (first-round pick)
- Najee Harris, Running Back (first-round)
- DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver (first-round)
- Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver (first-round)
- Alex Leatherwood, Offensive Line (first-round)
- Landon Dickerson, Offensive Line (second-round)
- Deonte Brown, Offensive Line (sixth-round)
- Steven Sarkisian, Offensive Coordinator (Texas coach)
Yeah, if you don’t think that will be brought up on Wednesday, I don’t know what to tell you. Granted, some — probably even a lot — of that conversation will be about replacements, including Young. Alabama still has a lot of talent, but will the media pick them to win the SEC once again?
Maybe, but my guess is that Georgia will be the early favorite.
3. Mississippi State offense still looking to break out under Mike Leach
Things never quite clicked for Mike Leach and his new offense in Starkville last season. There were a few moments, but many are left wondering if his air raid style is going to transition to the SEC. How things look in Year 2 will go a long way in determining that.
Personally, I think the Bulldogs of the West have a few key things figured out offensively.
Will Rogers, while still not technically the starter, looks to be a long-term option at the position. There was a four-game stretch late last season where he averaged 323 passing yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Things in Leach’s offense started to move in the right direction, and there’s now hope for continued improvement.
On top of that, the offense has a clear-cut No. 1 receiver in Jaden Walley, and the running game is starting to show some signs of life with Jo’quavious Marks. Over the last two games, the freshman totaled 196 yards (142 rushing, 54 receiving) and two touchdowns on the ground.
There will be a lot of buzz about the offense come Wednesday when Leach takes the podium.
4. Is Texas A&M a Playoff contender for the second straight year?
Texas A&M finally lived up to expectations under Jimbo Fisher. No, that didn’t result in a College Football Playoff appearance, but the Aggies went 9-1 with their only loss coming to the reigning national champions, Alabama.
Sure, Kellen Mond and a few other key players are gone, but there’s also a lot coming back in College Station. Some even believe the quarterback play, as long as it can be more consistent, could improve with Mond now a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
There was a lot of pressure on Fisher heading into last season. Really, it’s probably a good thing he was able to avoid a normal SEC Media Days. But now that the masses have gotten a taste, there is little room for regression. Some might even argue that there’s even more pressure on him now.
At the very least, A&M needs to be in the conversation for a Playoff spot come November. As long as their only loss is to Alabama — if there even is a loss up to that point — then that is a manageable expectation. Expect to hear plenty about those expectations on Wednesday.
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Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.