10 things I'm looking forward to at 2023 SEC Media Days
You made it.
When Greg Sankey takes the podium Monday, football season will officially be underway. That’s the way it works at SEC Media Days, which will be held in Nashville all week (July 17-20). It’ll be the last year of the 14-team conference, the last year of the 4-team Playoff and maybe the last year that Alabama fields a football team.
Kidding. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
If you’ve been paying attention this offseason, you know that there are no shortage of topics that’ll be discussed this week in Nashville.
Here are 10 things I’m looking forward to:
1. The last year of talking about Oklahoma and Texas behind their backs
It’s not as fun to take jabs at “Horns Down” or Oklahoma’s Playoff failures against the SEC when they’re, ya know, in the room. This is the last year that we can actually have some discourse about whether “Horns Down” should be flagged. And by “discourse,” I mean everyone in the SEC who gets asked about that is in total agreement that it shouldn’t be a penalty.
It’s wild to think that this will be the last SEC Media Days without those 2 programs. It was at SEC Media Days in 2021 when that bombshell was dropped. I remember how crazy it was that the Houston Chronicle reported the news roughly 45 minutes before Jimbo Fisher was set to take the podium. It hit everyone like a ton of bricks because up to that point, expansion talk in the major conferences had largely died down.
Maybe we’re in for another expansion news bomb this week? If not, we’ll just have to settle for SEC players, coaches and media members talking about the uphill climb that awaits their soon-to-be conference foes.
2. Hearing coaches wiggle out of questions about the conference schedule
I’m guessing that we’ll hear a decent amount of discussion about what’s best for the future of the league once Texas and Oklahoma join. Maybe we’ll get some coaches like Kirby Smart and Eli Drinkwitz who speak about their support of the 9-game conference schedule (Florida, A&M and LSU were also in favor) while the 8-game supporters will spin it to the strength of the conference and not wanting to put the SEC unnecessarily in harm’s way.
In reality, though, this will all come down to money. Ideally for the SEC, ESPN will cave and renegotiate the 10-year media rights deal knowing that obviously, a 9-game conference schedule adds more entertainment value. I don’t expect any SEC coach to reference that aspect of this stalemate — remember that the SEC only locked in the 2024 schedule — nor do I expect any real unfiltered opinions about the subject.
3. Asking Georgia players about being disrespected
Ah, yes. Disrespect season and talkin’ season are two of the same if you’re a Dawg.
I’ve got a lot of thoughts on what disrespect for Georgia actually looks like. Yes, if someone of any actual credibility claims that Georgia is going 7-5, that would probably fall under the “disrespect” category.
Unless, of course, the call is coming from inside the house like it did last year with Nolan Smith when he made that “7-5” storyline up:
Remember when we heard Georgia players say after winning it all that people predicted that they’d go 7-5?
Turns out, Nolan Smith made that up.
— Connor O’Gara (@cjogara) April 4, 2023
In all seriousness, I don’t really expect someone as smart as Sedrick Van Pran to go off the rails about everyone doubting Georgia. More likely is that he and his fellow SEC Media Days representatives will sidestep that and instead discuss the discipline needed to pull off something that hasn’t been done since 1936 Minnesota — winning 3 consecutive national championships.
But if anyone does drop the whole “nobody believes in us” line, let’s just say I’ll come fully equipped with proof that everyone and their mother has the Dawgs going 12-0.
4. The constant quarterback rankings and overanalyzing by everyone (myself included)
If you aren’t ranking quarterbacks this week, what are you doing? Everyone needs to have their own rankings, which then gives you the right to criticize everyone else’s. It keeps the content wheel spinning when I say “you’re way too low on Devin Leary” or “Joe Milton starting as a top-4 quarterback makes zero sense.”
It’s actually a tricky year for quarterback rankings considering that the most experienced SEC quarterbacks, KJ Jefferson and Will Rogers, are both playing in new schemes. There are 10 new offensive coordinators in the conference, which suggests there’ll be some disagreement when it comes to these rankings. Hey, whatever keeps the content wheel spinning.
5. Seeing a Mike Leach tribute of sorts
There are a few ways in which an SEC head coach can honor the late Mississippi State coach. One can:
- A) Scrap the opening statement
- B) Power rank 20th century wars
- C) Bring an actual sword
- D) Not answer a question and rant about weddings
- E) All the above
It’s “E.” It’s always “E.”
6. Speaking with Spencer Rattler in a national setting
A lot has been said and written about Rattler over the years, but how much of that was directly from his perspective? Not a ton. Sure, he had media availability for the local reporters last year, but he also wasn’t brought to SEC Media Days after his well-documented transfer from Oklahoma. Shane Beamer joked that Rattler would be here a year later, which was shrugged off because he was a Year 4 player. But here Rattler is, fresh off arguably the best stretch of his career to close the 2022 season, representing South Carolina in Year 5.
I imagine he’ll have no shortage of eyeballs on him.
7. Seeing what sort of pre-Media Days hype video Shane Beamer and South Carolina cook up
Speaking of South Carolina, last year’s pre-Media Days video from Beamer made the rounds. Beamer hopped up outta bed, turned his swag on, took a look in the mirror and said, well, this:
Get that mic ready pic.twitter.com/4PtICIuh0Z
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) July 19, 2022
That later became a hot topic when Mark Stoops appeared to throw shade at Beamer when he said this with Marty Smith and Ryan McGee:
“It’s easy to change the climate, you just change a uniform, talk a little game, dance around, put on some stupid sunglasses, you can change a climate,” Stoops said. “But to change a culture is at the core, and I’m quite certain we’ve changed our culture. Just who we are and how we’re perceived. Walk around with some of the greatest coaches and that respect you get, and the respect our players carry with them.”
After South Carolina beat Kentucky in Lexington, Soulja Boy was blasted in the locker room … with Beamer rocking those “stupid sunglasses.” It appeared, at least, that an SEC coach beef was born (Stoops denied that he was referring to Beamer).
Fingers crossed that Beamer stirs the pot a little this year.
8. Counting the Nick Saban “a’ights”
There’s a notion that Saban drops in an “a’ight” whenever he speaks, but it’s really more about when he gets fired up or he’s trying to make a point. I’d expect with all the hot-button issues potentially in play — federal NIL legislation, the transfer portal, the conference schedule, etc. — that we’re going to get at least 5 or 6 moments in which Saban drops in an “a’ight.” Let’s set the over/under at 5.5 during his day in Nashville.
If Saban doesn’t drop a single “a’ight,” sound the alarms. The “dynasty is dead” crowd might be on to something.
9. Seeing the best and brightest media folks in the SEC
And not on a Zoom call.
In addition to this week being the unofficial start to the season, I legitimately look forward to seeing people. It’s something that I’d like to think I’ve learned to appreciate in the aftermath of the pandemic.
There are my media pals like Chris Marler, Matt Hayes, Brad Crawford, Barrett Sallee, Josh Pate, David Nuno, Jacob Hester, T-Bob Hebert, Nick Roush, Tye Richardson, John Nabors, etc. There are SEC Network friends like Chris Doering, Dari Nowkhah, Paul Finebaum, Alyssa Lang, Peter Burns, Jordan Rodgers, Tom Hart, Cole Cubelic, Aaron Murray, etc.
The week itself is a content factory that hits at the perfect time in the offseason, but it’s also nice to catch up with great people who are phenomenal at what they do.
10. Downtown Nashville, obviously
I mean, the 4-day event is taking place on Broadway Street. Need I say more?