The 5 most interesting things from Day 2 of 2021 SEC Media Days
HOOVER, Ala. — Woah, we’re halfway there.
Excuse that cliché Bon Jovi lede and instead note that we’re halfway through SEC Media Days.
Day 2 of the action in suburban Birmingham blessed us with Jordan Davis and a bit more natural version of Kirby Smart (the guy willingly discussed vaccination numbers and embracing NIL). Georgia wasn’t the only team in action Tuesday. The Dawgs were followed by Tennessee, Kentucky and last, but certainly not least, Ole Miss. More specifically, Lane Kiffin was back at SEC Media Days for the first time in 12 years.
Once again, we had Name, Image and Likeness deals being discussed, as well as COVID vaccination numbers, quarterback battles, the transfer portal and Quavo.
Ah, speaking of Quavo, let’s start there with the 5 most interesting things from Tuesday in Hoover:
1. Kirby got NIL advice from … Quavo?
Kirby Smart just casually dropped in his opening statement Quavo texted him with a word to pass along to his team about NIL.
“I got a text from Quavo, who’s an avid Georgia fan,” Smart said Tuesday. “A lot of people in this room probably don’t know who Quavo is. The first text I got was two weeks after NIL started, and he said, ‘Coach, please tell the players be selective who they put their brand with. Don’t just do anything.’ He used the term ‘thirsty.’ Don’t be thirsty.
“Be selective in what you do, selective in how you handle your branding. You’ve got tax issues now you’ve got to deal with.”
I mean, it’s fair advice. Being educated about the issue is something that Smart talked openly about, and he added that doesn’t think it’ll “blow up college football or change anything substantially.” The fact that he got to name-drop being on a text-basis with Quavo may have enticed him to talk about NIL that much more.
“I think definitely (Smart) and Quavo having a connection is cool,” Davis said, “but I don’t think Kirby could name a song that Quavo has been on.”
For what it’s worth, Davis said he hasn’t taken on any NIL opportunities yet, and he admitted he was confused by the process. He’s of the impression that none of that will matter if he’s not good enough on the field.
Needless to say, he’s not thirsty.
2. Tennessee really wants you to know this offense is different with Josh Heupel
If there’s anything we can bank on in Year 1 of the Heupel era, it’s that offense is being sold. A lot. Tennessee wants to air it out, and they don’t care if you know about it. In fact, they want you to know about it.
Receiver Velus Jones Jr., who represented Tennessee in Hoover, offered up this comparison:
Velus Jones Jr. can’t hide his excitement to play in Josh Heupel’s offense this season at Tennessee
“I feel like a kid in a candy store” pic.twitter.com/W7uqHJa7Gi
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) July 20, 2021
If you were keeping track, Jones said the word “offense” 10 times in his press conference. Including media members, that number was at 17. We got things from Jones about how he did his research on Heupel, and how much he wanted to actually get yards after the catch and become a deep threat.
Heupel’s home-run hitting offense will indeed do that. In 3 years at UCF, his offense never finished worse than No. 8 in FBS, and in 2020, it averaged 357 passing yards per contest.
It’s no secret that Heupel will run things differently than Jim Chaney, who had the nation’s No. 109 offense with rotating starting quarterbacks. It’s the wave of the future. Just ask Heupel.
“You look at the last three National Championships offensively, I think every team has averaged over 520 yards on offense,” Heupel said. “You look at what we’ve been able to do in our track record as a staff at the previous two stops at UCF and at Missouri, top 5 in basically every offensive category the last three years. The two years previous to that while we were at Missouri, led the league in total offense.
“This is a quarterback-friendly offense that’s going to allow us to play and apply pressure to defenses every single Saturday that we step on the football field.”
I’ve been saying for a bit that I think Heupel, if nothing else, needs to sell that he has a fun offense in Year 1. If he’s going to have any shot to sign Arch Manning or flip Ty Simpson, one would think 5-star quarterbacks would prefer to see an offense that lights up scoreboards.
That’s what’s at stake for Heupel in Year 1.
3. Josh Paschal and Jennifer Lopez are a thing … in his eyes
Paschal is just your typical cancer-surviving, Power 5 defensive lineman who may or may not have flirted with J-Lo.
At least that’s how he sees it.
If you missed it, Paschal shared a story about that time when he was on “TODAY” and he had a brief run-in with the ageless superstar.
“I’ll set the scene for everybody, all right?” Pascal said. “I was outside the dressing room because all the famous people and the actual commentators are right there. So J-Lo keeps coming in and out. So my mom, she keeps fan-girling and everything. She loves J-Lo. And I’m like, all right, it’s not that big of a deal, but in my mind, I’m thinking ‘it’s J-Lo, it’s J-Lo, it’s J-Lo.’ I keep seeing her.
“So she’s changing because she’s performing that day. She’s changing, and she’s coming back, and she’s walking up the stairs, and I just look up. I was looking at the stairs, and I look up, and we make complete eye contact. And she winked at me. I hope that wink was real because I’ve been telling this story ever since it happened. When I tell you I melted, I melted.”
I mean, do you blame him? And hey, now Lopez’s separation with Alex Rodriguez makes sense.
(Yes, I realize she’s back with Ben Affleck. A guy can dream, right?)
4. Don’t ask Lane Kiffin about his weight loss
Trust me. I found that out the hard way.
Here was the interaction I had with the Ole Miss coach:
Me: Lane, you said you’re trying to lose some weight. Besides not maybe indulging in so much Mississippi food, I know you tweeted about that, what else have you done, and what have been the results so far?
Kiffin: Strange question to ask a guy but — (laughter). You’re being negative about Mississippi food. I’m being positive. It’s a Mississippi diet. I came to Mississippi, I embraced the food, and just not a lot of it, and have some portion control. So that’s not really what the diet was, but I’m going to be positive about the food in Mississippi.
Hey, I didn’t hate on Mississippi food. I asked the question after watching Joe Moorhead go through an extremely Year 1 to Year 2 shift that he also credited to indulging in Mississippi food.
I will agree that it sort of was a strange question to ask a guy. But in my defense, Kiffin brought up that he was trying to lose weight. He, himself, added that Mississippi food had let to a more bloated version of Kiffin in 2020:
Mississippi food and lifestyle will do that to ya!! 🏈🔥 LFG trying to catch up with @KirbySmartUGA ! Once I saw his workout Monday after his Father’s Day pic trying to catch up with the 🐐 @OleMissFB @SEC https://t.co/rdzu8UsM5i
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) June 25, 2021
Good for Kiffin. He’s clearly making some healthy life choices, and the guy looked like a younger version of myself.
No, I don’t think that’s a strange thing to say about a guy.
5. Bryce Young has an “ungodly” amount of NIL revenue already
One of the fascinating discussion topics for the week in Hoover was how Nick Saban was going to address NIL.
Before Saban even arrived at SEC Media Days (that’ll be Wednesday), he made a comment that packed a punch in Hoover.
Chris Hummer reported that Saban offered up some perspective on how much the Alabama quarterback raked in in the first few weeks of the NIL era.
“Our QB has already approached ungodly numbers, and he hasn’t even played yet. If I told you what it is … it’s almost 7-figures,” Saban said at the Texas High School Coaches Association’s annual convention.
Young has yet to start a game. The former 5-star recruit flashed potential as a true freshman, but yes, that is indeed a stunning number for Young, who already has an announced deal with CashApp and he has over 83,000 followers on Instagram. He’s also signed with CAA, which represents NFL athletes and now high-profile college athletes.
When Kiffin was told that stat about Young, he was speechless for a few seconds and added “that number just blew me away.” Kiffin even brought it up later when he was asked a question about Jerrion Ealy, and he admitted he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
“The guy’s made a million dollars already?” Kiffin said. “That’s good, man. He don’t need to play next year against us, then.”
And in the never-ending Arik Gilbert pronunciation debate …
I’ve been pronouncing it “Eric” since the 5-star tight end (now receiver) arrived at LSU last year. On occasion, I’ve heard “Uh-REEK.” Well, twice more at SEC Media Days, I heard that. Derek Stingley had that pronunciation Monday, and Kirby Smart had that again Tuesday. That’s his former teammate and his new head coach.
Oh, and more importantly, Smart said that Gilbert is “on track to be eligible” this season according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. Gilbert’s academic status has been in question dating to when he entered the transfer portal after opting out in his last season at LSU. Reports of Gilbert not qualifying academically at Florida continued that issue.
Maybe, just maybe, Gilbert will be available to the media at Georgia and we can end the debate once and for all.