SDS Mailbag: SEC’s leading receiver, most impressive coach at SEC Media Days and best approach to realignment
Talkin’ season is officially done in the SEC, Big 12 and ACC as we stand right now.
But, we still get to see what the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams have to say next week. I like that they didn’t force all 5 Power 5 Media Days into one week, like it seems they’ve done in years past.
Spread it out. With Major League Baseball easing its way back into the regular season following the All-Star Game, there’s not much else happening in the world of sports. Let’s keep talkin’!
Now, let’s dive into the SDS Mailbag, where it’s always talkin’ season:
Which coach were you most impressed with at SEC Media Days this week?
I have made it known before that I’m a big Lane Kiffin guy. I think his style and bluntness resonates with today’s athletes.
He was great in Atlanta this week. He didn’t pull any punches when he was asked about the current NIL landscape, saying we’ve essentially legalized cheating. I also love the dynamic he has with Paul Finebaum when he appears on the SEC Network.
Then, there was the typical Kiffin wit. He said he’s signed a bunch of mustard bottles and golf balls this offseason after winning that crazy Tennessee game. Then, he went on a tangent and said that after Tennessee swept Ole Miss in baseball following Kiffin’s first pitch with a golf ball, he knew it was all part of the plan. The plan? To keep the Rebels humble and hungry for a national title.
He’s great any time there’s a microphone in front of him. Let’s hope we continue to see him at SEC Media Days for years to come.
Which makes sense for conference realignment – adding teams based on geography (example Clemson and Florida State to the SEC) or adding teams not based on geography (example Big Ten being up north adding USC and UCLA)?
Not to play the middle here, but you’d ideally want to do both. Like, say, the SEC did when it added Oklahoma and Texas.
That move expands the SEC to a new state (Oklahoma) while also adding 2 major brands to the already powerful league. That’s what you’d ideally want to do. If the Big Ten had also added Colorado and Utah, for example, that would make a bit more sense. That bridges the gap between UCLA, USC and the rest of the conference while giving the B1G a foothold in all 4 time zones in the contiguous United States.
I know both the Big Ten and SEC have said they’re fine with staying at 16 teams for now, but I don’t buy that for a second. If the right opportunity presents itself (i.e. Notre Dame), both conferences would jump at that chance immediately.
So, we’ll see what happens in the coming months and years, but I don’t expect the dominoes of realignment to stop falling just yet.
When all is said and done this year, who will lead the SEC in receiving yards?
That’s a difficult question. Let’s say Alabama goes 15-0 or 14-1 and makes it to the College Football Playoff championship game. Well, now the Tide have played at least 1 and potentially 2 more games than any other SEC team.
So, if Jermaine Burton and Tyler Harrell live up to expectations, they’re good bets to lead the league in receiving yards. (Jameson Williams did it last year, after all, with 1,572 yards.)
I would also keep an eye on Cedric Tillman of Tennessee. He’s a star already, and he should be even better this fall in Year 2 working with QB Hendon Hooker. Of course, no discussion of potential SEC receiving leaders would be complete without mentioning LSU’s Kayshon Boutte.
What Boutte did in limited action in 2021 was insane. If he’s fully healthy this fall, he’s a solid pick to lead the league in receiving yards.
I could also see one of Mississippi State’s stable of receivers have a huge year, like Makai Polk did in 2021. And, if you’re looking for a dark-horse candidate, how about Brock Bowers? The Georgia tight end was unstoppable as a freshman last year. Georgia could end up playing 15 games again this fall, too, so he should get plenty of targets.
Where would you like to see SEC Media Days held in the future?
Well, there’s certainly no shortage of great places in the SEC footprint. Atlanta does an incredible job hosting SEC Media Days, and the College Football Hall of Fame is an elite venue. Hoover is also an iconic spot to host the event.
I’m excited to see Nashville’s spin on Media Days next year. From there, it’ll be interesting to see where the event goes. Obviously, New Orleans would be fun. The SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament has taken place in St. Louis and Tampa in recent years. Those could be fun sites for Media Days, too.
And, when Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC in 2025 (if not before), I wouldn’t mind heading to Austin every now and then for Media Days.
I can’t wait to see where the event moves to next, but first up is Nashville in 2023, which should be a lot of fun.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.