HOOVER, Ala. — The 2017 edition of SEC Media Days is in the books. The event signals the end of “talking season” as Steve Spurrier used to call it and indicates that the actual football season is just around the corner.
Before we close the final chapter on Hoover, here’s our take on the biggest winners and loser from the event.
Loser: Florida coach Jim McElwain
Thanks to his continued mishandling of questions, Jim McElwain just can’t move on from that infamous shark photo. Considering the photo went viral in early May and we are still talking about it in July, you would think McElwain would know how to address questions regarding the photo.
If you shared that opinion going into Media Days, you were proven wrong.
McElwain nearly shed a tear moments after being asked about the photo and claimed the fallout from the viral photo was an “attack” on his family. Get real, coach. You just ensured that every rival fan base is going to show up to games with some form of shark paraphernalia. Let’s hope McElwain’s family doesn’t travel to away games, the “attacks” could become too much to bear.
Winner: Missouri LB Eric Beisel
Arkansas fans cringe at the very notion of Missouri being considered one of their rivals. The invention of the Battle Line Trophy was forced, for sure, and the eight combined meetings between the two schools provide evidence to those stating the history simply isn’t present for this game to be considered a rivalry. Good luck convincing Missouri linebacker Eric Beisel the series is anything but a rivalry.
Beisel showcased some serious personality Day Three of the event, proving that his pregame prediction last November wasn’t a one-time thing. In an event lacking bold comments, nearly everything out of Beisel’s mouth was bold.
The Missouri-Arkansas series needs more time and history before it can be truly described as a rivalry but thanks to the efforts of Beisel and his Mizzou teammates, next year’s contest should already be circled on the Razorbacks’ calendar. Isn’t that the basis for every good rivalry in college football?
Loser: Hoover, Alabama
Based on reports surfacing during the event itself, and from the comments of SEC Network’s Dari Nowkhah, it’s beginning to look more likely that SEC Media Days will not be returning to Hoover in 2018. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed to SDS that discussions regarding new venues for the event have been discussed, and would be continued to be discussed, but declined to reveal if a final decision to rotate the event had been made.
Regardless, the fact that the SEC is open to discussing the possibility of moving the event from Hoover, and judging from Nowkhah’s comments has already determined to do so, it could be the end of summer trips to Alabama for the league’s media.
If a move is made to a destination such as Nashville or Atlanta, it will likely help grow the event and the hype surrounding it. At the end of the day, that seems to be the point of the preseason affair.
Winner: LSU RB Derrius Guice
There might not have been a more engaging and personable player present for SEC Media Days than Guice. When asked to define his running style, Guice compared himself to a pinball. The Tiger back spun, juked, rolled and trucked over opponents on his way to leading the league in rushing in 2016 despite starting only six games.
While his game hasn’t been a secret since his fall outburst, his bubbling personality was put on full display during the event and is likely to lead the junior back becoming one of the faces of the SEC next fall. Should he experience a repeat of his success from last season, Guice will most assuredly ride off into the Death Valley sunset and make his way to the NFL.
LSU fans should appreciate Guice while they can, as his star may prove to be too bright to contain for much longer.
Loser: Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze
Houston Nutt took action to guarantee Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze wasn’t going to enjoy his time in Hoover. The bombshell lawsuit filed by Nutt on Wednesday, which accuses Freeze and Ole Miss of several damaging claims — many of which were accompanied by a lengthy and detailed list of Freeze’s phone records — led to one of the most awkward, rambling opening pressers in the history of SEC Media Days.
Freeze wasted seemingly as much time as he possibly could before surrendering the room to questions. Of course, the first question pertained to the lawsuit. Freeze stated he could not comment. For a man so eager to talk, he clammed up in hurry. Freeze stated he desired to speak, but alas, claimed he was barred from doing so.
Through all his procrastination, the Ole Miss coach did offer this one reflective comment during his rambling opening:
“Seems like every year that I’ve stood here, with the exception of my first, that there’s other things that I have to talk about other than our kids,” Freeze commented.
Well, coach, whose fault is that?