Flood of useful information from SEC media days

Marvin Westwestwords

I am about to believe you can teach an old dog new tricks. I gained a lot of useful information from SEC media days. The event was a wonderful show and tell.

Alas, some heavy questions remain unanswered. No word on who is second in the race for NIL riches. Nick Saban, in a rare recruiting speech, said Alabama quarterback-to-be Bryce Young is No. 1 in benefits from name, image and likeness, closing in on his first million dollars.

We still don’t know if Alabama and Georgia will arrive undefeated at the SEC championship game. Tennessee’s starting quarterback for the Bowling Green game remains a deep secret.

We are left to wonder who will finish last in the SEC East, Tennessee or Vanderbilt? Big game on Nov. 27 at historic Neyland Stadium. Get your tickets while you can. A sellout is expected.

Great to learn that Georgia coach Kirby Smart has the cell phone number of Quavo. Bulldog defensive tackle Jordan Davis said that is one cool connection. Jordan also said he doubts that Kirby could name a single song that the rapper has done.

Surprising to find that Mark Stoops’ eight-year record as Kentucky coach is 49-50. More surprising to hear that three or four people think the Wildcats, after integrating the forward pass into their offense, may challenge for the division title. I am not in that crowd.

Stoops said it takes a while to build a sound program the right way. He did not mention the Tennessee short-cut attempt.

Commissioner Greg Sankey made a sincere effort to convince football teams to get vaccinated against the virus. Oh no, he did not issue a command but he said games may be forfeited if a team can’t answer the bell. That sounds like the end of rescheduling.

Sankey fired the second shot in his relationship with Lane Kiffin. In introducing the Ole Miss coach, Greg mentioned that Lane is active on Twitter.

Kiffin being Kiffin turned the barb into a touchdown. He recalled that Sankey fined him $25,000 last year for social media activity. He made the penalty sound like a terrible blow. He said it cut into son Knox’s college savings fund.

Kiffin won the round. Expect Sankey, any day now, to make a tax-deductible donation.

It was so exciting to hear that Josh Heupel is open to fresh, new-age ideas for spicing up and improving Tennessee’s football uniform. Perhaps the old combo of orange and white has become very boring.

Exciting changes are among the great benefits of bringing in outsiders to fill leadership positions. They are not bogged down in tradition. If a player suggested it, Heupel could allow the Vols to enter Shields-Watkins Field through a Y instead of the T.

Heupel came across as authentic. He made a fine first impression. He did not present catch-phrases, no mention of brick by brick. He wasn’t specific on anything. When asked about Harrison Bailey, he talked about Joe Milton.

He did not tell us when Tennessee will be good again at winning football games. He did say connections, the bond between players and the bond with coaches, are vital to the restoration process.

“The first priority when I and our staff got to Tennessee was about relationships.”

Wide receiver Velus Jones said amen to that.

“At the end of the day, you know, it’s about brotherhood. Without brothers and bonding and connection, you have nothing. You stand no chance.”

Velus had a great quote relevant to the coach: “I’m so proud to go to war for that man this fall.”

Very interesting tidbit from Vol cornerback Alonte Taylor. He said an appearance at SEC media days had been a dream since childhood.

“It was the very last goal that I wrote on my checkoff list. Being able to do this and represent my university and this football program is a blessing.”

Heupel’s remarks were believable but not particularly entertaining or inspirational. He did speak in accurate English. That was a reflection on school days in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and his mother, Cindy, the high school principal. Cheers.

South Carolina coach Shane Beamer won the unofficial public speaking award among newcomers. He told stories. He used examples. He mentioned his dad.

LSU’s Ed Orgeron didn’t say he wanted to be somewhere else but he looked uncomfortable before the firing squad of famous journalists. When the subject of investigations raised its ugly head, the coach said, “Thanks for asking.”

From all appearances, Texas A&M is very happy in the SEC. The Aggies had old money. They still have some plus new money. They will fight off any attempt by Texas and Oklahoma to push into the league.

Jimbo Fisher said being in the SEC is a lot more prestigious and profitable than where Texas A&M used to be. The coach also said the Aggies are improving and are going to get after Saban’s butt.

Heupel would never say such a thing.

Marvin West welcomes reader comments or questions. His address is marvinwest75@gmail.com.

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