The SEC may be packing up their media day extravaganza and moving from Alabama to Atlanta, but this year’s media day schedule shows the SEC will still carefully roll out plenty of storylines over the course of a four-day love fest for the conference.
The SEC is setting up shop at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, which feels like a great landing spot for the new media day fun for the SEC. The conference has established Atlanta as a destination point for the end of the regular season and the city just played host to the first College Football Playoff national championship game between two teams from the same conference, the SEC (Alabama and Georgia). So why not kickstart a new football season with the media in Atlanta too?
New Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher will be the headline act for the first of the four media days for the SEC. Fisher will make his SEC Media Days debut as head coach of the Aggies on Monday, July 16. Other coaches speaking that day will be LSU’s Ed Orgeron and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops. Day 2 will be an interesting one with Georgia’s Kirby Smart in the spotlight coming off the SEC championship last fall and new Florida head coach Dan Mullen addresses the media for the first time as the Gators coach, although the former Mississippi State head coach is no stranger to the SEC media day circuit by now. Day 2 will also be the first SEC Media Day introduction for new Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and second-year Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke (Luke took over as head coach in Oxford after SEC Media Days last summer following the removal of Hugh Freeze not long after media days).
But when is Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaking, you ask? Day 3 (Wed., July 18 for those keeping track). Saban headlines the third day of the media day event for the SEC. Two other coaches speaking that day will be new head coaches in the SEC with former Saban assistant Jeremy Pruitt representing Tennessee and Joe Moorhead of Mississippi State stepping to the SEC podium for the first time. Missouri’s Barry Odom is also scheduled on day three. Day 4 will feature Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, and Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason.
Player representatives for each school in addition to any other speakers will be announced at a later time.
An off-field situation for one playing member of the Arkansas football program that began during the 2017 regular season has taken yet another step toward winding its way to a conclusion.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cole Kelley pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated. While the quarterback was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 89 of those days were suspended while he was given credit for time served for the other. Additionally, the Democrat-Gazette wrote, the 20-year-old Kelley “was also ordered to complete an alcohol safety class and pay $720 in fines and court costs.”
Kelley was arrested for DWI and reckless driving in November of last year. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game; he was subsequently reinstated after serving what amounted to a one-game suspension.
Austin Allen started the first five games of the 2017 season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with a healthy Allen returning to his starting role for the remainder of the year.
On the season, Kelley completed almost 58 percent of his 151 passes for 1,038 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. The rising redshirt sophomore is expected to compete for the starting job in 2018 under new head coach Chad Morris.
Some people like to say being a bullpen catcher or a backup quarterback is the best job in sports. And they are definitely good gigs. You get all the perks of being a professional athlete without having to actually play.
But neither of those jobs are the best in sports. The best? A fired big-time football coach.
Former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will bring home $11.935 million over the next three years, according to a settlement reached between Bielema and the Razorback Foundation, which was announced Tuesday.
That sum will be paid out in monthly installments through 2020, which equates to roughly $350,000 a month.
Those payments will be offset by the salary Bielema earns should he choose to take a new job, but either way Mr. Borderline Erotic will take home at least $350,000 a month over the next three years.
He could also choose not to work and still take home that 350 large every single month. That’s what makes being a fired coach such a good job.
Austin Aune‘s circuitous sports journey, one which Chris Weinke and Brandon Weeden would approve, has taken its next stop in Fayetteville.
According to 247Sports.com, Aune has joined the Arkansas football program and is enrolled in classes at the university. At least initially, the quarterback will be a part of the Razorbacks as a walk-on; it’s expected he’ll take the field with the rest of his new teammates when spring practice kicks off month after next.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Aune had also considered TCU and North Texas before the SEC’s mystique proved to be too much.
“The allure of the SEC and the SEC West and Chad [Morris] and Coach [Joe] Craddock, and everybody being on the same page up there as far as the opportunity goes,” the player’s father, Greg Aune, told the Democrat-Gazette. “He likes their system. It’s a fast-paced system, wide-open system. That’s what he played in high school. It’s a pass-oriented offense. He’s a read-run oriented guy, so that’s a lot of what those guys do.”
The fact that Aune considered TCU as a potential landing spot before settling on Morris and UA shouldn’t come as a surprise as he actually signed with the Horned Frogs back in 2012. However, he was drafted by the New York Yankees that same year and, after signing a contract that included a $1 million signing bonus, embarked on what turned out to be a six-year career in the minor leagues. Despite that financial commitment, Aune never made it past Single-A ball.
Chad Morris’ first big hire upon taking over the head coaching spot at Arkansas was to bring in veteran SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis. If the pair is still together beyond the 2018 season though, it will be an expensive combination for the school based on the contract of the latter.
USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz obtained the details of Chavis new deal with the school on Friday night and notes that the longtime coach will make $995,000 for the 2018 season in Fayetteville.
While that figure for the 2018 campaign is down sharply from the $1.6 million figure he made in 2017 in the same role at Texas A&M (third highest for an assistant in the country), it should be noted that the Aggies are still on the hook for nearly $700,000 as a result of a one-year extension he signed prior to last season — resulting in the six-figure salary at Arkansas instead of hitting the million dollar mark.
If Chavis exercises the option for 2019 though, he’ll be back in the top 10 highest paid assistants once again but with Arkansas ponying up the full amount. Not bad work if you can get it after allowing 30.7 points per game the prior season.
Hopefully for the Razorbacks though, the results are more in line with the salary for Chavis and company going forward.