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.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has been busy in recent weeks filling out his coaching staff as he officially takes charge of the program. That effort has reportedly continued by adding a familiar coach to the football staff as a consultant. Former New Orleans Saints special teams coordinator Greg McMahon will join the program in a consulting role, according to a report from The Advocate.
McMahon will assist the Tigers coaching staff with breaking down film and handling office assignments. Consultants in college football have been around for a while now, and they often serve as good jobs for coaches currently in between coaching jobs. Last season, Orgeron added former NFL special teams coach Bobby April to the staff as a consultant to handle similar responsibilities. McMahon is no stranger to serving a college program as a consultant either, having done so at previous stops with Eastern Illinois, North Alabama, Illinois, and Minnesota. The addition of a special teams specialist to the support staff is a wise move, as LSU does not currently have a special teams coordinator.
Unfortunately for LSU, the coaching staff is currently maxed out at nine members, leaving LSU without a defined special teams coach. If the NCAA allows a 10th assistant to be added to a coaching staff, it would seem likely LSU will pull a support staff member to fill that role. The only issue is there is a possibility the NCAA may not allow for staff expansion until 2018.
According to the same report from The Advocate, LSU’s support staff also includes two members who followed new offensive coordinator Matt Canada (Matt Tomsho and Dave Bucar).
It was a long afternoon for Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and No. 13 Louisville (9-4) in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, as No. 20 LSU (8-4) used its signature defense to sack the Heisman quarterback eight times and limit the once College Football Playoff contenders to just nine points in a 29-9 victory.
Louisville was held to just 220 yards of offense and was an astounding 2-for-17 on third down conversion attempts. Jackson ended his 2016 Heisman season with just 10-of-27 passing for 153 yards without a score. Jackson rushed for a net-gain of 33 yards despite being taken down eight times. Tashawn Bower recorded three of those sacks, and Arden Kelly had two more. And check out how Jamal Adams tracked down Jackson on this play (look where Adams starts the play)…
LSU was playing without running back Leonard Fournette, but Derrius Guice was ready to lead the offense with 138 rushing yards and a touchdown. As a result, Guice ended the season as the SEC’s rushing leader, just nudging his way past Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Guice will be back for the 2017 season, which means LSU should have one of the top running backs to utilize in its offense, and that is a very good thing.
LSU will now once again ride this wave of optimism and look to build on that in the offseason leading up to the start of the 2017 season. This is now Ed Orgeron‘s program and he will be adding one of the top offensive coordinators to the staff in Matt Canada, to go along with already having one of the top defensive coordinators in Dave Aranda. The addition of Canada should help solve some concerns with the LSU offense, although trusting the running game is a nice luxury to have in 2017. LSU will begin the 2017 season in Houston for a neutral-site game against BYU on Saturday, September 2, 2017. LSU will have a challenging SEC schedule next season with road games at Florida (thanks to the rescheduling development this season), Alabama and Tennessee.
As for Louisville, there is still plenty to be optimistic about with Jackson returning for a follow-up season to his Heisman Trophy season. The luster on the 2016 season will be dulled as a result of how this season ended for the Cardinals, but Louisville will get a terrific opportunity to get started on a fast track to lighting things up on offense next season. The Cardinals begin the 2017 season on September 2, 2017 in Indianapolis against Purdue (with new head coach Jeff Brohm at the helm), followed, potentially, by two ACC contests (the ACC schedule has yet to be confirmed). Louisville will also host Kent State and Murray State in non-conference play, which should be two relatively easy wins with opportunities to pile up big offensive stats. Louisville will get Clemson at home and Florida State on the road in ACC Atlantic play. And, just because it had become a bit of a story lately, Louisville travels to Wake Forest next season.
As soon as Ed Orgeron had the interim tag removed from his title by LSU over the weekend, the head coach got busy making sure he had the best staff in place to guide LSU in 2017 and beyond. One of the early steps was to secure defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Mission accomplished.
Aranda has been signed to a three-year contract extension, according to a report from ESPN. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Aranda was already making $1.2 million for the 2016 season, the first on a three-year deal after leaving Wisconsin.
Keeping Aranda was a key objective for Orgeron, as Aranda is one of the top defensive coordinators in the nation and showed some good work with LSU this season. LSU finished the regular season ranked 12th in total defense and seventh in scoring defense.
Now, Orgeron must find a competent offensive coordinator. Lane Kiffin has been floated around as a possibility if they can lure Kiffin away from Alabama for the same role. Kiffin should also be a name worth watching for potential job openings for a head coach.
The University of Mississippi has reportedly received a notice of allegations letter from the NCAA offices detailing about 30 alleged violations of NCAA rules across multiple sports programs, including football. The extent of those violations is not known at this time, nor is the number of the violations aimed specifically at the football program. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports was first to report news of the notice of allegations being sent to Ole Miss.
According to the report from Forde, the “roughly 30 violations” span the football, women’s basketball and track and field programs. The NCAA opened an investigation into Ole Miss in October 2014. At the time the investigation was opened, Hugh Freeze and the current staff in place was not believed to be the subject of the investigation as it related to the football program. The investigation, instead, was focused on a previous staff, although names targeted were not confirmed. Those details may not become available until Ole Miss releases the information from their end in the future.
Freeze was hired by Ole Miss in December of 2011 to replace Houston Nutt, who had been the head coach of the Rebels for four seasons. Nutt was hired to replace Ed Orgeron at the end of the 2007 season.
The NCAA opened up a second investigation last season following the news regarding Laremy Tunsil and his connection to a sports agent. That investigation was a separate incident and is not connected to this ongoing investigation, as far as anyone knows at this stage.
So what happens next? Ole Miss will now have 90 days from the date of receiving the notice of allegations to respond to the NCAA. That gives Ole Miss time to review the allegations and gather documents or evidence needed to fight any part of the allegations they believe to not be violations. Ole Miss can also sign off on the allegations and accept blame for the violations as they see fit. The NCAA and Ole Miss can bring a close to this investigation by summary disposition. Otherwise, the two sides will meet at a Committee on Infractions hearing at a later date (to be determined).
Because the NCAA process can drag on, it is not inconceivable to think this could linger into the next football season, although this should be cleared up at some point, for better or for worse, over the summer before the 2016 football season kicks off. Ole Miss will open the new season in Orlando against Florida State on Labor Day night.