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.
New Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher continues to piece together his first staff in College Station since leaving Florida State. On Saturday, it was reported Fisher has added Baylor defensive line coach Elijah Robinson. Robinson will complete the 10-man assistant coaching staff for Texas A&M by filling the last vacancy on the staff a day after adding a pair of new coaches to the staff.
It is expected Robinson will take on the role of coaching the defensive tackles for the Aggies. He will join a staff led by defensive coordinator Mike Elko and includes Terry Price as defensive ends coach, Bradley Peveto as linebacker coach and Maurice Linguist as cornerbacks coach. Texas A&M added Jerry Schmidt as a strength and conditioning coach earlier this week.
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule shared a message of gratitude for Robinson. Robinson was a part of Rhule’s staff at Temple before moving to Waco last year.
With all of the pieces of the coaching staff now assembled, Fisher and his newly assembled staff can focus on making the final sales pitches on the recruiting trail before the next signing period. Then it is time to get to work for the spring as Texas A&M looks to turn things around a bit and put together a solid effort from start to finish in 2018.
After skipping out on his final game at Florida State to be welcomed the following day by a welcoming committee on the airport runway that included the marching band, Jimbo Fisher is now officially the head coach at Texas A&M. The Aggies made the announcement official with a statement Monday morning, confirming a 10-year contract valued at $75 million.
“There are very few places in America that I would have left Florida State for, and Texas A&M is at the top,” Fisher said in a released statement. “I want to thank the great people at Florida State for an incredible opportunity. [Texas A&M] President Michael Young and Scott Woodward have been tremendous in our discussions and I know that we will do great things together. We have everything in place to reach our goal, which is to bring a national title to College Station, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Fisher brings to Texas A&M with him a career coaching record of 83-23 which is highlighted by multiple ACC championships, a BCS national championship, one Heisman Trophy winner (Jameis Winston), and an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Fisher is arguably the biggest hire in school history considering how much success he already had prior to his hiring. But with all of the money being invested in the Texas A&M program from stadium upgrades, facility upgrades, and now the head coach and coaching staff to be assembled, the expectations are as high as they can be in College Station.
Texas A&M has won no more than eight games in each of the past four seasons (the Aggies will need a bowl victory to get an eighth win for a fourth-straight season). For a program that has one season with double-digit victories since 1999, Texas A&M is sending a loud and expensive message they are ready to finally take that next step toward being a national contender. Bringing in Fisher is expected to get Texas A&M past that hurdle, according to Texas A&M Athletics Director Scott Woodward.
“When we set out to find a new leader of our proud football program, we set our sights high,” Woodward said in a released statement. “Jimbo is among the best football coaches in America and a perfect fit for A&M. His experience in the Southeastern Conference; his knowledge of the game; his recruiting acumen, and his management skills will allow him to achieve the highest levels of success when matched with what A&M offers.”
Fisher is not expected to coach the Aggies in the Belk Bowl as the Aggies take on Wake Forest. However, Fisher can bring his insight to the table after playing Wake Forest in ACC Atlantic Division play during his time at Florida State.
A year after failing to pull the upset on the road against Clemson, N.C. State (3-1, 1-0 ACC) managed to take advantage o a Florida State team coming off an unusual layoff. The Wolfpack took a 10-0 lead on No. 12 Florida State (0-2, 0-1 ACC) in Tallahassee and managed to hold on for a 27-21 victory.
It was expected Florida State would start the game somewhat slowly, and they did. Starting a true freshman at quarterback and not having played a game since the opening week of the season against Alabama due to having to alter the schedule from Hurricane Irma’s path through the state of Florida meant the Seminoles might not be all on the same page early on. This was the case, although N.C. State brought the kind of gameplan and talent to take advantage of the situation, and credit them for doing just that.
Ryan Finley passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Wolfpack to the win, but the defense did its part too by allowing just four third-down conversions by Florida State out of 14 attempts. The lone turnover of the game was coughed up by Florida State as well, although N.C. State was not able to score any points off the turnover, but the fumble came at a costly time for Florida State as it appeared the momentum could be on their side with a drive down the field in a 10-7 game.
Making his first start for the Seminoles in place of the injured Deondre Francois, James Blackman was under pressure for much of the afternoon. N.C. State had a clear gameplan to get in Blackman’s face, and there were moments when Blackman reacted to it well and managed to drop some beautiful deep passes to his receivers. Blackman ended his first career start going 22-of-38 for 278 yards with a touchdown and one lost fumble. Auden Tate was the top receiver for Florida State with 138 yards and a touchdown.
Down 27-16 in the fourth quarter, Florida State did have their chances to grab the game in their home opener, but a turnover on downs after recording a safety and being held to a field goal after taking the football at the NC State 23-yard line following a blocked punt prevented the Seminoles form avoiding their first loss in a home opener for the first time under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Florida State now has two losses and still has games to play against Clemson and Louisville. The preseason favorite in the ACC and for a spot in the College Football Playoff is now looking to make history if there is a chance to do so. No College Football Playoff team has had two losses. Making the playoff is obviously quite an uphill battle at this point. That uphill climb will begin next week on the road against Wake Forest.
For N.C. State, the painful stain of a bewildering loss in the opener is a distant memory and now the Wolfpack hope to build off this major win next week at home against Syracuse.
The 2017 college football season is kicking off with a mega matchup between Alabama and Florida State. Some are already suggesting the two could be the top two teams in thew preseason polls, but we will find out later this summer if that will be accurate. Regardless, the way Jimbo Fisher has constructed Florida State since taking over for Bobby Bowden as the head coach of the Seminoles has drawn plenty of praise, which is to be expected given he has coached a national championship team and a College Football Playoff contestant with a Heisman Trophy winner along the way. On Wednesday at SEC media days, Fisher and Florida State received praise from his former boss, Nick Saban.
The comparisons connecting Florida State to a SEC team have been made before over the years. The Seminoles traditionally recruit very well in a region that is otherwise flooded by SEC schools filling up their rosters with prime talent. There is a reason Florida State has routinely been one of the top ACC programs on an annual basis. In recent years, Clemson has been worthy of similar praise.
Saban is always one to sprinkle praise on his opponents while bringing his own team’s hype level down as much as he can. That’s just what coaches do. And Saban will always throw out compliments to his former assistants. Fisher coached under Saban at LSU before getting to Florida State. The two have never faced off against each other, and Saban has a clean record against his former assistants. By offering praise of Florida State, Saban is also sending a message to his team about just how difficult the season-opening opponent will be.