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.
Prior to Saturday’s game between South Carolina and Kentucky, Gamecock team captains chose not to shake hands with their Kentucky counterparts at the pregame coin flip. A day after Kentucky topped the Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp issued an apology to Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops.
“That just fired us up even more,” Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson said, according to The State. “Gave us even more motivation, which was pretty stupid on their part, but they just didn’t want to shake our hands.”
In addition to extending the apology to Stoops, Muschamp told reporters his team captains will shake hands with their counterparts moving forward. It is unknown if the SEC will weigh in with any discipline for the lack of sportsmanship. But was South Carolina solely responsible for the handshake incident? Not according to South Carolina radio reporter Langston Moore, who seemed to pit some of the blame on Johnson.
Stoops had commented after the game about South Carolina’s captains not shaking hands with his captains, but at least one voice says there was blame to spread around. Two sides to every story, of course.
The bottom line is this is a good teaching moment if you believe in good sportsmanship. Shake hands. It’s not that hard.
It’s not exactly time to hit the panic button for Oklahoma, but a season-opening loss to Houston was reason to wave the caution flag for Oklahoma’s defense after just one week. Look for Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mark Stoops to make some change sin his defensive secondary starting this week as a result. After getting shredded by Houston and quarterback Greg Ward Jr., Stoops says there could be some new looks on defense this week as the Sooners look to rebound against Louisiana-Monroe this week.
”It’s pretty open right now,” Stoops said, according to the Associated Press. ”We’ll see who is the most consistent player out there. We need somebody to be consistent. You aren’t going to win every 50-50 ball, but you have to win your share. When they win every time, that becomes a problem.”
It was definitely a problem against Houston.
Houston’s Ward passed for 321 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening 33-23 victory in Houston. Ward missed on a number of passes as well, but the threat of a deep completion was still there even when Houston’s quarterback was off the mark. That should be a concern for Oklahoma, because J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State Buckeyes are coming to Norman next week. Barrett passed for 349 yards and six touchdowns in a 77-10 blowout of Bowling Green. On the bright side at least Oklahoma knows what area needs the most work on moving forward.
”When you lose, it’s hard to look at some of those positives for us,” Stoops said. ”In the long run, I’m sure it will pay off, we hope. We recognize that when you play a team like that (Houston), it exposes some of your weaknesses immediately.”
Some of the potential changes that could happen in the secondary include getting sophomore P.J. Mbanasor and converted wide receiver Michiah Quick some looks to see how they can handle the job in the secondary. Dakota Austin and freshman Parrish Cobb were bit hard by Houston’s passing attack.
Writing off Oklahoma in the Big 12 picture after one week is silly, and it is not out of the realm of possibility this could still turn out to be a playoff contender. Is there work to be done? Absolutely, and there is ground to make up. But it was just one game. Let’s see what they do in Week 2, and more importantly, in Week 3.
Maybe it’s the new uniforms. Maybe it’s an opportunity for a fresh start. Whatever the reason, former Michigan wide receiver and defensive back Brian Cole is heading to Kentucky.
Cole was a four-star recruit in Michigan’s Class of 2015. The second-ranked player from the state of Michigan was a significant addition to the Wolverines by then first-year Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, which helps make his decision to leave for another program now a bit interesting to note considering the momentum seemingly being generated in Ann Arbor. He was released from his scholarship in Michigan in January.
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Cole will be forced to sit out the 2016 season and will be eligible to return to the playing field again in 2017. The good news for Cole is he will still have three years of eligibility remaining.
Cole appeared in two games for the Wolverines in 2015, but he spent most of the season held back by injury issues. His addition to the Kentucky roster is a big win for head coach Mark Stoops, who has developed a little bit of a habit for adding some talented transfers to his program in Lexington.
Kentucky will be embracing a checkerboard pattern on their brand new football uniforms for the 2016 season. The Wildcats will also feature a new secondary logo designed by Nike. Kentucky and Nike unveiled the new updated look of Kentucky’s football and basketball program Friday morning, complete with an all-blue, all-white and an all-black uniform set for the football team.
“They’re always on the cutting edge, and the players like it and that’s what matters most,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said, referring to longtime partner Nike. “The players like it, we like it.”
Kentucky’s all-blue uniform set was the first uniform to be modeled and featured what looked to be a blue metallic-finish on the helmet. The new signature feature of the uniform can be found on the shoulder pads, where Nike and Kentucky have come together to embrace a checkerboard pattern that is inspired by the rich horse racing history in the state. So what if it looks like something Tennessee would wear, in orange of course.
The all-white uniform, including white helmet with a blue primary logo, was next to come from behind the stage. This was basically a complete color swap of the blue set. As you can see, the new secondary logo is featured on the hip of the pants. This was also on the blue uniform.
Finally, because no new uniform design is complete without a trendy darker alternate look, Kentucky showed off an updated
black anthracite-colored uniform, with hints of blue. This also came complete with a matching helmet, which also included a blue logo.
Nike steered clear of any drastic upgrades to the primary Kentucky logo, an interlocking “U” and “K,” but did design the new secondary logo from scratch. The new blue flaming wildcat logo had already leaked but now it is official. The checkerboard pattern was also made official as a part of the updated Kentucky branding effort.