Sidelines with John Clay

SEC Football Media Days links from second day

Georgia coach Kirby Smart appears at SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Alabama on Tuesday, July 12, 2016.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart appears at SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Alabama on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Kentucky football’s team poster honors pioneers. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports, “The University of Kentucky tapped into history with the unveiling of its 2016 football poster Tuesday. The design of the poster is modeled after a statue honoring the four UK players who integrated Southeastern Conference football in the late 1960s — Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg. That statue will be unveiled Sept. 22 in front of UK’s new football practice facility. “

Kirby Smart fares well at SEC Media Days. Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph reports, “Kirby Smart is about to partake in his 18th season in the SEC. In total, he spent five years as a player, one year as an administrative assistant and one year as a running backs coach at Georgia. He spent one year as a defensive backs coach at LSU. The longest stint of his career has been as an Alabama assistant — eight years as a defensive coordinator and one year as a defensive backs coach. “

Mississippi State’s Simmons decision is all that mattered. Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger writes, “If you thought Mississippi State was going to come to SEC Media Days and risk being crushed under the weight of questions about how it could possibly replace Dak Prescott, then rest easy. Now if you were worried that the self-inflicted wound that was the crazy light punishment for Jeffery Simmons would tarnish Mississippi State’s image in the court of public opinion, then you were right on, because that’s exactly what happened.”

Tennessee keeps it simple at Media Days. Dustin Dopirak of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports, “For the first time in coach Butch Jones’ tenure, Tennessee arrived at SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday knowing it will likely be named SEC East favorite by the end of the week thanks to the 17 starters it returns from a 9-4 team. It was clear from the time Jones and the three attending players began speaking that they had no interest in creating much news beyond their likely poll position.”

Kentucky’s clarity at quarterback rare in SEC this preseason. Jennifer Smith reports, “It’s no exaggeration to say the quarterback situation in the Southeastern Conference is up in the air. Of the league’s top four passers last season, all but one are gone. The annual Media Days event, a place where quarterbacks hold court with hundreds of media on a yearly basis, has just three signal callers on the schedule this week. There are more tight ends (five) than quarterbacks making appearances this year.”

Myles Garrett not your typical football player. Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun writes of the Texas A&M defensive end’s affinity for books, “That’s not the kind of thing you hear every day from a college football player, let alone a young man who might be the first pick in next year’s NFL draft. But Garrett has always been different, whether it’s starting his homework on the bus ride home in elementary school or showing up for the plane trip to Hoover wearing flip flops and a Marvel Comics hat.”

Tennessee is rocky at the top of the pile. Josh Kendall of The State writes, “They haven’t beaten in-division rival Florida in 11 years. They haven’t beaten their oldest conference rival Alabama in 10 years. Yet here the Tennessee Volunteers are, the pick of most folks to win the SEC East for the first time since 2007. “

Kevin Sumlin made Butch Jones sweat. Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News reports, “A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was meeting with a small group of media Tuesday at SEC Media Days when Tennessee’s Butch Jones interrupted with a small gripe. Sumlin and Jones arrived in Alabama around the same time for their respective afternoon sessions with the media.”

Winners and losers of the second day. Shehan Jeyarajah of SEC Country writes, “Winner: Georgia QBs not named Jacob Eason. Many fans had decided it was a foregone conclusion that 5-star QB recruit Jacob Eason would step in and start at quarterback for the Bulldogs this season, but Kirby Smart tried to slow down the hype train in his press conference. Smart clarified that starting quarterback is not based on most talent, but rather who gives Georgia the best chance to win.”

Where Kentucky stands with the top basketball recruits of 2017. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports, “DeAndre Ayton: Questions over his intentions to actually play college basketball (and his eligibility, if he does) will continue to dog Ayton throughout his recruiting process, but there’s no questioning the talent of the No. 1-ranked prospect. The 7-footer from the Bahamas says UK, Arizona and Kansas are the three schools at the top of his list. Kansas seems to be in the best shape, but it’s still early in Ayton’s recruitment, and — if he does indeed play college ball — UK will have a legitimate shot to land his commitment. For now, the Wildcats will continue to monitor his status while looking at other post players.”

College football national champions

2015 - Alabama

2014 - Ohio State

2013 - Florida State

2012 - Alabama

2011 - Alabama

2010 - Auburn

2009 - Alabama

2008 - Florida

2007 - LSU

2006 - Florida

2005 - Texas

2004 - USC

2003 - LSU

2002 - Ohio State

2001 - Miami

2000 - Oklahoma

1999 - Florida State

1998 - Tennessee

1997 - Michigan

1996 - Florida

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