HOOVER, Ala. — Well, the week that was the 2016 SEC Football Media Days is in the books and now we can get on to the business of truly preparing for the football season.
For some of you, that may be sneaking in the last of your vacations. For the Georgia football coaches, that will conducting the last of its camps for elite recruits, then sneaking in come off time before hunkering down for their preseason hideway.
For me, it’s off on one more adventure with my son. After that we’ll be getting our mind right for the grind of preseason camp and all the exciting coverage of Georgia and the teams they play that we have planned for you.
In the meantime, let’s put a bow on media days. Here are some of my observations from my week at The Wynfrey:
1. Kirby looks smart at Media Days
As I wrote, I thought Kirby Smart handled his first whirlwind day at media days well. Frankly, besides the resident nervousness, the first one is pretty easy for most coaches. They’re still in their grace period and hopefully don’t have any controversial issues to negotiate. Smart met head on and right out of the box the disciplinary situations he has been having to handle and that was a good strategy.
He was also forthcoming about the injuries to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as well and put some perspective on their respective timelines for a return. Amazingly, Smart managed to get through the day mentioning the names of his specific quarterback candidates very few times. Pretty impressive considering how much he has asked about them.
2. Optimism about Nick Chubb
As for Chubb and Michel, I thought Kirby’s were very encouraging regarding Chubb and not as much when it comes to Michel. He said Chubb will enter camp “without limitations,” though he’ll initially be held out of scrimmages. That’s the strongest statement he has made yet regarding the availability of his star tailback, and a sign of optimism he could be full-go for the first game — barring setbacks. Conversely, Smart revealed that Michel’s broken arm suffered in an ATV accident Independence Day weekend was pretty serious. It involved both bones and was an “open fracture.”
Nevertheless, there is reason to suspect that Georgia’s top tailbacks both will be available to some extent or another in the opener against North Carolina, and that’s good news for the Bulldogs.
3. Nick Saban plays bully
As for the rest of the league, I thought Nick Saban came out looking back from his heated exchange with the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum about his handling of discipline for star offensive tackle Cam Robinson. Indications are that Robinson is not going to be suspended as a result of his arrest on felony weapons and marijuana possession charges.
I side with Finebaum on this one. I understand that the Louisiana district attorney opted not prosecute this case. But the fact of the matter is, Robinson and a teammate were in the front seat of a car that possessed a stolen firearm and they were smoking pot with two other men in a public park that was closed. That’s a level of misbehavior that deserves a little more stiff punishment than running gassers and going on ride-arounds with police.
Meanwhile, there’s an NCAA matter regarding former assistant coach Bo Davis that was barely addressed in Hoover. Something’s going to come out on that eventually, though I imagine it won’t be too severe.
4. Mississippi coaches fumble
Likewise, I thought Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze came out looking like Pinocchio and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen like “Tricky Dick” regarding their ongoing controversies.
To his credit, Freeze addressed the ongoing investigation into accusations of improper benefits being provided to former offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil right out of the box. But Freeze came off disingenuous when he said he felt he had created an atmosphere of compliance at Ole Miss, especially when he admits “mistakes were made.”
“We’re held accountable to a certain standard unless you can prove you set the proper atmosphere for compliance, which I believe we have,” Freeze said. “Again, I don’t get to judge that. We’ll see at the end of the day. I don’t think there’s any head coach at our level that can control everything that happens in this day in time. You can set the tone, but it’s almost impossible that you could control everything.”
Mullen just flat out did not have a good answer for why 5-star signee Jeffrey Simmons not only was admitted to MSU after being caught on video punching a woman held on the ground by another person this past spring, but also being subjected to only a one-game suspension. Mullen passed the buck and said “it was a university decision,” not his.
“Part of our process is, within our program, to help them learn how to make good decisions in their life. That’s what we need to do,” Mullen said.
Simmons has definitely learned a lesson having to sit out that opener against South Alabama.
5. Good week for some others
Some other observations, I thought LSU coach Les Miles acted even more odd than usual, but he did a good job of addressing racial unrest in Baton Rouge.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema solidifed his spot as heir apparent to Steve Spurrier as the most entertaining coach in the league. The same can be said from a players’ perspective for Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp. And I was impressed with Missouri coach Barry Odom, who succeeds Gary Pinkel and was the players’ choice and really has rallied those players and that fanbase.
That’s just a few of my thoughts. What are yours?