Welcome to talkin’ season, everybody.
Tuesday marked the second day of preseason Media Days for both the Big 12 and SEC. That means the college football season is right around the corner, and that’s something to get excited about.
For all of the glitz and glamor of these events, they usually don’t produce much substance, so we watched the news conferences for you.
Here’s what we learned from the SEC, which still has two more days to go. The Big 12 was efficient and got its media day event over in two days.
Previously: SEC Day 1
Kirby Smart: Georgia is ‘on to the next year’
Georgia’s loss to Alabama in January’s national title game is the type of loss that can haunt a program. The Bulldogs were up in the first half, couldn’t put Alabama away in the second half and then lost on an incredible play in overtime.
But the team isn’t dwelling on what happened in January. If it was, we’d be a little nervous. After all, Georgia coach Kirby Smart is a Nick Saban protege. The process always looks forward.
“We’re on to the next year. We are on to the new recruit. We’re on to the next strategy, whether tactical, medical or physical,” Smart said. “We’re constantly looking for the next edge to get the next edge for next year. It’s something we don’t have to rehash all of the time.”
“I think how players will use that experience to grow, and I think that’s big for our program and understanding that if you do things a certain way, that you can get to certain places. We just have to be able to finish it when we get there.”
Dan Mullen prepared to learn from Mississippi State experience at Florida
Mississippi State was Dan Mullen’s first head coaching job in college football. And the new Florida coach admitted Tuesday that he was probably too hands-on when he first took over the MSU program.
“I think one of the things is, in year one, I kind of came in like a bull in a china shop, maybe, and I was somewhat of a control freak or just paranoid in my first year,” Mullen said. “I had to have my hands on every single detail of every aspect of the program and a lot of times maybe didn’t let people do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”
“And, you know — so I think one of the biggest things of that is the opportunity that understanding that everybody knows what the expectations are within our program and letting people go out there and do their jobs and, you know, implement our plan of what’s going on and not maybe being such a control freak over every detail.”
Mullen also has the benefit of familiarity with the Gators. He was Florida’s offensive coordinator before he went to Mississippi State in 2009.
“Having the opportunity, having been at the University of Florida before and won championships, multiple championships, there, I know what a special place it could be,” Mullen said.
“And I think that was a big help for me, walking into a situation where I had familiarity with a lot of things. So I think that was a big help, and it made it a very easy decision for me to make to want to come back and be the head coach at the University of Florida.”
Chad Morris: 4-8 not acceptable for Arkansas
Arkansas is the consensus seventh-place team in the SEC West after a 4-8 season in 2017 and a coaching change from Bret Bielema to Chad Morris.
Morris is aware of those preseason predictions and said that a repeat of what happened a year ago wouldn’t be acceptable.
“Whether we’re picked to finish first or finish last is irrelevant at this point in time,” Morris said. “As the way I looked at it, nobody’s played a snap yet. There’s a lot to prove.”
“One thing, as I shared with our players, because we have, we’ve heard it, and our players have heard it. You can’t help but not to hear it. It’s how hungry is this football team going to be because of it. And we got a lot of returning starters, a lot of returning lettermen, that experienced the season that they had last year.”
“And I’ve said it before and 4-8 is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable whoever coach is regardless of that. So these young men have had to feel that. They’ve had to have that bitter taste in their mouth. It’s something that they’ve worked extremely hard about. So those that pick, they don’t understand what’s happening inside that locker room and the development of these young men. And that is what excites me.”
Ole Miss’ passing attack could be one of nation’s best
One of the most under-the-radar quarterbacks in the country could be Ole Miss’ Jordan Ta’amu.
Ta’amu took over as the Rebels’ starter in 2017 after Shea Patterson suffered a knee injury. Ta’amu ended up posting better stats than Patterson did in his time as a starter and returns in 2018 as the team’s undisputed QB after Patterson’s transfer to Michigan.
But with Ole Miss facing a bowl ban again in 2018, you’re going to hear a lot more about Missouri’s Drew Lock, whoever wins the quarterback job at Alabama, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald more than Ta’amu.
“I think he got the players’ attention pretty quickly,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said. “That’s what I was most impressed with, him being in tough situations, taking a two-minute drive on the road at Kentucky and winning that game. I think he earned the respect of his teammates quickly.”
“Jordan, you’ll see him today. He’s very quiet, very unassuming, but what I was impressed with was his ability to lead and the fire and the passion he had in the games. I’m looking forward to seeing him now having a full offseason, a full spring, full summer to build that rapport and to build that leadership, because this is his team. I think he’ll only continue to grow in Phil’s offense, and I think he’ll have a heck of a season.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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