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VOL. 132 | NO. 46 | Monday, March 6, 2017

SEC Ready to Tee Up Media Days; UT’s AD Raises the Bar

By Don Wade

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It’s almost time to kick off the 2017 college football season. And by that we mean that SEC Media Days should again be flagged for encroachment on summer.

For now, Ole Miss coach Huge Freeze is scheduled to take his turn at SEC Media Days in July. But with an NCAA investigation still in the works, Freeze's future is less than certain. 

(AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman) 

The conference has not yet jumped in front of the Fourth of July, but SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, continues to move ever closer to summer’s signature date.

This year, SEC coach and players – and about a million or so media folks – will convene from July 10-13 in suburban Birmingham. Here is the schedule day by day with a little advance commentary.

Monday: Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, LSU’ Ed Orgeron and Tennessee’s Butch Jones.

Bielema is the most genuine coach in the league. Last year, he described what all coaches do at the lectern as offering up a “song and dance.” Nail meet head. 

Orgeron is Orgeron. Early media request: Please, please keep your shirt on.

Jones ended last season telling the world that even though the Vols had failed to win the SEC East title – they were the favorites – the players were “champions of life.” He can expect some grilling this year.

Tuesday: Florida’s Jim McElwain, Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason.

Dull Day, unless Mullen manages a subtle dig or two at Ole Miss. Now that we think about it, he probably will. Alumni will expect as much.

Wednesday: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, Missouri’s Barry Odom and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin.

Saban’s Day. But think about this: Of the next three, it’s Stoops who has the most job security.

Thursday: Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Mississippi’s Hugh Freeze and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp.

This assumes Freeze survives between now and then as the NCAA continues its work. Ole Miss has an appearance before the Committee on Infractions in its future. Lose badly enough there, and a sacrifice will be required. 

As for the games themselves, they begin on Sept. 2. Notable matchups: Alabama vs. Florida State in Atlanta; Florida vs. Michigan in Arlington, Texas; LSU vs. BYU in Houston; Texas A&M at UCLA; and on Sept. 4, Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Art Briles with a Bad Play-Call

Former Baylor football coach Art Briles had been silent for months, which was probably the smart play.

But he ended his silence via a one-page statement released Thursday, March 2. He claimed he did not cover up sexual assaults by Baylor football players or in any way hinder investigations into sexual assaults at the university.

The timing was more than a little curious given that one day earlier the Texas Rangers (no, not the baseball team), had begun a probe into Baylor’s handling of sexual assault cases over the years. Briles said in his letter he could not “remain silent.”

He added: “I did not cover up sexual violence. I had no contact with anyone that claimed to be a victim … I did not obstruct justice on campus or off.”

His statement, however, stands in contrast to public comments he made on camera with ESPN last fall. In fact, his tone then was apologetic. He said “bad things” happened “under my watch,” and added: “I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m going to learn.”

Meantime, multiple federal lawsuits have been brought against Baylor by women alleging they were victims of sexual violence and that the university did not handle the cases properly – either by intent or neglect. Briles, ESPN reported, is named as a defendant in at least one of those cases.

New UT AD Bold with Comments

John Currie, new athletic director at Rocky Top, came straight out and said that UT can and should have the “best athletics program in the country.”

Translation: The football team should be winning real championships, not metaphorical ones.

Currie, most recently the AD at Kansas State, has been a member of the athletic department at UT before and referenced former Vols coach Doug Dickey, saying, “Coach Dickey used to tell us we’re either playing for the title or we’re biting the butt of the guy that is, right?”

Yep, and it’s cost Nick Saban several pairs of trousers. 

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