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Dooley’s Dozen: 12 top topics from this summer’s SEC media days

SEC media days are over for another year and after a zillion questions about Texas and Oklahoma we will get mentally ready for the last 14-team conference race with divisions.

People like to say that media days are the beginning of football season and it is for coaches, who have all of their vacations in the rearview.

But it’s still a couple of weeks until practices start, so we saw a lot of optimism among the SEC coaches.

That is hardly unusual.

But I reminded a friend the other day that there are going to be 56 games between SEC teams and that means there will be 56 losses to go with the 56 wins.

Somebody has to lose them.

Dooley’s Dozen today looks at the 12 things that stood out at SEC MD23.

Alabama is ticked off

Denny Simmons / The Tennessean
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean

While Nick Saban never went off on some kind of agenda as he usually does, he focused on his team. And the players are clearly taking the Georgia approach from a year ago. They feel disrespected. That will be the mantra for the season.

There’s a different one at Georgia

Denny Simmons / The Tennessean
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean

Kirby Smart knows his team has a chance to make history and his team has taken its slogan from a New Zealand rugby team – “Better Never Rests.” I will say this about Smart – he knows how to reach his guys. Now if he can get them to slow down on the streets of Athens.

Sam Pittman brought something to my attention

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Pittman mentioned how tough it will be to play in the Swamp this season and mentioned that Arkansas has never won there. I hadn’t thought of that, but the series is 10-2 Florida with the wins coming at the Bluebonnet Bowl in 1982 and in Fayetteville in 2016 (I was there and it was ugly).

Billy Napier was overwhelmed last year

Denny Simmons / The Tennessean
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean

The Florida coach has talked about this before in pieces, but in several interviews in Nashville he went into detail. He took the job at one of the highest-profile schools in America and walked into the NIL and transfer portal world. “We’re back on schedule,” Napier said.

Speaking of the NIL and portal

Denny Simmons / The Tennessean
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean

Lane Kiffin looked as if he forgot his comb (what was the deal with his hair?), but he spoke eloquently about the problems of NIL and the transfer portal. He wants the amounts capped and hinted at the tampering that goes on. Unfortunately, the coaches have very little input into what will happen because this is up to Congress.

Jimbo doesn’t like questions about Bobby

 

Denny Simmons / The Tennessean
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher got a lot of them about his new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino and you can tell when he’s irritated because he starts talking really fast. He questioned the media’s understanding of what happens in the building in those meetings.

Brian Kelly seems confident

Denny Simmons / The Tennessean
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean

He had the one quote about LSU isn’t where Georgia is yet in terms of the roster. But I think he would take his best 22 up against Georgia’s. He kicked things off and by the time he was done I was ready to pick LSU to win the league.

Hugh Freeze must like Florida’s roster

Denny Simmons / The Tennessean
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean

This was a quote from the new Auburn coach – “Does our roster look top to bottom like Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, Ole Miss? I don’t know yet.” I’m not sure I would put Florida’s roster in that grouping. He remembers it when he was last coaching in the SEC.

Vanderbilt could be dangerous

Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not saying the Commodores could win the East, but after beating Florida and Kentucky last year there in an air of confidence. Facility improvements, extension for Clark Lea, five wins last year. They’re coming for more.

Saban may catch Steve Spurrier

AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain
AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

We all miss the HBC at these meetings, but Saban only needs to last two more seasons to tie Spurrier for appearances at media days with 23. We also really miss Mike Leach but there were some awesome tributes.

Is defense making a comeback?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The more these guys talked, the more times I said to myself that this team will only be as good as its defense. Florida, Ole Miss, the list goes on. Like all of football, this has become an offensive league, but the teams that play well on defense will be at the top.

Let’s start the gosh-darn thing

Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun
Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun

The bottom line is that media days get you ready for the season even if you have to wait another month-plus for it to start. These guys start talking and you start thinking about Alabama-LSU or Georgia-Tennessee and you get fired up. Is it time yet?

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire