Everything You Need to Know About SEC Media Days

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    Butch Jones-2

    SEC Media Days are finally upon us come Monday. They’re a tease in a way – an unofficial start to the college football season that is then followed with two of the longest weeks of the year.

    But it’s football – kind of – or at least an opportunity to get all 14 teams represented by their head coach and three key players. And while the media rooms will be overcrowded, the questions will be repetitive and the answers will be overly optimistic, it’s still an event worth being dialed into and Rocky Top Insider will be there for all four days with updates on the important happenings from the other 13 teams and everything you need to know from Tennessee’s session on Tuesday.

    Here’s the complete schedule along with some things to watch for in Birmingham… 

    MONDAY, JULY 14

    Session I: 11 am – 2:30 pm
    Commissioner Mike Slive
    Auburn – Gus Malzahn, TE C.J. Uzomah, C Reese Dismukes, DL Gabe Wright

    Session II: 2:40 – 5:40 pm
    Florida – Will Muschamp, QB Jeff Driskel, DE Dante Fowler, CB Vernon Hargreaves III
    Vanderbilt – Derek Mason, DL Adam Butler, TE Steven Scheu, S Andrew Williamson

    TUESDAY, JULY 15
    Session I: 9 am – Noon
    South Carolina – Steve Spurrier, G A.J. Cann, DT J.T. Surratt, QB Dylan Thompson
    Miss. State – Dan Mullen, S Jay Hughes, LB Bernardrick McKinney, Dak Prescott

    Session II: 1 – 4 pm
    Texas A&M – Kevin Sumlin, DB DeShazor Everett, P Drew Kaser, T Cedric Ogbuehi
    Tennessee – Butch Jones, C Mack Crowder, LB A.J. Johnson, DE Curt Maggitt

    WEDNESDAY, JULY 16
    Session I: 9 am – Noon
    Steve Shaw / Justin Connolly
    Missouri – Gary Pinkel, QB Maty Mauk, DE Markus Golden, C Evan Boehm

    Session II: 1 – 4 pm
    LSU – Les Miles, T La’el Collins, RB Terrence Magee, LB D.J. Welter
    Arkansas – Bret Bielema, G Brey Cook, DE Trey Flowers, S Alan Turner

    THURSDAY, JULY 17
    Session I: 9 am – Noon
    Georgia – Mark Richt, WR Chris Conley, RB Todd Gurley, LB Ramik Wilson
    Ole Miss – Hugh Freeze, DE C.J. Johnson, S Cody Prewett, QB Bo Wallace

    Session II: Noon – 3 pm
    Alabama – Nick Saban, S Landon Collins, WR Amari Cooper, WR Christion Jones
    Kentucky – Mark Stoops, DE Bud Dupree, OT Jordan Swindle, DE Za’Darius Smith

    Big storylines/questions

    1. The SEC Network: With the new network set to launch exactly one month from Media Days (Aug. 14), how are the coaches, players and commissioner Mike Slive feeling about the league’s newest shiny toy and the flood of extra income it will bring to the league? Perhaps even more pressing for many fans is the state of its contract negotiations with major carries such as Comcast and DirecTV. Will those deals get worked out? Will fans have to switch carriers to see their teams play? Don’t expect many firm answers, but there will be plenty of questions, especially for Slive, on that topic.

    2. Who are the emerging stars? Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney got rock star treatment last year. Not suggesting that the SEC is significantly down, but there’s a notable lack of superstars this season. Auburn QB Nick Marshall (who will now also get to also field a million questions about his reported citation for marijuana possession this weekend) and Georgia RB Todd Gurley are the biggest headliners. There will be plenty of talent on hand. A player like A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, for example, is a potential top-10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but it’ll be interesting to see what players draw the most overall attention in Birmingham with no Manziel or Clowney-mania.

    (Update: Marshall is no longer coming to media days. He will be replaced by tight end C.J. Uzomah)

    3. O’Bannon case/Northwestern union issues: Media relations staffs are likely coaching their players up as you read this on what to say when asked about these issues. Players will be asked if they should be paid. It’ll be interesting to hear the responses – and if they stick to “the script.” Coaches have some opinions too. Steve Spurrier has been one of the leading proponents for giving the players, at the very lest, stipends for each game.

    4.  Conference autonomy: Mike Slive made waves at the SEC Spring Meetings when he said the SEC would be prepared to move into a Division IV if the five power conferences aren’t given autonomy to set their own rules in the future on issues such as benefits. Slive believes the lower Division I conferences have been given too much power in the current structure. The Division I Board of Directors is set to vote on an autonomy plan in August that would give the five power conferences more say. It’ll be interesting to see if Slive lobs any more warning shots on this stage.

    5. Auburn/Alabama fallout: Rarely does a game from the prior year create a ton of buzz at the following Media Days. But last year’s classic between the Tigers and Crimson Tide will still be on a lot of people’s minds and players and coaches from both teams will certainly field plenty of questions about Auburn’s miraculous upset win that launched them to an appearance in the national title game. Both clearly return enough in 2014 to be right back in the title conversation, so expect that to be another large topic.