The 2017 edition of SEC Media Days is finally in the books after four long days at the Wynfrey Hotel in sunny Hoover, Alabama; the largest suburb outside Birmingham. Coaches and player representatives from all 14 of the Southeastern Conference’s football programs, and hundreds of college football’s chubbiest and baldest media stars, descended upon Hoover to look ahead to the upcoming season in what is unofficially considered SEC’s Opening Day.
Coverage from the event spans the internet far and wide, and it is a lot to digest at once. For the casual fan, it is probably too much detailed information to consume. So with those casual SEC football fans in mind, I compiled what I consider the 50 things you need to know from Media Days ’17.
Is it everything you need to know from Hoover? Well, no. But it’ll get you through the cooler talk at work or if you run into a fellow SEC fan while on the beach or in line for the Pigeon Forge ferris wheel during your late-summer vacation.
1. The SEC will honor UK’s four trailblazers at the 2017 SEC Championship. League commissioner Greg Sankey kicked off SEC Media Days with the announcement that Wilber Hackett, Nate Northington, Houston Hogg and representatives of Greg Page’s family will be in Atlanta to celebrate their breaking of the color barrier 50 years ago.
2. Arkansas was up first on the podium and head coach Brett Bielema left his newborn baby to attend. Bielema and his wife, Jen, welcomed their daughter, Briella Nichole Bielema, into the world on Saturday. Bielema said she has already changed his perspective on life.
3. Bielema butt-FaceTimed the commissioner while walking out of Chipotle with a double-veggie bowl for his wife, soon after their child’s birth. “I said, ‘This is pretty cool, the commissioner is FaceTiming me. That’s pretty unique.’ He said, ‘Why were you calling me? I said, ‘I apologize, I must have butt-dialed you.’ That was a unique experience.”
4. LSU running back Derrius Guice sees no difference in him and Leonard Fournette. Guice said he and Fournette are both angry and mean runners, both are bruisers. Guice led the SEC in rushing last season with 1,387 yards.
5. Guice stole his Media Day look from a mannequin. “I was at the store and I saw the mannequin with this on,” Guice said in a televised interview on the SEC Network. “And I thought, ‘Bro, that would look way better on me.’ So obviously I took it off and I tried it on.”
6. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron called his program “DBU.” That title has been used by several other programs, including rival Florida, over the years. Related: I could listen to Coach O talk forever.
7. Tennessee head coach Butch Jones was very Butch Jones-like in his SEC Media Day comments. Paul Finebaum suspected Jones was trying to lower Tennessee fans’ expectations for the upcoming season.
8. Butch Jones said he doesn’t see the Vols’ 2016 season as a disappointment. Reminder: Tennessee went .500 in conference play with losses to Vanderbilt and South Carolina, after being picked to win the SEC East. The Vols opened the season with a close overtime win over Appalachian State, which completely blew that game down the stretch.
9. Dan Mullen revealed two non-football things about himself: One, he caddied for his eight-year-old son the day before he traveled to Hoover for Media Day; and two, his mom made him take ballet as a kid.
10. Mullen also said his wife told him he should’ve called a timeout to ice the kicker in the Kentucky game last year when UK’s Austin MacGinnis connected on a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Wildcats its first win over the Dawgs since 2008.
11. Mullen continued his SEC Media Day tradition of wearing a pair of adidas’s trendiest shoes; this time, he sported a pair of the adidas NMDs. He wore Yeezy Boosts the last two years.
12. Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, the hottest topic in Mississippi State football discussions, was not one of the three players who represented the Bulldogs. However, he is still very, very good at football.
12. Florida head coach Jim McElwain doesn’t have a sense of humor. McElwain took it personally when everyone, literally everyone, said the naked man straddling a shark looked like him. No one really thought it was McElwain in the viral photo, but when asked by Kyle Tucker, McElwain said it was a personal attack on the University of Florida and his family. Whatever. Lighten up. Dude looked like you.
— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) July 11, 2017
13. Despite reports saying otherwise, McElwain does not know Florida’s starting quarterback. “I know we will start a quarterback,” he said, but that quarterback is still TBD.
14. McElwain insists he had no input in Florida scheduling LSU on homecoming weekend. Here’s how he explained the process behind that decision: “So, I get off the plane, having been gone for a week (to his cabin in Wyoming) and believe it or not, unlike maybe Coach Saban at Alabama, I have no choice in it… It’s a university choice. So, they didn’t tell me until I got off the plane and somebody said, ‘Hey, guess who your homecoming game is?’ That’s the first I heard about it.”
15. Florida offensive lineman Martez Ivey said Florida-LSU is the new rivalry, not Florida-FSU. That upcoming homecoming game was all the talk around the Gators on Media Day.
16. No decision has been made on what disciplinary action will be taken for Florida wide receiver Antonio Calloway, whose latest off-the-field issue was an offseason marijuana citation back in May. It wasn’t Calloway’s first run-in with the law; he was at the center of a sexual assault investigation in which he admitted to being high during the night in question, but was eventually ruled “not responsible” on the sexual assault charge. Calloway led the Gators in receiving in 2016.
17. Man, Jim McElwain was really upset about that shark photo question.
18. Georgia running back Sony Michel said he and Nick Chubb returned to school for their senior seasons to chase an SEC championship. The NFL was calling, but they’re both back to form the best backfield in the entire league.
19. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart took a shot at Butch Jones, saying, “We had one coach that told us we had better talent. Then he had six guys taken in the first four rounds and we had one player drafted.” Got-eeeeeem!
20. Smart also played off Jones (although likely unintentional) when he said Georgia’s season was a disappointment. Jones had just said Tennessee’s season wasn’t a disappointment. Both teams were 4-4 in SEC play.
21. No quarterback controversy in Athens. Jacob Eason is Georgia’s starter. Plan accordingly.
22. “Vanderbilt football is on the rise,” per Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason.
23. Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb called himself the best back in the nation. If he can come up with 1,249 yards on the ground this upcoming season, he will become the second-leading rusher in SEC history, behind only Herschel Walker.
24. Vanderbilt isn’t afraid of Alabama, its intimidating SEC West opponent this year. Coach Mason made it very clear that he doesn’t fear anybody, nor does his team. The Commodores host ‘Bama on Sept. 23 to open SEC play.
25. Alabama fans got in. The lobby of the Wynfrey Hotel rolled Tide, per usual.
— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) July 12, 2017
26. Nick Saban didn’t remember his heated exchange with Paul Finebaum on the SEC Network set last year. The argument started over the suspension (or lack thereof) of Cam Robinson, and it carried over into a commercial break. Saban didn’t remember it, though. (Everyone else did.)
27. Do not make stuff up about the Alabama football program to create a headline. Saban won’t tolerate it. Ask the reporter who tried to say Jalen Hurts’ job is in jeopardy. He caught an earful.
29. Greg McElroy hasn’t been impressed by the play of Kentucky’s Matt Elam. In McElroy’s words, Elam is as lazy and as underachieving as anyone he has seen in the league in a long time.
30. When Kentucky linebacker Courtney Love saw McElroy’s comments, he immediately sent the clip directly to Elam to motivate the defensive lineman and hold him accountable.
31. UK quarterback Drew Barker is back to 100 percent after offseason back surgery and sitting out the spring game to recover. Stephen Johnson will start Week 1, but a healthy Barker is a solid backup that will push Johnson to keep his job.
32. Dang Alterations saved the day for the Kentucky Wildcats. Located in a Hoover shopping mall, Dang sewed All-SEC safety Mike Edwards’ pants back together after he ripped them down the crotch while getting dressed for the flight.
33. Stephen Johnson opened up about his Tourette syndrome, which he has struggled with since he was a child. Johnson said he never would’ve imagine being comfortable in front of all of the bright lights and cameras in front of him at Media Day. “It’s divine how it’s all come about,” he said. “I really couldn’t expect this. I dreamed of it all the time.”
34. Mark Stoops said it is “nut-cutting time” in Lexington. No more talking. No more excuses. It is time to produce. “When I was hired they said, ‘It’s a five-year rebuild.’ Well guess what, in Year 4 they don’t want to hear a darn thing about it.”
35. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, one of the league’s top returning passers, does not like his own forehead, which is why he grew his bangs out to almost his eyebrows. Meanwhile, the SEC Network’s Jordan Rogers’ hair is still immaculate. This is info you can’t get everywhere, folks.
36. Nick Saban stole Missouri head coach Barry Odom’s joy. Odom said he could feel a buzz when he arrived at the Wynfrey Hotel for his second Media Day and he thought it was for him. “Then I was quickly reminded Nick Saban was in the room.”
37. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin doesn’t want to go 8-5 for a fourth consecutive season. He better not, because that will likely cost him his job. He’s sitting on the hottest seat in the conference.
38. Rumor mill: Texas A&M really wants Chip Kelly, so Sumlin may be screwed if he does anything shy of winning the West.
39. Painting your pup to look like an Auburn Tiger is animal cruelty.
Media Days. My goodness. Our dog would hate me for life if I was pulled this stunt. pic.twitter.com/R6DvLn0Vlr
— Freddie Maggard (@FredMaggard) July 13, 2017
40. Auburn took its kicker to Hoover to be one of its three player representatives. (Yes, a kicker.) Fresh off his engagement to his girlfriend, too. Big week for Daniel Carlson, the first kicker at SEC Media Days since South Carolina brought its kicker two years ago.
41. Gus Malzahn said the biggest question mark with his team is who’s going to be Auburn’s starting punter. That’s a testament to how many returners he has, not an emphasis on the Tigers’ punting competition.
42. Hugh Freeze rambled for over 15 minutes in his opening statement, which led reporters to call it Freeze’s filibuster on the main stage. Why did the Ole Miss coach talk for so long before opening it up to the crowd? Because he didn’t want to answer questions about all of the trouble Ole Miss is currently in.
43. Houston Nutt was the MVP of SEC Media Days. He dropped a lawsuit on Ole Miss the day before Ole Miss was due up in Hoover, alleging defamation of character related to how the school handled an NCAA investigation. Coincidence? No way. It was brilliant on his part and a direct punch to the throat of his former employer.
44. Nobody wanted to talk football with Ole Miss, which has become the norm this week. Coach Freeze said, “This’ll be my sixth media day, if my memory’s right, and it’ll be the fifth time we’re talking about something other than our team.” Maybe stop having scandals then.
45. Conference realignment has not been discussed, per SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. If he hasn’t had any discussion about it, then it’s a long, long way from happening.
46. South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp had some fun with some of the reporters on the Florida beat, who he remembered from his time as the Gators’ head coach. He told one of them, “You remind me of that Josh Turner song, ‘You Look Like I Need a Drink.’”; and said to another, “You don’t have to identify yourself. They could use your voice to torture prisoners of war.”
47. Abiding by the new sideline rule will require a little help. Several SEC coaches have said they already brought on additional “get-back coaches” to help them stay off the playing field when arguing with an official. Muschamp said he has given his assistants permission to tackle him.
48. Steve Spurrier was dearly missed, which begs the question: is SEC Media Days really an SEC Media Days without Steve Spurrier? He carried the entire show for years.
49. SEC Media Days on the move? Sankey teased new locations for future Media Days, and Atlanta and Nashville were among the cities in consideration. Hoover has long been the event’s home, but it sounds like that could soon change. Whatever happens, that’s a conversation on down the road. As for the present…
50. The 2017 college football season has officially begun…