1. Mark Stoops will be Steamy in the Main Ballroom
Stoops’ rapport with the media has improved through experience. Before the festivities begin all around the Hoover hotel, he will have a wonderful chat with the usual members of the Kentucky media contingency. But once he gets to the podium in the grand ballroom, the redhead will appear hot and bothered in front of the big crowd. Stoops has never been able to captivate the audience on the big stage at SEC Media Days.
Entering his fifth trip to Hoover, hopefully experience pays off in the ballroom. Derek Mason does an excellent job convincing the crowd each year that Vanderbilt football is back. If Stoops shows some charisma at the podium, the easily tricked media members will be convinced to pick the Cats third in the East over South Carolina.
2. Bob Stoops or Calipari?
I’m not sure what he will have to hear more. Even though he already discussed his brother’s unexpected retirement with Paul Finebaum, it will come up once again at some point. The only question is whether or not he’ll be asked more about his brother than he’ll be asked about his basketball coaching Kentucky colleague.
3. Alabama Stank
Each year the Kentucky Wildcats follow Alabama’s Nick Saban. That means UK sees Media Days at their craziest. The empty lobby in the picture below will be filled with autograph seekers shouting “ROLL TIDE!” creating a hot stench that cannot be replicated or adequately described.
4. Mike Edwards will be Dressed to the Nines
Jojo Kemp was the best dressed man at Media Days last year. The early clubhouse leader through two days is LSU’s Derrius Guice, but I have a feeling Kentucky’s Honey Badger will give Guice a run for his money.
5. Stephen Johnson’s Diet/Weight
It will not be reported about on this website, because you should already know all about it, but the national folks will want to know about his 10 million calorie a day diet and how much weight he’s gained. Around the biz we like to call this kind of story “low-hanging fruit.”
6. Pass vs. Run
On a more serious note, when X’s and O’s are mentioned Stoops will get asked about his new defensive coordinator and his offense’s 2016 success in the run game. The only Power Five school with two 1,000-yard rushers, there are two interesting things Stoops and Eddie Gran must address in 2017:
1. Who will be the new Boom to complement Benny?
2. Will the Cats still ground and pound, or air it out more in Stephen Johnson’s second year taking snaps?
The answer to the first question will be discovered during training camp. As for the second, I believe we will see UK’s offense lean more on the short-passing game as a result of Johnson’s progress. Snell is great, but they cannot rely on the run game 65 percent of the time like they had to last year. This year I expect the offense to be as close to a balanced 50-50 attack as we’ve seen at UK. Stoops might say the same thing tomorrow.
7. Questions at Defensive Line
Mark Stoops has plenty to brag about on defense. He has the league’s top returning tackler, Jordan Jones, leading a talented group of veterans at linebacker. He’ll probably say he has the most talented secondary since his time at Miami. But up front, SEC Network analysts are calling his senior nose tackle “lazy and as underachieving a player as I’ve seen in this league in some time.”
The head coach will share concerns about his unit, but will not have anyone to point to as the problem solver. How he’ll address Matt Elam…who knows?