Gambling, mental health among topics of discussion at SEC Media Days

Mental health, gambling, the transfer portal and of course football — SEC Media Days began with a bang Monday and a variety of topics were on the table for discussion at the conference’s annual preseason kickoff gathering.

Day One of the four-day event featured SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and players and coaches from Missouri, Florida and LSU. Sankey’s introductory speech included two interesting trends that he’s noticed — the growth of legal sports gambling and its effects on the mental health of student-athletes.

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“We’re seeing trends in the mental health area that should cause us all to pause before these ideas around specific event betting within college sports are allowed to take place,” he said.

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» Complete list of players, coaches at SEC Media Days
» Mark BradleyComplete coverage from SEC Media Days

Sankey specifically mentioned the growth of in-game betting, and if it could possibly have a direct link to the growing issues of mental health within college sports. “The perspectives on mental health represent not a ripple of change, but a wave of new reality, which faces all of us in intercollegiate athletics and higher education,” Sankey added.

Sankey also mentioned that Atlanta (2020) and Nashville (2021) will host this event the next two years and that the conference has launched an officiating website which will serve as a go-to location for rules information.

And all of this happened before players and coaches took center stage. Here’s a brief recap of what representatives from the three featured schools had to say:

Missouri

Head coach Barry Odom couldn’t escape a bombardment of questions about his newest bluechip transfer —quarterback Kelly Bryant. But for as much as Bryant may help, it will matter a lot less if a postseason ban against the Tigers holds.

That issue is still in limbo as an appeal goes through its process, Odom is hoping to receive “some closure soon” on the situation. And although it’s hard to tell right now how it will play out, Sankey and the SEC believes Missouri’s appeal to the NCAA “certainly has an opportunity” to reverse the ruling.

Florida

The seemingly never-ending debate continued Monday - Should the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party be moved out of Jacksonville? Florida head coach Dan Mullen didn’t shoot down the idea of the annual neutral-field game staying put, but he didn’t defend it, either.

“I think you can make an argument either way,” Mullen said on the debate.

 

It’s one of college football’s few rivalries hosted off-campus, a unique part of an already special rivaly, Mullen said. But the fact that it is off-campus is a double-edged sword. It takes away a home game from not only the school’s fans, but also recruits.

LSU

No matter how good a season LSU has, the brick wall that is Alabama always stands in its way. The Tigers are going on their seventh-straight season without a win against the Tide, and with expectations sky-high once again in Baton Rouge, the coach couldn’t avoid questions about the unfortunately predictable pitfall against Alabama. Still, expectations are through the roof for head coach Ed Orgeron.

“We did not play well against Alabama,” Orgeron said. “Now we have to go on the road and play them again… but we have a good football team. We should be able to answer the bell.”