Three teams -- Texas A&M, Kentucky and LSU -- took their turns at SEC Media Days in downtown Atlanta on Monday. Four more -- Georgia, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Florida -- will be on stage today. The event runs through Thursday at the College Football Hall of Fame and the adjacent Omni Atlanta Hotel.
Here are five notes from Day 1:
1. Not that there was any doubt Texas A&M has high expectations for its new coach, Jimbo Fisher, but A&M chancellor John Sharp underscored the point in February when he presented Fisher with a national championship plaque. The date was left blank on the plaque, signaling that it’s up to Fisher to fill in the year but leaving no doubt he is expected to do so.
“I think Chancellor Sharp doing that -- there was no problem with that at all,” Fisher said Monday. “I thought it was nice kind of nice myself. Hoping we can fill that in quickly.”
A few questions later, in another reflection of the soaring expectations, Fisher was asked to be more precise about his timetable for winning a national title at A&M.
“Well, I think your timetable is as quick as you can put things in place and everyone buys into what you're trying to do,” said Fisher, who coached Florida State to the national championship in the 2013 season. “You have a timetable; your timetable is now. You want to win immediately ... but is that realistic? Could it be? Yes. Could it not be? Yes. It's all about the process of putting things in place. Because you want to build a program the right way up and get kids to understand and buy in.
“Hopefully we’ll do it as quickly as we possibly can.”
The plaque is waiting.
(The AJC’s Mark Bradley writes that A&M under Fisher is the SEC’s next big thing. Read his column here.)
2. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops got the question he expected, the one about the Wildcats’ 31-game losing streak against Florida.
“I always look forward to that annual question here,” Stoops said. “Until we get it done, I know, I’m not blaming you, I’m going to get it a thousand times between now and that game.
“It’s been a long time. We need to beat Florida, but we need to beat a lot of teams on our schedule.”
Florida came from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Kentucky 28-27 last season. The Wildcats play at Florida on Sept. 8.
3. SEC Media Days is being held in Atlanta for the first time after calling the Birmingham, Ala., area home since the event’s inception in 1985.
Hosting the event this year produces “fantastic visibility for Atlanta” because of the extensive national media coverage it draws, Atlanta Sports Council president Dan Corso said Monday.
“I think it solidifies Atlanta’s position as the epicenter of college football,” Corso said. “As you watched the coverage beginning (Monday) morning on SEC Network, you saw all the visuals of downtown -- the aerial shots of not only the College Football Hall of Fame and Centennial Olympic Park but our downtown landscape.”
SEC Media Days will return to Hoover, Ala., a Birmingham suburb, next year. Sites for 2020 and beyond haven’t been determined, but the SEC envisions moving the event around to different parts of the league’s footprint. Atlanta officials hope this isn’t the last time it is held here. (See full story here.)
4. In the aftermath of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a 1992 federal law that had barred betting on sports in most states, the SEC is preparing for the spread of legalized sports gambling across the nation.
“While it may be preferred to have no expansion of gambling activity, what is needed now is for our state and federal legislative leaders to enact policies that properly support the integrity of our games and provide the necessary protections for our students and our student-athletes,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.
He suggested the SEC will eventually move to create some sort of weekly injury report, although he said it might be more accurately described as an “availability report” because of laws protecting student privacy.
“I do not believe this has to happen before the 2018 season, either on the part of this conference or the national level,” Sankey said. “I expect, however, the change in sports gambling could be and will be likely the impetus for the creation of such reports in our future. Identifying the proper approach should be the priority, not haste.”
5. LSU coach Ed Orgeron was asked what Georgia fans should expect when the Bulldogs play at Tiger Stadium on Oct. 13.
“Tiger Stadium is going to be alive,” Orgeron said. “It’s going to be loud. There will be a lot of tailgating. Should be a great college matchup in the SEC.”
(Read Steve Hummer’s blog on enigmatic LSU here.)