Wednesday's 2014 SEC media day lineup will have little issue following up Tuesday's action—which was primarily centered on replacing Johnny Manziel—thanks to LSU's Les Miles as the leader.
It's the third of a four-day event that has only grown in recent years as the football calendar at all levels continues to morph into a full 12-month spectacle. The SEC's version of the event is, of course, the most popular.
Wednesday's offering might just be the cream of the crop. Joining Miles in the action is the always entertaining and somewhat controversial Bret Bielema, and Gary Pinkel will kick off the action talking some Missouri Tigers football.
Below are the pertinent details surrounding Day 3.
SEC Football Media Days Information
When: July 14-17
Where: Hyatt Regency Birmingham—The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Wednesday, July 16
Session I: 9 a.m. - Noon
SEC official Steve Shaw and ESPN executive Justin Connolly
Missouri - Gary Pinkel; Evan Boehm, Center; Markus Golden, Defensive End; Maty Mauk, Quarterback
Session II: 1 - 4 p.m.
LSU - Les Miles; La'el Collins, Offensive Tackle; Terrence Magee, Running Back; D.J. Welter, Linebacker
Arkansas - Bret Bielema; Brey Cook, Offensive Guard; Trey Flowers, Defensive End; Alan Turner, Safety
Bret Bielema's Stance on Rules Will Overshadow Program's Woes
The Arkansas Razorbacks have a lot of work to do in 2014 to avoid the cellar once more in the SEC.
After a 3-9 campaign a year ago and no wins in the SEC, Bielema's team faces a bevy of questions that include what appears to be—at least on paper—a tougher schedule than a season ago.
But rather than dial in on those topics, Bielema and his beliefs will surely be the highlight of the session.
He most recently lost a very public battle concerning the rules that offenses face and the speed of the game overall, as George Schroeder of USA Today summarizes:
It's also why, after an offseason skirmish over a controversial rules proposal was boiled by many down to Bret Bielema vs. the Speed Merchants – the merchants rolled to a big victory, in the balloting and in public opinion – he says he has no regrets. Bielema, who insists his advocacy of a 10-second pause for offenses is solely in the interest of player safety, acknowledges taking 'a few beatings' in the argument, but adds:
'It was beatings from uneducated people. Education is the best way to relieve someone from a bad thought process.'
That quote alone is quality entertainment, something he is sure to provide on Wednesday despite certainly not being the biggest name in attendance at his position.
But back to the football for a moment, because it surely won't be on the receiving end of a ton of attention when it matters. Bielema is flanked by defensive end Trey Flowers, the clear-cut leader of the unit and a future pro prospect who has made plenty of preseason lists, as Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau notes:
He'll be tasked with leading the team next season, and he's sure to be grilled about that uphill battle.
For what it's worth, though, Bielema certainly has friends in the conference who believe he can succeed, as radio host Bo Mattingly points out:
Regardless of how the media spectacle turns out, we know one thing for a fact, as Bielema recently told the media, per Schroeder: "I'm not afraid to say what I feel."
Les Miles Faces Litany of QB Battle and Arrest Questions
Accompanying Miles to the ring on Wednesday are three talented seniors in offensive tackle La’el Collins, running back Terrence Magee and linebacker D.J. Welter, all players who will be both tasked with LSU's success next season and have pro aspirations.
But they'll hardly be the focus.
Unfortunately for the three, they don't play the most important position of all. This offseason, the quarterback battle between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris has yet to see either gain significant ground, which is an issue.
One would think Jennings has an edge based solely on experience, and nobody will soon forget his 99-yard, game-winning drive against Bielema's squad last year after Zach Mettenberger went down with an injury.
That said, his Outback Bowl performance—7-of-19 for 82 yards and an interception—certainly left something to be desired.
As Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee notes, Harris has many of the same traits as Jennings but just needs to learn:
In many respects, Harris and Jennings possess similar skills. So 'getting it' is really the only piece of the puzzle left for Harris. Since the offense is clearly changing a bit to become one that thrives with a dual-threat quarterback, there's going to be a period of adjustment for Jennings too.
While a major hotpoint issue of the day's proceedings will be that battle, Miles will also have to deal with major questions about a player's arrest for the second year in a row.
It was now-Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill last year, and this year it is cornerback Jalen Mills, who was arrested for alleged felony battery in June, although the outcome of the case is still up in the air, according to Glenn Guilbeau of The Advertiser.
Miles was quick to hand down an indefinite suspension and was quite vague on the manner overall in a statement provided by Matt Boudreaux of NBC 33 in Baton Rouge:
A perfect world in Miles' mind would be one in which that statement is enough, but as Day 3 of the event will prove, there is no end to questions surrounding such a manner.
Thus is life at the SEC media days, a turning point in the offseason for fans of the beloved conference. Football is back.
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