SEC media days got underway on Monday, with league commissioner Greg Sankey, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Tennessee coach Butch Jones taking the podium.
Sankey began the proceedings by talking about the timeline of integration the various schools in the conference undertook, singling out a few players, according to the Associated Press:
"Sankey spoke at length in his opening remarks Monday about the upcoming 50th anniversary of Nate Northington's Sept. 30, 1967 debut for Kentucky against Mississippi. Northington, then a sophomore, became the first African-American to play in an SEC football game.
"There were four African-American football players on that Wildcats team: Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg. Page, Northington's roommate, died late the night before from a neck injury sustained during a preseason practice. They were the SEC's first black scholarship football players.
"Sankey says the SEC has invited Northington, Hackett, Hogg and Page's family to the league championship game in December 'to join us in remembering, honoring and celebrating what they helped change 50 years ago.'"
Sankey also denied discussions of division realignment, spoke out against coaches blocking transfers and said the league will continue with its system of collaborative replay, per Scott Rabalais of The Advocate.
Then there was Bielema who, as usual, was entertaining during his press conference. He spoke about the recent birth of his daughter, cracking a few jokes along the way, per Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated and Taylor Tannebaum of WHNT:
He also used his daughter as a way to humorously sidestep a question, per Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports:
Then there was the excerpt about the time he met LSU head coach Ed Orgeron:
And the time he accidentally called Sankey, according to the Associated Press:
"Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said shortly after the birth of his daughter on Saturday, he was walking out of a restaurant after getting some food for his wife Jen. He looked at his cell phone and was surprised to see SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey's name.
Bielema thought it was great the commissioner had called him: 'This is pretty cool, the commissioner is Face Timing me, that's pretty unique!'
Sankey's response: 'Why are you calling me?'
Bielema: 'Oh, I'm sorry. I must have butt-dialed you.'"
It wasn't all fun and games, however; he also addressed the team's stunning pair of second-half collapses last season.
"We'll own it," he said, per Sallee. "Learn from it."
New LSU head coach Orgeron was up next and immediately addressed the expectations that come along with leading the Tigers, per Rabalais:
He also discussed the team's competition at quarterback:
Finally, there was Butch Jones, who announced the team would take a new approach to its captains in 2017, electing new captains each week rather than having a pair of permanent captains.
"We’ll elect captains each week, [and] that’s something we’ve normally done, and the great thing is we have a lot of individuals stepping up as leaders," he said, per Mike Griffith of SEC Country.
Jones also told reporters that Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano are in the hunt to be the team's starting quarterback, but he wouldn't name a starter until "the time is right." Jones also said Dormady and Guarantano might both play.
Jones also said he hoped former coach and advisor to the team, Phillip Fulmer, would be heavily involved with the team, per Griffith:
But if Bielema charmed the media members in attendance on Monday, Jones was considered less charismatic. Sallee jokingly accused him of rolling out a number of coaching cliches:
And Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News shared a more scathing opinion from a fellow sportswriter:
SEC media days will continue on Tuesday, with Florida coach Jim McElwain, Georgia coach Kirby Smart, Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen taking the podium.