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SEC Media Days 2021: Highlights, Comments and Reaction from Wednesday

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 21, 2021

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Alabama head football coach Nick Saban watches play on the first hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2021 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The SEC Media Days continued on Wednesday, with some of the biggest coaching names in the league taking to the podium. 

Alabama's Nick Saban opened up the press conferences, and he seemed happy to be in the building:

Stephen M. Smith @CoachingMSmith

Nick Saban starts his opening statement by telling the media how happy he is to see them again.<br><br>Coach Saban did not get to speak at SEC Media Days, due to the cancellation of the event (COVID-19).<br><br>"This is one of my favorite events. This is the kickoff to the season."

He spoke on everything from trying to stay on top of the college football world after losing a number of players to the NFL draft to the new landscape college football faces amidst the NIL rule changes. 

SEC Network @SECNetwork

No rat poison 😅<br><br>Nick Saban has nothing but respect for <a href="https://twitter.com/Lane_Kiffin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Lane_Kiffin</a>. <a href="https://t.co/Wuo1zirLXj">pic.twitter.com/Wuo1zirLXj</a>

Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy

Nick Saban on his longevity: "That’s simple, you have to win. What does it take to win? That answers the question better than anything. You have to have culture."

Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy

Nick Saban on the NIL: "You don’t know how it will effect things. The question is because it won’t be equal - everything we’ve done in the past has been equal: equal scholarships - how that will impact your team, I can’t answer, because we don’t have any precedent"

Charlie Potter @Charlie_Potter

Saban: "We're pretty close to about 90 percent of our players getting the vaccine."

"The penalty of success for winning a national title," Saban told reporters regarding the loss of six players to the first round of the NFL draft this spring. 

Everybody in college football is chasing the Crimson Tide. That includes the entirety of the SEC, and new Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea. 

"I think it's important in this point to recognize the fact that in this first iteration of Vanderbilt football, what we affectionately call in our building is Team One," the first-year Vandy coach told reporters. "The overwhelming majority of players were recruited to a program that no longer exists."

Vanderbilt Football @VandyFootball

Brought his own helmet to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SECMD21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SECMD21</a>. <br><br>That's the one <a href="https://twitter.com/Coach_Lea?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Coach_Lea</a> wore as a player at Vanderbilt. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AnchorDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AnchorDown</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/SECNetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SECNetwork</a> <a href="https://t.co/Y5lmLQcpfl">pic.twitter.com/Y5lmLQcpfl</a>

Joe Rexrode @joerexrode

“There are no compromises here” is a popular Clark Lea phrase today.

Brooks Kubena @BKubena

First-year Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea: "Our expectation is to win." Tall task for a program that hasn't posted a winning record since 2013.

Aria Gerson @aria_gerson

"I think the o-line and quarterbacks hated it because they couldn't ID anyone, we were kicking their butts." Though he mentions the jerseys did have names on the back, just not numbers

He also spoke about the new NIL rules, and the opportunities they may present for Vanderbilt's players in a city like Nashville.

"For me anything that puts a Vanderbilt football player front facing to our community, I am for. Anything that improves the quality of life of our student-athletes, I am for," he said. "The fact that we are in the biggest city in our league's footprint is a huge possibility or potential, so we're very aware of that.

"As far as the recruiting impact that goes, certainly the idea that you throw a rock off our campus and you're hitting a lot of really impactful businesses, the music industry is right there on our back porch," he added. "So there's a lot of exciting opportunities there."

Up next was the always quotable (and oft controversial) Mike Leach, though the Mississippi State head coach didn't stray too far from football on Wednesday. Well, for the most part.

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

Ah yes, Mike Leach, a man who is well known for not having opinions on things outside of his area of expertise and not sharing personal matters <a href="https://t.co/gLEIKX3R9q">https://t.co/gLEIKX3R9q</a>

David Gardner @byDavidGardner

Mike Leach — who signed a contract extension with Washington State *one month* before leaving for Mississippi State — doesn’t want to see college football bidding wars <a href="https://t.co/CVazbLh1Uf">https://t.co/CVazbLh1Uf</a>

Of note, he said that the Bulldogs would stick with one quarterback this season, as Will Rogers, Sawyer Robertson, Daniel Greek and Jack Abraham battle for the gig.

"I doubt we'll play two quarterbacks because that's not just an adjustment to the quarterbacks, it's an adjustment to the team and the players around them," he told reporters.

He did say he's in favor of a larger College Football Playoff, however. Way bigger. 

"I think 12 teams is a huge step in the right direction," he said. "I personally would like to see 64, and you could format it out pretty easily, but I think it's a huge step in the right direction, and I look forward to it."

Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M closed out the day, though the most interesting facet of their time was a report that broke Wednesday that Texas and Oklahoma are considering a move to the SEC, per Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle

Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork didn't seem keen on that change happening:

Ross Dellenger @RossDellenger

Ross Bjork says he was unaware of Texas/OU interest in joining the SEC. SEC ADs have not discussed the issue, he says.<br><br>It's clear where the Aggies stand.<br><br>"There’s a reason why Texas A&amp;M left the Big 12 - to be stand alone &amp; have our own identity. That’s our feeling," he says.

Paul Finebaum @finebaum

"Be careful what you ask for if you jump in this league..." <br><br>-Jimbo Fisher with some early reaction to reports that Texas &amp; Oklahoma could be looking to join the SEC <a href="https://t.co/5AWij40jO4">pic.twitter.com/5AWij40jO4</a>

College football realignment seems to be a topic that roars to the forefront every few years. Bjork and Texas A&M will be rooting against the Longhorns rejoining their neighborhood, however. 

Fisher, who formerly coached at Florida State, also spoke on legendary FSU Hall of Famer Bobby Bowden's announcement that he's been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, telling reporters Bowden meant everything to him.

"He's not only one the greatest coaches but one of the greatest human beings who's ever lived," he said.