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

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 22, 2021

AP Photo/Butch Dill

SEC Media Days completed its final session Thursday with Missouri's Eli Drinkwitz, Arkansas' Sam Pittman and Auburn's Bryan Harsin taking the podium.

These coaches have less experience and limited name recognition compared to others in the conference, but they are also expecting big things from their teams in 2021. They all also came through with notable quotes throughout the day.

Drinkwitz proved to be among the most entertaining coaches of the week with some comical lines:

Rob Fischer @thefishnation

.<a href="https://twitter.com/MizzouFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MizzouFootball</a> Coach Eli Drinkwitz has got jokes!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SECMD21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SECMD21</a> coverage all week on <a href="https://twitter.com/grindcitymedia?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@grindcitymedia</a> <a href="https://t.co/HL9QOPvgx9">pic.twitter.com/HL9QOPvgx9</a>

Dave Matter @Dave_Matter

Drinkwitz asked if Oklahoma can become Mizzou's new rival: "I kinda like the rivalry we have with Arkansas. I can't remember the last time they beat us. Crud, I think we'll keep that one right now."

Anthony Dasher @AnthonyDasher1

Eli Drinkwitz just threw this out there, "Twitter's not real, just so we're all on the same page." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SECMD21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SECMD21</a>

Ben Frederickson @Ben_Fred

Drinkwitz on Florida’s trip to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mizzou?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mizzou</a>: “I’m praying for snow. Dan (Mullen) is going to complain about everything anyway.” <br><br>And then he thanks Shane Beamer for informing the world South Carolina is going to throw to his tight ends a bunch this season. Said Tigers will be ready.

Andrew Kauffman @AndrewABC17

Watch: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mizzou?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mizzou</a> football coach Eli Drinkwitz is thriving at SEC Media Days. He is built for this, but he says he's always careful not to say anything too out there that might get him fined. 😂<br><br>"I'm what they call new money." <a href="https://t.co/AmQ0ok8POh">pic.twitter.com/AmQ0ok8POh</a>

Drinkwitz is heading into his second year with Missouri after finishing 5-5 last season. With media days canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the coach's first year in the spotlight, and he took advantage.

The 38-year-old also discussed serious topics Thursday, notably his encouragement for players and staff to get vaccinated:

Eric Blum @ByEricBlum

Drinkwitz con’t on COVID — “Well, it's been seven months since I've been vaccinated and I'm doing okay, I haven't lost any more hair than coaching the SEC schedule. So, we are doing everything we can to gain competitive advantage and endorse getting the vaccine.”

Dave Matter @Dave_Matter

Drinkwitz told local reporters his staff is 95 % vaccinated and he's very confident players will be at the 85% SEC threshold by the start of preseason camp.

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This comes amid fellow SEC coach Mike Leach refusing to answer whether he received a vaccine. 

Drinkwitz hopes his approach could lead to a successful 2021 season.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman was more serious in front of the microphone, discussing his expectations for his players going into the year:

Rob Fischer @thefishnation

If <a href="https://twitter.com/RazorbackFB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RazorbackFB</a> takes on the mindset of the head coach, what will their mindset be? Sam Pittman answers.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SECMD21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SECMD21</a> coverage on <a href="https://twitter.com/grindcitymedia?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@grindcitymedia</a> <a href="https://t.co/IQFQW3R2no">pic.twitter.com/IQFQW3R2no</a>

"The only way you have a chance to win is to play hard," Pittman said.

The Razorbacks went 3-7 in Pittman's first year with the team, but he is expecting improvements in 2021, especially defensively after giving up 34.9 points per game last season.

Another interesting topic Pittman discussed was the transfer portal, noting he won't let players return to the team:

Tera Talmadge @TeraTalmadge

“There’s a lot of players in the transfer portal without a scholarship now. And if you enter the portal at Arkansas, you’re surely not transferring back in.” - Sam Pittman

The transfer portal is meant for players to simply consider their options, but the Arkansas coach clearly believes it's a done deal. This approach comes despite the team bringing in six transfers from other teams this offseason, per 247Sports, including two from other SEC schools.

Media day was also a big moment for Bryan Harsin as he introduced himself to Auburn fans. The coach is going into his first season after coming over from Boise State.

Based on his opening statement, he appears ready to take part in all the Tigers culture:

Justin Lee @ByJustinLee

Bryan Harsin is playing all the hits. Says he's excited for Tiger Walk and excited to see Toomer's Corner rolled.

SEC Mike @MichaelWBratton

Bryan Harsin excited to lead Auburn's program: <br><br>"I want to go toilet paper trees."

Nathan King @NathanKing247

Bryan Harsin said he got to experience Jordan-Hare Stadium's home-field advantage "in a bad way" when his Arkansas State team lost 38-9 in 2013.

Harsin also spoke at length about new rules regarding name, image and likeness rights, hoping to prepare players for what's ahead:

Rob Fischer @thefishnation

.<a href="https://twitter.com/AuburnFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AuburnFootball</a> Coach Bryan Harsin talks NIL<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SECMD21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SECMD21</a> coverage on <a href="https://twitter.com/grindcitymedia?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@grindcitymedia</a> <a href="https://t.co/w8FUMrizNf">pic.twitter.com/w8FUMrizNf</a>

Justin Ferguson @JFergusonAU

Auburn HC Bryan Harsin on NIL from earlier: "I've got no problem with guys making some extra money, because it's very hard to go out there and have a job right now, just with the schedule and some of things that we ask our guys to do. Hey, post a picture, make some money. Great."

Scott Rabalais @RabalaisAdv

Harsin on educating players about taxes on NIL income.<br>Players: "Taxes? What's that?"<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SECMD21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SECMD21</a>

There are clear positives with players making money, but Harsin wants to ensure they are ready for everything.

The coach, obviously, also discussed on-field expectations and appeared ready for the pressure of working at Auburn:

Rob Fischer @thefishnation

Bryan Harsin knows what he’s getting into by being the head coach at <a href="https://twitter.com/AuburnFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AuburnFootball</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SECMediaDays?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SECMediaDays</a> coverage all week on <a href="https://twitter.com/grindcitymedia?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@grindcitymedia</a> <a href="https://t.co/J3HJQO70s2">pic.twitter.com/J3HJQO70s2</a>

Jordan D. Hill @JordanDavisHill

Harsin: "You better believe you can win ... When we go out there and play on Sept. 4, I want our fans and everyone who tunes into our game to see a disciplined team, a tough team and a team that believes it can win every time it steps on the field"

Gus Malzahn never had a losing season in his eight years at Auburn, but the program still expects more. Harsin will hope to lead the squad back to national title contention.

The upcoming season won't be easy for any of these three teams, especially with the bright spotlight of the SEC. It still seems like the coaches will be ready for whatever comes their way.

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