SEC Media Days 2018: Highlights, Comments and Twitter Reaction from MondayJuly 16, 2018
SEC media days kicked off on Monday, the conference's annual week of press conferences, coachspeak and limited player availability. Monday's event began with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and a joke:
Of the topics Sankey addressed, the legalization of sports gambling around the country was of particular interest.
"Those involved in legalized gambling are the best at knowing what's happened," he said while speaking about how the SEC might monitor gambling, per Aaron Reiss of the Kansas City Star. "I think some of the state laws include expectations for communication around transparency. If there are oddities, I think that's one much those elements that we would encourage."
Sankey also spoke on a number of other topics before turning things over to the coaches:
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher was the first among the coaches to speak, and his departure from Florida State was a major point of conversation.
"I had no intentions leaving Florida State. I was very happy and very content there. As you know, life takes changes and decisions are made," Fisher said, per the Tallahassee Democrat. "Everyone there was wonderful to me and I have nothing but respect and admiration for what they do and wish them nothing but the best in the future. It's a tremendous place. It really is."
Fisher joined the Aggies on a 10-year, $75 million deal. And he brought his trademark, fast-paced speaking style with him:
Expectations are high for Texas A&M. National-championship-or-bust high. When he was asked about his timetable for winning a national championship, Fisher answered, "You have a timetable—your timetable is now," per George Schroeder of USA Today.
He added: "You want to win immediately and that's your place, but is that realistic? I don't know. Could it be? Yes. Could it not be? Yes. It's all about the process of putting things in place."
Fisher was also asked about Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, who was suspended three games by the NFL after a female Uber driver accused Winston of groping her. Fisher expressed his support of Winston, per Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times:
"I love Jameis. Hopefully he'll be able to move on, and obviously that is something that he will be able to move on from. And yes, I love him. I still think he's a tremendous young man. I really do.
"Unfortunately, he made some bad decisions this past season, or whenever he did it. I don't know exactly when that was. But I still love him. If you're ever around him, you'll understand what I mean. There's not a better team player, a guy who works as much as (anyone). But he made a mistake, and obviously he'll pay the consequences for that, and we'll move on."
After Fisher came Kentucky's Mark Stoops, who hammered home the idea of Kentucky taking the next step in 2018, per Eric Crawford of WDRB.com:
"We expect more. We've been close. We've done some good things. I'm proud of the work that we've done, that we look forward to making a big jump this year. We return some players with experience. We returned some talent. We returned some players that decided to forego the NFL and come back to do more, to play with a chip on their shoulder, to win some football games. We're tired of being close in some. We want to win and get over the hump."
He was also asked about Florida's infamous 31-game winning streak over Kentucky.
"My answer, first three or four years, I really wasn't concerned about it," Stoops said, per Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel. "I'm trying to build a culture at Kentucky and win games and get in position, but you do hear it. You can't hide from the elephant in the room. It's been a long time.
"We need to beat Florida, but we need to beat a lot of teams on our schedule."
Finally, LSU's Ed Orgeron took to the podium, and many of the questions were about his decision to fire offensive coordinator Matt Canada after just one season and replace him with Steve Ensminer.
"Circumstances were different when I got the job," Orgeron said, per Neal McCready of RebelGrove.com. "I went out and tried to get the best coordinator in the league, and possible for our football team, and it didn't work. And all the while I was saying: You know what? Steve Ensminger is the guy, and if I have a chance, I'm going to hire him.
"I have complete confidence in the direction that he's going to lead this offense. He and I are on the same page."
He also spoke about expanding the team's resources.
"We're more equipped to be able to compete in the SEC," Orgeron noted. "We have 10 analysts this year as opposed to five. We're giving our coaches more information, our players more information earlier in the week. So, yes, I feel more comfortable, and I love coaching at LSU."