SEC Media Days 2018: Highlights, Comments and Twitter Reaction from Tuesday

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2018

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks during Southeastern Conference Media Days Tuesday, July 17, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

Day 2 of SEC media days took place on Tuesday, with Georgia, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Florida all taking the stage.

First, however, was SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw, who led off the proceedings on Tuesday by going over several rules changes for 2018. Most notably, kick returners can now wave for a fair catch on kicks behind the 25-yard-line and, like a touchback, that team will get the ball on the 25.

"So this is an opportunity where if there's a sky kick into the corner or whatever, the receiving team—before they had to run it back; now they can opt to take what looks like a touchback if they complete a fair catch, take the ball on the 25," Shaw said, per Jake Rili of Saturday Down South.

Other interesting changes include blocks below the waist after five yards being outlawed and 10-second runoffs being added following replay reviews unless a timeout is called. 

Up next was Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, who unsurprisingly was asked how the team was moving on after a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in last season's national championship game. 

"Everyone wants to talk about that question," he said, per Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com. "It's not like I have nightmares about it, no. I think we grow from it. The entire season was a learning experience, a confidence builder."

He added: "I don't think you look back on it like a horror story. You take it and go. We don't have time in our business. Literally, right after the game we're on the road recruiting two days later, in someone's home trying to convince them to come."

As for the team's quarterback duo of Jake Fromm and Justin Fields, it appears Fromm will remain the starter but Fields will play a role.

"He's taken on the second team role quickly, and I'm excited about the things he’s done," Smart said of Fields, per Mike Griffith of DawgNation.com. "He gives us an element in our offense that we don't have. Excited to see what he can do."

He added: "[Fields'] going to come in and compete very similar to the way Jake Fromm came in and competed with [Jacob Eason last season]. He's coming in to compete and learn our system. He's made the players around him better. He's embraced the challenge of learning the offense, and he's a very bright young man."

Smart also wasn't upset with Fromm, who had two off-field accidents this offseason, including getting a fishing hook stuck in his leg and breaking his non-throwing hand in a boating accident:

Brandon Sudge @brandonsudge

Kirby Smart on Jake Fromm’s wakeboarding incident: “I like that he’s out there doing that. It means he’s not sitting at home playing Fortnite.”

Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke, meanwhile, spoke about moving away from the Huge Freeze era, which left the school mired in NCAA sanctions that will keep the Rebels ineligible for a bowl this season. 

"I think we've moved out from underneath that cloud and we've continued to battle," he said, per That's why the end of last season was so important, to really build that momentum, to still be able to sign a (top 30) recruiting class and go into the spring with a good taste in your mouth."

"I think all of the experiences these young men have been through has really brought them together," he continued. "It can do one of two things, it can push you apart or bring you together. In our case, I really felt like we came together as a team."

For new Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, Tuesday's SEC media days were his first. And a common theme emerged during them—Morris wants to rebuild the Razorbacks into a winner.

"Arkansas football has had a storied past," he said, per Souichi Terada of the Tennessean. "We're going to work daily to build on and restore the traditions for the Razorbacks of the past, the Razorbacks of the present, and the Razorbacks of the future."

And while the SEC is stacked, Morris is only focused on Arkansas.

"Right now, I would say our biggest rival is the Arkansas Razorbacks," he noted. "And that's been my mindset pushing forward each and every day. We talk about the team right now that is capable of defeating us are ourselves."

Another new head coach, Florida's Dan Mullen, says he wants to see Florida football regain the fun. 

"The players need to enjoy playing for Florida. The fans want to see points, they want to see wins," Mullen said, per Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com. "And they want to see consistency. ... In the last four years, Florida's had two four-win seasons and played for two SEC championships. That's a roller coaster, so I think the fun has to get into everybody getting back on the same page."

He also gave a shoutout to the program's fans.

"If the energy in 'The Swamp' gets going, the Gators are hard to beat," he said. "If the energy in 'The Swamp' gets down, no one's having fun. The players aren't, the fans aren't, and it just drains."

Mullen also showed off a pair of new kicks, among his other notable moments from the day:

Paul Myerberg @PaulMyerberg

Dan Mullen’s shoes https://t.co/0UeG93kS4T

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

Dan Mullen on his first year at Mississippi State: “I came in like a bull in a china shop. I was somewhat of a control freak. I had to have my hand on every single detail of every aspect of the program.”

Pat Forde @YahooForde

Dan Mullen says Georgia-Florida is a healthy rivalry. Said some other rivalries are unhealthy. The thought bubble over his head read, "Egg Bowl."

And of course, there were more than a few cliches thrown about and some reporters slip-ups interspersed throughout the day:

Pat Forde @YahooForde

Few things provide a greater sense of place than hearing SEC football coaches speak with conviction about the need to stop the run and/or run the ball. Timeless July rhetoric.

Jason Butt @JasonHButt

A reporter just asked Kirby about his deep QB room of Eason, Fromm and Fields. I guess the newspaper didn't land on his doorstep on a certain day earlier this year.

For clarity, Jacob Eason transferred to Washington this offseason.