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

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2018

NCAA college football head coach Nick Saban of Alabama speaks during the Southeastern Conference Media Days Wednesday, July 18, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

SEC media days continued on Wednesday, with Mississippi State, Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri heading to the podium. 

And no, Nick Saban didn't clear up Alabama's quarterback controversy. Were you expecting any different? 

In fact, Saban anticipated the incoming questions about Alabama's quarterback battle. Saban was the one who decided, after all, to switch quarterbacks in the middle of the national championship game, benching Jalen Hurts in favor of Tua Tagovailoa. That move proved brilliant, as Tagovailoa led the Crimson Tide to yet another title. 

But with a quarterback controversy brewing, Saban found a way to blame the media for the curiosity surrounding the position, per Andrew Lopez of NOLA.com:

"And I think the number one thing that you will want to talk about is the quarterback controversy that you'd love to create, that you've already created, that you will continue to create, and I will tell you the same thing exists there.

"It's still to be determined as to who is going to play quarterback for Alabama. So you can ask all of the questions about it, but it's still to be determined. ... So, some of your questions, when you ask me about that, I'm going to say: We'll see. So don't get mad at me."

It was all just classic Saban:

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

I mean, you pulled your starting quarterback in the title game, and his high-profile star backup came in and dominated. It’s not like this question was exactly created out of nowhere. https://t.co/Lz223mUIUQ

Barrett Sallee @BarrettSallee

I love Media Days Saban. Has a plan, sticks to it, sells it and drops the mic.

Barrett Sallee @BarrettSallee

Exchange one topic here and there, and Saban's trips to the big room at SEC Media Days are all the same. It's not an accident, either.

Saban also noted that he doesn't plan on leaving coaching anytime soon:

Charlie Potter @Charlie_Potter

Saban asked if he will coach to age 70: "Let me say this, Miss Terry does not want me at home. She doesn't care if I'm 60, 70 or 80."

The day opened with Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, who splashed cold water on the idea of expanding the format to include more teams:

Matt Baker @MBakerTBTimes

CFP head honcho Bill Hancock: 'There is no talk about expansion among the university presidents and the conference commissioners who sit on our boards. The CFP works. It works well. '

Bill Bender @BillBender92

Bill Hancock asked about UCF: "Play a good schedule, win your games and you're going to be in the hunt."

UCF got a warmer message from Saban, of all people.

"Look, I have [a] tremendous amount of compassion for UCF and what they accomplished this year in going undefeated," Saban said, per Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. "We've only had one team that's gone undefeated and won the national championship, and that was in 2009. And that is very, very, very difficult to do for anyone. And I have a tremendous amount of respect for the players."

Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead opened the pressers for the coaches, and he established pretty quickly that the Bulldogs have major aspirations for 2018.

"Hopefully when things go well we'll be back here in Atlanta the first weekend in December competing for the conference championship, and certainly the opportunity to head into the College Football Playoff," he said, per Brody Miller of NOLA.com.

Mississippi State was 9-4 last season, though just 4-4 in the SEC. But Moorhead is gunning for a major leap forward.

"Our goal is to be the best Power Five team in the state, to be the best team in the SEC conference, and ultimately compete to be the best team in the country," he said.

He also has big expectations for quarterback Nick Fitzgerald:

Brandon Zimmerman @BZSEC

Nick Fitzgerald said Joe Moorhead texted him when accepted the head coaching job. “He said ‘I want you to clear off a spot on your mantle for the Heisman Trophy and I want you to know what your ring size is. You’re going to need it.’” https://t.co/tnXTxZEQFx

As for adjusting to life in Mississippi, the Pittsburgh native said he's still getting used to walking out the door and "being smacked in the face with humidity" and to having "everything wrapped in bacon," per the Associated Press.

There are definitely worse things in life than everything being wrapped in bacon.

Up next was Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, who was left to address the comments of former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who said Pruitt didn't have the personality of a head coach or the ability to manage the many responsibilities of the position during a radio interview on 102.5 The Game (h/t Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports).

Murray also said that Pruitt didn't treat former Georgia head coach Mark Richt well while he served as his defensive coordinator. Interestingly, Murray and Pruitt never overlapped at Georgia, with the former at the school between 2010-13 and the latter with the Bulldogs between 2014-15.

Pruitt took the diplomatic approach in his response.

"First of all, I hadn't exactly heard what it was. I don't really know Aaron. I have a lot of respect for what kind of player he was. Coached against him," he said. "I look at it like this: 15 years ago I was a kindergarten teacher. You probably don't make that ascension unless you know how to treat people."

As for his new job at Tennessee, Pruitt is bringing a new, more businesslike culture to the Volunteers.

"He came in and brought discipline, toughness and we hold ourselves accountable for our actions," wide receiver Marquez Callaway said, per Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports. "From the top down, the coaches know what they're doing. That focus goes all the way to us when we prepare."

After serving two years under Saban at Alabama, Pruitt probably gleaned a few things. On Wednesday, however, it seemed he avoided mimicking Saban's innate ability to deal with the media in, shall we say, a prickly manner. 

SEC Mike @MichaelWBratton

Paul Finebaum on Pruitt's SEC Media Days debut: "Jeremy Pruitt killed it in this room... He was brilliant."

The day concluded with Missouri and head coach Barry Odom, who had some jokes:

Brett Hudson @Brett_Hudson

Barry Odom says he had some custom Jordans made but that was already done (by Dan Mullen) so he left them at home.

SEC Mike @MichaelWBratton

Barry Odom just made fun of Dan Mullen and his custom Nikes. I think that's the first joke the Mizzou coach has ever attempted

Aaron Reiss @aaronjreiss

Barry Odom was asked about Florida's CeCe Jefferson's comment about #Mizzou's underwhelming home environment: “I think the score was 45-16. I thought our fanbase was pretty good that day, supported the winning team."

He also revealed he'd be turning over play-calling duties on defense:

Dave Matter @Dave_Matter

Here’s some news: Barry Odom will turn play-calling over to defensive coordinator Ryan Walters this season. He says it was a really hard decision but it’ll free him up on Saturdays to help in other areas.

SEC media days come to a close on Thursday with Auburn, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. 

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