HOOVER, Ala. -- New commissioner Greg Sankey steered into uncharted waters during his state of the SEC speech, the welcome-to-college-football conversation that annually kicks off SEC Media Days.
While the normally reserved former commissioner Mike Slive typically took to historic war figures as quotes to hammer home points of emphasis, Sankey echoed Bob Dylan.
“The times, they are a changing,” Sankey said Monday.
Had he been able to access or include a YouTube video of U2 into his presentation, he joked he would have done that, too.
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Times are changing in the SEC. For the first time since 1990, someone other than Slive or Ron Kramer opened SEC Media Days. Even though live video has been banned for media members in attendance, Sankey strolled into the building while maintaining a live Periscope chat. He also hyped his Twitter account during his opening remarks and even branded his Twitter avatar with an SEC logo.
This isn’t just SEC Media Days 2.0. It’s bigger, brighter and ready to pipe into every living room in the country via the SEC Network, which had a TV set constructed in the main media room, also a first for an SEC Media Days event.
Between barbs at conference commissioners from other areas of the country (Sankey is opposed freshman ineligibility, Jim Delany), Sankey bragged about former SEC athletes who had recently returned to school for education purposes and announced a previously unwritten expectation that championship banners in the SEC should never be taken down.
The SEC was kept out of college football’s title game last season, and that didn’t sit well with Sankey.
SLOW STEPS AHEAD
New Gators head coach Jim McElwain warned the Florida fans that success in the SEC doesn’t come easily.
“I think part of the experience of being in this conference is realizing it doesn’t happen just overnight,” said McElwain, who has been on the job in Gainesville since early December and previously was an assistant at Alabama before taking over Colorado State’s program. “It’s something that we know.”
Florida finished third in the SEC East last season at 4-4 and went 7-5 overall. Georgia might be the front-runner for 2015 as expectations go, but Florida could land anywhere from second to fifth, depending on which prognosticator is asked. Expect the Gators, once again, to try to impose their will on defense but have success on offense based on their line.
The defensive line should be fine, but not one single offensive line starter from last season returned to the Gators. There will be lots of competition come fall camp.
“It all starts up front, on both sides of the ball,” McElwain said on success in 2015.
BIG TEN SHOTS
It was impossible Monday for any head coach to talk to the media without having to answer questions about satellite camps. These camps allow coaches from around college football (except the SEC, which doesn’t allow its coaches to participate) to travel around the country and work as guest instructors at other institutions.
Jim Harbaugh, the first-year head coach at Michigan, and Penn State head coach (and former Vanderbilt head coach) James Franklin did their best to bring the issue of satellite camps to the tip of everyone’s tongue this offseason.
The SEC doesn’t allow its coaches to travel farther than 50 miles to participate in camps off campus. So the conference has asked the NCAA to disallow the practice entirely. Even though the practice hasn’t been halted, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn tempered his distress.
“The chances of a team up North coming into our state and taking a player that us or Alabama wants are slim to none,” Malzahn said.