ATLANTA — Even when SEC Media Days aren’t in Alabama, the Crimson Tide’s day at the podium still draws huge crowds.
Fans and media gathered at the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday to watch Alabama, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and South Carolina preview their seasons. Coaches and players discussed the normal slate of college football realignment talks, NIL deals and quarterback battles.
But Tuesday was also a showcase in the odd, confusing and controversial.
Here are some winners and losers from Tuesday’s events.
South Carolina coach Shane Beamer knows how to make an entrance. Before arriving at the College Football Hall of Fame, Beamer and South Carolina put out a hype video of Beamer dancing to Soulja Boy wearing a backwards hat, sunglasses and a suit while players shone their phone flashlights behind him.
Beamer started his press conference expressing sadness that he wasn’t introduced to Soulja Boy in Atlanta like he was on Twitter.
Speaking of dancing: Alabama safety Jordan Battle told media he wants to be a comedian when he’s done with football. Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson disagreed. Maybe Battle can be a comic, but he thinks his teammate’s real future would be as a professional dancer.
Loser: Fans hoping for feuds
A few months ago, the only topic anyone in the SEC wanted to talk about was the burgeoning feud between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher. But when Saban took the podium Tuesday, he dispatched any notions of lingering hostility between he and his former assistant.
“First of all, I have no issues or problems with Jimbo,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job at A&M and he did a great job for us. I always take criticisms or whatever in a positive way to self-assess me personally to feel like there is maybe something I can do better. Any comment that anyone makes , I always take into consideration. But there are no problems.”
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What’s the fun of talking season if coaches are going to be cordial and polite? Sure, no one expected Saban to come out on the offensive Tuesday. Nor was it a surprise when Battle and Anderson talked about “focusing on one day at a time” instead of circling the Texas A&M game on the calendar.
Fisher and his Aggies players will have their chance to spark the rivalry Thursday, but anyone hoping for fireworks on Tuesday unfortunately didn’t get them.
Winner: Vanderbilt QB Mike Wright
Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea announced junior quarterback Mike Wright as his starter Tuesday. Wright downplayed the significance of the role, saying it doesn’t change his attitude about having to prove himself every snap.
That’s true. But let’s not ignore the obvious. Of course being the starting quarterback matters. If it didn’t, we probably wouldn’t be talking about Vanderbilt’s personal battles in July.
Now Wright gets to take a head start on leading his team. Fellow junior Ken Seals and freshman AJ Swann are still available to compete at quarterback. But with Wright the leader in name, Vanderbilt can try to turn the corner and snap its 21-game SEC losing streak.
Netflix has had a bad year. Stock has been down about 70% this year. The streaming service is losing subscribers for the first time in more than a decade. But the digital giant obviously hasn’t lost Mississippi State coach Mike Leach as a subscriber yet.
Leach was asked his favorite Netflix shows and he rattled off nearly a half dozen series and documentaries, including “The Terminal List” and “Operation Odessa.” He’s halfway through the new season of “Stranger Things” and he’s caught up on “Better Call Saul” and “Yellowstone.”
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Then Leach solicited suggestions and was recommended Apple TV+ show “Severance” and a series about Pearl Harbor by various media members.
It might be a bad year for Netflix, but it was a good day for the brand’s awareness in Atlanta.
Loser: Opening statements
Lea’s opening statement in the main media room was 2,340 words long and spanned more than 17 minutes. Beamer followed with a 2,185-word opening statement that lasted more than 13 minutes.
Leach’s opening statement was five words long. He thanked SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and said “Any questions?”
When asked later why he doesn’t like opening statements, Leach was blunt.
“I hate opening statements,” Leach said. “I really don’t see the point of it. So as opposed to me sit there and think of some flowery opening statement, which I’ve done before, and then at the end of the opening statement a number of people ask questions that have already been addressed in my opening statement, I decided we’d just sort of cut out the middleman.”
Leach has his opinions. Beamer and Lea have programs to promote. But the juxtaposition of Leach’s approach against his other coaches put the entire concept of opening statements on notice.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: SEC Media Days winners and losers: Mike Leach makes Netflix picks