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Five storylines to come out of SEC Media Days

SEC Media days is over and the final countdown to the college football season has begun. After the great Saban-Fisher war of 2022, expectations were high as to whether we would see any further fireworks at the annual confab. There weren’t. But that’s OK! There’s plenty to “tide” you over until the season kicks off in a few weeks. Here are the top five storylines to come out of SEC Media Days this year.

AUBURN: Does Harsin now have control of the program?
On the podcast, we’ve been a little down about Auburn’s chances under Bryan Harsin. Our Auburn season preview was admittedly an over correction for our pessimism on the show. However, Harsin showed his strongest hand at SEC media days and looks to be winning back players and fans.

When a coach survives the kind of coup attempt Harsin did this offseason, another ouster doesn’t usually happen. If you come at the king first-year head coach, you better kill him. That didn’t happen.

But these are Auburn boosters we’re talking about. When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

GEORGIA: Can they do it again?
Kirby Smart and his bulldogs lost a historic number of top flight players to the NFL Draft this year. This will be another pivotal year for both, because Lord knows you can’t win only one championship these days and be considered an elite coach or program.

The answer is yes, they can do it again. Kirby looks laser-focused on the season ahead, deftly deflecting questions asking him to confirm all of the bad things Jimbo had to say about Saban at SEC Media Days.

Repeating won’t be easy, but Smart is the highest-paid coach in the country for a reason. .

ALABAMA & TEXAS A&M: Fine. We’ll talk about it.
Fireworks, there weren’t. Jimbo’s tough guy act from his bizarre May press conference had all but disappeared at SEC Media Days. Explaining the respect he had for Saban multiple times, Fisher also had to answer for this video that surfaced, confirming the Alabama coach’s initial remarks.

When it was Saban’s time at the podium, reporters asked him a grand total of zero questions on the topic. No courage in journalism, even in sports, means no fun for the rest of us.

The steam has dissipated on the spat between the two coaches. But you can bet it will be the main storyline Oct. 8 when Texas A&M visits Tuscaloosa. Even though the Aggies will probably already have two losses.

A bonus storyline: Jimbo Fisher may have leaked SEC realignment.

THE ENTIRE SEC: An embarrassment of riches.
It just means more. The “S-E-C” chants. It’s hard to be humble when you’re from Alabama, and it’s even tougher when you’re an SEC fan. We’re the best and there’s a lot of highway between us and the rest. Looking at the headline guests at SEC Media Days, it’s clear that’s only going to get more evident this year.

Our coaches? Nick Saban. Kirby Smart. Lane Kiffin. Brian Kelly. Sure, we’ve been down on Jimbo Fisher plenty of times, but he has a championship under his belt.

Rising stars? We got ’em. Billy Napier. Shane Beamer. Josh Heupel. All of them could turn their programs around in a couple of years. Heck, we even have an old punching bag in the shape of a clown down in Starkville. This SEC coaching crop has it all.

We won’t spill ink on every single position, but SEC players are poised for breakout years across the board. Watch lists for the Heisman on down are again dominated by the SEC. Even though the Heisman committee is biased against defensive players, could we see Alabama linebacker Will Anderson take home the trophy?

Probably not, but we can dream.

We’ve written extensively about name, image and likeness deals in this column. Thank you for not firing us, 256today.com.

We know the NIL system is here to stay. School administrators and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey himself are already lining up how the system needs to be regulated in the coming years. Sankey has turned to Congress to start the conversation on a nationwide regulatory system rather than a patchwork of state laws. Insert joke here.

Mississippi Head Coach Lane Kiffin supported the idea of a salary cap system for student athletes, which would certainly level the playing field. LSU’s Brian Kelly advocated for more educational programs for players and their parents. No other coaches specifically railed against the NIL system.

It’s clear SEC coaches and front office leadership are all on the same page to strengthen the way NIL deals are crafted moving forward. Especially if they get a piece of the pie.

This week’s episode of Throw The Flag Sports covers SEC Media Days, Deshaun Watson’s suspension, and the Juan Soto trade.

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