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2021 SEC Media Days takeaways: Nick Saban takes center stage, coaches advocate for CFP expansion

SEC Media Days dominates the school soccer panorama for 4 days every July — except, you already know, it has been canceled by a pandemic — however when the Nick Saban takes the rostrum, the thrill accelerates to a different stage. That was the case once more Wednesday, when Alabama’s legendary coach took his flip on the microphone on the heels of his seventh nationwide championship to spotlight the occasion’s third day.

Whereas Texas and Oklahoma’s reported curiosity in joining the SEC generated main buzz within the afternoon, there have been loads of different highlights from one other day of the speaking marathon. Along with Saban, there have been a few first-timers taking middle stage on the occasion in Vanderbilt’s Clark Lea and Mississippi State’s Mike Leach, together with one other heavyweight in Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher.

From extra speak about college football‘s evolving panorama to particular on-field questions, there may be a lot to recap from the motion. Let’s get to the most important takeaways from the Wednesday storylines at SEC Media Days.

Alabama, Georgia in good condition on vaccination threshold

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey mentioned Monday that six of the league’s 14 groups have been above an 80% COVID-19 vaccination fee, which is important as a result of as soon as groups attain 85%, they’re going to now not be re required to check often. With the league not planning to reschedule video games which are disrupted because of COVID-19 problems, groups that may hit the 85% threshold may find yourself with a aggressive benefit by avoiding potential forfeits associated to virus points.

It needs to be no shock, then, that the league’s two favorites are amongst these with the very best vaccination charges. Saban mentioned he thinks Alabama is “fairly shut” to a 90% vaccination fee simply at some point after Georgia coach Kirby Good mentioned the Bulldogs are above the 85% mark.

“I am hopeful that extra gamers make that call, however it’s their choice,” Saban mentioned.

Saban, after all, missed Alabama’s victory over arch-rival Auburn final season after testing constructive for COVID-19 previous to the provision of a vaccine. Then-offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian took an elevated position for the sport, which the Crimson Tide gained 42-13.

“How does the private alternative and choice you make have an effect on the crew?” Saban mentioned earlier than noting how COVID-19 points disadvantaged the NC State baseball program of an opportunity to proceed on the Faculty World Collection final month. “There’s been a pair examples right here in baseball now which have had an enormous impact and influence on groups.”

However Saban reiterated that he is allowed medical doctors to offer “kind of lectures” concerning the vaccine as they make what he known as a “private choice.”

Jimbo Fisher has ‘no regrets’ about Alabama remark

Fisher injected some life into the offseason information cycle when a remark he made to the Landing Membership of Houston in Might about beating Alabama coach Nick Saban’s *butt* made the rounds in a playful however eye-catching means.

“I haven’t got any regrets. That is what we’re right here for, is not it? Is not that why everyone’s right here?” Fisher mentioned. “That is what makes this league this league. That is what we anticipate to do at Texas A&M. In saying all that — Nick and I are pals. We have recognized one another a very long time. We coached collectively. We’re from the identical world, if that makes any sense. I’ve the utmost respect for what he is accomplished and what he is completed. He is the usual, and the usual is what it’s a must to play to.”

Fisher is amongst an extended line of Saban’s former assistants who’ve tried and failed to this point to knock off their former boss. Final 12 months, a loss to Alabama price Texas A&M a spot within the Faculty Soccer Playoff.

Regardless of surviving the gauntlet of an SEC-only schedule with only one loss final season in opposition to the eventual nationwide champions, Texas A&M discovered itself on the surface trying in when the CFP introduced its four-team area. The Aggies nonetheless took benefit of a pleasant postseason alternative by beating North Carolina within the Orange Bowl, however Fisher made it clear he believed the Aggies belong within the playoff.

Texas A&M would have simply made a 12-team area, although, and Fisher encamped himself among the many most vocal supporters of the potential for enlargement throughout his Wednesday look.

“I am all for it,” Fisher mentioned. “I believe it’s a necessity. I believe it is wanted. And never simply because we completed fifth, however I believe — this is the purpose I need you to ask. Title me a sport in any collegiate stage that, that apart from the highest 5 conferences, that are about 60 groups, the place the opposite 60 groups don’t have any probability to win the nationwide championship. There’s not a sport in our world that that’s not — that may’t occur.”

Mike Leach REALLY likes CFP enlargement

Leach is thought for his off-the-wall rants about pirates, mascots and historic occasions, however he is received an unorthodox tackle considered one of school soccer’s sizzling matters as properly. Whereas most coaches look like comparatively accepting of potential Faculty Soccer Playoff enlargement to 12 groups — with a couple of exceptions akin to Clemson’s Dabo Swinney — Leach thinks tripling the CFP’s present four-team ought to solely be the beginning.

“It is by no means sufficient,” Leach mentioned. I will inform you, Dr. (Mark) Keenum, our president, is on that committee, so I do know they’re in good palms. I believe that half is excellent. I believe 12 groups is a big step in the correct path. I personally wish to see 64, and you possibly can format it out fairly simply. However I believe it is an enormous step in the correct path, and I stay up for it.”

Whereas Leach primarily stayed on subject and averted the epic diatribes for which he’s recognized, he did sneak in a few basic Leach moments throughout his debut at SEC Media Days. For one factor, he skipped a gap assertion on the podium, forgoing the chance that almost all coaches appear to make use of for a slate of canned speaking factors pumping up the virtuousness of their applications. That left extra time for questions, and considered one of them centered on his flirtation with Tennessee because the Volunteers looked for a brand new coach in 2017 following the dismissal of Butch Jones.

“I talked to Tennessee, however that factor by no means — properly nothing ever received nailed down,” Leach mentioned. “Then, fairly quickly, they’d coup d’etat there. You guys can kind that amongst yourselves, however that is fairly well-documented. So, yeah, I did not find yourself in the course of the coup, fortunate for me.”

New power at Vanderbilt

First-year Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea faces a steep climb as he takes over a program that struggled to an 0-9 file throughout final season’s SEC-only slate. Although predecessor Derek Mason took the Commodores to a pair of bowl appearances in his seven seasons, it has been eight years since Vanderbilt final completed with a profitable file, because the consecutive nine-win campaigns of 2012 and 2013 underneath James Franklin fade additional into the rearview mirror.

Over that span, the standard of athletic services has continued to extend within the league as universities have invested in lavish upgrades to assist entice high expertise. Vanderbilt, nonetheless, has lagged behind in that arms race. Fortunately for Lea, a former Vanderbilt fullback who’s arriving from his prior submit as defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, the Commodores have some massive upgrades on deck. This spring, the college introduced plans to spend $300 million to improve athletic services, and Lea is starting to see the dividends.

“It definitely has an influence, and it’ll proceed to have an effect,” Lea mentioned. “I believe as that quantity turns into conceptualized in diagrams and people are launched and as shovels hit the bottom, I believe we’ll proceed to see a constructive influence in recruiting.”

In fact, recruiting will nonetheless be a singular expertise for Lea at Vanderbilt, the place admissions requirements are lofty and elite teachers require a dedication from athletes that makes the college distinctive amongst its SEC friends. However as a former Vanderbilt participant, he’s uniquely geared up to make that pitch.

“I leap in with an accelerated perspective,” Lea mentioned. “I do know the intricacies of what this system is about, the way it suits in our college, what the recruiting profile ought to appear to be and the place the assets are. So for me, it is seizing the chance we’ve got to construct one thing completely different to offer this program probability to be at its potential.”

https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/information/2021-sec-media-days-takeaways-nick-saban-takes-center-stage-coaches-advocate-for-cfp-expansion/ | 2021 SEC Media Days takeaways: Nick Saban takes middle stage, coaches advocate for CFP enlargement

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