ATLANTA ( Associated Press) — Mississippi coach Len Kiffin gave a strong indication that he and other SEC coaches who were former assistants to Alabama coach Nick Saban’s staff, including Georgia coach Kirby Smart, may be tired of questions about their former boss. Huh.
Kiffin smiled at his first question at the Southeastern Conference Media Days on Monday and asked him to recall Saban’s philosophy on trick plays.
“Well, Kirby Smart used to say that sometimes you come here and just talk about Alabama,” Kiffin said. “So our first question is about Nick Saban somehow, so… it’s pretty normal.”
Kiffin smiled before Saban liked the trick plays—but only when he worked.
Oysters for Crawfish and Kelly
New LSU coach Brian Kelly was bold enough to sample the Louisiana accent when he was hired on a 10-year deal in November.
In her first appearance at SEC Media Days, Kelly was asked to use her best Cajun accent when talking about her favorite Louisiana food. This time he postponed.
Kelly, a Massachusetts native and former Notre Dame coach, said his pronunciation is complicated.
“Get it now, I have a Boston, Midwestern, Louisiana accent now,” Kelly said. “It’s three bids in one. It’s not family anymore, I have all kinds of things to throw at you. Just be prepared.”
Kelly listed two new favorite foods.
“The best? You know, it’s probably crawfish etouffee,” he said. “I don’t know how you top it. I would even say grilled oysters. If you haven’t eaten grilled oysters, try this one. This will make your cholesterol level very high very quickly. It’s pretty good too.”
Missouri coach Elia Drinkwitz said she favors renewing the rivalry with Texas and Oklahoma when those schools join the SEC in 2025.
“I’m all for it,” said Drinkewitz. “I think I said here earlier that I think the beauty of college football is our rivalry. I think it’s the sport’s shared traditions and spectacle.
“I think we have to be careful not to miss it or lose it in our quest for better TV contracts or better TV performance. We’re going to lose the basis of who we are.”
No. 1st State – In Baseball
Football is still king in the state of Mississippi, but baseball events have also been a hot topic.
Ole Miss won the College World Series title in June, a year after rival Mississippi State achieved the same feat. So college baseball was a topic the Rebel players were happy to talk about.
“I think it was great for the state of Mississippi that we could do that too,” said Ole Miss offensive lineman Nick Broker.
And in the aftermath of the title, broker and defensive lineman Cedric Johnson said the celebration was worth watching.
“Oxford was crazy. I’ve never seen Oxford like that,” said Broker. “Everywhere was just slammed. Every restaurant. Everything. It was incredible how everyone really came together. It was fantastic to see.”
Johnson added: “You could feel the energy. It was just crazy. Everyone on social media, just the whole campus, you could just feel it. Just the energy spreading to everybody.”
Transfer Effect QB Competitions
The first three teams to come in the media days have a transfer portal-influenced quarterback battle going on.
Not at all an unusual story these days.
In Mississippi, USC transfer Jackson Dart is vying to replace standout quarterback Matt Coral with Luke Altmaier, the third-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in this year’s NFL Draft.
Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels has joined the quarterback competition at LSU. Daniels is vying for a job with Miles Brennan and Garrett Nussmeyer.
Brennan missed last season with a broken hand. Max Johnson, a 33-game starter, transferred to SEC West rival Texas A&M.
Former Missouri starter Conor Bazelek was transferred to Indiana. Coach Elia Drinkwitz brought on former Southern Miss starter Jack Abrahams, who had spent the previous season at Mississippi State but did not play due to injury. Brady Cook and Tyler Macon are returning.
Obviously no coach is extending his hand as a current front-runner. Kelly summarizes what he’s looking for from what emerges.
“Number 1, he has to take care of football,” Kelly said. “Number 2, he has to get the ball to the playmakers. I have playmakers on offense that are already there. Number 3, they have to pretend.
“To make a final decision on who that quarterback is, he has to hit those three notes. I think all these guys can do that. We have to put him in that position so we can evaluate him.”
Associated Press Sports writer John Genor contributed to this report.
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