The 2016 SEC media days begin Monday and run through Thursday as numerous top college football players and coaching personalities provide fodder for fans and media with the buildup to the regular season beginning.
SEC Country released the schedule of coaches’ pressers months ago, and ESPN.com’s Greg Ostendorf recently posted the list of players who will make appearances. ESPNU will provide TV coverage for all four days, as will WatchESPN by way of live stream. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on Monday and 1 p.m. ET on all other days.
Below is a glance at the order in which coaches will appear before the media this week, along with the juiciest storylines surrounding them and their programs:
The Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama, serves as the venue for the media days.
Auburn’s Gus Malzahn will be the first head coach to speak, just as he was last year, but he’ll be facing a far different line of questioning this time around.
After guiding the Tigers to the national title game with a breakout 2013 campaign, Malzahn‘s team was expected to bounce back from a rebuilding 2014 of sorts this past season.
Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report illustrated how that panned out—and how difficult it is to live up to the label of SEC favorite:
Tigers quarterback Jeremy Johnson fell woefully short of the hype, though, as Auburn struggled to a 7-6 record and finished at the bottom of the SEC West. The defense didn’t click under new coordinator Will Muschamp either, and now Muschamp is at the helm in South Carolina.
Muschamp will be the last to speak among all coaches. He has big shoes to fill for predecessor Steve Spurrier in terms of building the Gamecocks and holding court with the media, an area where Spurrier excelled.
Like Spurrier, Muschamp was previously the head coach of the Florida Gators, albeit with far less success. The depth of the conference will make it a steep climb for Muschamp, but his enthusiastic style and defensive background may be just what South Carolina needs to rally and be competitive in 2016.
Plenty of intrigue is sandwiched between the bookends in Malzahn and Muschamp. Another defensive coordinator who left for a head job elsewhere is former Alabama play-caller Kirby Smart, who’ll kick off Tuesday and speak on the outlook for his Georgia program.
Smart’s first recruiting class ranks eighth overall in 247Sports’ composite rankings, which bodes well for the start of his tenure at his alma mater.
Also speaking on Tuesday will be Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, who lost two young, top-flight QBs to transfers in Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray. Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight is projected to start for the Aggies under center, so he and Sumlin should have some interesting things to say, even as his optimism has increased.
“I would say the perception right now about this program, based on what has happened since December, is drastically different,” said Sumlin in June, per USA Today‘s George Schroeder. “From a stability standpoint. From a talent-level standpoint. From every aspect.”
Talent at the QB position is generally lacking in the SEC at the moment, which is bound to amplify the attention around Knight, Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs and Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly.
Already an entertaining interview, LSU’s Les Miles almost lost his job last year, making his Thursday session more compelling than usual. He’ll be accompanied by superstar running back Leonard Fournette, who had a breakout sophomore year with 1,953 yards rushing and 22 scores.
It almost goes without saying the architect of Alabama’s powerhouse, Nick Saban, is another boss to watch.
Although he’ll likely espouse about “The Process” and maintain a rather even-keeled countenance as he often does, Saban is one of the best coaches in college football history and will be a big draw to start Wednesday’s proceedings.
Read more SEC Football news on BleacherReport.com
Source: Bleacher Report CFB