Former South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier used to call it “talking season.” It starts Monday in Hoover, Ala., as the annual SEC Football Media Days begins. There will be plenty to talk about, and here are five questions sure to be asked:
Is Kevin Sumlin on the hot seat?
Yes, according to his new athletics director at Texas A&M. “Coach knows he has to win, and he has to win this year,” Scott Woodward told Paul Finebaum in May. Sumlin was 11-2 in his first season but has gone 9-4, 8-5, 8-5 and 8-5 since.
Is the Georgia hype real?
The Bulldogs went 8-5 last year and haven’t played in the SEC title game since 2012, but they will be a hot topic again in Hoover. Georgia returns a promising sophomore quarterback in Jacob Eason, two of the best running backs in the league and an experienced defense.
Which way is Tennessee headed?
For all of Butch Jones’ bricklaying, he still hasn’t gotten Tennessee to the conference championship game. Jones is entering his fifth season with the Volunteers, who went 9-4 and to the Music City Bowl last year. Like Sumlin, Jones (30-21 at UT) has a new athletics director, which always raises the temperature.
How good is Nick Fitzgerald?
Not many people are asking this question, but they should be. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has a track record of developing quarterbacks (like Dak Prescott and Tim Tebow), and he’s got another good one in the 6-foot-5, 223-pound junior. Fitzgerald is the conference’s leading returner in total offense.
Is this an ‘up’ year for Auburn?
The Tigers have been on a roller coaster in Gus Malzahn’s four seasons – 7-1 in the SEC in 2013, 4-4 in 2014, 2-6 in 2015 and 5-3 last season. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham, formerly the No. 1 rated high school quarterback in the country, transferred in from Baylor, which may make Auburn dangerous again.