3 Things I Learned at SEC Media Days: Day 2
The unofficial start to the college football season is here. SEC Media Days 2018 in Atlanta has begun. Each day, I will be writing about my biggest takeaways from all of the press conferences.
1. The SEC wants to eliminate kickoff returns.
SEC Coordinator of Officials, Steve Shaw opened the action on day two of SEC Media Days with a bang, discussing several new rule changes to be implemented for the 2018 season.
One of the bigger changes announced was another adjustment to kickoffs. If the return team fields the kickoff behind the 25 yard line, they can call for a fair catch and the ball will come out to the return team’s 25 yard line as if it were a touchback. The return team can call for a fair catch anywhere on a kickoff, but the most important thing is now, if the return team doesn’t want to return a kickoff, they don’t have to.
This continues a trend by the league and the NCAA to encourage teams to not participate in returning kickoffs.
It began in 2012, with the moving of kickoffs from the 30 yard line to the 35 yard line. Now, six years later, it appears the amount of returned kickoffs will go down again. I think this is all leading up to a time somewhere in the next nine or ten years when the NCAA does away with kickoffs altogether.
Studies show the kickoff is the most dangerous play in the sport, and with the constant attention given to player safety, it makes sense that the kickoff is growing ever closer to extinction.
2. The second half of the 2017 Auburn game gave Ole Miss their identity, and possibly their head coach.
At halftime of game number five with Matt Luke as the interim coach of Ole Miss, the Rebels trailed Auburn 35-3. Ole Miss would go on to win the second half 20-9, and that is when the season changed for Ole Miss.
“It was one of the big turning points of our season. The national media kept saying when is this team going to quit. We need to continue to build on that culture.”
The week before the Auburn game was a crushing 66-3 defeat against Alabama. The week after the Auburn game Ole Miss racked up 57 points and got a win over SEC opponent Vanderbilt.
The Rebels would go on to finish 4-3 after the Auburn game, and got a huge Egg Bowl victory over arch-rival Mississippi State. If Ole Miss had continued with blowout losses, it would’ve been impossible to make Luke the permanent head coach. But, it all changed when Ole Miss had a great second half against Auburn.
Luke seemed to know the magnitude of it during his press conference on Tuesday, as he spent about the most time of any answering that question.
It might not seem like a big deal, but with all the coaching turnover in the conference this offseason, Matt Luke is one of the survivors, now it’s time to see what he can do to build off it.
3. It’s ok for the head coach to delegate duties.
It’s common for a head coach to have his hand either in the offensive or defensive playcalling, depending on his background. But some coaches are known for doing way too much and being absolute control freaks. On Tuesday, Kirby Smart of Georgia and Dan Mullen of Florida spoke to this.
“You’re always learning as a coach… if you don’t let them (assistants) help you, what’s the point of having them,” Smart said.
“I was a control freak… one of the biggest things is letting people go out there and execute our plan,” Mullen said.
Smart makes a great point, you hire assistants because one guy simply can’t do everything, therefore, a trust has to be there and the head guy has got to be aware of that.
It is entirely possible to overwork or overthink as the head coach, just ask whatever happened to Urban Meyer during the end of his time at Florida. An effective coaching staff can’t be just one or two guys, it requires a lot of parts, and it seems that the veteran Mullen, and the blossoming Smart understand that.
Even a younger, less known coach Chad Morris spoke of the importance of the relationship between he and his and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock.
It’s important to understand that a great program is run by more than just one great coach, and on Tuesday at SEC Media Days, the head honchos delivered that message.
Mississippi State, Tennessee, Alabama, and Missouri are at the podium tomorrow, I’ll be back with the big takeaways from them tomorrow.
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