SEC Media Days report: Pittman is no stranger

ATLANTA — University of Arkansas coach Sam Pittman inadvertently entered the hotel suite used by Georgia staff — coach Kirby Smart and players — for interviews with members local media at the Omni Hotel during SEC Media Days on Wednesday.

The result was pretty much what was expected for a chance meeting between Smart and his former offensive line coach from 2016-19.

The two shared a big hug, during which Smart said, “Ouissirrrrrr!” to borrow a phrase Pittman made famous a few years ago.

Someone was caught on video when Pittman was walking down a hallway and Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith approached from the other side.

Smith asked if he could shake hands with Pittman and instead received a huge one. Two more hugs and pats on the back later, the pair continued with their maintenance schedules.

Will’s Path

Will Anderson can easily claw his way to No. 2 on Alabama’s all-time sack chart this season, but he still has a long way to go to catch up with Derrick Thomas, who has been credited with 52 sacks. 1985 to 1988 years before sacks were included as official NCAA stats.

Anderson, who had 17.5 sacks last season to lead the FBS, will open the season with 24.5 career sacks, fourth on Alabama’s list behind Thomas, Jonathan Allen (28) and Kindal Moorehead (25).

“I’m going to approach the season like I approached it last year,” Anderson said when asked about chasing sack records. “I’m just going to be Will Anderson. I’m not going to try to do anything special. I’m not going to go out and try to be a hero. I’m just going to go out there and be myself, be the player I was when I came here and just help my teammates play good team football.

Good dog’

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson was asked what he thought of Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson’s “play” and how difficult it was to prepare to play.

“He’s a dog,” Jefferson said. “I love his game, he’s very explosive and athletic. As far as preparing for this week and Will Anderson, the main thing was just trying to get double teams on him to slow him down, try to get him out of his way a bit because once he’s gone it’s hard to stop.”


Several conference coaches were asked what message they would have for Oklahoma and Texas, which are expected to join the SEC for the 2025 season, barring prior entry.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman praised OU coach Brent Venables and Texas coach Steve Sarkisian and spoke about the two upcoming programs.

“As a kid, I rooted for the Sooners until I moved to eastern Oklahoma, where I became a Razorback fan,” Pittman said. “Legendary football program. We have recruitment battles with them right now, thank God. Before, we could not enter through the door. But we have recruitment battles.

“We have recruiting battles with Texas. I’m not telling you we whip them or anything like that. I tell you that we are in conversation. … Here you have two step programs.

“But I’ll tell them what they already know – it’s a hell of a league. It’s about big people and fast people. Probably no different from the Big 12. Constantly, every week, better to have some the depth.

49 4th tries

Ole Miss set the FBS record last season with 49 fourth downs, averaging 3.8 per game. The Rebels hit 31 of them for a 63.3% conversion rate that ranks 29th in the nation, just behind Vanderbilt (19 of 30, 63.33%) and just ahead of Arkansas (12 of 19, 63.2%).

Coach Lane Kiffin said he was happy to hear the Rebels broke a national record.

“I didn’t know we had set a record,” Kiffin said. “Now I know we have the most [fourth-down] attempts in the history of football. I used to coach Pete Carroll. He said, “Don’t just do it right. Do them better than anyone has done them before. At least I know that stat.

Kiffin said he would use a stat like that to recruit, tying fourth downs with his faith in the players.

“It’s not just about analytics,” he said. “It’s a huge part of that, but the players feel that we believe in you, we put you in those situations, we play so aggressively.

Kiffin added that he couldn’t predict what the Rebels’ fourth down attempts would look like on a yearly basis.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “If everything was easy, everyone would do it. I understand that a lot of coaches don’t follow analytics because it’s very difficult for that post press conference or that stadium to turn against you when it doesn’t work out.

“The Alabama game, the last two years, a perfect example. The first year we play them, we do a bunch of them, and everybody says, ‘That’s great. The next year, we don’t. Then you have to go to this press conference.

not part of it

LSU coach Brian Kelly says his Notre Dame teams’ performances in two lopsided playoff losses to Alabama had no impact on his decision to replace Ed Orgeron as coach of the Tigers.

Alabama defeated Notre Dame 42-14 in the 2012 National Title Game in Miami and 31-14 in the 2020 College Football Playoff Semifinals in Arlington, Texas.

“It wasn’t part of my decision making,” Kelly said. ” It was really good [Alabama] teams. They both won the national championship.

“I thought we played Alabama better than anyone in the last playoffs. Their talent was amazing on the offensive side of the ball that year.

“So it wasn’t like, ‘I’m taking the LSU job, Alabama is so much better than us.’ It was not part of the process for me.

“Now was the time. It was that place at LSU. It was the administration and the opportunity to bring this program back.

I love you, Steve

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman asked which songs he’s been listening to the most recently on his jukebox, first mentioned Stevie Nicks and his band, Fleetwood Mac.

“My jukebox, most played thing, Stevie Nicks,” Pittman said. “I love her. I mean, I don’t know her. Jamie [Pittman] didn’t hear me say that. But I like it.

Part of the plan

When the Tennessee baseball team opened a three-game series at Ole Miss this season, Lane Kiffin threw the first golf ball.

Rather than having Ole Miss’ football coach throw the first pitch using a baseball, as tradition dictates, Kiffin threw a golf ball because that’s one of the objects thrown at him by Tennessee fans when the Rebels beat the Volunteers 31-26 last season. at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.

It was Kiffin’s first game at Tennessee as a head coach since leaving Knoxville after his only season as the Vols coach in 2009 to take the Southern California job.

After Kiffin threw the golf ball, the Vols swept the Rebels 12-1, 10-3, and 4-3.

“We got swept away by Tennessee, we didn’t play well,” Kiffin said. “Everyone thought it was my fault.

“I had a project. I wanted our guys to stay humble, not play very well, so we were going to win the baseball national championship.

“I would like to say it was a plan. All the Tennessee fans who were all excited to sweep us, there was a plan.

Ole Miss’s baseball team qualified for the NCAA Tournament with the last berth, then went 10-1 in the playoffs – losing only to Arkansas 3-2 in the College World Series – and beat Oklahoma twice to win the national championship. .

good payday

Alabama coach Nick Saban may want clearer guidelines applied to name, image and likeness revenue for players, but he wanted to make it clear that he doesn’t. is not against.

“Well, I don’t hate the name and the image and the likeness,” Saban said. “I’m all for the players. I want our players to succeed.

“Our players have earned over $3 million in name, image and likeness [last year]. I’m all for players being able to do their best and use their name, image and likeness to create value for themselves.

“We have a great brand in Alabama. … Their value there is going to be enhanced because of the value our brand can help them create.

The seal team

Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said he made the decision after Spring Ball to sit down with his two top quarterbacks, returning starter Ken Seals and junior Mike Wright, to tell them that Wright was the starting quarterback before training camp.

“I just want to pay tribute to Ken Seals,” Lea said, “because in a current age where nine out of 10 times that player who receives disappointing news makes the choice to move on, Ken Seals has tightened his jawbone and made a determination that he was going to win it every day.

Kelly’s gestures

LSU coach Brian Kelly was ribbed for his dance on a pair of recruiting videos, one with signed 5-star quarterback Walker Howard and the other with tight end Danny Lewis, who has signed with Alabama.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey pointed it out Monday, and Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea, who served as defensive coordinator at Notre Dame for three seasons under Kelly, brought it up when asked what elements made Kelly a good coach on Tuesday.

“He’s a great dancer,” Lea said, prompting laughs. “He took a chance on me as unproven commodity…and he gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Wright’s Reel

Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright touted his costume maker, which he doesn’t get NIL money for, as well as a lapel pin he wore while appearing on media days.

“I represent the rhinoceros beetle,” Wright said. “The rhinoceros beetle can lift 110 times its weight. I represent 110 Vanderbilt players here.

Brian versus Mike

LSU coach Brian Kelly will prepare for a Florida State team coached by Mike Norvell for the third time in as many seasons.

Kelly’s Notre Dame team beat the Seminoles 41-38 in overtime in last year’s season opener in Tallahassee, Fla., and beat them 42-26 at Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 10, 2020.

Kelly said he thinks Norvell, a former University of Central Arkansas player and 2015 UCA Sports Hall of Fame inductee, has the Seminoles on the right track.

“I thought they fought for four quarters against Notre Dame last year,” Kelly said. “It has a lot to do with membership. You could see them playing harder and harder. Maybe it wasn’t so visible before.

“It’s now a team that bears the imprint of Mike. It will play hard for four quarters. … So I really think you see the signs of a backwards football program that is gradually progressing. … Everyone wants to see more wins, but as a football manager my eyes see a program that is getting better and better.

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