Welcome to the SEC Football Media Days Blog, your online home for the big news, behind-the-scenes notes and quotes and special moments that make this annual event, held this year in Hoover, Ala., the unofficial start of college football season. Check back for updates each day throughout the week.
More than a few reasons to believe for Ole Miss
They're back to a full complement of 85 scholarships for the first time since 2014. They're eligible for the postseason for the first time since 2016. They've added not one but two former national head coaches of the year as coordinators.
No wonder Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke brought this message to Hoover: "There's a lot of excitement in our building right now for a lot of reasons."
Those big-name coordinators: former West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez on offense and former San Jose State and Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre on defense. Luke made an interesting observation on the practical and philosophical meanings of those hires.
"It brings a wealth of knowledge," he said, "but it also makes a statement about our commitment to winning."
In installing his 3-4 defense, MacIntyre "does a great job of simplifying everything to get that basic understanding," linebacker MoMo Sanogo said.
The Ole Miss defenders have been receptive to the change, Luke said, because "they're tired of hearing about how bad they are."
What has Rodriguez, an innovator of the spread, brought to the offense? "That edge, that toughness, that swagger," Luke said. "You'll have to defend the whole field and all 11 players."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Corral saw that edge up close and personal during spring practice.
"He's a perfectionist," Corral said. "He won't stop until it's done right. Rich Rod, every little thing bothers him."
If all goes as planned, the Rebels will bother other teams more than they have in years.
Welcome to Adversity Thursdays in Athens
The Georgia Bulldogs might be in the weight room, doing power cleans, going through their routines, trying to bring life to this season's motto and Do More. All of a sudden, director of strength and conditioning Scott Sinclair will break the routine and throw them a curveball.
"He'll give us something random to do," offensive tackle Andrew Thomas said.
"He'll make us go outside and do sandbag runs up the stadium steps," Thomas said. "It takes mental strength to go back and finish your lift."
Georgia has a name for those challenging about-face moments: Adversity Thursday. Thomas said they're part of a larger plan to expect the unexpected on game day - like, say, your opponent's backup quarterback entering a championship game at a critical time - and handle it.
Georgia didn't handle the relief appearances of Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts in championship situations the last two seasons. Alabama's backup quarterbacks made the difference in those narrow Crimson Tide victories.
Thomas said it's not necessarily an Alabama thing, but Adversity Thursdays are designed to better equip the Bulldogs for that kind of situation down the road.
"Our goal is to win a national championship," he said, "and whoever's in our way, that's our motivation."
Georgia can't avoid the Alabama question
Do More. That's it. That's Georgia's slogan for the 2019 season. Nothing more. After two years of close but no victory cigar, after losing the 2017 National Championship Game to Alabama in overtime and the 2018 SEC Championship Game to the Crimson Tide late in the fourth quarter, everyone connected with the Bulldogs has spent plenty of time pondering how to take that last step up the mountain.
The answer: Do More. In everything they do.
"We like it because it's simple," Kirby Smart said Tuesday.
The Georgia coach filled his opening remarks at SEC Media Days with a blitz of motivational catch phrases, psychological touch points and philosophical insights, an indication of his program's mindset as he approaches his fourth season in Athens.
"I read a great quote this morning," Smart said. "Life has no remote. You've got to get up and change it yourself."
"Pressure is a reflection of ambition. The stress and pressure we feel emanates from our building."
"We're looking for the aggregate of marginal gains."
Or, put in more practical terms, how to beat Alabama. Smart heaped plenty of praise on the Crimson Tide and his old boss, Nick Saban, but sent a message he's no doubt imparted to his players: "We don't have Alabama on our schedule."
Not technically, but Alabama and Georgia are likely to be the overwhelming Media Days picks to meet again in Atlanta on the first Saturday in December. Can the Bulldogs get there for the third straight year?
"The biggest thing is concerning ourselves with us," Smart said, "and not concerning ourselves with someone else."
Good plan, but for all the good things the Dawgs have done the last two seasons, the Alabama question isn't going away until Georgia answers it on the field.