As we embark on the last month of the year without college football, and as we begin to count down the hours and minutes until kick off, we have anticipated SEC Media Days 2021. And finally, here we are. The world of college football, including the simple things we took for granted, like SEC Media Days, was vastly different last year as the sports world dealt with a global pandemic.
So far in 2021, it seems as if the world is right again as fans are allowed in full attendance, game schedules have been released, and interviews with new and seasoned coaches in the Southeastern Conference are under way this week in Hoover, Alabama at SEC Media Days 2021.
Ole Miss Rebels
On Tuesday, Lane Kiffin, head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels took to the podium. It was his first visit to media days since becoming head coach of the Rebels in 2019 (Media Days were canceled in 2020). It has been 12 years since Kiffin made his debut at media days, as head coach of Tennessee.
And he did not disappoint.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) July 20, 2021
He brought the laughter, as usual. As soon as he stepped up to the microphone, joking about his son now needing a scholarship for college due to the $100,000 SEC fine that Ole Miss faced last season by not following the SEC’s COVID-19 protocols.
Kiffin joked about it being 12 years since he had been at SEC Media Days, “I guess it was 12 years ago, I barely remember it.”
As for the team, Kiffin addressed pressing issues as well as specific topics, ranging from the success of quarterback Matt Corral to how he plans to improve his defense.
On The Defense
“I do think signing a lot of kids in the offseason helps and really just having our first spring. I think last year a lot of first-year staffs struggled on defense,” Kiffin said. “And it was the first year working with Coach Lebby. So putting that all together is a challenge, and I think where we’ve been a lot of times, we’ve seen sometimes as the year goes that help our players in the first year.”
During the off-season, 12 defensive recruits were added to the Rebels roster, in addition to eligibility granted to players who were unable to play last year. Safeties Jake Springer and Otis Reese only played three games. By increasing the depth chart, this should help the Ole Miss defense improve from being amongst the worst in the country.
On Matt Corral
Last season, Corral was in the midst of a quarterback battle, but did not have a Spring practice. Ole Miss was also coaching him with his third offensive coordinator. When asked about Corral’s confidence, Kiffin responded with:
“I think it says a lot about him that he was able to recover from that. I get asked all the time about why didn’t we pull him? We’ve just always — I’ve just always believed that you’re really slow to do that because you get into pulling the quarterbacks and back and forth and their confidence is lost. It’s not like another position. When you’re the leader of it and you’ve got to take the ball every single snap, if your confidence is rattled and floating different guys in there. So I’m glad we stayed with him. He learned a lot from it.”
On Freshman QB Luke Altmyer
With John Rhys Plumlee now at wide receiver, the backup quarterback for Ole Miss will be a battle if Matt Corral is out. When asked about his progression, Kiffin said, “Luke just getting there for the spring, which is hard at any position to come in as a midyear player, but especially at quarterback, and have to lead your group. I think he did a really good job and has a bright future.”
Leaving Lane Speechless
When Kiffin was asked Tuesday about a report that Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is close to making “seven figures” under the new Name, Image and Likeness policy of the NCAA, he was left without words. “You didn’t prepare me for that,” Kiffin said. “That’s amazing you can make a million dollars and he hasn’t started a game yet. I don’t even know what to respond to that. Great for him. It is neat that players can make money now and profit off of their hard work like basically everybody else in America gets to do. So I’m excited about it. I think it’s very challenging trying to figure out how these things happen and what’s legal and what’s not and all that. I wouldn’t want to be the compliance departments, but a million dollars? Whew.”
Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels will kick off the 2021 season on September 6 against Louisville. They play Alabama in Week 4.
Main image courtesy AJC.com