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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Nothing new, but SEC shindig the place to be

by Wally Hall | July 24, 2022 at 2:52 a.m.

ATLANTA -- As expected, there were no shocking revelations during SEC Football Media Days last week.

Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher said he and Alabama's Nick Saban had settled their differences and he couldn't believe it couldn't have been handled privately.

Guess he forgot about the news conference he called when he declared Saban to be a narcissist.

Georgia was picked to win the East and Alabama the West. If they hadn't, the sun might have risen in the south this morning.

The Bulldogs are the defending national champs, but the Crimson Tide were chosen to win the SEC championship by a vote of 158-18.

Kirby Smart did not call for a recount or claim the election was rigged.

Simple truth is you just don't vote against Saban and the Tide.

The Arkansas Razorbacks were picked to finish third in the West behind Alabama and Texas A&M, which has a great recruiting class but is untested.

The Razorbacks had one preseason first-team All SEC offensive selection in center Ricky Stromberg. Offensive lineman Brady Latham was named to the third team.

Defensive back Jalen Catalon made the first-team defense, Bumper Pool was a second-team linebacker and that was it.

Mostly coaches and players tended to their knitting.

Commissioner Greg Sankey only hinted about any further conference expansion when he said the SEC could be nimble.

The consensus among the media was that expansion is nowhere near completed. But while the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC are scrambling, they will not be able to save their status as a super conference.

The belief is there will be a Power 2 instead of a Power 5.

It is all about the money and if the SEC and the Big Ten decide not to add any more programs and keep their annual payouts near the $100 million mark, then great programs like Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, Baylor and Oregon will slide to the back burner.

Or they might be invited to a Power 2 conference.

No one knows for sure, but this whole thing hasn't hit the finish line yet.

During the week, there wasn't much talk about NIL either.

Although Saban said Alabama athletes made about $3 million last year and that was the most in the country.

If that were true, and other schools had athletes make that much too if not more, that would explain why in the spring he went ballistic about the reports that A&M spent $30 million for this incoming class, a figure some reporters think is exaggerated.

Saban and Sankey were direct in their comments that the NIL is not transparent or accountable.

That, as Saban said during spring retaliations, is not sustainable.

Ironically, when Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee were allegedly providing impermissible benefits, there was no NIL and on Friday they got hit with an accusation of 18 NCAA violations.

Seems like that's closing the barn door after the horses have already escaped.

Last year to this year differences would include Auburn's Bryan Harsin, who in 2021 seemed to have had a very successful personality bypass. He was much improved.

Arkansas' Sam Pittman was good last year, but much better this time around and no one represented their university better.

Atlanta did a great job of rolling out the red carpet for members of the media during the four days. But the event is going to Nashville next July and future sites have not been decided.

While attendance of media was -- like the economy -- obviously down, it was still the most widely attended in the country because most college football news starts with the SEC, and most times ends there.

Print Headline: Nothing new, but SEC shindig the place to be


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