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Ashway: SEC Media Daze: what the coaches really meant
Denton Ashway

“It won’t be long now!” as we used to say on the paint crew years ago. The 2021 college football season will soon be upon us.

That’s an appropriate quote, as we learned at SEC Media Daze. Turns out both SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops also spent time on scaffolds with paint brushes in hand during their formative years. This leads us into our [almost] annual review of the season’s kickoff event. With transcripts provided by, here’s what the SEC coaches had to say during Media Daze, and what they really meant:

Clark Lea, Vanderbilt: As a new coach, you dream of guys that are willing just to take the plunge with you, guys that don’t flinch on the journey to what’s possible, guys that take your vision, hold it true, and carry it to the team.

Translation: I envision us beating East Tennessee State in our opener, which would top last year’s win total!

Mike Leach, Mississippi State: I think it’s critical, not just to us, and because we want it that way, I think it’s important to our fans and everybody else to get in the normal routine where you kind of elevate and everybody feels enriched by having the opportunity to watch and participate in football in a normal fashion.

Translation: Who’s to say that paranormal activity is actually paranormal, because if there’s enough of it out there that we don’t know about, then it really becomes normal activity.

Shane Beamer, South Carolina: I’m excited to be back in the SEC after three years gone! There is no conference in America like this league!

Translation: Playing at Georgia and Texas A&M might temper my enthusiasm just a tad.

Sam Pittman, Arkansas: If it was up to me, I’d have brought the whole damn team. We have an outstanding football team that works extremely hard, and they bought into what we’re selling.

Translation: I hope everybody keeps buying because we play the toughest schedule in the whole country.

Josh Heupel, Tennessee: I’m honored to be the head coach of Tennessee football. This is one of the great and iconic logos in all of college football, steeped in tradition. It’s a great honor to be the caretaker of Tennessee football.

Translation: I’m the fifth Tennessee coach since 2008, and we just led the NCAA with 25 transfers out of our program. Our tradition needs a jump start.

Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss: We’ve got a lot of challenges. First off, defensively, improving from last year.

Translation: We scored 40.7 points per game last year. Our defense gave up 40.3. I coach the offense.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky: You guys have heard me for years sit here and just pound it about the program, the program, the program, and building the program. Constantly talk about that, build a winning culture.

Translation: I’m 47-50 in eight years.

Ed Orgeron, LSU: We have a lot of guys returning. We have an experienced team. We have a very good team. A very good coaching staff coming back.

Translation: This year we get back to playin’ Tiger football. Go Tigers!

Eliah Drinkwitz, Missouri: Last year we were able to win five conference games. We were able to beat the defending national champions. We were able to beat Kentucky for the first time in five years.

Translation: Last year we lost five conference games, we lost to the eventual national champions, and we lost to Mississippi State for the first time in five years. I don’t know if we’re comin’ or goin’.

Bryan Harsin, Auburn: I’m proud to be here in the SEC. It does mean more.

Translation: My three immediate predecessors all let me know that if I lose too often, I’ll quickly find out how much more it means at Auburn.

Kirby Smart, Georgia: Expectations. “Success comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” That’s Henry David Thoreau.

Translation: I’d like to win it all before I’m marching to the beat of a different drummer.

Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: Everything is exciting again!

Translation: Who wouldn’t be excited opening against Kent State, Colorado, and New Mexico?

Dan Mullen, Florida: We’ll be a little bit different offensively, but that’s part of the fun of coaching, is being able to adapt and change and build around the players that we have.

Translation: I wonder how much fun it would be coaching in the NFL?

Nick Saban, Alabama: From a program standpoint, nothing really has changed.

Translation: And the beat goes on.