Alabama Football was not on the agenda for Monday’s Day one of the 2023 SEC Media Days. Nick Saban will be at the podium first on Wednesday.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was the first speaker and made no comments about Alabama football. Sankey’s main point on Monday was about an issue upon which he and Nick Saban agree. As always, Sankey’s comments were carefully measured, but his understated words still sent a strong message.
Sankey does not approve of actions by states to free the use of NIL from oversight. Texas and Missouri are not alone in creating laws that basically tell the NCAA how NIL used in their states is not subject to any NCAA oversight or penalties.
Before Monday, Sankey has been clear that he believes the only solution to using NIL as it was intended is through federal government action.
"Our student-athletes want to know their competitors on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage are subject and governed by the same rules by which they are governed."
The NIL arms race leaves no opportunity for such temperance. Sankey was clear to reiterate he supports the use of name, image and likeness to benefit athletes, but,
"We all know there are stories — some stories told and others not told — of promises made but not fulfilled, of inducements offered but not provided.Of empty commitments, of NIL agreements that created more questions than provided answers; and other behaviors in this space that rightly cause concern. And the reality is, our student-athletes deserve something better than a patchwork of state laws that support that name, image and likeness activities — if support is the right word."
In Brian Kelly’s Monday session, he made clear that like Sankey and Nick Saban, he is concerned about “disparities” and “third-party involvement” in the use of NIL.
Brian Kelly talked some Alabama Football
Kelly, who Tommy Rees reportedly consulted before taking the Alabama football job, explained why he thought Rees made the right decision.
"… if you get a chance to work for Nick Saban, if you get a chance to work at a place like Alabama, that has that kind of, obviously, unparalleled success, this would be a great opportunity. He felt the same way, and I’m happy for him. I’m going to be happy for him, except for one weekend or if there’s implications of a tie or something."
The other highlight of day one was waffling by Jimbo Fisher. Fisher was understandably tight-lipped about offensive changes for the Aggies. When asked about play-calling, Jimbo said,
"I’m not going to get into that. Bobby was hired for a reason. Tremendous guy. Tremendous football mind. Hopefully he’ll call the game & have suggestions."
Some A&M fans were not happy about what one of them labeled a less-than-clear response. The A&M offense was 13th in the SEC last season at 22.8 points per game. Petrino has much to remedy. Many fans of the Aggies want to hear Fisher will let him do it.
Tuesday’s day two will feature SEC coaches, Clark Lea, Kirby Smart, Billy Napier, and The Reverend Hugh Freeze.