Here's what SEC's new football coaches should — and shouldn't — say at media days | Toppmeyer

Blake Toppmeyer

Does anyone remember what Nick Saban said during his first SEC Media Days appearance as Alabama’s coach in 2007?

Maybe a few veteran reporters or super fans, but that’s probably about it.

What a coach says during the annual July spectacle really doesn’t matter. Sure, a coach’s one-liners and talking points will become fodder on the SEC Network and perhaps ESPN for about 24 hours, but attention soon shifts back to the upcoming season.

Nonetheless, the televised event is an opportunity for coaches to score a few points with recruits and fans.

Allow me to offer some suggestions for what the SEC’s four first-year coaches should — and shouldn’t — say during their media days debut.

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Auburn coach Bryan Harsin

Say this: “You know who has a better career winning percentage than Ed Orgeron, Dan Mullen, Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach? Me. I’m a proven winner. Oh, by the way: My winning percentage doesn’t trail Nick Saban, Kirby Smart or Jimbo Fisher by much. I’m coming for them. Playing for Auburn means a chance to dethrone the current powers.”

Don’t say this: “I’ve never coached in the SEC. In fact, I’m an Idaho native, and all 76 of my career victories came at Boise State. Oh, and sweet tea? Keep that disgusting sugar water away from me.”

South Carolina coach Shane Beamer

Say this: “I sure hope Lincoln Riley is going to be OK at Oklahoma without me. You know, I was his assistant head coach for offense the past three seasons. Was I the mastermind behind the Sooners’ success? I wouldn’t go that far. But we scored a lot of points in my three years on staff, so you tell me.”

Don’t say this: “I’ve never been a head coach before. I’ve never been a coordinator before. But my dad was a really good coach. In fact, without my surname, I’m not sure I would have gotten this job. Thanks, Dad.”

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel

Say this: “I hope to deliver Tennessee fans many thrilling victories thanks to my high-octane offense. But don’t forget that I’ve already delivered Vols faithful the greatest gift of all: I put an end to the Butch Jones era. Hours after my Missouri offense hung 50 points on the Vols in 2017, Jones got told to hit the bricks.”

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Don’t say this: “Tennessee has a proud past. I’m old enough to remember when the Vols were on top of college football. Sure, that was long before any current recruits were born, but I tell ya what, it feels like ’98.”

Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea

Say this: “Notre Dame’s defense ranked among the nation’s best throughout my three years as coordinator. That steel curtain is coming to Nashville. As a Vanderbilt alumnus, I’ll approach this job with a relentless passion. Soon, Vanderbilt fans will learn that there’s more to fall than baseball exhibitions.”

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Don’t say this: “Was I a hire of convenience? Maybe. But do you really think anyone better would have been interested in the job? Some could argue being Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator is a better gig.”

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.