SEC newcomers know what they face
Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
HOOVER, Ala. — It didn’t take long for Kevin Sumlin to get his introduction to SEC Media Days — he was the first coach up in the main room on Tuesday.
“I’m glad we’re getting started on time,” he said. “They can’t blame the new guy for screwing it up.”
Sumlin, the first-year coach at Texas A&M, and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel were introduced on the first day of their first SEC Media Days at the Wynfrey Hotel.
Most of the questions that came their way were about the new league they are joining.
“Some people are acting like we’re playing the Big Boys instead of the Big 12,” said Missouri offensive tackle Elvis Fisher. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
There has been a theme all summer that the two former Big 12 teams are not going to be ready for the stadiums and speed of the SEC.
“You get a lot of it,” said Pinkel. “When I was down in Florida, people were acting like we’ve been playing a lot of high school teams.
“I think it’s not a chip on our shoulders, but being a competitor. This analysis of us and Texas A&M in the league, it’s going to happen. You have to go out and prove yourself. The only way you’re going to prove yourself is to win games.”
While the SEC is welcoming these two new schools to the league, they are actually throwing out the welcome mat first. Texas A&M plays host to Florida, and Georgia travels to Missouri on the second Saturday of the season.
“There is no doubt our fans are excited about the home opener with Florida,” said Sumlin. “That’s going to be a big game for us. To have a home SEC game for the first time is a big deal.”
Sumlin pointed out that his team will play host to all six of the teams that have given the SEC national titles over the last half-dozen years (Alabama and Florida have won twice). If that’s not tough enough, both newcomers to the league had to hear LSU coach Les Miles say they had better “strap it up” and “they’re really not going to enjoy their welcoming to this conference.”
“That’s probably a fair assessment,” Sumlin said.
But the prevailing theme for both teams on the first day of SEC Media Days was that they can’t wait to see what it is like in their new league.
“It’s exciting that we’re going to play new teams and go to new places,” said Fisher, who grew up as a Florida fan in St. Petersburg. “We know it’s going to be a step up in talent. It is the best conference. They’re bigger faster and strong in the SEC.
“But I’ve played against some great defensive linemen in the Big 12. It’s just that in the SEC they’re across the board.”