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HOOVER, Ala. (AP) – The Latest on SEC media days (all times local):
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey opened media days with a history lesson on the league schools’ timeline of integration in athletics.
Sankey spoke at length in his opening remarks Monday about the upcoming 50th anniversary of Nate Northington’s Sept. 30, 1967 debut for Kentucky against Mississippi. Northington, then a sophomore, became the first African-American to play in an SEC football game.
There were four African-American football players on that Wildcats team: Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg. Page, Northington’s roommate, died late the night before from a neck injury sustained during a preseason practice. They were the SEC’s first black scholarship football players.
Sankey says the SEC has invited Northington, Hackett, Hogg and Page’s family to the league championship game in December “to join us in remembering, honoring and celebrating what they helped change 50 years ago.”
People in Hoover, Alabama, shouldn’t have any doubt what event the city is hosting this week.
There’s a six-story Southeastern Conference logo on the side of The Wynfrey Hotel, where the league is hosting its annual media event the next four days. Next to the gigantic logo is the league’s most slogan: “It Just Means More.”
SEC media days has evolved over the past several decades into a made-for-TV production. It’s also migrated earlier and earlier in the summer – the July 10th start is the earliest in the event’s history.
The SEC event kicked off Monday, which was good timing for Florida. Just 12 day ago the Gators won baseball’s College World Series.
Opening day should be anything but boring at the Southeastern Conference’s annual media gathering.
Exuberant Ed Orgeron will be one of the coaches to take the podium Monday at the SEC media days in suburban Birmingham, Alabama.
Commissioner Greg Sankey kicks off the four-day event with his annual state of the league address. Arkansas’ Bret Bielema and Tennessee’s Butch Jones also make the rounds with reporters, with both trying to improve on seasons that didn’t live up to expectations.
The highlight, though, should be LSU’s Orgeron, known for his candor and being direct on any number of topics. He landed his second SEC head coaching job after serving half the season in an interim role following the firing of Les Miles.
The Cajun Orgeron had a three-year run with Mississippi from 2005-07 that produced a 3-21 mark in the SEC. He’ll bring with him three players including star tailback Derrius Guice while Razorbacks quarterback Austin Allen is also among the first-day attendees.
All 14 teams will take their turns in the spotlight over the next four days. The SEC, as usual, is the first major league to hold its media days.
Orgeron is the only new head coach, while several others – including Bielema – could face questions about their job security.