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SEC Media Days Day 2 Recap: Kirby Smart addresses off the field issues, Hugh Freeze on Auburn upside

Updated: Jul 20, 2023



Day 2 of SEC Media Days is in the books, with Georgia's Kirby Smart, Auburn's Hugh Freeze, Vanderbilt Clark Lea and new Mississippi State head coach Zach Arnett speaking.


What do you need to know?


Here's everything you missed.


Also, if you missed our Day 1 recap - CLICK HERE.



Hugh Freeze isn’t afraid of the rebuild at Auburn:


New Auburn head coach, Hugh Freeze, exuded confidence at the podium at his first SEC Media Days since 2017. Freeze also said rebuilding Auburn is going to be a challenge. But he’s excited about the new faces and new alignment in the athletic department with the emphasis back on football and what they want to do. Freeze also said the “family of Auburn” was “fractured” and that it’s something he hopes to repair.


It was basically coach speak for saying that there’s a lot of things that need to be fixed after the Bryan Harsin era and he’s excited to help Auburn get back to where they should be.


And he should be. With a roster that's been revamped by the transfer portal - headlined by former Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne - there's as much excitement around this program as there has been in a long time.


Ticket sales are up. And many in the media believe they should be much improved, including former Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, who was at media days as a member of the media on Tuesday.

Kirby Smart addressed the offseason issues Georgia’s faced and if they can three-peat:


The biggest spotlight was on Kirby Smart because of Georgia being the defending champs, but also the off-field issues that have started clouding the perception of the program.


The biggest issue has been repeated driving-related incidents, which range from the small (like parking violations and minor speeding) to the major, including a tragic death that took the lives of a staffer and former player in January.


Smart addressed it head on, on Tuesday.


“I’m disappointed anytime we have traffic incidents. It’s very evident when you look at it, we’ve had traffic citations and incidents throughout the history of being at the University of Georgia. We don’t have more now than we’ve had in the past."


He then continued.


“What concerns me most is the safety of our players, and when you drive at high speeds it’s unsafe. We don’t want that to happen. What concerns me most is the safety of our players, and when you drive at high speeds it’s unsafe. We don’t want that to happen.” He addressed it but didn’t seem to think it was a huge issue facing the program.



From there, Smart then addressed the idea of a three-peat and said the team has adopted the New Zealand All Blacks mantra of “Better never rests."


"Everybody here has talked about if the emphasis is on three-peat ... 'What are you going to do next?' 'How do you top an undefeated season?' The threat for us is complacency," Smart said. "The first thing that you have to do is acknowledge that it's a threat. If you acknowledge that it's a threat, it's the first threat towards stomping it out."


Zach Arnett is humbled and honored to be the head coach at Mississippi State:


It was a somber SEC Media Days for new Mississippi State head coach, who has obviously taken over the program under a cloud of tragedy. Arnett is replacing the legendary Mike Leach, who passed away in January.


As part of his opening remarks Arnett said, “Mississippi State has forever changed my life and that of my family. For that, I am forever indebted to it. To Mike Leach, to all of Starkville, I could not ask for a better collection of people, players, coaches, support staff, to go to work with daily.”


He also talked about Coach Leach more when he said, “There’s a lot of slogans and words said in our building over the last three years: Don’t listen to the noise, play the next play, all things that were kind of the DNA of Mike Leach’s program that we still say to this day.”


This is Arnett’s program now, but he is taking a lot of Leachisms and injecting it into the program overall. Mississippi State went through a lot of change with Leach passing away, so it will be interesting to see how Arnett does on the job this season.


Clark Lea is not satisfied and wants Vanderbilt to be on top:


Clark Lea is a Vanderbilt alum and has the utmost confidence in building Vanderbilt up to where he thinks they should be. He said at media days on the progress they made, "I think we've got to draw some lines at the idea that we're celebrated for 5-7, That's not what we're in this for. And we can look at progress and acknowledge that it's being made, but we're not going to be left satisfied with that."


Lea has made it known that Vanderbilt is coming and that they aren’t satisfied. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Commodores this season.


If you missed our Day 1 recap - CLICK HERE


Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus



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