July 11, 2016
Now that the four-day marathon that is SEC Football Media Days is underway, there are plenty of questions for every team. The media will get its chance at players and head coaches from Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi this week.
MSU players and head coach Dan Mullen will face sports reporters Tuesday, July 12. Mullen will have plenty to talk about while he is at the podium.
One of the biggest questions that he will face is how the university handled the Jeffery Simmons’ case. In case you missed it, Simmons was seen on video striking a woman who was involved in an altercation with his sister.
MSU allowed Simmons to enroll in school, but there were conditions placed on the player. The athletic program gave him a slap on the wrist with a one-game suspension.
Simmons, a five-star recruit from Noxubee County High School, will miss the game against the University of South Alabama. Mullen will have to answer questions on why the school let Simmons enroll and what steps they are taking to ensure that he doesn’t have a repeat of his behavior.
Finding the new replacement for Dak Prescott will also be a major focus.
After Mullen gets grilled about Simmons, attention at some point will turn to finding out who will be the next quarterback for the Bulldogs. Currently, it looks like Nick Fitzgerald is the leader for the top spot, but will that change between now and game one?
Mullen might get asked about new defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon and whether he will stay in the position for more than a year. MSU has hired six defensive coordinators in eight years, which is a lot of turnover for a coordinator job.
Other topics could include satellite camps and whether the Bulldogs will find their running game this season. Plenty of questions will be on MSU facing a rebuilding or down year, but expect Mullen to quash those questions.
UM Rebels coach Hugh Freeze doesn’t face the media until Thursday and probably hopes after four days, there will be some fatigue from those firing questions. Freeze is one of the few coaches that will get grilled.
The first topic he will face is the Laremy Tunsil situation. Unless you have been living under a rock, there is no way that you missed the former offensive tackle’s draft night drop.
UM is facing sanctions from the NCAA already over violations of the football program. Now, new allegations of Tunsil taking money from a coach might add to the program’s troubles. Freeze will do his best to answer questions carefully or deflect those questions. The Rebels are considered a program on the rise, but allegations of bending, if not breaking, the rules have dogged Freeze almost since his arrival in Oxford.
The Rebels will also face some law-and-order questions after defensive end Breeland Speaks and offensive guard Rod Taylor ran afoul with the law. Expect Freeze to get asked about both cases and whether either player will face any punishment.
There are on-the-field questions for the Rebels for the media to ask, as well. A major question will be about replacing three first-round draft picks.
The Rebels will have to replace Tunsil, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Both Speaks and Taylor are supposed help fill two of those holes.
One big question: Who is going to protect quarterback Chad Kelly? All five starters from the Rebel bowl win last season are gone, and if the team is going to contend, they will have to be replaced quickly.
Freeze will also be asked if this is the year that the team breaks through in the SEC and if his team is a playoff contender. Expect the head coach to be optimistic on both questions, but of course, non-committal.