ATLANTA — Alabama was being talked about a lot at SEC Media Days on Wednesday, not only because the Crimson Tide was in the building, but so was Tennessee, Mississippi State and Missouri.
Here's some of what was being said:
Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead on hiring former Alabama player and South Alabama coach Joey Jones as special-teams coordinator:
"There actually wasn't a pre-existing relationship. I got his name recommended to me by one on our staff. And I think in the process of comprising our assistant coaching staff, we wanted to have a good combination of guys from the north and guys from the south.And certainly with coach's extensive recruiting experience being the head coach in the state of Alabama and certainly the head coach there for an extended amount of time, we thought the combination of his head coaching experience, how well South Alabama had done on special teams and certainly what coach brings to the table from a recruiting standpoint made him a great natural fit to bring him to Mississippi State."
Moorhead on facing Alabama:
**"**Certainly Alabama is the standard in our conference. They won the national championship and had a heck of a game there in the final. And ultimately that's our biggest challenge as a program, is we're looking to elevate this program from good to great. And everything we want to do is to operate at championship standard. What we do on the field, what we do in the classroom, what we do in the community on a daily basis, it's never going to be at the line. It's going to be above the line or below the line.
"When you're chasing a great program like Alabama and your goal is to come to the SEC Championship, you have to make sure that you're doing things on a daily basis that are going to give you an opportunity to compete with a team of that caliber."
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt on if he asked Nick Saban for advice:
"You think Coach Saban is going to give me advice? There's a lot of us in the league. We've known us for a while, some of us assistant coaches, and now I get an opportunity now. It is probably you better write down everything you can.
You better take it all in while you have the opportunity because as soon as you go put on the other uniform, I can guarantee you, everybody, even though everybody's friends, we want to beat the other guy. You know? So we don't want to give the other person the edge."
Pruitt on the addition of offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy, and if his transfer created a rift with Saban:
"Well, first of all, Brandon, we're excited to have him. He'll be a great part for our offensive line. The guy's smart, obviously graduates and has two years of eligibility. He's a really good competitor. Unfortunately, he got hurt there one year. So we're excited to have him. And absolutely not. I respect Coach Saban. We're friends. He's been really good to me over the years. I wouldn't be standing here if he hadn't called and offered me a job one day, and I'm very thankful for him for doing that."
Tennessee defensive lineman Kyle Philips if Pruitt's addition has added a spark to the Alabama-Tennesee rivalry:
“I do not think it added a spark at all. I just believe that each and every day, we should be ready to work no matter who we play. He definitely gave us that mindset that it does not matter who we play. We all have the same things. We are all players, and it does not matter who we play against.”
Missouri head coach Barry Odom on hiring former Tennessee coach and Saban assistant Derek Dooley as offensive coordinator:
"When we hired Derek, I wanted to make sure that we're able to maintain some of the things we've done with success the last couple of years, but also as head coach there were things I wanted to move to offensively that gave us a chance in either third downs or red zone or second and short, the different situations you get in football on some different ways to play.
"The tempo is always going to be there for us. We'll play times as fast as we can play. There will be times that we vary the huddle and the speed of how we're going to attack the line of scrimmage and how we're going to play it.
"So Derek really hit every checkmark for me on what I wanted in that position. He also -- because he was a head coach in this league, it's been good for me to be able to bounce some things off of him, just like the rest of my staff. And he's sitting in the chair. He's been in some of those opportunities to make decisions, learn from some things that he did right, learn from some things that he didn't do right. And I'm appreciative of the approach he's taken.
"The thing with Derek, once he got the job and stepped on campus, I admire the way that he approached building relationships with our kids. And he dove right in and hasn't one day thought he has all of the answers. He's reached out and learned and built it together, and I'm excited to see how we keep moving that forward in the fall."