Sandestin, Fla.—The annual SEC Spring meetings at this Florida panhandle resort mark the official end to the athletic and academic year for the 14 member institutions.
It is a time to reflect on what has been accomplished, to talk about what the future will bring, and to start the unofficial clock to July 15, which is when SEC football media days will begin. In other words, when these meetings end on Friday the all-too-short summer will be underway.
What makes these meetings worthwhile, at least from the prospective of the media, is that all of the head football and men’s basketball coaches attend in order to have their own meetings. And in this part of world there is always interest in what these gentlemen have to say.
Here is a glimpse of what was said on the first day of the SEC Spring Meetings:
**--In 30 years of covering this event, I don’t recall when a basketball coach was the first-day story.
I’ve seen coaches answer—or attempt to answer--some uncomfortable questions at this event. But I don’t think I’ve seen one more uncomfortable than LSU basketball coach Will Wade.
Wade was suspended from his position just before the NCAA Tournament on March 8 when he would not talk to school officials about a media report that quoted him as saying that he had made a “strong-ass offer” to a recruit.
Wade would eventually meet with LSU’s lawyers and be reinstated 37 days later. But he missed out on coaching his team in the NCAA Tournament.
In his first public statement since March 8, Wade admitted that he made “a poor decision” by not talking to LSU officials immediately.
But that’s about all he admitted.
Wade was pressed on what the term “strong-ass offer” meant and whether or not the words actually came out of his mouth. He would not answer the question.
As of today, Will Wade remains the head basketball coach at LSU. And he may stay the basketball coach at LSU for years to come. But this issue is far from over. First the feds did their investigation. Now the NCAA has its turn at bat.
**--South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said we had all better get used to the transfer portal because “it is here to stay. We have to manage it as best we can.”
The portal, which is simply a high-tech term for a transfer database, simply lets the whole world know who is seeking to transfer. Some coaches rail at the uncertainty of it all and the fact that it makes managing a roster a tad more difficult. The coaches aren’t going to get a whole lot of sympathy on this one.
“A guy either wants to be at South Carolina or he doesn’t,” Muschamp said. “Unfortunately in our society the grass is always greener on the other side.”
**--Georgia has made news recently by scheduling some high-profile home and home games with the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Florida State, and Clemson. These games go far into the future.
In fact, Georgia’s schedule in 2028 and 2029 features three Power Five non-conference games with Florida State, Texas, and Georgia Tech.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has been up front in his belief that such scheduling is the wave of the future because of dwindling attendance, especially for “cupcake” games.
He also believes that the College Football Playoff selection committee will ultimately reward teams that challenge themselves.
“I want Georgia to be on a national stage playing against great competition,” Smart said. “I certainly think that if two teams are equal in record that the tougher conference schedule and the tougher out of conference schedule (are) going to be weighted.”
**--Alabama coach Nick Saban gave an early hint that record-setting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has some work to do before his junior season.
“I think Tua needs to challenge himself a little to get back,” Saban said. “I think being hurt was an issue for him at the end of the season and I think he needs to challenge himself to get back into great shape and overcome some things that happened towards the end of the year.”
Bottom line: Tagovailoa’s greatest strength is his also his greatest weakness: His ability to extend plays with his legs. He has been challenged—actually told—to get rid of the football sooner to avoid taking shots.
“I think he should take the perception that he has a whole lot to prove relative to how he ended the season. I think our whole team fits into that category.”
Alabama went 14-1 last season, winning the SEC championship and beating Oklahoma in the CFP semifinals. The Crimson Tide lost to Clemson 44-16 in the national championship game.