Two weeks from today the Auburn Tigers, Arkansas Razorbacks and Missouri Tigers will take the stage to wrap up day four, the final session of the 2021 Southeastern Conference Football Media Days at Hoover. None of those three teams is expected to be one of the favorites to win their divisions this year.
In the SEC East, the Georgia Bulldogs look like the clear pick to finish at the top of the division, with Florida having a lot of rebuilding to do on offense and nobody else looking to be even close to challenging a talented UGA squad.
The SEC West, as is normally the case, looks to be the stronger of the divisions. As was the case last year, Alabama has the talent and depth to finish at the top and it will be a surprise if that doesn’t happen. Where Auburn finishes in the division is a good question.
Coach Jimbo Fisher has recruited very well at Texas A&M, and the Aggies are expected to have another strong team. There is a good chance the Aggies will be the media days pick to finish second in the division.
LSU struggled in 2020 after winning the national championship a year earlier, but should have the talent to be much better this fall. How much better LSU’s record might be, even if the team is improved, is tough to predict because the other teams in the SEC West have the potential to be better.
Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Arkansas are each expected to be stronger than they were in 2020. Auburn has a chance to be improved, but it is a team with a lot of questions as it goes into the season with an almost totally new coaching staff that is installing different offensive and defensive systems.
There are always a lot of unknowns about college football teams at this time of year. Going into the 2021 season, that is especially the case because of the huge changes in rosters around the country with the new rule that allows transfers to be immediately eligible to play this fall. It looks like Auburn has made a net gain in this area with more talent arriving via the transfer portal than has left.
New South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer will appear during the opening session of SEC Media Days along with Ed Orgeron of LSU and Dan Mullen of Florida.
Vandy’s new head man, Clark Lea, is on the day-two schedule along with Nick Saban of Alabama, Mike Leach of Mississippi State and Fisher.
Josh Heupel, the new Tennessee head coach, is on the day-three media days schedule with Kirby Smart of Georgia, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss. Eli Drinkwitz of Missouri and Sam Pittman of Arkansas join Auburn’s new head coach, Bryan Harsin, on the final day.
With the pandemic cancelling last year’s media days event, in addition to the four new head coaches in the league this year, the SEC’s second-year head coaches will be making their initial media days appearances representing their programs.
That group includes Missouri’s Drinkwitz, Pittman from Arkansas, Leach of Mississippi State and Kiffin of Ole Miss, so eight of the 14 coaches at Media Days 2021 will be making their first appearances at the event.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter.