You never know what you will get at SEC Football Media Days. The best media circus in the word is on the horizon. It will attract over 1,200 media reps July 15-18 in Hoover, Alabama, signaling the official kickoff of the college football season.
What will be the SEC story lines for 2018? Since Clemson won the national championship last year, is the ACC better than the SEC? Thirteen of the SEC coaches will be asked if Alabama can be derailed. MSU coach Joe Moorhead and Ole Miss Coach Matt Luke will be asked several times about their teams' defensive units and who their starting quarterbacks will be. All the action will be on the SEC Network.
24th Manning Passing Academy
The 24th Manning Passing Academy was held this past weekend at Nicholls State (La.) University. The Manning family who invites the nation’s best college quarterbacks to help with camp operates the MPA. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral and Southern Mississippi’s Jack Abraham were chosen to be counselors. Mississippi State’s representative was Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens. Meridian’s J’Mar Smith of Louisiana Tech joined the elite college signal caller. Also attending were Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and LSU’s Joe Burrow. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was a no-show due to a hamstring issue. Over 1,000 campers attended the three-day camp.
Mangum signs with N.Y. Mets
Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum signed with the New York Mets but received a signing bonus of only $20,000. Mangum, who was a senior in school, had no leverage in negotiations with the Mets. His slot showed that the Mets could have paid him a bonus of $487,900 for being the 118th overall pick in the MLB draft. An interesting side note is that the Mets had Mangum listed as a left-handed pitcher, not a center fielder. Mangum, the all-time hit leader in SEC history, only pitched in six games at MSU.
Former MSU baseball star Brent Rooker was named to the International AAA All-Star team. Southern Mississippi all-time career home run king Matt Wallner slammed his first home run for the rookie-level Elizabethton Twins in the Appalachian League.
Odds & Ends
• The big news this past week was Ole Miss Interim Athletic Director Keith Carter’s decision not to extend the contract of Rebels baseball coach Mike Bianco for a customary fourth year. Bianco's present contract will run out in three years.
• Street & Smith’s football magazine has a Mississippi JUCO flavor in their Top 20 poll. East Mississippi is ranked second, Co-Lin was No. 6, Jones is No. 7, Northwest is No. 12 and Hinds comes in at No. 19. Iowa Western is No. 1 in the poll.
• The Mississippi State women’s basketball is in Italy, this week as the USA team.They will play in Pool C against Mexico, Slovakia and Taipei. They played a “friendly” game against Japan on Monday at a U.S. Naval Base, winning 79-78. Their first pool game is July 3 against Mexico. The pool winner advances to an eight-team tournament.
• MSU hired Blair Schaefer, the former Bulldog guard and the daughter of head coach Vic Schaefer, as an assistant for the women’s hoops team. She will be in the newly created position of coordinator for women’s basketball player development.
• Former Ole Miss basketball player Elston Turner has been named the lead assistant coach with the Houston Rockets.
Dale McKee is a longtime sportswriter from Waynesboro and writes a weekly column about Mississippi sports for several weekly newspapers. McKee can be reached by email at email@example.com.