As SEC Media Days approached last year, the media was whipped into a frenzy. You see, the SEC has become known for having the biggest, strongest fastest defenses in the country, some of the best athletes at linebacker, receiver, running back and in the defensive backfield. The conference was not, however, known for having great quarterbacks.
Sure, Tim Tebow, Jamarcus Russell, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and other have come through, but never had the SEC been able to pound their chest to this group of talent.
Heisman Trophy Winner and traveling media circus ringleader, Johnny Manziel headlined the group just weeks after being sent home from the Manning Camp for showing up late. He was joined by Bo Wallace (Mississippi), Jeff Driskel, Aaron Murray (Georgia), Zach Mettenberger (LSU), AJ McCarron (Alabama) and Connor Shaw (South Carolina) all descended on Birmingham, Alabama.
It was quite a group of passers, probably the best that the league has ever boasted at a single media days.
This season, however, the league lacks that kind of talent at quarterback. Returning starters who are expected to be in attendee include Jeff Driskel, Bo Wallace, Nick Marshall (Auburn), Maty Mauk (Missouri), Hutson Mason (Georgia), Dylan Thompson (South Carolina) and maybe Brandon Allen (Arkansas).
There’s some talent in that group. Maty Mauk played well in relief of an injured James Franklin last year, he has the arm strength and moxy to use it. Bo Wallace was serviceable last season for Ole Miss, Nick Marshall led Auburn to the national championship game and Driskel and Allen both show a lot of promise.
But this group is far from the star-studded lineup from a year earlier.
The SEC was home to some of the best quarterbacks across the country last season but college football’s most powerful conference has essentially a bare cupboard heading into this season.
If a quarterback is the face of a franchise (or a program in the case of college football) where does that leave the SEC?
The answer is right back where they left off — punishing defense.
SEC Media Days will likely set a record for media attendance, again, and it doesn’t need the well-known faces of quarterbacks. The league is going back to their roots featuring tough, fast, physical defense and some of the most athletic skill position players in the country.
Who needs flashy quarterbacks anyway?