Starting Monday, the college football world will turn its focus to Hoover, Ala., for the 2017 edition of SEC Media Days.
The four-day event is a media extravaganza, with each of the conference’s 14 head coaches and three players from each team taking turns with the media. The transitions between teams and colorful figures is a quick one, making it hard to decide who’s worth watching when.
Here’s a look at the five people you must check out when their time with the media comes around.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas head coach: Bielema is usually good for a few soundbites during Media Days and has provided such classics as calling the 2014 bowl victory over Texas “borderline erotic.” Bielema is feeling more heat than ever before after losing six games in his fourth season as Razorbacks coach, but given Bielema’s nature, that won’t change his demeanor in front of the cameras. Besides, the birth of his first child, daughter Briella, on Saturday should put a pep in his step and provide some good dad anecdotes.
Derrius Guice, LSU junior running back: Guice proved during his sophomore season there was practically no drop-off from Leonard Fournette to him, as Guice rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns while Fournette missed five games. Entering the 2017 season, it’s not inconceivable that Guice does something Fournette never could: Make good on his Heisman Trophy aspirations.
Nick Chubb, Georgia senior running back: Chubb was one of four Georgia underclassmen — including fellow running back Sony Michel — who surprised many by returning for their senior seasons. Chubb and the Georgia rushing attack struggled with consistency in 2016, but with more time now removed from his knee surgery, it seems safe to expect Chubb to be a game changer once again.
Nick Saban, Alabama head coach: This will be Saban’s first return to the national stage since the Crimson Tide fell to the Clemson Tigers in the final seconds of the 2017 National Championship Game. Saban, entering his 11th season at Alabama, often does his best to say nothing noteworthy at Media Days, but strike a nerve with the veteran head coach, and viewers better have their popcorn ready.
Jake Bentley, South Carolina sophomore quarterback: The former Opelika High School quarterback showed glimpses of his potential in his freshman season, which ended with a 390-yard and three-touchdown outing against South Florida. Bentley, who turned 20 during his freshman campaign, is one of six signal callers who will be in Hoover and could have the biggest season of them all.
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports