SEC Media Days notebook: Egg Bowl incident, gambling regulations, officiating transparency


Garrick Hodge



HOOVER, Ala. -- Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey touched on a number of topics in his State of the League press conference during SEC Media Days Monday at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham in Hoover. 


But the one that will interest Mississippi and Mississippi State fans the most was Sankey's reflection on a conversation between MSU Athletic Director John Cohen and former Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork several months ago. The discussion centered around the sideline-clearing brawl that ensued in MSU's 35-3 victory over Ole Miss in the 2018 Egg Bowl on November 22 in Oxford. Sankey said he, Bjork and Cohen discussed the incident together.  


"Ross, John and I had a really healthy conversation in early May," Sankey said. "At a meeting of athletics directors, we took some time at the end of one day, both shared their perspectives both concerns and ideas for how we can move through football games without that type of negative activity. 


"We've obviously had a change in the athletics director at Ole Miss, (Interim AD) Keith Carter and I talked. I think we've had what I would describe as healthy conversations with the focus always being to move through these contests without those types of conflicts." 


Meanwhile, future SEC Media Days sites were set, with the 2020 meetings taking place in Atlanta, while 2021 will be held in Nashville.  




Sankey still waiting on gambling regulation  


Several SEC presidents and chancellors are hoping the NCAA seeks federal legislation that regulates sports gambling. Monday, Sankey proposed eliminating specific in-game betting and proposition belts on college sports. 


"As I stated last year, it may be ideal for us not to experience any expansion in sports gambling," Sankey said. "What is needed now is for our state and federal legislative leaders to enact policies, oversight and to fund enforcement of those policies and laws to make sure we are protecting the integrity of our games and supporting properly our student-athletes and the students on our campus." 




SEC officiating striving for transparency 


The SEC is trying to be more open about officiating decisions this season. A new website was created for this purpose,, that will have educational videos, rule information and more. Sankey said this site will be used for more sports than just football.  


SEC Officiating also now has its own Twitter account -- look at the future replies Saturday afternoons at your own risk -- but how frequently it will post is yet to be determined.  


"In conjunction with the SEC Network, we expect and are exploring strategies to inform viewers about officiating decisions and to educate throughout the day, game day, through this platform," Sankey said. "...That does not mean we will spend all day Saturday tweeting about other people's officials, nor about ours, but we do recognize there are opportunities to engage and explain in ways we haven't previously explored." 




Decision could be near regarding Missouri's bowl ban appeal 


Missouri is still in the appeal process after the NCAA issued the Tigers a one-year postseason bowl ban after a former tutor helped approximately 12 students cheat from 2015 to 2016.  


Monday, Dennis Dodd of reported Missouri will have its appeal heard this week. Missouri's athletic department has not confirmed that report.  


"Now, you look at the opportunity when that's going to come about, we don't know," Missouri coach Barry Odom said at his press conference. "We anticipate that hopefully we'll get some closure soon. I am thankful for the way that our administration has approached it. I'm thankful for our legal counsel and the way they've helped and assisted and outside counsel. 


Odom added his coaching staff hasn't spent too much time fretting over the matter, because it's something that won't help the program. That said, he was pleased with his administration's handling of the process.  


"I also look at, is it a very aggressive approach and also with respect," Odom said. "And the way that the course goes, we'll find out and come to closure with it one way or the other in the near future and the way I handle that with my team will be just like I have everything else, very direct, open and honest in where we're going, what the opportunities are, and how we're going to move past it."



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