The Latest: Ed Orgeron, LSU facing championship expectations

Sports

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Monday, July 15, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Friday Night Blitz Team Pages:

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on SEC media days (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

LSU won 10 games last season and even more is expected this fall. Coach Ed Orgeron said Monday he knows what needs to happen if the Tigers want to make that jump.

The 58-year-old said LSU must “get better at the lines of scrimmage. I’m not saying get better players, we need to perform better. We need to coach them better and these guys need to play well in order for us to win a championship.”

Orgeron will certainly be involved in trying to make that happen. His background is as a defensive coach, specifically on the defensive line.

The Tigers return one of the most experienced teams in the SEC. Quarterback Joe Burrow is back for a second season after throwing for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions last year.

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4:20 p.m.

Dan Mullen made a big leap in his second season at Mississippi State, but his Florida program doesn’t have quite so much room to grow.

Unless, of course, the Gators can jump to national contender status. That’s what another four-win improvement would mean.

The Bulldogs won five games after Mullen took over in 2009 and nine the following season. The Gators went 10-3 in his debut season and finished with aNo. 7 ranking, a spot shared with Georgia.

As Mullen says, going from 10 wins to 14 “would be pretty good.” After all, his players are more familiar with the programs and coaching staff and quarterback Feleipe Franks returns.

All that raises expectations for this season when Florida hopes to challenge defending Eastern Division champion Georgia.

Florida gets a big early test, opening the season Aug. 24 against Miami in Orlando.

The Gators finished last season with two emphatic wins. They beat Florida State 41-14 and then routed Michigan 41-15 in the Peach Bowl.

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2:05 p.m.

Missouri coaches and players feel good about the Tigers’ football team, especially after adding former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant to a veteran offense during the offseason.

That’s led to lofty goals for the Tigers. Whether those goals include postseason appearances is unclear.

Missouri is currently ineligible for the postseason after receiving a one-year ban from the NCAA as part of the punishment for academic misconduct involving a tutor. The school has appealed that ruling and hopes to get a final verdict soon.

Coach Barry Odom said Monday that he looks forward to closure, but no matter the outcome, his program is focused on “having absolutely zero excuses.”

Bryant spent four years at Clemson, where he threw for more than 3,300 yards in his career. He lost his job to Trevor Lawrence early last season and decided to transfer for his senior year.

Odom says the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Bryant is a “very selfless person” and “one of the best competitors I have ever been around.”

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1:45 p.m.

Commissioner Greg Sankey opened Southeastern Conference media days talking about everything from a connection between sports gambling and athletes’ mental health to football officiating and the event’s future venues.

Sankey says he’d like to see “uniform practices” on college sports gambling in every state and elimination of specific in-game wagers or proposition betting. He also talked about the connection between sports gambling and mental health, with potential extra pressure on a field goal attempt, 3-point shot or ball-strike call.

Sankey also said Monday that trends in mental health should give officials pause before betting on specific college events is legalized.

The commissioner says athletes frequently want to discuss mental health issues and calls this “a wave of new reality, which faces all of us in intercollegiate athletics and higher education.”

Officiating was another hot topic. He says officiating crews will visit each football camp for two days during preseason practice, including sitting in for position meetings and discussing rules and techniques with coaches and players.

Sankey also announced that media days will return to Atlanta next year and be held in Nashville for 2021.

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3 a.m.

Southeastern Conference media days begins at the event’s longtime home.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey kicks the four-day event off Monday with his annual media address about the state of the league and college football. Media days returns to the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, Alabama after one year in Atlanta.

The spotlight will be on LSU coach Ed Orgeron on Day 1, with Florida’s Dan Mullen and Missouri’s Barry Odom also taking the podium.

Some things haven’t changed: Alabama and Georgia remain the division favorites. The Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban speaks Wednesday, a day after Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has his turn.

All 14 teams will make the rounds, including star quarterbacks like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia’s Jake Fromm. Every SEC head coach returns this season for the first time since 2006.

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