HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Mississippi, Auburn and South Carolina will be the final three teams at SEC media days on Thursday.
The Rebels figure to be the main attraction in Hoover — mostly because of off-the-field issues. The Rebels are in the midst of an NCAA investigation that’s lasted nearly five years, and now there are 21 alleged violations that include academic, booster and recruiting misconduct.
Adding to the off-the-field misery, former Mississippi coach Houston Nutt filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday against the university and its athletics foundation, alleging a breach of his severance agreement because of false statements he says school officials made during the ongoing NCAA investigation.
Nutt was the Rebels’ coach from 2008 to ‘11. Current coach Hugh Freeze is entering his sixth season.
Freeze’s job status is somewhat tenuous because of the NCAA investigation and last year’s 5-7 record. He did win 19 games over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, including two victories over mighty Alabama.
Auburn coach Gus Malzhan also enters the season with questionable job security. The Tigers finished 8-5 last season, including 5-3 in the SEC, but are just 11-13 in the league over the past three seasons.
Auburn does return a big chunk of its offense, and Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham appears to represent an upgrade at quarterback.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is preparing for his second season in Columbia. The Gamecocks were 6-7 last season, 3-5 in the SEC. Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley returns after throwing for 1,420 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions in his first college season.