The Latest: Stoops says time for Kentucky to take next step

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on SEC Media Days (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

Mark Stoops says he's slowly seeing his Kentucky team improve each season.

From Stoops' 2-10 debut in 2013, the Wildcats had two straight 5-7 finishes before two straight seven-win seasons. Kentucky has finished 4-4 in Southeastern Conference games each of the last two years.

Stoops, who returns 17 starters this season, says it's time to take the next step.

"We expect more," Stoops said Monday during SEC Media Days. "We've been close. We've done some good things. I'm proud of the work that we've done, that we look forward to making a big jump this year."

The pattern of constant coaching turnover in the SEC is working against Stoops as he enters his sixth season. Auburn's Gus Malzahn also is entering his sixth season. Only Alabama's Nick Saban, entering his 12th season, has a longer active tenure.

"I think that made my heart drop," Stoops said when told where he ranks on that SEC longevity scale. "I can't believe you mentioned that. That's not a good feeling."


1:35 p.m.

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher inherited a tough, early schedule in his first season.

The Aggies host Clemson, the national champion two seasons ago, in their second game and visit defending national champion Alabama in their fourth.

Fisher said Monday during SEC Media Days, "I think when you have those kinds of games in the early part of the season, it makes the summer that much better ... it gets your attention."

Handed a 10-year, $75 million contract, Fisher isn't under immediate pressure to win big. He will have some time to adapt and implement a plan to help Texas A&M become a perennial SEC and national contender.

The Aggies haven't won an outright conference title since coach R.C. Slocum led the team to the 1998 Big 12 title.


12:40 p.m.

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey has opened the league's annual preseason media gathering by bragging about the conference's national championship success.

It was a good time and good setting to make the boast. Two league members, Alabama and Georgia, played for the championship in a game won by the Crimson Tide at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Sankey said 11 of the last 12 national championship games have included at least one SEC team, and the conference has won nine of the past 12 titles. He said no other conference has had more than two teams represented in that time.

Sankey also spoke on the need to have legalized gambling closely monitored.

The SEC media days are being held in Atlanta this year after being held near Birmingham, Alabama every year since 1985.


11:30 a.m.

The Southeastern Conference has opened its annual preseason media gathering at a new location.

The four-day event is being held in Atlanta, the first time it's been held outside of the Birmingham, Alabama, area since 1985.

The annual event brings together coaches and players from the league's 14 schools. This year approximately 1,000 media credentials have been issued.

Commissioner Greg Sankey, who opened Monday's event with his state of the SEC speech, says the move to Atlanta is not permanent. The event will return to Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, in 2019.

The long-term plan is to move the event throughout the conference's 11-state region.


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