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• BACKUP PLAN: Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked if he had a plan to get over the hump against Alabama. “Yeah,” he said. “Get rid of their backup quarterback... “ The Bulldogs have lost to Alabama the past two seasons, first in the national championship game, then in the SEC championship game despite controlling most of the game. In the first, Bama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench to replace Jalen Hurts and lead the late comeback. Last year Tua started, but Hurts came off the bench in the final minutes for the comeback. “We haven’t finished the way we need to,” Smart said. At least Hurts is gone this year, having transferred to Oklahoma.

• COACH-SPEAK 101: Smart’s Bulldogs ended last season on a down note with a 28-21 loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl (it wasn’t as close as the final score). Smart said the Bulldogs “were out-competed, out-physicaled us and out-toughed.” There’s a true verb in there somewhere.

• FLIP-OFF: Heisman Trophy winner and SEC legend Herschel Walker was on hand Tuesday along with fellow Heisman winner Steve Spurrier and Ole Miss legend Archie Manning. Walker road to attend Georgia was interesting. First he flipped a coin about whether to go to Georgia or join the Marines. It came UGA. Then he flipped a coin between Georgia and Clemson. Georgia again. Then he put Georgia’s name in a bag with Southern Cal and drew from it. Still Georgia. “Sometimes when you are naive and stupid God will take care of you because Georgia was the right choice for me,” Walker said.

• STILL A REBEL: Manning, of course, runs the Manning Passing Academy with famous sons Peyton and Eli. He related how Penn State coach James Franklin called him to get one of his quarterbacks, Tommy Stevens, as one of the camp counselors. Archie said fine. A few months later, Stevens called Archie to tell him he was transferring to Mississippi State. Archie paused. “Well, now I don’t know...,” he said he told Stevens. He was kidding. Stevens worked the camp.

• DRESS BLUES: When Ole Miss wears its old-style baby blue helmets, especially with the red jerseys, it might be the SEC’s best looking duds. When it’s navy blue for both, it’s just another uniform. Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke prefers the look. “That was the helmet that I grew up watching and my brother wore,” he said. “So I think it’s a great change-up. So I think you’ll see some powder blue this year.” Better idea: Make it the full-time look.

• BLUE SKIES: Like Luke said, it’s refreshing to coach at Ole Miss now that the “black cloud” of a two-year bowl ban that his predecessor has been lifted. “There’s a lot of energy and confidence in our building because of that,” he said. “ You see it in recruiting. It’s fun to be able to walk into a living room of a recruit and not having to talk about any of that stuff. You have the opportunity to sell Ole Miss and Oxford for what it is and you don’t have to worry about all of the other garbage ... (It) has been refreshing.”

• HOT SEAT? Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is beginning his second year with the Vols, so he’s probably safe. But the dark orange tint of the background screen he stood in front of during his time at the podium Tuesday made him look like he was broiling while standing on the sun.

• ON DECK: It’s the main event with Alabama coach Nick Saban scheduled to speak in the morning. That means the throng of Bama fans will have to gather especially early in famous Wynfrey lobby jockeying for glimpses and autographs. Also on hand in supporting roles will be Arkansas coach Chad Morris, Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead and South Carolina coach Will Mushchamp. Also speaking will be Bill Hancock of the College Football Playoff and Mike Nealy from the Football Bowl Association.

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