NCAA Tournament 2012: Kentucky's Win Just a Part of the SEC's Dominance

Mark AlewineContributor IApril 3, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  The Kentucky Wildcats celebrate after defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 2, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The SEC’s stranglehold on American college sports has reached a new level. 

With the Kentucky Wildcats earning its eighth NCAA men's basketball title, the SEC now boasts six current champions, with an overwhelming dominance in several sports. This bests all other Division 1 conferences to date. 

Headlining this success has been the SEC’s six-year run in the BCS (along with eight of the total 13 BCS championships), capped off by Alabama’s win this past January (over SEC foes LSU). The conference also owns the last two College World Series titles (South Carolina), and last season’s Women’s Final Four champion (future member Texas A&M). 

And lest we forget the success of Pat Summit. 

However, the true greatness of the SEC can be found in the sports that draw the least attention. 

In women’s gymnastics, the SEC boasts both Alabama as the current champion and Georgia as the overall title holder with 10 national championships since 1987 (including five straight from 2005-09). In swimming and diving, SEC schools own nine of 11 women’s titles from 2000-10, and six of seven men’s titles (all from Auburn) from 2003-09. 

But dwarfing them all is the SEC’s complete dominance over track and field. Including future member Texas A&M, SEC men’s outdoor teams have won all but two championships since 1989 (Arkansas won in '04 and '05, but those titles were vacated for recruiting violations). On the women’s side, LSU and Texas A&M have combined for 17 national championships, including 11 straight by LSU from 1987-97. 

These achievements may not grab headlines like the future NBA and NFL pros from Kentucky and Alabama, but they have contributed to the larger scope of greatness enjoyed by the conference, and added to the allurement of schools like Texas A&M and Missouri to abandon tradition for future success.  

So if a culture of winning is contagious, then maybe the newly-crowned champion Wildcats have their fellow SEC athletes to thank. Maybe they could start with their female, basketball counterparts.