SEC East Football: Perceptions and Realities
SEC football is full of tradition, pride and perceptions about the standing of each individual’s favorite school. Visit any campus and it won’t take you long to find the part of the fanbase that is really “buying in” on a popular opinion of their school. The reality of the situation for their team can sometimes be very different from what is perceived.
Last week I looked at the perceptions and realities for each school in the SEC West (click here to read).
Today it is time to do the same for the SEC East.
Here we go.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Perception: The Gators are a perennial power and one of the dominant teams in college football.
Reality: This perception is based on a past reality. Being unranked in the final AP poll in 2010 and 2011, combined with the absurd loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl in January, has taken that status away from Florida. By the way, fans of perennial powers buy their bowl tickets.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Perception: All that stands between the Bulldogs and a stack of SEC titles is someone other than Mark Richt as the head coach of their football team.
Reality: Mark Richt is doing a solid job as the head coach, with an overall record of 118-40 and an 8-4 bowl record. The two coaches prior to his arrival had a combined record of 86-53-1. Richt also has two SEC titles in his Georgia tenure. Georgia fans should start showing the man some love.
John Sommers II/Getty Images
Perception: Lexington is a place where college basketball matters more than football and there is nothing that can be done to reverse this fact.
Reality: Kentucky has an all-time football record of 580-582-44. Sometimes perception is spot on. This is one of those times.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Perception: BEFORE they played their first SEC game there was a belief that their brand of football would run circles around the “Old Man Football” favored by members of their new conference. After their first round of games in the SEC, there seems to be a common belief that they will have to grow up some before they can be competitive in this conference.
Reality: Again, it seems the perception and reality is in alignment. The first step to getting better is to admit you have a problem.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Perception: The Vols style of play is hard-nosed and teams “know” they have been in a game after 60 minutes on the field with the Big Orange. This is especially true of games played at Neyland Stadium.
Reality: The Vols may have been among the roughest, toughest kids on the block when Phil Fulmer roamed the Tennessee sidelines, but last year Tennessee was 13th in rushing D in the SEC and gave up 132 points in losses at home to Florida, Alabama and Missouri. Hardly the stuff of a bunch of tough guys.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Perception: Steve Spurrier has attitude and his team at South Carolina plays with the same feisty attitude of their coach. This "smugness” factor is one of the reasons the Gamecocks are one of the top teams in the nation.
Reality: Today’s Gamecocks may strut more than previous editions, but since Spurrier’s arrival there is one outing every year where they have laid an egg and lost a game they should have won. That just does not happen to a banty rooster.
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Perception: These are no longer your father’s Commodores and you can’t automatically schedule Vandy for a homecoming victory. No, the James Franklin style of football means you better take this team serious when they come calling on Saturdays in the fall.
Reality: While Franklin has made improvements in the quality of football at Vanderbilt, it does not mean they have joined the upper tier of the conference in any manner. It is not even time to say they are a mid-pack team year in and year out yet. In conference play Franklin’s teams have gone 7-9 in his two seasons at Vandy. Think about it, is there another school besides Kentucky you would rather play for homecoming?