College football has become much more than a sport and has been more than two schools playing each other on a Saturday afternoon. It has become a cash cow for universities and the football teams are the ones driving the bus.
Nowadays it is all about advertising, doing anything and everything to make your university known and hopping on board to bring attention towards your school.
Teams have now become a brand, and the bigger it is the better for everybody's pockets, as well as the health of the overall university. Whatever you can do to get folks talking, draw interest to your school and help put your team in the national spotlight, it would be wise to take advantage of it.
The bigger your brand is, the better your recruiting is going to be and the chances of you winning more games increases. It is all a domino effect in today's college football world.
With all that said, here are the biggest college football brands in the SEC.
6. Auburn: Even with tough competition from the Crimson Tide, Auburn is still able to hang with the big boys on a yearly basis. Thanks to an incredible fanbase and solid reputation for producing NFL players, the Tigers still do well for themselves.
7. Tennessee: Say what you will about Tennessee, but very few teams have accomplished what the Volunteers have in a program’s history. Success or not, this is a school that is still surprisingly able to sell itself for the most part.
8. South Carolina: Head coach Steve Spurrier has helped build the brand with the recent success, but many still look at the Gamecocks as the same old Gamecocks. There is still work to be done in South Carolina.
9. Ole Miss: In one short season Ole Miss has jumped a few teams on this list. When you become the trendy school with recruits, your brand skyrockets up the charts. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.
10. Vanderbilt: The brand for Vanderbilt was a bunch of nerdy kids that got good grades and were terrible on the gridiron. Now, things are starting to change under head coach James Franklin. Still a bunch of progress needing to be made, but being smart and athletic is starting to become cool.
11. Arkansas: Arkansas had its chance to build its brand significantly last season, but we all know how that turned out. The Razorbacks remain that team that just can't get over the hump, and until some major success takes place, the brand won't improve much either.
12. Mississippi State: When you lose ground to the other team that plays in your own state, you know things are really taking a turn for the worse. Mississippi State must figure something out quickly to turn things around.
13. Kentucky: Not sure Kentucky has much of a brand on the football side of things. However, that basketball team does play a part and help keeps the Wildcats from completely drowning in this conference.
14. Missouri: Missouri is fighting an uphill battle and has a ton of work to do to build itself in the SEC. We are talking about the toughest conference in the sport, and the Tigers haven't done much of anything to get the ball rolling yet.
Georgia is really an interesting brand and one you can respect regardless of which team you root for on Saturdays.
The Bulldogs aren't a program that consistently competes for national titles or is talked about heavily in the national media. You also don't see the Bulldogs' logo tossed around and as promoted as you do with some of the other schools. Instead, Georgia sells itself off of being a consistent winning program and having a head coach that has been around for a while.
With not much competition and enough talent in its own backyard, Georgia has been able to take advantage of having Mark Richt as a head coach since 2001. Because of the stability and players knowing what they are going to get, Georgia hasn't had to go out of its way and do anything outrageous to market itself.
Even with the less glamor and attention the Bulldogs draw, this is still a school that usually wins 10 games a season and ends up having a successful year.
A national title would do wonders for Georgia, but even without it, this brand seems to be in good hands.
With the increased success of the LSU program under head coach Les Miles, this is a brand that may just be getting started.
When you think of the colors purple and gold, no other school comes to mind other than LSU. If you are discussing biggest home-field advantage, it doesn't get much better than a steamy night game in Death Valley. If you were wondering which team had some of the most passionate fans, just checkout this guy getting his leg actually branded with the LSU logo.
Speaking of the fans, according to an ESPN report from Gary Laney, season tickets are selling like hot cakes these days.
The demand for LSU football season tickets continues to grow. LSU assistant AD for ticket operations Brian Broussard said. The requests for LSU season tickets continue to be higher than the number of tickets that we have to offer.
LSU has become the ultimate rival for the Alabama Crimson Tide and anytime you are thrown into that type of company, it will only continue to build your brand into something special. The Tigers can still improve in some areas, but this is a school that continues to thrive and should only improve as the years go by.
If the Florida Gators were still being coached by Urban Meyer and continuously competing for national titles, there would be nobody ahead of them as far as brand is concerned. Just a few years ago, the Gators were the talk of college football and there was no slowing down that bowling ball.
Since Meyer has left, things have changed a bit for Florida, but that doesn't mean this brand has taken a backseat to many teams.
Despite just recently participating in a BCS bowl for the first time since 2009, the recruits still think high of this university. According to ESPN, the Gators have finished with a top five recruiting class the last two seasons. Due to the rich history of winning, the NFL success rate and a tough-minded coaching staff that goes the extra mile, Florida is a strong program that is still able to sell itself.
Of course, it also helps that the Gators basketball team is able to carry its own weight, which help keeps that gator chomp relevant year round.
If Will Muschamp and his staff can continue to win games with the talent coming in, the rest of the work will sort itself out.
If you asked me this before last season, Texas A&M may have not even been on the radar as far as brand or most popular team in this conference.
How in the world is this new team going to step right in and pretty much bully its way into the SEC?
Well, there is some guy named Johnny Manziel who has taken on this Paul Bunyan effect as of late. Not only did he win last year’s Heisman Trophy, but there seems to be an update on the kid every single day as if he was Justin Bieber.
If that wasn't enough, the Aggies are also well known for Kyle Field and it being the home of the 12th man. Always packing the house and providing one of the loudest atmospheres in college football, College Station has had a huge impact and helped build the brand of the overall program.
Texas A&M has caught fire recently and has always had a fanbase that is as rabid as ever. When you combine everything this school has to offer, the brand will only continue to grow into a monster.
When you win three of the last four national championships, it is only going to do great things for your brand.
It is getting to the point where Nick Saban and Big Al are everywhere you turn as everything they touch turns to gold.
Whether it is the recruiting process, national television or media attention, Alabama football has been shoved down your throat the last few years. The Tide run this sport currently and there is really no close second place at this very moment.
If you are talking about national championship favorites, you mention Alabama. Who is snagging all of the top recruits? There is a good chance it is the head coach that everybody loves to hate. Which team is controlling the college football headlines? Um, I'll go ahead and bet that folks want to hear about the team in Tuscaloosa.
All of the attention and money pouring in has allowed the school to go ahead and build a weight room that other schools would kill to have.
Everywhere you turn it is Alabama this, Alabama that. That slanted "A" has become quite popular lately and the more the program continues to dominate the competition, the brand will only get bigger and continue to take on a life of its own.