Hold on SEC fans, don't get too riled up just yet. The inevitable cycles of college football turn like a wheel in a cage, and while the wheel is turning again, remember that it's just the nature of the game.
Unfortunately for you, SEC fans, it looks to be coming fast and hard. With the possible crash of the Gator program, and the sudden decline of LSU, Alabama is left atop a conference that just a few years ago had written the Tide off as the has-beens of the, then, mighty Southeastern conference.
Boy how things have changed; suddenly Alabama, the old dog in a new yard, is back in control; lucky for the SEC too. There's a lesson in that: never write off the power programs – the ones that give college football the lore of the game. In the SEC, Alabama is once such school, and Nick Saban may be the conference’s only elite coach if Urban Meyer decides to retire.
It’s easy to argue that that Les Miles had his greatest success with Saban’s recruits back in 2007, and that Meyer’s un-retirement is a PR stunt, leaving a bunch of middle-of-the-pack teams following in the wake of the Crimson Tide, with a couple of bottom feeders tossed in for good measure.
Here is a rundown of what may happen if the Gator program crash’s, or simply slips into mediocrity over the next few seasons.
Six of the twelve teams that make up the SEC have overall records of 7-5 in 2009; Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and South Carolina.
Those 7-5 seasons come with a 3-5 conference record for a quartet of the teams: Auburn, Arkansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina.
Georgia and Tennessee have slightly better conference records at 4-4.
Ole Miss had a better overall record at 8-4, but shares the same 4-4 conference record as the Bulldogs of Athens and the Volunteers.
Mississippi State and Vanderbilt troll the bottom with records of 5-7 and 2-10.
That leaves LSU at 9-5 overall and 5-3 in conference. Not very impressive, and an indication of the decline in the Tiger program since the 2007 BCS championship game.
Florida, at 12-1, had its only loss in the conference championship to Alabama. We all know who is perfect at 13-0.
Skip the middle of the pack teams since their records speak for themselves, with cupcakes to inflate their win total.
So, jump to the top two of Alabama and Florida. Florida is about to be in shambles.
It’s no coincidence that when they saw their recruiting class falling to pieces after Meyer’s announcement, he came out with a new announcement concerning his love for the players and his intention to return.
Alabama speaks for itself.
Compare that to 2007, when most of the middle of the pack teams were up at 8 and 9 wins, and the national championship belonged to LSU for the second time since 2003.
It should be noted Nick Saban was the headcoach of LSU in 2003 and left some great talent when he departed for the NFL following the 2004 season.
Some of the Saban talent populated the 2007 LSU BCS championship team of Coach Les Miles.
Go further back, to 2006, and compare the records of the tops teams in the SEC. There were plenty of 10 and 11 win programs.
Alabama had a losing record in 2006, and Auburn's undefeated 2004 season seemed light years away, in a time when the Tigers seemed to own the rivalry with Alabama.
The SEC is a fine conference, but it is now on the gradual decline that will only give rise to a new champion.
So then where will our future BCS Champions come from?
If Urban Meyer leaves, then Miami will surely grab away many of Florida’s recruits, and with the departure of Bobby Bowden, Florida State may be on the rise again (no disrespect to Bowden, but the program needed some change).
Or maybe with the addition of the twelfth team, it will be the Big Ten as they will not slumber for the last six weeks of the season any longer.
Whoever it is, you can expect that one day, they too will face the inevitable cycle that plagues every team and conference in the country.
It is just the ups and downs of the game.
It was a great run SEC fans, and good luck in the Championship game – Nick Saban probably won’t need it.