The SEC West: Where Hate and Familiarity Run Rampant

Nic GulasSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2008

So, you think you know your conference foes?  Think you have a legitimate gripe to hate the teams in your division? 

Until you look at the SEC West, you don't know the half of it. 

The six teams that make up this division take this hate and familiarity to a whole new level. 

Three out of six coaches have been head coaches at another school in the same division.

Five out of six coaches have ties to another school in the division.

This is all before we even consider talking about rivalries within the division. 

Below is how each and every team in the SEC West has a storied history and connection to each other.

***Author's Note: The article is done in alphabetical order.  There is no intended insult given to the Mississippi schools—they just fall at the end of the line in the division by this criteria.***


Alabama vs. Arkansas

Ever since the Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1992, these teams have split this series 8-8—but that's not what's important.

The winner of this game traditionally goes on to have the better season. 

In Alabama's eight wins in this series, the Tide has had six 10-win seasons, two SEC titles, and one National Championship.  The other two seasons have produced seven-win teams (2001 and 2007).

In Arkansas' eight wins since 1992, the Hogs have three Western Division titles and four seasons with at least eight wins. 

These teams also shared a head coach in Joe Kines.  Kines took over at Arkansas for Jack Crowe after Crowe lost the first game of the 1992 season to The Citadel.  Kines was also the head coach for Alabama in the 2006 Independence Bowl against Oklahoma State. 


Alabama vs. Auburn

Does anything really need to be said about this rivalry?  There is hardly any rivalry—not just in the conference, but in the country—that carries more hate than this one. 

The Iron Bowl teams split families, friends, and an entire state for 365 days a year, spanning outside of football to as far as swimming, diving, and gymnastics. 

The rivalry's hate has hit an all-new high during Auburn's current six-game winning streak, coupled with Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville's continued hand count of victories.

These teams fight over recruits year after year, in and out of state.  If you don't know anyone involved in this rivalry, meet someone soon.  You won't regret experiencing the fanaticism surrounding this matchup.


Alabama vs. LSU

This game really didn't have much meaning to it previously, but the Nick Saban aspect has brought it to a whole new level. 

The second coach to change schools in the SEC West left LSU fans feeling betrayed and Alabama fans looking to the future.  The newest term in the Alabama fan's vocabulary—coonass—didn't make things much better here. 

Before the Saban effect, LSU and Alabama was very much a road team series.  LSU has won seven of the last 10 in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama is 15-3-1 in Baton Rouge since 1979.  The Bayou Bengals also handed Alabama their first loss of the 2005 season, ruining what many Tide fans thought would be a return to glory season. 

This year's game, Saban's first in Baton Rouge since his departure, is sure to be one that will garner large amounts of attention.


Alabama vs. Ole Miss

Alabama has dominated this series, leading it 44-9-2 all-time, and that doesn't sit too well with the Rebels, especially lately. 

The past two contests between these two teams have been decided by three points each. 

In 2006, the Tide won a game in OT, scoring a touchdown to counter Ole Miss' field goal.

Last year, Alabama won on a controversial call in Oxford, when an official review overturned a Rebel fourth down conversion and potential first and goal with eight seconds left. 

This year in Tuscaloosa, the Rebels will be out to win for sure.


Alabama vs. Mississippi State

These schools are each other's most played rival, and they are the closest SEC campuses, separated by only 86 miles. 

A big controversy has hung over this game for about five years now, ever since Alabama selected Mike Shula as head coach over Sylvester Croom. 

Croom would take the head job at Mississippi State the following season, and he has proved that he should have become the head coach at his alma mater. 

Sly, a former player for Bear Bryant, has a current two-game winning streak against the Tide, which does not sit well in Tuscaloosa.  For the first time since 1999, this game will actually have real meaning for both teams.


Arkansas vs. Auburn

Over the past two years, this game has been quite possibly the most physical game in the SEC all season. 

The rivalry got a big kick this season when Bobby Petrino took over at Arkansas.  Petrino is a former assistant to Tommy Tuberville down on the Plains, but most Auburn fans think of him in a different light.

Petrino was the focus of Plane-gate in 2003, when Auburn administrators took a midnight plane to Louisville to talk to Petrino just days before the Iron Bowl.  Since then, Tuberville is undefeated against Alabama and has an undefeated season under his belt. 


Arkansas vs. LSU

The battle for the Golden Boot has long been a rivalry between these two teams, and it is one of the few in the SEC with a trophy. 

These teams met last season and LSU suffered an unexpected loss to Darren McFadden and company, but they still managed to reach the national title game. 

They meet every season on the final Friday of the year, and the arrival of Bobby Petrino will bring some new spark to the game.


Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

This game managed to become one of the most interesting ones during the offseason. 

Just hours after Houston Nutt retired from Arkansas, he was introduced as the head coach at Ole Miss. 

Nutt became the third coach in the SEC West to switch schools within the division. 

The crazy relationship between Arkansas and Nutt will only get crazier when Ole Miss ventures into Reynolds Razorback Stadium in October. 


Arkansas vs. Mississippi State

This may actually be the tamest of matchups in the SEC West at this point in time. 

Games between these teams have fallen in favor of the Hogs since their inception into the SEC. 


Auburn vs. LSU

This game has come a long way in determining the winner of the SEC West since 2000. 

More times than not, this game will produce crazy endings and controversial calls, including last season's miracle pass by LSU to finish off the other Tigers. 

The intensity between these two teams has escalated along with the games, and LSU fans still remember the cheap shot Auburn took on Glenn Dorsey last season. 


Auburn vs. Ole Miss

Tommy Tuberville became the first coach to change schools within the division in 1999 when he left Oxford for Auburn.  However, he didn't leave in a pine box like he had originally promised. 

Most of the demons seemed to have died down from this change of coaches until this past season, when recruit Enrique Davis changed from Auburn to Ole Miss at the last second. 

One thing to watch would be to see if the physicality remains in the matchup between Nutt and Tuberville.


Auburn vs. Mississippi State

This is another mild matchup for the most part, except State managed to crash the party in Auburn last season. 

As shocking as it was for MSU to win this game, Auburn was just as shocked to lose it, and the team is determined to make things right this season in Starkville in a game that is already slated for an ESPN night telecast. 


LSU vs. Ole Miss

Of all the teams LSU should have devoured in the past seasons, Ole Miss has given the Fighting Tigers fits. 

Four of the past six games between the two have been decided by three points or less, and all have gone in LSU's favor. 

The angst between these two schools ventures off the field every other year in Oxford. 

Every other year, LSU fans will crash the party on the Grove, known around the conference as the best tailgating setting.  Tiger fans do their best to take over the area. 

Of course this never sits well with the Rebels, and the on-the-field results have mounted on top of these frustrations.


LSU vs. Mississippi State

It's one thing to get shut out by a team.  It's another to lose 45-0 on national television to start off the entire college football season.

Bulldog fans won't soon forget the woodshed beating handed down by LSU, especially with a team this season that most Bulldog players view as SEC champion-worthy. 


Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State

The Egg Bowl.  The battle for Mississippi.  Once again, this is a rivalry where the teams split families and the state every year, as well as fight over numerous recruits.

The game has gained a lot of luster with the arrival of Houston Nutt in Oxford, especially after Mississippi State's improbable win last season. 

The hate is still there—and never left—but the appeal will be back to this game for the first time in years.


So there you have it—the insane and intricate connections which bring together the Western Division of the SEC. 

These games have been heated in the recent past, but nothing can prepare an SEC fan for what will go on this season in the West. 


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