Let us be honest, currently SEC football has become so powerful that it can't be attributed to one coach or one team per se. I'm not talking about the foundation of the conference but rather the entity it has become. A super-conference.
There is no other conference that has more titles in the BCS era. Nor no other conference that has more appearances in the BCS title game. The SEC is 7-7 in that game.
Also, I can't think of any other conference that comes together during bowl season to cheer for a rival just to bolster the conference as a whole. Now don't get me wrong, we all know that most of the non-Auburn fans didn't want to see them win this last BCSNC. However, they wanted to thump their chests as a conference and not have to hang their heads in shame for a loss by one of their brothers.
Brothers, that is the mentality. I can pick on my brother but if you do it you will suffer the consequences. Maybe Auburn took the "family, all in" bit from the conference?
It also comes down to what is good for the goose is good for the gander. This reflects in recruiting, marketing and TV exposure for the entire conference, even Vanderbilt.
I want to go back to one point. I can attribute the current state of SEC success to one person.
Alabama will win how many regular season games in 2011?
If you don't know who I'm talking about then research his name and what he did for the conference.
Since 1992 when Alabama started off what could be considered the current SEC national title run the conference has garnered great exposure. Gene Stallings was a Bear prodigy and that started the smoke.
At the same time Steve Spurrier, the ex-UF Heisman Trophy winner, comes into his own and adds fuel to the fire with a national title in 1996. And follow that up with some Phillip Fulmer picking up an NC in 1998.
Then Saban rolls into the league and within the brush stroke of putting LSU on the map he does the same for the South Eastern Conference. It was big news when Nick decided to bolt from the conference. But, as happenstance would have it there was a big Utah name coming in to invigorate Florida's program and at the same time the SEC.
The explosion of the SEC, the good kind of explosion, started on Dec. 3, 2006 when it became known that the Florida Gators were going to the BCS championship game. That explosion became a hydrogen bomb on Jan. 4 just four days before the Gators trounced the Buckeyes.
That was the day Nick Saban joined the Alabama program.
Besides the opposing fans, not one pundit I could recall said that Saban would not have success. Some sports experts predicted a national title in three years. And, they were right.
Will the SEC be in the BCSNC in 2011
Other SEC teams hated this hire but no one hated it more than LSU and Auburn. The glory days of an easy win over a poorly coached, scholarship reduced and sporadically recruited Crimson Tide were coming to an end.
Like I said though, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Saban brought additional exposure and better recruiting standards to the conference. The hire elevated contenders games and brought about the firing of several coaches. It was time for other institutions to keep up...even if they were ahead.
Since becoming the head coach of the University of Alabama Nick has led the league in total defense three out of the four years. Those three years are subsequently every year after his first.
No other team has a better win loss record over the Alabama-Saban era as well. Only Florida can boast equal numbers.
The following is the SEC win loss record for each team and place of finish from 2007 to date:
1. Alabama 43-11
2. Florida 43-11
3. LSU 40-13
4. Auburn 36-16
5. UGA 35-17
6. Arkansas 31-20
Who is more likely to win the SEC West in 2011?
7. South Carolina 29-23
8. UT 28-24
9. UK 28-24
10. Miss State 26-24
11. Ole Miss 25-25
12. Vanderbilt 16-33
I know what you are wondering, why did I put Alabama-Saban at No. 1 over Florida-Meyer when they clearly have the same record. Easy, Nick is 2-1 over Urban.
As you look at the aforementioned numbers think about the present and into the future. Who is trying to maintain? Who is trying to elevate?
Well, we know from the firings that UT, Auburn, Mississippi State and Arkansas are trying to elevate to the Alabama-Saban standard. Auburn has managed to garner the NC but we shall see about the "maintain" level.
LSU and UF are trying to maintain with extension contracts and new coaching hires. Though Florida does need to elevate after this past year and needs to beef up on the recruiting trail. Time will tell about the Muschamp era.
South Carolina would like to elevate and has done so through their 2010 record comparative to the previous three years. However, the SEC championship game and ensuing bowl game once again showed their true colors.
Who is more likely to win the SEC East?
Georgia wants to elevate but doesn't have the fortitude to fire Richt and pick up the pieces and move on. Therefore they are not even on the maintain level, but merely at the struggling level.
During the BCS championship game, ESPN could have put any number of coaches on the dais. So, who did they choose but Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Where was Jim Tressel, Les Miles, Bob Stoops or Gary Patterson?
There is a reason ESPN put Saban in that chair. I don't have to explain it because you know it. And whether you like it or not, as an SEC team fan, you must remember that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.