Thanks for sending this over, Meesh.
RANKING THE SEC'S FOOTBALL PROGRAMS OVER THE LAST 25 YEARS
June 30, 2008
Which SEC football program has been the best over the past 25 years? To make that determination, you have to establish criteria. The factors considered were overall record, SEC record, SEC championships, national championships, and record against the other elite programs in the conference.
The elite programs are Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee.
Why not Arkansas? The Hogs didn't join the SEC until 1992, have had just four 10-win seasons in 25 years and have yet to win an SEC title.
Kentucky? When you have back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time while not on probation since 1950-51, you've still got a ways to go.
Ole Miss? The Rebels haven't won the SEC since 1963, have had just one 10-win season since 1972 and are the only West team to not have played in the SEC championship game.
Mississippi State? When your coach wins eight games and almost doubles his pay, you don't have much tradition.
South Carolina? The Gamecocks have won one conference title in school history (and that wasn't even the SEC) and didn't win a bowl game until 1995.
Vanderbilt? In 10 of the past 13 years, the Commodores won no more than one SEC game. The 'V' should stand for victimized.
So let's focus on the six teams in the upper echelon. Four of those teams have won a national title since 1983. Two have won two. Auburn had an undefeated season (or two.) And Georgia had a recent run of four straight top-10 finishes to go with a No. 2 ranking last season. Which team is No. 1 over the past quarter century?
Not Alabama. The Crimson Tide won the 1992 national title and each of the seven coaches since Bear Bryant, with the exception of Nick Saban, had a 10-win season. But Bama ranks fifth in SEC titles (three), fifth in overall wins (192), fifth in SEC wins (109) and tied for fourth in winning percentage against the other SEC elite teams. The Tide would be the easy winner the previous 25 years, but not the most recent.
Not Georgia. The Bulldogs are fourth in overall wins (205) and SEC wins (114), but last in SEC titles (two) and winning percentage against the elite (39 percent, 33-51-1). While Georgia has been outstanding under seven-year coach Mark Richt, the Bulldogs went 20 years between SEC crowns (1982-2002) and had just two 10-win seasons in an 18-year span.
Not Auburn. Even if you argue Auburn could have won the 2004 national title if given a chance and that the Tigers are the lone SEC program to go undefeated since 1998, the Tigers haven't done enough. Tommy Tuberville has won or tied for the West Division title five times since 2000, but he has just one SEC crown to show for it. Auburn does have five SEC titles since 1983 with two undefeated teams. But the Tigers are third in overall wins (213), third in SEC wins (122) and second in winning percentage against the elite (54 percent, 56-47-3).
Not Tennessee. The Vols have won more games than any program in the country since 1926 and they've captured five SEC crowns in the past 25 years. They've even had more East Division crowns (six) than any other program over the past 11 years. But they are second in overall wins (218) and SEC wins (134), they are third in winning percentage against the elite (43-42-1) and they have won just three of their last eight bowl games.
Not LSU. The Tigers have been on fire in the 2000s, winning two national championships with two different coaches -- and three SEC titles. They've won three straight bowls by blowing out big-name opponents (Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State). They've won 56 games in the past five years.But in the '90s, LSU was awful, recording six consecutive losing seasons from 1989-95 and two more in 1998-99. LSU, among the elite programs, has won the fewest games overall (187), the fewest in the SEC (104) and is 11 games under .500 against the elite (38-49-2).
The best program: Florida. Most of it started when Steve Spurrier awoke a sleeping giant in Gainesville. While the Gators did have three straight nine-win seasons (1983-85) before Spurrier was hired, they didn't win the SEC until 1991. Spurrier captured five in six years, won one national title and played for another. Before Spurrier arrived, Florida didn't have a 10-win season. It has had 10 since, with three nine-win campaigns. In fact, over the past 25 years, Florida has won at least nine games in a year 17 times. Florida has won the most overall games by 10 (228), the most SEC games by eight (142) and has by far the best record against the elite (69-34-1, 67 percent). Auburn is second (against the elite) at 54 percent. The 69 wins are 36 more than Georgia, 31 more than LSU and 27 more than Alabama. It's worth noting that in the past 25 years, Florida has the most SEC titles as well (7) with Auburn, LSU and Tennessee tied at five.
The best win percentage against the elite: Florida (67 percent), Auburn (54%), Tennessee (51%), LSU (44%), Alabama (44%), Georgia (39%).And one last note: Who has had the most coaches over the last 25 years? LSU with eight, followed by Alabama (7), Florida (6), Auburn (4), Georgia (4) and Tennessee (2).