The 2012-2013 Southeastern Conference sports season came to a close last week when Mississippi State fell to UCLA in the finals of the NCAA College World Series. The SEC posted another highly successful season across the board, winning a total of seven national championships in all sports.
In men’s indoor track, Arkansas won its 20th national championship. The Hogs have dominated indoor track for most of the last three decades. In men’s outdoor track, Florida and Texas A&M tied for the national title. The Gators also won the national title in women’s gymnastics. In addition, Georgia won its fifth national title in women’s swimming.
Despite having perhaps the worst year athletically in school history, Auburn did capture its third women’s equestrian national championship. The SEC is now responsible for 12 consecutive women’s equestrian national titles, although two of those belong to Texas A&M.
Outside of equestrian, however, the Tigers struggled in nearly all sports. The football team had one of the worst seasons in school history, which led to the firing of coach Gene Chizik. The men’s basketball team was equally terrible, as Tony Barbee’s team was one of the worst in school and league history.
Auburn also struggled in women’s basketball, softball and baseball. What Auburn accomplished, or better yet, failed to accomplish, in the last year was truly remarkable.
Jay Jacobs’ tenure as Auburn’s athletic director thus far has been tumultuous. Jacobs was responsible for hiring former head football coach Gene Chizik in 2008. Although Chizik won a BCS national championship in 2010, he lost control of the program and the Tigers plummeted last season. Jacobs replaced Chizik with former AU offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Jacobs is also responsible for the two men’s basketball coaches, Jeff Lebo and Tony Barbee. Lebo failed to lead the Tigers to a NCAA tournament berth, while Barbee has yet to lead Auburn to any postseason tournament. If things do not turn around quickly on the Plains, Jacobs could be the next person out the door.
While Auburn had an atrocious year in nearly every sport, Alabama was among the country’s best in several sports. Alabama won its third national title in four seasons in college football. The Crimson Tide also picked up its first-ever national title in men’s golf. Alabama also made an appearance in college baseball’s NCAA Tournament.
The only misfortune that struck the Crimson Tide in the last year was the loss of athletic director Mal Moore, who died of pulmonary problems at the age of 73. Moore oversaw several national championships in numerous sports during his tenure, including football, women’s gymnastics, women’s golf and softball. Moore also was responsible for making possibly the biggest hire in the history of college football when he swiped Nick Saban from the NFL Miami Dolphins in 2007. Moore’s successor is Bill Battle, who, like Moore, played for Bear Bryant in the early 1960s. Alabama is poised for another national title run in football in the upcoming season.
For the first time in 20 years, the SEC expanded its number of members. In 1992, the league acquired Arkansas and South Carolina, prompting conference officials to divide all teams into two divisions.
Last summer, the SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri from the Big 12. The transition from the Big 12 to the SEC was much easier for the Aggies, who burst onto the scene behind a legendary season from freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. “Johnny Football” became the first freshman in the history of college football to win the Heisman trophy. The Aggies also won a national title in men’s outdoor track.
Missouri’s first season in the SEC was not as easy as Texas A&M’s. The Tigers made the NCAA tournament in basketball but they were ousted by Colorado State in their opening game. Both schools will look to improve in all sports during the 2013-2014 season.