SEC Year in Review
In the last decade, the Southeastern Conference has been synonymous with championships. From 2006-2015, the SEC won multiple national titles in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, softball, track and field and golf. In the 2015-16 season, however, the SEC only won one championship in those sports.
The conference still represented itself well in most sports, but the lack of titles is a bit concerning for a league that previously dominated an entire decade. In baseball, the SEC had seven of the highest ranked teams in the country. However, only one – Florida – made the College World Series, and the Gators were almost immediately bounced from the tournament. Was last year simply an anomaly, or is it the beginning of an alarming trend?
The weakest major sport for the SEC in recent years has been men’s basketball. Kentucky and Florida have built very strong programs, but the overall depth of the league has been lacking for many years. Indeed, the SEC didn’t have a team make it past the Sweet 16 this year.
Coaching hires have improved, and the trajectory of the conference looks better now than it did three years ago. But improved coaching hires and recruiting haven’t yet provided positive results on the floor.
Thanks to Alabama, football remains the strength of the conference. The Crimson Tide ended a two-year championship “drought” for the SEC when they defeated Clemson, 45-40, for the national championship in January.
The SEC East Division was one of the worst divisions of any Power 5 conference last year, however, and while the West was still very good, it certainly wasn’t as dominant as it had been in the past.
Is the SEC still the premier conference for college athletics? Probably. But the best argument for the SEC is that no other conference has done en-ough to surpass it.
The Big 10 has improved considerably at the top in football. Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State should be consistent national powers for the foreseeable future. The Big 10 is a better basketball conference than the SEC, but that conference also has not won a national title since 2000. The ACC, Big 12, and Pac 12 haven’t consistently won championships in the last few years, either.
In college football, Alabama and LSU will be in the national title picture yet again. In college basketball, Kentucky has assembled yet another impressive recruiting class. Despite not having postseason success, the SEC will still be the deepest conference in both baseball and softball.
It’s true that the SEC hasn’t been nearly as dominant in the last few years, but no other conference has done enough to dethrone it, either.