The Southeastern Conference completed the 2012 season with a seventh consecutive national championship, a Heisman Trophy winner, and a 6-3 bowl record with wins over Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Michigan and Nebraska. Vanderbilt won a bowl game over a team that beat Florida State in October. Yeah, it was a down year.
Six of the top ten teams in the final BCS standings hailed from the SEC. This is simultaneously the best and worst it’s going to get for God’s conference. It’s no secret that most SEC teams are guilty of padding their resume with a handful of gimme-games every year. This year, however, the top half of the conference benefited from a couple of additional, non-traditional cupcakes.
Tennessee and Auburn were, to put it gently, historically bad. Arkansas, thanks to some interesting circumstances, completely fell apart before things even got started. Kentucky was even worse than normal, and Missouri was what we thought they were (very, very bad at football) when they joined our fair league.
As a result, the average three or four gimme games per year for good teams in the SEC quickly became eight or nine almost automatic wins if your schedule was favorable (hello, Georgia). Beat Vanderbilt/a Mississippi School, win a competitive game or two and pull off an upset (hello, Gators and Aggies), and BAM you’re 11-1.
So maybe those teams in the upper half of the SEC standings weren’t quite as good as advertised by virtue of the bottom half of the SEC being really terrible. Still, the top half fared pretty well in inter-conference play and in the bowls. Alabama blasted Michiagan to start the season, then LSU dominated Washington. Georgia, Florida and South Carolina all handled their respective ACC foils. Then Alabama did some more blasting to close out the year.
Sure, maybe Florida got a little exposed in the Sugar Bowl, but we knew all year that the margin for error was small. We showed up unfocused and perhaps uninterested, and we got beat because of it. That’s all for another entry on another day, though.
The point is, the SEC isn’t going anywhere. Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M and, obviously, Alabama are all major players on the national stage going into 2013. LSU is still in the mix. Worse yet for SEC haters, Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas will eventually be back – the resources at those places are too great for them to stay down for long.
When they do come back you can’t count on seeing six SEC teams in the top 10 at the end of the year, but you can probably count on an 8th, 9th and maybe even 10th SEC team hoisting some crystal in the grand finale.
Oh, and James Franklin is still at Vanderbilt. Watch out for our little Stanford.