Five years ago, Stewart Mandel of SI.com classified the nation’s BCS football programs as kings, barons, knights, and peasants. In the five years that have passed, a number of SEC schools have risen or fallen in his view. In terms of the top strata, one SEC school achieved kingly status, while another fell from that rank in the last half-decade:
“Ten years ago, LSU was coming off its first outright SEC championship in 15 years, having upset Phillip Fulmer’s second-ranked Tennessee squad. Four months after this column ran, the Tigers knocked off the Vols in Atlanta again en route to their second BCS championship in five years. While LSU solidified itself as a bona fide national power, Tennessee fired Fulmer a year later and sank further into a decade-long bout of mediocrity.”
It’s an interesting take, even though it’s just one man’s opinion. (Bet he’ll be getting a lot of nasty emails today from folks all over the country.) Not to steal his thunder — we encourage you to read his post in full — but here’s how he ranked the teams of the SEC five years ago and how he ranks them today:
|SEC School||2007 Rank||2012 Rank|
For those wondering how Ole Miss can still rank ahead of Mississippi State or why South Carolina failed to move up, Mandel reminds his readers that he’s not ranking winning percentages, but: “… a certain cachet or aura. It’s the way a program is perceived by the public.”
With that as a guide, I would think it would be very difficult for schools to rise and fall at all in terms of national clout and perception. Recognition is built up over time, not just five-year periods. That’s why the winningest programs in college football history always seem to hit the deck for a while… only to rise again. See: Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Southern Cal, Michigan, etc. And, yes, as one of the top 10 winningest football schools in history, it’s likely Tennessee will rise again, too. Eventually.
So while Mandel’s exercise is interesting — we linked to it, didn’t we? — it seems that five years might be too little time for a school to truly change its image in one direction or another.
But like Mandel, I’m just giving you one man’s opinion.