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A&M And Mizzou Fans, You’ve Got To Know Your Limitations

In the past week I’ve done one radio show and one podcast in Missouri as well as  two radio shows in Texas.  In all four conversations I was asked how long I thought it would take for Mizzou and A&M to become consistently good or “make their mark” in the SEC.

My tip to everyone reading: Just as many, many SEC fans are underestimating the Aggies and Tigers long-term chances for success, Aggie and Tiger fans are underestimating the week-in, week-out toll that comes from playing against teams that produce NFL offensive and defensive linemen by the dozens.  For that matter, even fans of long-time SEC schools forget that the league has a way of eating its own.  Thus the relatively new experience of SEC coaches arriving on hot seats after just two seasons.

Before we go any further, let’s let Clint Eastwood some up the gist of the history lesson you’re about to read:

 

A man's got to know his limitations (HD)

 

Thank you, Clint.

Just a couple of weeks ago the media (and quasi-media) gathered at SEC Media Days predicted an LSU-Georgia rematch in this year’s SEC Championship Game.  The odds of that happening — based on past league history — are 3 in 20.  That’s right.  In 20 years of SEC title games there have been just three rematches from the year prior.  That’s a 15% clip.  And two of those rematches came prior to 1995 (the first three SEC Championship Games were clashes between Florida and Alabama in ’92, ’93, and ’94).

So since ’95, there’s been only one rematch in 17 seasons.  That, too, was provided by the Tide and Gators going back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.  (For the record, seven times UA and UF have clashed for the crown and no other pairing comes close to matching that big-game rivalry.)

Add all that up and it would be a real break from history if both LSU and Georgia made it back to Atlanta this December.

That’s the trick to the SEC.  That’s what fans of the new schools and the old schools have to come to grips with — no one stays on top for long.  There’s really no such thing as “consistent” dominance.  Alabama has won two of the last three BCS titles.  The year in between?  They lost three regular-season games with a team that returned nearly everyone from the year before.  Jaws dropped across the Yellowhammer State and the league because everyone had forgotten that pulling a two-fer in the SEC just isn’t done anymore.  Florida won two out of three BCS titles between 2006 and 2008.  In 2007 they finished with four losses overall.  Same story.  You can be good, maybe even great, and still you’re not going to own the SEC.

(More numbers and breakdown after the pagebreak.)

In the 1990s, Steve Spurrier and Phillip Fulmer helped Florida and Tennessee dominate the SEC East just as Alabama and LSU lead the way in the SEC West today.  Georgia was the Arkansas of that time… often good, but just not good enough to jump past the two teams ahead of it.

At the time, Florida and Tennessee reeled off six consecutive SEC titles.  The Gators won from ’93 through ’96 and the Vols in ’97 and ’98.  That run by the Vols was the last time an SEC school recorded back-to-back league championships.

Think about that for a second.  No SEC school — not Florida, not Alabama, not LSU — has won back-to-back league titles in 13 years.

Spurrier and Fulmer set the bar.  Other schools around the turn of the century and since have decided to make coaching moves and spend more money on facilities trying to catch-up.  Enter Lou Holtz and then Spurrier at South Carolina.  Enter Mark Richt at Georgia.  Enter Nick Saban, first at LSU and then at Alabama.  Say hello (and goodbye) to Bobby Petrino at Arkansas.

These hires and that spending have resulted in an age where winning championships consistently just doesn’t occur much anymore.  Again, no repeat champ since Tennessee in ’97-’98 and just one repeat SEC title game matchup — Bama/Florida in ’08 and ’09 — in 17 seasons.

You can even take the parity right down to the division level, too.

Between 1992 and 2001, Florida or Tennessee won every East Division crown.  Since then, Georgia made back-to-back trips to Atlanta in 2002 and 2003 and Florida had those back-to-backers in ’08 and ’09.  That’s it.  Two repeat SEC East representatives in a decade.

On the other side of the conference, Alabama represented the SEC West in the league championship game during its first three years of existence.  But since way back in 1995, only once — once — has a West Division team been to Atlanta two years in a row (Bama in ’08 and ’09).

The East’s SEC Championship Game representatives: Florida, Florida, Florida, Florida, Florida, Tennessee, Tennessee, Florida, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Georgia, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Florida, Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia.

The West’s SEC Championship Game representatives: Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, Alabama, Auburn, and LSU.

The lesson in all of this?  Missouri and Texas A&M fans need to aim for consistently competing for division championships.  Do that and the Tigers and Aggies will occasionally reach Atlanta and might just win a title every now and then.  And that should be the goal of the other 12 schools in the league as well.  The days of waltzing through the league to collect trophies every season are gone.  At the overall level and at the division level.

The SEC is just too deep and too strong for any fanbase to expect to win the conference — or even their division — year-in and year-out.  It just doesn’t happen anymore.

Here endeth the lesson.

 


15 comments
Mike007
Mike007

O.K. Let's keep it real. For what ever reason; luck, accident, etc.. A very mediocre Missouri football program that hasn't won a Big 8 or Big 12 championship has 17 wins and only 8 losses against the SEC including winning 2 out of three against Bama, and one up on LSU... The SEC has alot of catching up to do before they start running their mouth...

rutherfordvangleason
rutherfordvangleason

Mike, I am as big a fan of Missouri as you are but only one of those wins happened in the past 13 years. And as awesome as that Cotton Bowl victory was, it was against the sixth best team in the SEC that year.  You're conveniently leaving out Florida beating previously "Unstoppable" Oklahoma in the 2008 BCS championship game and Alabama beating Texas the next year. I have high hopes too, but let's not get ridiculous here. 

Mike007
Mike007

Oh...that's right, my bad.  Forgive me for failing to recognize that Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas would be bottom dwellers in the SEC.  What are your favorite post SEC - Big 12 Matchups....It's a toss up between Nebraska 62 to 24 Fiesta Bowl win over Florida; or Nebraska's 42 to 17 win over Tennessee in the 1997 Orange Bowl; oh ya..Nebraska beat them again in 1999 Fiesta, what 31-21.  Then again... Mizzou's 38-7 rout over Arkansas is an honorable mention.

 

You would think that mighty SEC could at least keep the games close...How bout that SEC!!!!

Cart300
Cart300

Mike007 Read the article. Mizzou's record didnt come from THE GRIND of playing in the SEC each week. You are about to find out what this is really all about. You may want to frame that 17-8 because that is as good as it will ever be from here going forward. Your opinion of the SEC is about to change in a big way!!!

Mike007
Mike007

Mizzou has 17 wins and only 8 losses against the SEC...  Glad to see the conference matchups between SEC and Big 12, as the SEC has been ducking the Big 12 (Old Big 8) from the Bryant era....in fact, the SEC ducked Oklahoma State last year.....

Mightymo
Mightymo

MIZZOU is an excellent addition to the SEC.

buddha22
buddha22

Fair point John, it will be telling to see how our depth holds up to the grind. Do you ever give a "warning" to the blog when you'll be on a show in MO?

ChrisWynes
ChrisWynes

As a Mizzou fan, I look at that list and conclude it will be 20 years before we win a divisional title, and it'll be a pure fluke when it does. That list tells me that the historically powerful 6 teams, Georgia UT and UF in the East, Bama Auburn and LSU in the West, basically win everything because of their enormous money and recruiting advantages. Arky and USCe have poked their heads into the conversation lately, but their high water marks aren't even close to those that the traditional rotation of power teams keep returning to every few years. Having been a relatively close follower of MU football since 1996, I am encouraged by the excitement levels this year, the increased ticket sales, and the increase in donors (I myself finally joined the scholarship fund this year, along with many other first-timers). But I have zero illusions that our program will ever be able to join the elite circle of UF, UGA and UT as one of the privileged few that get to pass that trophy around every year amongst themselves.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

A&M and Mizzou fans are exactly like other fans, and suspect they got this all a long time ago at the cerebral level.  I've met more than one Florida fan who pretty much expects to win it all at the start of most every season (my brothers being 4 of 'em, every year), and at an emotional level you expect that from a fan base. If they can't win it all, the fans expect a good fight, beat your rival(s) and move on. By game 3 or 5 the emotional expectations normally have met reality, and cerebral kicks back in. Its the nature of a fan base to hopeful / delusional much of the time. Until reality smacks you upside the head, you have 7 to 8 months of the year to wish it so. We all do it. Heck, right now, dispite all the number crunching, stats, expert opinions and prognostications, I BELIEVE the Gators can take the East and if the moon gets right and the monkey gets tight, we'll smack whoever the West puts up, take the SEC and smoke whoever ends up on the other side in the NC game. Do I expect it? Nah, but I've got from January until September to work myself up about it. I mean, UF has more medals in the Olympics right now than about 170 countries....... How could we not win the NC? 

 

That felt good. Now, if I can just feel that good in December and January about football.......

BidDaddyBandit
BidDaddyBandit

 @BonzaiB You are a man of wisdom!  That's why this is my favorite time of the year.  My Aggies are undefeated and I don't have to live in reality.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @BidDaddyBandit Was enormously disappointed to hear the game at Kyle starts at 3:30. Night games at Kyle are legendary, and I got tickets. Bummer. 

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @bscrivener  @BidDaddyBandit Ah, been to both day and night games at Kyle. Gotta give the nod to night, but not going to give my tickets up because the sun will be up.

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